Looking to drive more visibility for your company? Want to be seen as a leader in your industry or local market? Would you love more qualified inbound leads who are looking for the exact services or products you offer?
The good news: an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help you achieve all of these.
The bad news: there isn’t a “SEO Switch” that you can turn on and immediately own search engine results!
What exactly is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of getting website traffic from the organic (free) listings on search engines like Google and Bing. By adjusting both on page SEO elements (content, site architecture, code, etc.) along with off page SEO elements (trust/authority, inbound links, location, social, etc.), the goal of SEO is to build a stronger overall organic search presence that leads more people to your website.
How do you determine if your SEO strategy is effective?
Now that we have defined what SEO actually is, let’s look at several factors you should look at to determine if you’re existing strategy is good, or if it needs to be updated:
- Keyword rankings.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been trained to focus on keyword rankings. “Am I number one in Google results for [insert random search term]? Many SEO companies and business leaders will look at keyword ranking as their sole SEO success metric. The problem with that is that it’s not a smart metric and distracts you from the main goal of SEO. Remember, SEO is the process of getting more good quality traffic to your site from search engines. Ranking number one doesn’t mean that traffic is coming to your site. You could rank high for a term that NO ONE searches for. Also, ranking high doesn’t mean that anyone is clicking on your listing. If keyword ranking is your main tracking metric – you may want to update your SEO strategy and realign your goals.
- Website traffic.
Instead of using keyword ranking as your metric, look at the true metric: organic search engine website traffic. Use Google Analytics or another web visitor tracking software to identify how much traffic your site receives from organic search engine results. Look historically at the data and compare traffic from search engines month over month and year over year. Look for growth trends to determine whether your SEO strategy is driving increased results or not. By comparing year over year traffic you’ll be able to remove the seasonal fluctuations in traffic and get a true indication of your website’s SEO performance. If you find that search traffic is flat or declining, it’s time to reevaluate your SEO strategy.
- Search engine visitor behavior.
We track over 500 business websites and often find that traffic from search engines is very high quality—meaning they stay on the site longer and are more likely to convert than other traffic sources. When looking at your traffic from search engines like Google and Bing, pay attention to key metrics:Bounce Rate – A bounce is someone that visits your website and leaves after visiting only one page. If you find that your traffic from search engines has a much higher bounce rate than the rest of your site that means that the traffic isn’t high quality. Look closely at the search queries that drove that traffic and make sure they align with your business offerings. If your site content is optimized for terms that are outside of your offerings, there may not be any business value in that traffic.Time on Site – Our goal with SEO is attracting high-quality traffic from people looking for your exact services. Look to see if visitors from search are spending more time on your site than the average visitor. If you find a low time on site, it’s time to review your strategy.
Pages per Visit – Similar to time on site, we want to see people from search engines visiting multiple pages on your site. If they aren’t, you are either attracting the wrong people, or your website isn’t leading them down the right path or funnel.
- Conversions from SEO traffic.
More traffic to your website is great, but who really cares if none of that traffic is converting! With Google Analytics you can look at the key conversion pages on your website – like your job application, contact us form, quote request and more. Look closely at the pages within your website that are “conversion” pages and then check to make sure that your organic search engine traffic is leading there.
- Google Search Console.
Installed Google Search Console code on your website will allow you look at key metrics to determine your SEO health. Here are some key metrics you should consider:Crawl Errors – this will let you know if there are any code issues or other errors that are preventing search engines from indexing your site content.Search Appearance – This lets you test things like structured data (mark-up coding), accelerated mobile pages and more. These tools will help you identify areas on your site that can be improved.
Google Index – This will show you how many pages on your site are indexed by Google (and even have a chance to show up in search results). Ideally we want to see an upward trend in total pages on your site being indexed. If you don’t see an upward trend start adding high quality content to your website to enhance your websites visibility and improve search presence.
Crawl reports – This set of tools will show you how Google views your site. It will identify issues with sitemaps, crawl errors, robot files and more.
Search traffic – Perhaps one of the most valuable data sets, this area will show you how many times your website showed up in search queries, what pages show up, and how many clicks you earned. An effective SEO strategist uses this data to determine opportunities for improved search rank and also ways to improve the click through rate (i.e. getting more people to click on your website when it does show up in search results).
- Inbound Links.
So far we have talked mostly about on page SEO elements (things you control on your site). But off page elements also play a role. The most important off page element are inbound links. You can use Google Search Console to look at this (we also use the paid tools SEMrush and Ahrefs to analyze this). Overall, you want to see an upward trend in reputable websites that link back to your site. If you see a flat or declining trend in inbound links you should first start by evaluating your site content. If you invest in high quality content like blogs, articles, whitepapers, inforgraphics, video, etc., more sites will link back to your website and you’ll improve your site’s trust and relevancy scores. This can go a long way in improving search visibility.
- Constant updates.
As you can see there are a lot of elements that go into determine whether your SEO strategy needs to be updated. But the simple truth of the matter is that your SEO strategy should never be static. Google, Bing and the other search engines are always evolving and your strategy needs to evolve too. The moment you stop evaluating and adjusting your strategy is the moment that your competitors have the chance to leap-frog you. An effective SEO strategy is continually evolving with changes in search algorithms, market conditions, competitive analysis and more.
Looking for a great SEO Company in Buffalo or beyond?
Contact the Buffalo SEO experts at BARQAR Marketing. We offer a free website SEO audit that will help identify some immediate things you can to boost search results as well as longer-term strategies for continuing to grow your search presence and attract customers.