Here’s the situation: you’ve been investing heavily into your SEO lately and you’ve seen an increase in traffic to your website. You can relax now, right?
No! Increases in organic traffic aren’t always attributable directly to SEO – there are several influencing factors that can cause increases in your organic traffic.
If you have a well-rounded, bulletproof marketing strategy, there could be a number of factors involved in your traffic increase, so sometimes, you need to go the extra mile to understand exactly how your SEO is performing.
In this blog, we’ll be looking at the reasons your website is receiving more organic traffic and also how you can accurately measure your SEO performance.
What can influence organic website traffic?
With an effective marketing strategy, your overall organic traffic can increase due to a number of different reasons, and a significant contributor to your traffic increase could be those entering your website through branded search.
Let’s paint the picture, your marketing efforts across the following channels are killing it:
- Organic social media
- Paid social media
- Google Adwords
- Display ads
- Email marketing
- Offline marketing
- Word of mouth
With higher levels of brand awareness through your multi-channel marketing activity, you’re going to see more people type your brand’s name into Google to discover more about who you are and what you do.
Does that prove you’re winning at SEO? No. So when analysing SEO performance, you need to revert back to your goals.
If you don’t have goals, you need to set them.
Setting goals for SEO
For a brand chasing online business growth, improving your levels of organic website traffic should be a core objective you are striving to achieve.
Having said that, there are various different goals you can set your internal SEO team, freelancer or partner agency. Such as:
- Improving non-branded traffic
- Improving organic conversions
- Improving organic sales
- Improving domain authority
- Improving page speed
- Increasing organic behavioural metrics
- Improving organic conversion rates
- Improving overall amount of backlinks
SEO is a flexible marketing channel that can be moulded to fit different objectives both creatively and technically.
If you’re looking to analyse just how well your SEO is performing, you need to reflect back to the goals of your SEO. Are you looking to improve visibility and rankings? The authority of your domain? Perhaps you’re looking to ensure people visit the pages on your website for longer?
If you don’t have SEO goals, you need to set them.
Once you have a clear goal, you know exactly what you need to measure to determine success. Here are some examples.
Measuring SEO success
Measuring SEO performance all comes right back around to setting specific objectives. Without clear targets for your SEO activity, your strategy isn’t laser-focused on an end goal.
So, based on your goals, you can measure your SEO performance in the following ways:
Effective SEO ultimately improves your website’s ranking position for relevant keywords in your niche. You should aim to have a variety of different search terms that your content is ranking for, including both long- and short-tail keywords. You can measure the progress of your tracked keywords using Google Search Console, SEMRush and Ahrefs.
Overall SEO visibility assesses how visible your website is in organic search results. SEO visibility also serves as an index that allows users to analyse any issues, offering the opportunity to optimise your content for better results. In addition, SEO visibility also allows you to compare your own page with similar competitors to uncover any trends or algorithm changes that influence the more successful of the two in terms of rankings.
Measuring SEO using engagement metrics
When monitoring on-page SEO performance, you’ll gain the clearest insight into the interests and behaviours of your website visitors by looking at engagement metrics. Engagement metrics look at how visitors interact with your website and content, allowing you to optimise based on what works the best for your audience.
These metrics include:
Time on page
Assessing the time a visitor spends on your page is also an important part of how to measure SEO success. You should consider the intent of your page and how long it would roughly take for the average reader to read through all the content. The higher your average time on page, the higher interest users are showing in your page and its content. This can help inform your strategy for pages that aren’t performing so well.
Pages per visit
If the aim of your page was to keep the user engaged through multiple steps, then pages per visit are important to analyse consumer behaviour from page to page. You can look at if and when these visitors drop off in order to analyse why this is happening in order to tailor the content to encourage higher conversion rates.
However, if your initial page is the only one the customer requires to gain exactly what they need, then pages per visit isn’t something you need to worry too much about.
Your bounce rate shows how many visitors have accessed your page before quickly ‘bouncing’ off, or exiting instead of engaging with anything else. This statistic can be found on Google Analytics and, depending on the intent of your page, should often be kept as low as possible if there is a sizable amount of content for a user to engage with.
However, if your page length and content is relatively short, it may be that the users are coming to find contact information or business hours – in which case, a higher bounce rate isn’t too important.
Learn more about the importance of bounce rates here.
Scroll depth can be tracked using Google Analytics and, as the name suggests, measures how far down a visitor scrolls through your web page. You can use this information to assess whether a visitor is reaching the most important content on your page and if not, how far down they are getting on average in the meantime. You can then test and tailor your content accordingly.
For those interested in looking more in-depth into your users’ behaviour, HotJar is an extremely useful tool that allows you to both measure and analyse how visitors interact with your website. HotJar captures each user’s visit to your page and follows how they scroll, as well as their clicks/taps. This is then presented to you in the form of either a session recording, which allows you to identify any usability issues or as a heatmap, which allows you to see where the majority of your users are heading to on your page.
Your conversion rate is based on a specific goal you have set for a specific page – this could be anything from an email sign-up to a purchase. Your conversion rate is worked out by dividing the number of conversions by the number of unique visits (as seen on Google Analytics) and can help you to assess the return on investment your traffic would generate.
It’s important to understand your conversion rate in order to grow your business. If your conversion rate is below the industry average (roughly 2.17% for ecommerce sites globally, according to Hubspot), you will need to optimise your content in order to avoid underperforming.
Measuring SEO using technical metrics
To benchmark your SEO, you need to go far beyond solid content – to work in Google’s favour and earn higher levels of organic traffic, your website must be optimised technically. If technical metrics are a key focus based on your SEO objectives, you will need to consider the following:
Users will be likely to leave a website that’s too slow to load on any device, so you need to analyse how well your website performs on mobile devices, desktop and tablets. You can do this using Google Lighthouse. If your website is too slow, you should look into compressing images and condensing excess content to improve the load time.
Your domain/page authority score is essentially a search engine ranking score that predicts its likelihood to rank on Google. Using tools such as SEMRush and Ahrefs, you can measure your website’s domain and individual page authorities to see what these are rated out of 100. The ratings can then be used to benchmark your SEO relative to your competitors – often with pointers towards how to improve these.
Leading nicely into our next point, your overall domain authority and sites ability to rank is also determined by the total number of backlinks pointing to your website from other authoritative websites. These backlinks will need to be of a high quality in order to be useful to your website – on the other hand, spammy links can go against your SEO and should be disavowed accordingly.
You will also need to ensure that your pages are all crawlable by search engines. If they are not, you are likely accidentally blocking the search engine bots through files and sitemaps attached to your website. An accurate sitemap and robots.txt can prevent this from happening, ensuring all your important pages are prioritised and those unimportant aren’t included within Google’s index.
If your primary pages can’t be found by Google during crawls of your site, then it means that they have not yet been indexed. You can check this through tools such as Screaming Frog and Search Console, and also by searching site:yoursite.com OR site:yoursite.com/specific-page on Google. If you find these are missing, double-check that a meta robots=noindex tag isn’t excluding pages that should be indexed.
Attributing your traffic to SEO
With so many contributing factors that could be attributed to your traffic increase, it’s important to know where it’s all coming from. This is where Google Analytics comes in.
When looking into behaviour on specific landing pages, Google Analytics has an ‘Organic Traffic’ filter that allows you to compare this against all users, allowing you to discover the exact percentage of traffic that has come from search engines.
Similarly, you can integrate your domain with Google Search Console, as this will allow you to look further into the way your website performs on Google search specifically. This includes impressions, clicks, rankings and your click-through rate – all important factors in how to measure organic traffic.
Google Search Console allows for a more in-depth look at your search engine performance. Sometimes your website traffic can be dictated by branded search as opposed to organic, so by checking the specific keywords, you can optimise your organic search content to further encourage non-branded terms to rank.
How high quality is your traffic?
By definition, high-quality traffic includes site visitors who are actively interested in your business and the product or service you sell. A business can achieve this with a watertight marketing strategy with the option to measure a number of metrics that prove the quality of the traffic.
The metrics you’d look at to assess the quality of your website traffic are very similar to monitoring SEO performance. Conversions are the best measurements in this situation – once you’ve made the relevant optimisations and seen the impact this has had on the conversion rate, you can gauge the quality of your traffic.
Pages per session and time spent on site are also important factors as these show how interested in your site your visitors are. Be wary of people spending too much time on the website, however, as this may be an indicator that consumers can’t find what they’re looking for.
Bounce and exit rates are important to monitor as you’d need to keep these as low as possible for pages that act as an entry point into your conversion-focused pages, such as blog posts or guides.
Visitors who ‘bounce’ are not considered high-quality traffic, unless like previously mentioned, the objective of the page suits a higher bounce rate. On the other hand, you will need to pay attention to repeat visitors and the way they interact with your site as these are the most likely to convert. Optimise your website based on their behaviour and you should see an increase in high-quality visitors.
Encouraging higher quality SEO traffic
High-quality SEO traffic depends on a number of factors – sometimes it’s based on the visitor’s credentials, sometimes it’s on the search engine and, most often, it’s on your strategy. If you believe the traffic your website is receiving isn’t as high quality as you’d like, there are a number of factors you can tweak on your website to help improve this.
You should fine-tune your keyword strategy across the site. Consider varying both long-tail and core target keywords across your web titles and content, headings, metadata and alt text. You should also aim to include more descriptive keywords including factors such as industry and location in order to appeal more specifically to your target demographics. This will help filter out poor quality traffic.
You will also need to ensure that your content appears exactly where your audience is active on the internet. This includes search engines, industry websites, social media platforms and other sources in order to maximise your reach. This can be achieved using both organic and certain paid marketing services.
Get the right SEO traffic with Circulate
All-in-all, it’s fair to say that website traffic can be attributed to a number of different sources so it’s important to keep in mind that results will always vary from medium to medium. As the consumer landscape is ever-changing, even if your business is ‘winning at SEO’ you should never see this as a reason to take your focus away from it – frequent analysis and optimisations will always be necessary to maintain high levels of SEO performance.
If your business is looking to find the right balance between each marketing campaign in order to create the perfect strategy, Circulate Digital can help. Our integrated marketing services cover a range of different bases to help premium brands gain the results they deserve. To take your marketing journey in the right direction, contact us today and a member of our team will be in touch.