It is All in the Numbers – Using Metrics for Better SEO

Mon, Dec 22, 2008

Web Analytics

I remember a teacher telling me one time that if we never knew where we had been then we’d never know where we are going.  She was so right.  That same advice also holds true for website optimization and measuring SEO results.  How many times have you walked onto a project and been told, “Just make it better”.  What does “better” mean?  How do we know when we’ve reached “better”?  Without metrics about a websites performance you could end up spending 75% of your time on the part of the site that only gets 5% of the visits.

As an SEO company you owe it to yourself and your customers to be able to measure their site before and after – to provide the numbers that identify where their traffic is today, what is attracting most visitors, where are the links coming from, etc.  By taking the time to measure websites before you tackle them, both you and the customer will learn a lot more about the traffic to the site and what SEO methods will give the best results.

The first thing to look at is what data is being collected right now?  Do they have any existing tracking programs or log files you can access?  Is there any historical data about site traffic available?  Often many sites are using no analytical tools at all – or they may be using simple web log analyzers that aren’t providing critical data needed to make good SEO decisions.  As an SEO service provider it is your job to make sure that if they aren’t monitoring, they start, and a baseline is taken for comparison when the project is done.

Next, it’s time to categorize the site.  It’s not unusual for a handful of pages to be driving the majority of the traffic.  It may be that the pages that are drawing in the least amount of traffic are actually bringing in the most value – again, this is where a good analytics program comes into play.  Segment out your site by section or pages and see what is driving the traffic and which sections are performing and which sections are languishing.  You may be surprised to find that the most obscure areas of a site turn out to be the most popular.

Next, determine what is bringing in the traffic.  Let’s say you have two sections (or categories) on the site.  In order to determine how to get the maximum SEO value you need to find out how many visits per page you are getting.  If section 1 is made up of 5,000 blog posts and is bringing in 25,000 visits per month while section 2 is made up of 500 article pages and is bringing in 10,000 visits per month then you can quickly see that the article pages are getting more “views per page”.  However, this is not enough data to make any judgment calls on just yet.  If you have 5 articles that are bringing in the majority of those 10,000 visits then the numbers start to mean something.

This is a clear cut example of where a good analytics tool will benefit any SEO provider.  You have to be able to measure visits, views, the how and the why – plus a thousand other questions.  The more you know about why people come to a site the better you can focus your SEO skills at making it better.

Don’t just look at today either; make sure you are looking at historical data when it is available.  You want to know things such as the quantity of content over time, what page are receiving search traffic, what is the rate of link growth and how much has traffic to the site gone up (or down) over time?  This may not be easy to find out if the client doesn’t have analytics already in place.  Sometimes web access logs are the best method to get this data from if it doesn’t already exist.

Once you get this data it’s time to analyze it – to find out what is making the site perform (or not).  The more data you about a site the better you can use your SEO toolkit to help improve the site and make your job a lot easier.

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.