We’ve talked about what SEO copywriting is and how to create content your customers want to read, and now it’s time to discuss how to know if your SEO content is working. While you know you need to use SEO to craft your content strategy, you may be wondering how you figure out if it’s all working or if you need to adjust your strategy.
Like most things SEO-related, there are going to be reports you want to watch to see how things are going.
When you develop SEO content, you choose a keyword to optimize, and you want to track your rankings for that keyword to see if it’s moving up to Google’s page 1. You start by taking a baseline report the day you publish your content piece. This tells you where you were before you optimized. You want to track this keyword once a month to see if it’s starting to move up in the search results. You can use Small SEO Tools to do this for free.
Once you’ve optimized for a keyword, you will hopefully see it start to move up in the search results and rank higher. Your goal is to get to the top of page 1 or as close as possible. As you move higher on page 1, you’ll generally get more traffic coming to your website from searches for that keyword or ones that are very closely related. The goal is to find out if we’re offering content that our ideal customer likes and finds helpful, and we’re going to use Google Analytics for this step.
Go to your Google Analytics account and look at your website traffic. What is your bounce rate? Ideally, we want it to be as low as possible. 50-60% is average. If it’s lower than that, great. If it’s higher than that, we may have an issue and need to investigate it further. A bounce rate indicates the % of people who come to your website and only view one page before leaving. They’re here, but they don’t want to learn more. It’s expected that you’ll have bounces, but you don’t want it to be more than that 50-60% that’s average.
Next, you want to look at your average time on site. How much time are they spending on your website? Your goal is to have them spend 1:00 or more on your site each time they visit—the higher, the better here.
Then, look at your pages per visit. How many pages does the average visitor check out? We usually see this in the 1.something range. The higher, the better.
Go to the Content section in Google Analytics and go to Pages Drilldown. You want to look at these same metrics on an individual page basis. Which pages or blog posts do they like the most, which don’t they like. If it’s a long post and the average time on the page is only 10-15 seconds, they’re not reading the content. If your exit rate is high, that means they’re leaving from that page and not coming back. Sometimes, it’s a page you’d expect to have a high exit rate, like a contact page, but if it’s a content page, there might be an issue. How many entrances does each post have? Entrances are people who came right to that page. Often this is SEO traffic.
The last thing you want to check is your overall Organic Traffic.
Go to your Traffic Channels report in Google Analytics and see which channels send the most traffic to your website. As you’re working on your SEO, you should start to see an increase in Organic or Search traffic (that’s the traffic that comes from your SEO work). A goal is to have about 30% of your traffic come from SEO. The higher, the better. If you have a low percentage of search traffic, you probably don’t have many keywords ranking on page 1 yet, but if you keep working on it, things should improve.
If you want to learn exactly how to do SEO on your website, I teach a SimpleSEO course that walks you through everything to do for SEO, including how to run these reports, what the numbers mean, and how to adjust your strategy based on the results. You can learn more here. I’d love to have you in class.