Segmenting Your Traffic
Surprisingly, many companies forget to segment their traffic and sometimes falsely attribute rises or drops in traffic to a sudden loss of something such as search rankings while the main culprit can be something else entirely. In looking at the various reports Google Analytics provides, you can select the organic traffic segment (in addition to many others) at the top to look at traffic coming specifically from search engine results.
Understanding your organic traffic gives you better understanding of how your pages are performing in search in addition to providing insight as to potential algorithm changes that may be impacting your traffic.
Segmenting between the different traffic sources such as organic, direct visits, and referral traffic (link visits) is highly important to understanding the full scope of your SEO efforts.
One of the most longstanding signs of SEO success is keyword rankings in search engine results pages. When creating or optimizing existing content, you expect to see a lift in organic visibility and in-turn, traffic. While Google Analytics no longer provides keyword information, there are still ways to see what search queries are getting your website placed in organic search results. Google Search Console, for example, provides click, impressions, click-through-rate, and average SERP position for your organic search queries.
Conversions are defined as the desired actions you wish your visitors to take upon viewing your content. Common actions qualifying as a conversion include a sale, filling out a contact us form or email signup, or downloading a coupon or some other piece of content such as a whitepaper. Setting up conversions in Google Analytics takes a clear definition of what a conversion is and a clear path to conversion. While it does take some digging in to have conversions properly set up in GA; the benefits of knowing what pages lead to the desired actions you wish your users to take on your website is invaluable.
Traffic and Engagement
Many experts in the industry argue traffic numbers are not as important as conversion rates. While this is often true, traffic is still an important metric to measure with regards to your website health and the overall quality of content you’re producing. Conventional wisdom states that the more quality content you produce, the more search engines will find, meaning more people will find it and increase the overall traffic to your website.
Be sure to look at organic landing pages and metrics associated with them. This will tell you the pages your users are finding in the search results and how they are interacting with them. For low traffic, high bounce rate pages, take a closer look to see what you can improve to increase user interaction/satisfaction.
On that note; just as important to the traffic you’re getting is whether your content is engaging users enough to keep them viewing pages on your site. Pay attention to metrics such as time on site, time on pages, bounce rates, exit rates and page views per session. These metrics tell us how useful users found the content on your site. Pages with high bounce rates often indicate content that did not meet the user’s expectations and left after viewing just one page. Special attention should be paid to pages with high bounce rates and exit rates, but remember a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A contact us page may have a high bounce rate because a user simply needed a phone number, found it, and then left.
Also look at the number of return visitors to your site. If the traffic you’re getting isn’t returning to your content, you may want to think of different methods to entice first visitors to become repeat visitors.
Tracking a website can become incredibly complex as every company has their own KPIs to keep in mind. However, most of the time the above metrics can tell us whether or not our content is performing to expectations and give us insight to future campaigns to build around. With a little knowledge and training of your analytics platform, you can gain key insights to make sure you’re producing the kind of content people will find and want to engage with.