Now that you’ve put so much work into your SEO strategy, you probably want to see how those efforts are paying off and whether it’s all working the way you want it to. As a blogger, it’s incredibly important to always monitor SEO performance, celebrate your wins, and fix whatever isn’t working.
If you start tracking your rankings, referrals, click-throughs and more, you can take control of your success from the very beginning and not leave anything up to chance. If there is one thing I wish I’d started doing a lot earlier, it’s tracking and measuring my progress.
In this post, we’re going to show you 6 easy ways to track and measure your SEO success, and what to do when you see things aren’t going as smoothly as expected.
We all want to be on page one of the Google search results, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that there are many other metrics you should be tracking to determine success. Ranking on the first page will bring a significant boost in traffic, but more traffic doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.
What if your current efforts are only bringing in half of the potential traffic you deserve? If you monitor your progress, you could identify simple changes that could double or even triple your traffic.
Sounds worth it to me!
The best way to keep track of your stats month over month is to create a spreadsheet where you can enter the new ranking each month. This will help you see fluctuations over time. Each time you write a new article, you can add your new keyword to the spreadsheet and immediately start tracking it.
How to Track and Measure Your SEO Success
1. Use Google Analytics to Track Top Metrics
There are a number of important metrics you should be tracking monthly to keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not. These metrics include the number of pages visited, bounce rate, time on site, and click through rate. These metrics will show you a quick overview of which pages/posts on your site are performing the best and why. You can then use that insight to revive old content — or create new content.
Remember, Google likes new content and appreciates when you’ve put the effort into updating old content. Your site is crawled frequently by Google, so if you regularly feed it new and improved content, it will consistently benefit your rankings.
We’ve put together a video and tutorial on how to find your top metrics in Google Analytics. You’ll need to have the Google Search Console connected to your Google Analytics account to use these features (instructions included in the tutorial). We suggest taking care of that right away and getting started tracking these important metrics.
In our tutorial, you’ll learn how to find the following information:
- What sources are you receiving traffic from
- Where are the people who view your website from
- How many people are visiting your site
- How long people are staying on your site
- What search terms people are using to find your site
- What pages on your site are the most popular
- How fast your site loads
- How much mobile vs desktop traffic you receive
2. Track Your Rankings for Specific Keyword Phrases
Our goal at Make Traffic Happen is to help you gain more traffic. Choosing the right keyword phrases for your articles and being sure to thoroughly answer the query and fulfill user intent is the quickest way to make that happen.
When you’ve used the right keyword phrases, you will likely start ranking higher in Google for that particular search term, plus many other related terms. The boost in rankings may lead to more traffic. But sometimes it doesn’t. In order to know how your keyword research is paying off, or even how miserably it’s failing, you need to track your rankings.
Knowing your rankings for specific keyword phrases will determine if you’re right on track, if you need to do more work on the post to boost it even higher, or if you’ve chosen a dud that needs to be changed. It will also show you prime opportunities for gaining even more traffic from posts that are not already keyword optimized.
One of the fastest ways to see your ranking for a specific keyword phrase is to look in Google Analytics or Google Search Console (if you don’t have the two connected). See below.
When you click into Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisitions > Search Console > Queries.
Set the date to something that works for you – 1 or 3 months, maybe even 6 months, to get enough data.
The list will contain your highest traffic-earning keywords. You can see the average position for each of these keywords. If you don’t see a keyword you’re looking for, use the search bar to find it (just enter one word).
Each month, I make a point of looking at each of my top 30 keywords and noting whether the average position has improved or decreased. This helps me see where I need to make adjustments.
Another thing you might find is that the keyword phrases you intended to rank for don’t show up in the list. If you want to know your rankings for a specific keyword phrases that you can’t find in Google Analytics, you can try searching in a keyword research tool, like Keysearch or Ahrefs. These tools help you find specific phrases you’re wanting to track.
The screenshot below is from Keysearch. I’ve added 23 of my keywords to track. You can see a quick overview of your position, plus a change in stats. You always want to see a positive change in stats.
3. Find What Percentage of Traffic is From Organic Search
It’s tempting to blame or celebrate your SEO efforts every time you have a dip or spike in traffic, but unless you’re keeping track of your organic search traffic, you can’t say if it’s SEO or not.
A once-a-month check on your sources of traffic will show whether you’re gaining or losing organic traffic. This is the best indication of whether your SEO efforts are paying off or not, overall.
Knowing both the percentage and exact numbers will help you identify weaknesses and give you a basis for comparison over time.
To find this information, open Google Analytics and navigate to Acquisitions > All Traffic > Channels.
You will see each of the channels you receive traffic from, including Organic, Social, Direct, Referral and Other. The most important to look at is Organic Search. You want to at least be getting some of your traffic through organic search. If you’re not yet, you need to work on adding more rankable keywords and fulfilling user intent with your content. If you only have a bit of organic traffic, that’s okay too – you have to start somewhere. The goal is to increase it every month.
You’ll want to compare this data month over month to see the improvement or decline in your organic search traffic. As long as it’s increasing, then your SEO efforts are paying off.
If you click into Organic Search, you’ll also have the chance to see your top ranking keywords, the source of this traffic (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc), your top landing pages, and many other options.
4. Track Behavior Flow
You may not have heard of Behavior Flow before. It’s a method of tracking provided by Google Analytics. At first glance, it may look difficult to understand, but it’s actually pretty awesome.
To find the Behavior Flow, open your Google Analytics and navigate to Behavior > Behavior Flow. See the image below.
The Behavior Flow can be set to show you many different aspects or views. It is automatically set to Landing Pages, but I prefer to look at it by Source, which is what you see below. The flow starts with the source of traffic, with Google being our our main concern for SEO.
To get started, click on Google, then select Highlight traffic through here, which will emphasize only the google segment. (Continue below).
Behavior Flow shows how users interact with your content. It gives you a visual representation of the problem areas that you may need to concentrate on. Two of the most useful things to look at in Behavior Flow are the number of drop offs (exits from your site) and the content funnel.
Drop Offs (aka bounces)
Your bounce rate is likely something you measure already. However, when you see it in the Behavior Flow, you may gain a new motivation to lower it.
Look at the screenshot above. See the arrow pointing to the red bar? That red bar indicates drop offs. Hovering over the main green box gives useful information, like how many click throughs and drop offs there were. As you can see below, there is a lot of room for improvement in the post I’m hovering.
Your main goal is to lower the drop offs. If a page has a high drop off rate, it may be because you haven’t included enough internal links, or the text used to introduce the internal links isn’t enticing enough. You’ll have to play around with a few options to find the best Call to Actions (CTAs) that works best for you. You’ll know you have a winner when the drop offs decrease.
The content funnel is the path users take through your site. It’s very important to keep people engaged on your site by enticing them to click from one post to another. This will lower your bounce rate and signal to Google that your content is fabulous and deserves to rank well.
A great way to find opportunities to improve your internal linking strategy and encourage more click throughs is to view the path of your posts. This will show you exactly which pages users click to next, all the way until they drop off.
The system is set up to show you 3 interactions, but you can click the light grey box on the right side of the last interaction to show more.
From the screenshot above, you can see the pathway users take from their first starting page. To explain what you’re seeing, of the 2,300 readers who entered through the starting page, 882 of them clicked to a 2nd page. Google shows the top 5 pages, plus 25 more pages in the bottom box (when clicked). You can also see at the right side of the image that of the 882 readers, 374 clicked a 3rd page, and so on…
I can use this information to determine if my internal linking strategy is solid or not. If it isn’t, I can add links to relevant content that may engage more readers. I can then compare the data month over month to see if I have improved the click through traffic.
As you can imagine, there are dozens of other useful insights to glean from Behavior Flow. Spending just a little time looking at it each month will help you improve your SEO and gain more traffic.
To learn more about how to use Behavior Flow, check out this YouTube video.
5. Analyze Your Lowest Organic Traffic Earners
You probably already track your highest earning posts to maintain your rankings, but if you don’t intentionally look at your lowest organic traffic earners on a regular basis, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve your entire site.
Low earners are posts that bring in little to no organic traffic. They are like dead weight. They bring down the integrity and rank-ability of your entire site.
When you find these low earners, you’ll need to make a choice about what to do with them. Generally, it’s best to update them and turn them into high earners, but sometimes there’s nothing that can be done for them and it’s best to put them out of their misery. That means deleting the post and redirecting the URL to a related post or page.
There are two ways to determine your lowest earners. The first is to focus on ALL traffic, the second is to focus only on organic search traffic. If you’re just starting out with SEO, it’s quite possible that you don’t have a lot of ranking pages just yet. In this case, you will need to use ALL traffic. If you’ve got quite a few well-ranking articles and most of your posts are SEO optimized, you can focus on organic search traffic.
To find your lowest organic traffic earners among all of your content, in Google Analytics go to Behavior > Content > All Pages. To find only the organic search traffic, go to Acquisitions > Search Console > Landing Pages. You’ll need to set the date range to a suitable period of time, such as 1, 3 or 6 months. Then expand the list to show at least 100 items (more if you have a lot of post). Then go to the very last page.
What you’ll see in the list are likely a bunch of tags, categories, search pages, etc. You need to click forward until you find where posts start to show up in the list. See the screenshot below. I found two posts among the list of tags, categories and archive pages. Those are my two lowest ranking pages. They only bring in 1 click each through organic search per month.
I suggest scrolling through the dregs of your pages until you’ve identified 5 or so low earners to update during the month. If you don’t have many posts, 1 or 2 a month would suffice, but if you have a lot of posts like I do, you may need to do 15 or 20 to see significant results.
6. Track Conversions
When it comes down to it, the metric that matters the most for your success is conversions. Conversions are the actions you want readers to take on your site. These actions include clicking on your call-to-action, signing up for your newsletter, engaging with your social media buttons, etc. It’s great to have lots of people reading your content, but if they aren’t interacting at all (buying your guides, clicking into affiliate links, joining your newsletter), you haven’t really captured them as a customer. It’s not always about making money, but without conversion, you cannot be successful.
Call to actions are important to conversions. They act as the cheese for the mouse. They entice readers to click through. Each one of your posts should have a CTA (or even a few). But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve added those important links, you need to track the conversions to make sure people are actually clicking the CTA. If they aren’t, you can make adjustments to the link, the box or button you’ve placed it in, or the text you’ve used to describe it. All of these things have an impact on conversions.
To start tracking conversions, you can set up a goal in Google Analytics. Setting up a goal isn’t as straight forward as it may sound, but it’s not so difficult that you should avoid it. Here’s how to do it.
- Start by identifying the top 10 places where conversions matter the most on your site. This could be things like a sign-up box for your mailing list on your home page, a link to a product or download you sell on your site, a link to a “find out more” page, a video you want people to watch.
- Go into Google Analytics and navigate to Admin > Goals. Then click New Goal.
- Click Custom > Continue.
- Name your goal (something you’ll remember), leave the Goal slot as is, then click Destination > Continue.
- If what you’re tracking is a link (such as to another page on your site, a video, a PDF, etc), then add the link in the Equals to field. Click Save.
Now that you’ve set up your goal, you can see the results by clicking back to Home > Conversions > Goals > Overview. You can choose which goal to look at in the upper left corner dropdown. The results will show you how many times the destination link was clicked and where from. This will help you determine if your link placement is working or not. If there are lots of conversions, you’ve done something right. If there are no conversions, you need to make a change until you start seeing conversions taking place.
Using these 6 simple ways to track and monitor your SEO success, you will always be ahead of the game and able to make the necessary changes that will ensure continued success. Knowledge is power. monitoring SEO performance is a necessity if you want to succeed.
So we challenge you to stop ignoring your stats and to start monitoring and tracking your progress. Do this for just two months and you’ll find it easy to make into a habit.
Go on, make traffic happen!
Let us show you how to find keywords, where to put them, how to tell Google they are there and make your old posts bring more traffic. It’s all covered here in our Complete SEO Strategy guidebook. For $27 (+VAT)