As a general rule, I don't invest in things I don't understand. I have found this to be true also for many business owners, particularly when it comes to their online presence, digital footprint and SEO.
Most business owners I talk to don't totally understand Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and it, therefore, becomes something they don't believe they need to invest time on or something they would just rather not deal with, throwing it in the ‘too hard' basket. That is, until it becomes something they have to deal with. This often proves a challenge when starting a new project or getting involved in helping a client with their organic reach. It's difficult to get someone to invest in something they can't see. To get results with SEO takes time – there is no magic bullet.
Organiс search is still the primary source of the traffic to most websites, and your online visibility and reputation depend largely on how high you rank on Google and how easily your customers and audience can find and interact with you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic/visitors and the purchase of paid placement.
It's a jungle out there
SEO is a very broad topic. There are many elements that contribute to, and produce quality SEO results. Some rather technical and others not so technical. This includes, though not limited to; Internal linking, anchor text, ALT tags, headings, titles and title tags, sitemaps, navigation, URL naming conventions, and meta descriptions.
The challenge for myself and other consultants is finding a way to explain SEO in terms clients can understand so that it doesn’t seem so much like a foreign language, and demonstrate practically that it is still very relevant today as it was six years ago.
Let's pivot for a minute and talk about your employees. Do you invest in them?
Sure, most employees are not as invested in the company they work for as their employer would like – but it's not their business so it is unrealistic to expect them to be. A business owner should be the most invested in their business. However, what if you had an employee that worked 24×7, 365 days a week generating your business and never asked for anything in return. Would you feel obligated to invest in them? Hopefully, your answer is a strong ‘yes'. This is exactly what your website is – an employee that works tirelessly to represent your business, inform potential new customers, generate leads and create revenue – or at least it should.
This is how I think of my clients' websites. Your website is your hardest working employee so you should invest in it accordingly. If you don't and things start to slip, your website can very quickly become hard to find for potential and existing clients when they search for your business on the inter-webs.
Taking this view, your website should also have a return on its investment (an ROI). I don't believe many business owners subscribe to this view. You invested time and money getting it set up. Isn't it right that it should do the same, save you time and generate you money? It's a strong ‘yes' from me!
But, how do you measure this ROI?
Measuring SEO ROI
So what should you focus on when talking SEO next time with your web developer or partner agency?
Here are eight elements of SEO that you should be across and feel comfortable digging into.
Organic sessions measure earned visits to your website from search engines such as Google. A session is defined by a single visit to your website, the actions taken by the user during that visit, and then the exit of the user from the site.
It is important to note that, If a user idles, their session will time out after 30 minutes of inactivity by default. This means that a single user can be responsible for multiple sessions, in a single day.
Currently, growth in organic traffic is the single most important performance indicator because it clearly aligns with the objective at the heart of SEO, this being – getting more eyes with intent on your website.
You can directly impact organic sessions by crafting a compelling, relevant page title and writing a meta description with a clear, enticing call-to-action.
Keyword Ranking Increases
Keyword rankings are where your specific keywords are positioned in major search engines like Google. The higher your website ranks for high volume keywords (terms that are frequently searched), the better.
Keyword ranking improvements are the first entry point to achieve other primary objectives on your website such as more traffic, leads, and sales.
The first two factors relate to getting and attracting visitors to your website, but what happens after that? What action do you need and want visitors to take once they’ve landed on your website?
Ultimately, you would want to generate a lead that will eventually convert into a sale or a new customer. A lead is any kind of captured contact with a potential customer that can be used for follow up or action at a later date. this could be a:
- Newsletter signup
- Contact form submission
- Phone call
- Registration for an event
- Completed purchase
An increase in the number of qualified leads is good for any business and an important element in reporting on your ROI.
A bounce is when a user enters your website on a particular page and leaves from that same page without taking any other action.
Bounce rate is a metric that measures the percent of sessions where the user loads the page and immediately exits without performing any action.
Bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of non-interactive sessions by the total number of sessions. A typical bounce rate is often between 40 to 60 percent, meaning about half of all sessions are expected to end with no action taken. However, this will vary substantially depending on your industry or niche.
When users bounce back to the search engine results page (SERP) it can indicate that the page shown in the search is not relevant, does not align with the user's expectation or is frustrating to navigate.
Alternatively, a low bounce rate indicates the target page is relevant, the website is easy to navigate and more importantly, aligned with the visitor's expectations.
Pages per session is a metric that measures, on average, how many pages users visit during a session. It also counts repeated views of a single page.
If you have a one-page website, 1 page per session is most likely ideal (you’ll want to look at time on site, in that case).
If your website is very content-heavy and focused on informing the user, or an eCommerce site where users typically view multiple products and, you will expect to see many more pages per session.
Make sure you guide the visitor at every opportunity, have clear Calls To Action (CTA's) throughout the website to direct users deeper into your content and nurture into your conversion funnel.
Average Session Duration
Session duration measures the average length of a visit to your website. The more in-depth your content and site structure, the longer you can expect this duration to be. Continue to focus on prominent and clear CTA's to convert this captive audience into a lead or customer.
The more engaging your content, the longer you would expect a visitor to your website to stick around.
Top Exit Pages
An exit page is the last page visited by a user before they end the session. They can end the session either by closing the tab or browser, or beginning a new search.
It's important to note that an exit is not always a negative – a user can exit from your ‘thank you' page after they have subscribed or completed a lead generating action or purchase confirmation page. In this case, having a completely satisfying experience.
However, if a high percentage of users are exiting from a page where you do not want their journey to end, it could be an opportunity for User Experience (UX) or User Information (UI) or even design improvements.
You can find these details in Google Analytics by navigating to Behaviour Reports > Site Content > Exit Pages.
You don't need to know everything
While it's important for a business owner to know their business, having some knowledge of SEO and how it can impact your business' bottom line is just as important. You don't need to know everything, just enough to have a quality, informed conversation.
Keeping the above points in mind when talking SEO next will help you better understand where you should be investing your time and money when it comes to your digital presence and, your best employee.
Leverage the power of Google Analytics, rank tracking, site speed analyzers, and other online tools to amplify strengths and correct weaknesses on your website. The juice will be worth the squeeze.
For a deeper dive into SEO, hit up the Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide. It contains a lot of great information for all levels of understanding and a ret reference source.
Hope this helps.
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