Engagement Metrics You Should Be Reporting On During Your SEO Campaign
By Alyssa Mountz, SEM Coordinator at Trademark Productions Inc.
SEO has evolved beyond keyword position, so SEO strategy must keep up with the ever-changing field. In order to make SEO an effective marketing channel, making sure a site is SEO-friendly should have less to do with keyword metrics and more to do with conversion metrics.
Traditionally, expectations for SEO have been how high you can rank and how quickly, so reporting on user engagement metrics can take some education and practice. Part of user engagement reporting is understanding and explaining how these new metrics affect user conversions.
Since the ultimate goal of SEO is generally to increase revenue, setting up conversion-centric KPIs is vital to proving you have an effective SEO campaign. As such, you should change reporting to move away from keyword position, and move to user engagement KPIs and conversion KPIs. This might take a good amount of explanation on your part, to “retrain” the stakeholders that have always focused on rankings.
To begin, before developing content for your website, identify your user’s intent, and then satisfy that intent. This will help set a foundation for good engagement, instead of just littering your content with high volume keywords. Once you are confident your content will convert your audience, start measuring metrics that reflect your success.
Google Analytics will reveal initial useful metrics to follow like: time on site and bounce rate. Use these metrics to compare your content before and after optimization.
It is important to get users to your page, but if they immediately leave or don’t spend time engaging with the content, your rankings won’t mean much. Did users spend more time on your site? Did your bounce rate go down, suggesting higher content relevance? If the answer is yes, make sure you report on these metrics and explain their significance.
After utilizing Google Analytics for initial metrics, use heat mapping to see a visual representation of user engagement. Check how far users scrolled through your content. Did they scroll below the fold? If not, do you have sufficient content and call-to-actions above the fold? Did they drop off suddenly, but pick back up somewhere else on the page? This could indicate you do not have logical content flow.
Another metric to look at is click maps to make sure you are not confusing users by creating images or elements that look like links, but do not lead anywhere. Heat maps should be used as a supporting tool, since they provide qualitative information about the user experience. Combing qualitative user experience with quantitative data from Google Analytics will lead to a better understanding of what actions your users complete (or don’t complete) on your page.
Recognizing the importance of user engagement to SEO will enhance the usability and conversions onsite. At a minimum, you should report: time on site, pages visited, bounce rate, scroll depth, returning visitors, and ultimately conversions from search to provide an SEO experience that is centered on the user.
By reporting on user engagement metrics, you paint a picture of a user’s conversion path. You can see where they started, what they did, for how long they engaged in certain activities, and ultimately how they converted. Understanding what organically led users to your page from search and then what they did once they clicked through, will give you the complete conversion path to attribute to SEO efforts. That leads to a happy boss, or happy clients.
Alyssa is the SEM Coordinator at Trademark Productions, helping clients with SEO campaigns and their paid marketing channels. With an understanding of both organic and paid marketing initiatives, she helps clients reach their e-commerce and lead generation goals.
Founded in Royal Oak, MI in 1998, Trademark Productions, Inc. is a boutique web and online marketing agency that has been rockin’ the web since well before all the cool kids were doing it. Comprised of a dynamic team that is in house, our squad artfully blends academic wisdom with self taught “on the job learning” honed over the last decade.