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
  • 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 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

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