Once you’ve completed the steps necessary to check both on-and-off-site SEO, your next step is to assess the site using one of the most comprehensive web analytics platforms in existence, which is simply and aptly named Google Analytics.
This chapter will serve as a checklist for creating the proper reports that will help you glean the most accurate and useful data for high-powered SEO.
On the left-hand side of your GA dashboard, click on Audience, then Overview.
Select the range of dates you prefer, then look at your dashboard reports. You’ll be able to see new versus returning visitors, the average number of sessions, pages per session, bounce rate, and a whole lot more.
While new visitors are good, it’s returning visitors you want to focus on. People only return when a website offers a useful and memorable web experience.
This report will show you statistics on your new and returning visitors. Once again, pay attention to the ones that show up a second and third and subsequent time and try to determine why. The idea is to replicate the why so that more show up and return again and again.
A Key Performance Indicator or KPI represents one or more metrics in the above reports. Here are a few to focus in on to determine the true health of your site and SEO campaign.
A page with a high bounce rate can indicate a potentially negative issue, but not always. Consider a dentistry website where a person clicks on the home page merely to retrieve the office phone number. The person may immediately click away from the site, contributing to a higher bounce rate, but the prospect still calls and thus converts just the same!
Therefore, don’t always look at a high bounce rate and gasp, but rather take the figure into consideration with other factors before attempting to fix something that may not be broken at all.
Obviously, the longer a visitor spends on a particular web page, the higher the chances of that person converting. Like bounce rate, a low average time on site doesn’t necessarily mean trouble. The page may be sparse on content, which is faster to consume, but the visitor still may have succeeded in gaining what he or she landed on the page for.
To improve the average time on site and to keep visitors itching to convert, ensure that all pages have significant amounts of engaging content. Your site’s content should be of the highest quality. If a page contains content, but that content fails to entertain or educate, you may have to rework the entire page.
On the other hand, if the page contains ample amounts of quality content, your site ’s visitors will stay longer and trust you more, which is where higher conversions are sure to come in.
If you notice that a majority of users are leaving from a particular page, check the page for issues. You may find that a video is broken, a link leads to nowhere, or that the content is downright useless. Fixing these issues can usually patch up any holes that are allowing your valuable leads to slip through.
Keep in mind that a high exit rate isn’t necessarily bad. Like bounce rate, the content on the page may do its job and motivate visitors to take action, which doesn’t require staying on the page for very long.
Therefore, instead of looking at the total number of exits, look at the percentage of exits, then set your data from highest to lowest. Most pages should be in the 50-65% range. If you notice any pages above 80%, that indicates there could be an error. Assess and act accordingly.
The main reason why people leave a page is because the content isn’t sufficient to solve their problems. Look over the page and determine if you’re truly serving your audience with the appropriate message.
Other questions to ask yourself include: Are there questions left unanswered? Is the text too dense to read? Are there too few or too many images? Does the page take exceedingly long to load?
NOTE: Your high exit rate could be due to external links opening in the same window. Set your links to open in a new window to keep visitors on site and ready to convert.
Website visitors tend to return to useful and easy-to-navigate websites. If your site exhibits a healthy amount of return visitors, that indicates a strong positive user signal. It means that the website and content it contains is worth seeing again. Most importantly, a high amount of return visitors is terrific for conversions. The more people who return, the more opportunities you have to convert them into leads, email subscribers, and customers.
If your site has a low amount of return visitors, this might indicate that your site is lacking in some way or another. Go back through the checklist once more to assess any issues you may have overlooked. If you still can’t find the culprit, consider asking your audience. A survey on social media could get plenty of honest responses that can help make your website an audience favorite.
You are encouraged to practice and play with Google Analytics to get more familiar with how visitors to your site translate into numbers, figures, timestamps, and goals. GA offers untold data about your website. You can even view your prospects’ behavior in real-time with live analytics. You can set conversion goals, and so much more.
A large aspect of search engine optimization is analyzing and testing every aspect of a site to improve performance. Therefore, an entire book could be written about Google Analytics and other web analysis tools, and the amazing reports they’re able to generate.
For now, pay attention to the above metrics to pinpoint any issues your website may be facing, but also the solutions to help you solve them.