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Tracking & Analytics

Tracking & Analytics

Tracking and Analytics

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it” results measurement is vital in any marketing campaign, luckily when it comes to online marketing there is almost nothing that could not be measured. There are many metrics that SEOs need to keep eye on for different reasons:

  • They are ranking factors (e.g. website speed)
  • They are success signals (e.g. more organic traffic)
  • They are alarming signals that need to be investigated (e.g. ranking with Google is declining or GSC sending error notifications)
  • They present opportunities (e.g. keywords that rank on the second page can easily make their way to the second page with some optimization)

There are a lot of SEO KPIs to track, so before starting any project you need to sit with the project’s stakeholders and discuss what KPIs need to be tracked, have not said that there are many standard (universal) SEO KPIs that most SEOs track that I will focus on in the next section.

Organic traffic tracking metrics:

The metrics below could be tracked using Google Analytics (GA), Google Search Console (GSC) and Google My Business. Please note that GSC and GMB do not save a long history of data so you need to make sure you have a solution that keep the data stored permanently

  • Number of organic landing pages (GA)
  • Head (top) keywords ranking (GSC or third party tools)
  • Average position/ranking for all keywords (GSC)
  • Number of indexed pages (GSC)
  • Pages with errors (GSC and GA)
  • CTR (click through rate) (GSC)
  • Bounce rate (GA)
  • Time on site (GA)
  • Pages per session (GA)
  • Number of keywords ranking on the first page (GSC with some processing)
  • Pages that attract zero traffic (GSC + site crawling data)
  • Pages and keywords that are losing traffic  (GSC)
  • Google My Business GMB, impressions, directions, phone calls and clicks (GMB)

It is very important to understand the average values of the metrics above for your industry and set objectives/forecasts for every new project with a clear plan to achieve those forecasts

Website performance, UX,  CRO and ROI

There are a lot of metrics to create and track that can help with UX and CRO

For UX many of them are mentioned above:

  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Number of pages per session
  • SERP CTR
  • Event tracking (e.g. video play duration and links clicking)

For CRO:

  • Goal tracking (e.g. tracking form submissions)
  • Ecommerce tracking for websites that sell online products
  • Connecting CRMs to Google analytics to track sales (e.g. connect SalesForce to Google Analytics)
  • Audiences building and tracking
  • Phone calls tracking by medium/source
  • Clickable phone number event tracking (this is for mobile users that click to call on a phone number)

It is very important to report on the financial success of the SEO campaign, one way to do that is ROI (return on investment) which is simply  ((Monthly Earnings – Monthly SEO retainer)/Monthly SEO retainer) X 100 some people go with revenue instead of earning. While doing this you need to consider the customer life time value, for a client that offers web hosting  where customers rent servers and keep them almost for life the monthly earning or revenue will not reflect the actual value of this customer, if they are selling $200/month dedicated servers with 30% profit then the earning of one sale should be 0.3 X 200 X (customer average lifespan let us say 36 months) = $2160 .. so if you are paid $1080/month for your SEO services and you are able to generate one sale for this client the ROI of the SEO services will be 100% in this case

Another way to justify ROI if you do not have access to the client financial data is going by the click value, if you have a personal injury lawyer client where a click using Google Search Ads can cost a $100 or more for some keywords, being able to drive 50 clicks/month from relevant keywords can justify an SEO spend of $2000 or more

Competition analysis:

Picking the right tools to do competition analysis is key to come up with any meaningful insights, in order to keep it apple to apple you can not use GSC to measure your own traffic then use SEMrush to measure competitors traffic, just use the same tool for everyone.

We are very lucky to live in an era where tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs are available to provide very useful link graph and traffic data for almost any website on the web, the key metrics to track while doing competition analysis are:

  • Referring domains
  • Inbound links
  • Organic traffic
  • Ranking for highly searched keywords
  • Number of keywords on the first page
  • Number of indexed pages

All of them are available using SEMrush with an exception of number of indexed pages which you can use Google site:domain.com modifier to track them

The most popular tools used by SEOs for tracking key metrics:

  • GMB (Google My Business)
  • GSC (Google Search Console)
  • GA (Google Analytics)
  • GTM (Google Tag Manager)
  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Google Data Studio

Offering tracking services:

With tools like GA and GTM tracking is becoming a service on it own that SEOs can provide to their clients, here are few areas where clients need help:

  • GA optimization, Google recommends creating multiple views in each property, each property needs it is own filters and goals
  • Mapping events and goals: After a long time using the same view and many parties adding their own filters, goals, audiences and customization there will be a need for someone to come and map all of this and do some clean up
  • Many clients end up with 100s of tags and triggers in their GTM where it becomes very difficult to navigate and understand so it needs some mapping and clean up
  • Self submission forms and complex events tracking need GTM and GA experts to implement them
  • Ecommerce tracking is normally difficult for many webmasters to implement on their own unless it is natively supported by the shopping cart software (e.g. Shopify)
  • Creating GA and GDS custom dashboards

Gaining advanced knowledge in GA, GSC and GTM is vital for your SEO career, make sure you check the available certificates here that can help you to gain and validate the tracking knowledge you need to support your SEO career

Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics

Daily Reading to Stay up-to-date With the SEO Industry Changes

SEO is a very dynamic industry that changes almost on a daily basis, there is something new every day to read about or to learn about. It is strongly recommended to read, watch videos or listen to podcasts for an hour or more every day to stay at the top of all changes relate to SEO in specific and internet marketing in general. I will list below the websites (mostly blogs) that I check on a daily basis for news and updates, the links below will take you directly to their RSS feed page so you can add it to any reader of your choice (I personally use Feeder.co which has a Google Chrome Plugin, Phone APP and a web based interface), recently both Firefox and Chrome browsers added a built in RSS reading feature.

This is how Feeder.co will look like in my Google Chrome, the number in the blue box represents the number of the unread posts from the websites I subscribed to

The website in my subscription list are:

  1. SEO Round Table
  2. Search Engine Land
  3. Search Engine Journal
  4. MOZ Blog
  5. Search Engine Watch
  6. Ahrefs Blog
  7. SEMrush Blog
  8. PPC Hero
  9. Distilled
  10. Webmaster World
  11. Bright Local
  12. Google Ads
  13. Google Analytics
  14. Simo Ahava
  15. WebKit  (the technology behind Safari browser)
  16. Chromium Blog
  17. The Mozilla Blog

 

 

Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics Uncategorized UX and CRO

Best Tools to Evaluate Website Speed

When it comes to measuring website speed I recommend:

1- Testing the home page + few other key pages from the website

2- Test in different times of the days and different days of the week

3- Test using more than one tool (two at least)

Web Page Test:

Available form multiple locations, multiple devices and using different internet speed, provides speed index (the time required for the site to visually load for users even if there is still process going in the background of the website)

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, and a video showing the load progress.

Google Speed Insight:

The tool has become more valuable after adding Light House data and Google Chrome data (not available for every website), be aware that score is not speed, speed is measured by seconds only, seeing very low score does matter a lot of your web page speed is 3 seconds or less

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, a video showing the load progress and industry comparison.

GTmetrix

Available form multiple locations, multiple devices and using different internet speed, this tool can track speed history (paid feature) which is a handy feature to evaluate the website speed though out the whole day or the whole week

This tool provides insights how to speed up the website, a report, a video showing the load progress

Test my Site By Google

This tool is designed to analyze speed on mobile websites with low speed connection (3G), it provides insights how to speed up the website, a report and industry comparison

Google Developer Tools (Advanced)

This is a built in extension with Google Chrome, it has the ability to change connection speed, device, disable/enable cache.

 

Google Analytics (the numbers there are not very reliable)

GA provides average page load time in seconds, I did it find it that reliable, possibility because it averages number from different users and it works based on the code load completion which is not always a reflection of the actuation page load

Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics

Enhance Your SEO Resume with Those Internet Marketing Certificates

In this post I am going to include what certifications can help you to land your next SEO job (I will add another post for some training courses), most of the certificates below have online training sections that you need to go through before taking the exam, if you pass the exam you will be granted a digital certificate that you can print and hang in you office, you will also get a web page that you can add to your Linkedin profile. With the education system falling behind when it comes to digital marketing the certificates below will give you an instant advantage with any poetical employer.

Google Analytics Academy

  • Google Analytics for Beginners
  • Advanced Google Analytics
  • Google Analytics for Power Users
  • Getting Started With Google Analytics 360
  • Introduction to Data Studio
  • Google Tag Manager Fundamentals

Google Mobile Sites certification

Google Partners

  • Google Ads Display Certification
  • Google Ads Mobile Certification
  • Google Ads Search Certification
  • Google Ads Video Certification
  • Google Shopping Certification
  • Digital Sales Certification
  • Google Ads Fundamentals

Facebook Core Competencies Exam

Facebook Planning Exam

SEMrush course SEMrush Academy

Hubspot inbound certification

MOZ Academy  (the essential SEO certificate is a good start)

If you are asking why do I need paid search or marketing automation certificates if I will be applying to a SEO job? SEO for most companies is one piece of the whole marketing landscape that includes in most cases, social media marketing, PPC, SEO and marketing automation. SEO specialists will be working closely with other digital marketing channels and they need at least a basic understanding of how those other channels work. The other benefit of having PPC certificates is that smaller companies tend to hire one in-house marketing individual to manage all their digital marketing channels, being at familiar with the PPC channels will increase the number of jobs you can apply to.

SEO certificates are not must to gain SEO knowledge, all the information your need to learn SEO is available online however they can help you with three things:

  • As the education system is not caching up yet they will give you some credibility and increase your chances to land an SEO job
  • They will streamline your learning curve and test your knowledge
  • They will increase you commitment level to learn SEO and chase it as a career especially if you pay for some of those courses
Off Page SEO On Page SEO Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics UX and CRO

Tools That You Need To Master If You Want to Be an SEO Expert

There are some tools and platforms that you need to master if you want to be an SEO expert, some of these tools are used for monitoring and tracking others are used to make your work more efficient. Some of those tools will be required for the SEO specialist role and employers ask for them in the job posting.

Google Search Console GSC (Bing also has its own):

This tool has been growing for years and becoming the most important tool for SEO specialists. Why GSC is that important?

  1. This is only place where you can see what keywords are receiving impressions, clicks, CTR and where do they rank
  2. The message centre is a great communication tool that Google uses to tell webmasters about issues and improvements for their websites
  3. The index coverage and crawlability information contain very valuable insights that will help webmasters to understand how Google crawls and index their websites
  4. A sample of back links is available in GSC

A dedicated post related to Google Search Console will be posted soon I will make sure I link to it form this post

Google Analytics (GA):

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”, GA is the tool when it comes to track traffic sources and users’ interaction with a website. Key things you need to know how to do in GA:

  1.  Setup goals and track goals per source
  2.  Understand and analyze bounce rate, time on site and pages per session
  3.  Analyze traffic by medium/source
  4.  Attribution models
  5.  Reporting on conversions

It is strongly recommend to be Google Analytics certified by passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test

Google My Business:

Things you need to learn:

  • How to submit and edit a business
  • How to monitor users interactions like reviews and phone calls
  • How to tag the URL using utm tags so you can identify GMB traffic in GA

Link analysis tools:

Those tools will enable you to analyze the link profile of any website, the most popular usage of those tools is creating competition analysis reports that help to understand the authority gap between your website and other competitors, the most popular ones are:

All of the tools above are paid, buying one of them only could be suffice

Keyword research Tools:

Learning about the client’s business then finding relevant keywords to that business is the starting point for any SEO project, there are many tools that can help with that and all of them are using Google’s database:

  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • MOZ
  • Google Keyword planner

Website speed tools:

Website speed is a ranking factor with Google, more importantly it can improve user experience and eventually increase conversion rate. It is important to monitor website speed on a regular basis and the best tools that can help with that are:

  1.  Web page test
  2.  GT metrix (I like their speed monitoring service)
  3.  Google Speed test
  4.  Think with Google speed test
  5.  Google Analytics  (the numbers there are not very reliable)

Mobile friendliness tools:

Mobile users have surpassed desktop users a long time ago and Google is following that trend by focusing more on mobile users, Google bot desktop is being replaced by Google mobile crawler for the most of mobile ready websites. Having a mobile friendly website that is fast and provides a good user experience is key for SEO success, tools that can help with improving mobile friendliness are:

Structured data tools:

Major search engines use structured data (Schema is the most popular one) to have better understanding of the content structure as structured data can provide content in a database friendly format (almost ready to save to a database without processing), once structured data is added to a website there are many tools that can help to preview them and test them for errors:

Crawlability tools:

The first step any search engine needs to do is crawling the web, if the content is not crawlable or reachable (via a link or a sitemap) then search engines will not find it, index it and rank it. Best tools to find about crawlability issues:

 

The ability to gain experience and feeling comfortable to use the tools listed on this pages will help you in many ways:

  • Your next job interview if you are interviewing for an SEO job
  • Monitoring key metrics like ranking, traffic, links, errors and more
  • Generating client reports
  • Doing keywords content analysis
  • Providing clients with useful insights and actionable recommendations