Measuring SEO content performance has always been very important to marketers; it helps them to know where they are in their SEO journey. Unfortunately, many marketers don’t know that some of the metrics they have been using to measure SEO performance might not be giving them the true picture of the way things are. We are now coming to the realisation that the user engagement metrics we might be using to measure the strength of SEO might, in fact, be misleading. Therefore, it is time we looked at things from a more insightful perspective instead of merely drawing conclusions from conventional wisdom.
Here are six commonly-used SEO measuring mistakes you might be making without knowing:
Obsessing over Rankings
What is your understanding of SEO? If you do a simple Google search, one severely outdated definition of SEO which will show up says: “SEO is a methodology of strategies, tactics and techniques that are used to increase traffic to a website by ranking high in search engine results page”.
Every website owner wants his/her website to rank as high in the SERP as possible. But I don’t agree entirely with this outdated definition because there is more to SEO than merely appearing in the first or second page of SERPs. In any case, unless you are one of the big boys, and you are ready to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on improving your search engine rankings, chances of appearing on the first page are negligible. It is not impossible, but it is difficult. The good news is that high rankings are not the sole goal of SEO.
Traffic value, rather than traffic itself is the key. Higher rankings will certainly increase the chances of getting better traffic value, but it is not the be-all-end-all.
Did you know that you can actually outshine a website that is ranked #1 in SERPs if you have a better click-through rate? When you have a better click-through rate than a website that receives more traffic, it means your site is adding more value to your traffic, and you are converting better.
So rankings should not be used as the sole KPI for measuring the strength of your SEO. A more effective way to measure your SEO campaign is to measure click-through and conversion rates. Because it would then mean your visitors are finding your content valuable. Ranking doesn’t tell you anything about the value your SEO efforts are generating.
Obsessing over low bounce rates
Another misconception about SEO is that low bounce rates is a strong indicator of high-quality content; that if you see low bounce rates, it means that your visitors are very engrossed in your web pages because the content is premium.
Well, I have news for you. Low bounce rates could also be an indicator that your visitors are struggling to find the information they are looking for. If your visitors quickly get the information they are looking for, there will be no reason for them to continue staying in your page. In this case, high bounce rates could indicate success rather than failure. So don’t obsess yourself with the need to reduce the bounce rates unless you understand the underlying problem. The question you should be asking is: how much did the visitors contribute to the bottom line?
Googling your own keywords
What happens when you Google your own keywords or business to test your search rankings? Even though you might want to see your own business in Google search results, you shouldn’t search your own keywords especially while signed into your Google account because you could unwittingly interfere with your own results.
When you do a keyword search, Google automatically adjusts its results to show you what you want to see. When you click on your own website, Google takes note; so the next time you are searching for your own keyword, your website will be shown higher in SERPs than it actually should. The same thing applies to searching your own ads. Everything about Google is a personal experience. In other words, when you do a Google search, you see completely different results, depending on your past searches, sites that you have directly visited and your location, from someone else.
So don’t rely on your own Google search results to gauge the success of your SEO. You could use a different computer or go Incognito if you want to do your own keyword or business search.
Obsessing over high average “time on site.”
Here, the same argument we had about bounce rates applies. Most marketers are mistaken when they think that optimising their site towards increasing time on site is a way to increase user engagement. Look at it this way: your visitors could be spending a lot of time trying to retrieve information, and this is not a good sign.
Of course, there is no denying the fact that if the user is spending a lot of time on the site, they are probably engaging with the brand on a deeper level. All we are saying is that the mere fact the user is spending a lot of time on the site is not always an indicator of quality SEO efforts.
You should make it easy for your visitors to get the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. Therefore, it makes sense to reduce the “time on site” to enable users to find what they are looking for. Hence, short “time on site” is an indicator of a site with quality content and not one filled with junk and irrelevant content.
Obsessing over keyword rankings
One of the goals of SEO is to improve keyword rankings. However, keywords alone cannot be used as the sole metric to measure the quality of your SEO campaigns. For example, it is possible to rank well for a group of keywords but on a keener look, those keywords might not be bringing in high-quality traffic. So keyword ranking doesn’t tell the whole SEO story.
When conducting keyword research, pay attention to those keywords that focus on high-quality traffic that contribute to the growth of your business. Start by focusing on keywords that bring quality traffic to your business, but don’t forget to include other phrases you are not targeting that could bring you quality traffic. Perhaps you are focusing on a keyword you think should rank well, but when you do proper keyword research, you might be surprised that the keyword is actually searched less than 20 times a month. On the other hand, you might focus on a keyword that is searched more than 1 million times, yet it results in only 1% click-through rate. Focusing on the wrong keyword or placing too much emphasis on it can mess with your SEO strategy.
Obsessing over month-over-month traffic
Most businesses are affected by seasonal fluctuations, yet people continue to look at month-over-month organic traffic stats instead of year-over-year data. Instead of comparing your traffic data of one month with data on the preceding month, you might draw erroneous conclusions because of possible seasonality of some businesses. A more accurate and reliable way to measure the performance of your traffic is to compare your organic traffic over the last month versus the same month last year. This will give you a more accurate picture of your SEO strategy.
After all is said and done, quality traffic is the most important factor in the success of any SEO strategy. By tracking how your traffic is interacting with your website and by targeting the right traffic, not only will you bring in more traffic, but also convert more traffic through phone calls, opt-ins, purchases, form submissions and the like.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.