23 Oct 12 Most Important Search Engine Optimization Benchmarks
The essence of search engine optimization is to drive organic traffic to your blog or website.
It should be made clear that SEO is not concerned with rankings.
Rankings are basically the last option.
You must be highly visible for specific keywords for you to realize the goal of quality organic traffic.
Things can become a great problem when losing the meaning of the real aim of SEO.
Without any further ado, let us go straight to the point.
So what is a benchmark?
A benchmark is basically your starting point. You are evaluating your website’s current search engine ranking from a statistical and analytical point of view. This makes it possible for you to keep track of the progress you are making either on a monthly or annual basis. In addition, this aspect gives you important insights on the different areas you must channel most of your focus.
As mentioned earlier, an essential benchmark you must develop prior to spearheading any SEO campaign is determining the amount of organic traffic your website is receiving. Improving your organic traffic can be a gradual process and it requires tracking either on a monthly or quarterly basis.
A lot of websites will not experience organic traffic spikes but instead will have a gradual traffic growth. The main reason behind this is that Google takes quite some time to trust websites.
You must be in a position to prove to Google that your business is legit and that your links are also legitimate. Google utilizes more than two hundred different factors to establish the legitimacy of a particular website.
One big mistake that individuals make is that they fail to benchmark organic traffic when commencing a campaign. Referral traffic is extremely important since it has a correlation with more organic growth. if you are not aware, referral traffic is basically the traffic that is originating from another website. This is an essential metric because you want to have an impact on other websites and utilize their well-established traffic.
So for instance, if we receive a link from the Entrepreneur Magazine, it sends a lot of traffic and continues to do so as time goes by. Since our writing category is in the same industry, very high-quality traffic is sent.
Bear in mind that before Google, this is how a lot of websites grew. The identified other websites in the same industry, established good relationships and utilized their high-quality traffic for the benefit of their business. Google determines the legitimacy of a link by the kind of traffic that flows through it. It is for this reason that the outdated way of growing a private blog network has ceased to work.
The outdated method was to toss up a PBN, send out the link and expect for your rankings to get higher. The main issue is that your link is virtually dead because no traffic is flowing through it.
The importance of a link is to make reference on another website for its contribution or send your organic traffic to another website for additional information. Manipulating PageRank was not the original purpose of the link.
With that said, it is extremely important to benchmark all your current referral traffic levels. You will then be in a position to boost your referral traffic via forum marketing, legit guest posting, brand mentions, social media marketing and blog commenting. It will also occur naturally if you invest your time to develop a quality blog develop your content strategy since you will get links naturally.
Quantity Landing Pages Receiving Organic Traffic
In Google Analytics, you will find the pages receiving organic traffic. For this starting point, we need to measure the number of pages that are receiving organic traffic per month. We want to boost the number of pages receiving organic traffic with time.
As you generate new resources and content, you should also increase the number of pages Google and other search engines send organic traffic to. This is an extremely important task since you will learn about pages that are getting traffic and you were not aware of. Once you have identified these pages, improvements can be made by posting valuable content or improving their layout to boost conversions. The main aim is to keep your organic traffic to the page growing.
Number of Keywords in The Top 20
The number of keywords you have ranked for among the top twenty is important for various reasons. The first reason is that it portrays your current visibility. If you have no keywords among the top 20, then you are basically doing zero work. The second reason is that if you have ranked for some keywords in the top 20, you can generate content or major on building authority so as to improve the rankings of the low hanging ones. At times, the keywords on the second page only need a small boost.
Benchmarking page views is essential because it serves as an indicator of how interesting your website is. If you are receiving more than a single pageview per visitor, it definitely means that users are greatly interested in reading more of the content you have or learning more concerning the services or products you offer. You need users to be viewing different pages on your site since it offers you an opportunity to turn them into email subscribers or potential buyers.
A high bounce rate is an indication of a bad user experience. It is for this reason that you must benchmark it. If the bounce rate is high, usability needs must be your main area of focus. Always bear in mind that the bounce rates will be different based on a specific page or industry. For instance, new websites may experience a greater bounce rate while information websites experience a low bounce rate. Pages that are purely built for conversions will experience a higher bounce rate.
The Average Time Spent On a Site
Every business owner wants visitors to stay on their website for as long as they can. The longer time they spend on your site, the higher the chances of converting them. Similar to the bounce rate, time spent on site varies. If users are spending very little time on your site, be sure there is a problem with your user experience. Your website is either confusing, the content is below par or the entire site is poorly structures. The aim of average time spent on site benchmarking is increasing the time visitors stay on your site.
This is an important section to pay your attention to.
There are some individuals who live with the notion that having a bunch of indexed pages indicates authority.
I totally disagree.
Having numerous QUALITY pages indexed by Google is an indication of authority.
Quality is usually based on more than 200 different ranking factors that Google utilizes. However, social activity, user signals, and links are at the top of the list. I have met a bunch of clients who think that they are authority due to the numerous pages they have indexed. However, after further investigation, I am always led to the grim discovery that most of the indexed pages should not even be indexed. This is very popular with e-commerce websites.
The most elaborate example I come across is when a new page is created for a similar product, but it has a different color or size. This means that an individual has more than a hundred pages for a single product with the only difference being the size or color.
As you can see, this generates a lot of duplicate content and fills Google’s index with tons of unnecessary pages. This is a recipe for a hefty Google Panda penalty. Although it is never easy, a client must bring together all the pages into one single page offering users the option to choose size and color of a single page.
The rule of thumb is:
Only unique and quality pages should be indexed.
You need to benchmark indexed pages because you want to increase their number over time.
Do not forget that they have to be of a HIGH QUALITY. There can be no shortcut to this.
Number of Linking Root Domains
This is the moment you have bee anticipating, the links. It might seem crazy that all top eight benchmarks are not related with links. This is because search engine optimization is just more than links.
At the start of any campaign, it is important to try and benchmark on the quality of linking root domains coming to your website.
The main reason why benchmarking linking root domains is important that the general backlinks are due to the fact that you can receive multiple links from a single site. To increase authority, you must be receiving links from unique domains and unique IP addresses. The aim is to increase the quality linking root domains that are visiting your site with time.
Click Through Rate
This is a ranking factor that we have not mentioned earlier, but it is an essential benchmark. It is essential since Google analyzes the click through rate of SERp results and reorganizes the results based on the pages that are receiving the best click through rate.
In the eyes of Google, higher SERP CTRs equal to a greater perceived value. Apart from what Google perceives, you should tap into the value of increasing your SERP CTR since it is by far the easiest way to get more qualified traffic without having to necessarily increase your keyword visibility.
Go to Google Webmaster tools, then to search traffic and finally to search analytics.
Change the time range and select the CTR option. This will give an average CTR of all your results in Google. With time, you should strive to boost this amount. If it is very low, you must either improve your page titles and descriptions or increase the visibility of your keywords.
Although you may not fancy it, social media matters a lot when it comes to SEO. In addition, social media is a perfect way to build relationships and ultimately your authority. There is definitely no reason for you not to use social media. At the start of any campaign, benchmark your current presence on social media based on the engagement and followers per property. The primary goal should be to boost the quantity and quality of followers or increase the engagement levels.
Specific Keyword Rankings
The final yet most famous search engine optimization metric of all time is specific keyword rankings. It is a bit crazy that this metric had to come last. The reason behind this is that it is an old benchmark for keeping track of your SEO progress. The majority of the results in Google are either based on geographical location or personalized. This will only be extreme with time.
I can foresee a situation where all search results will be designed for an individual’s search characteristics, beliefs, and preferences. Google is digging a lot of data from Gmail, Chrome, Google Analytics and many other technologies so as to make results customized for an individual. It will be the same as Ad targeting but in an organic format.
I do not talk much about theories, but I can see this one coming to pass. The reason behind this is that you must move from tracking certain keywords and focus on the metrics that matter.
Prioritizing Benchmarks for SEO
Now you are equipped with twelve benchmarks you must track for any kind of SEO campaign. The question is: how should you prioritize these benchmarks? Which one should you work on first?The most interesting aspect of SEO campaigns is that starting by boosting your rankings is not always an ideal strategy. Sometimes, there are a bunch of other issues that must be dealt with first prior to delving into the hardcore link building and on-site optimization.
For instance, if you have a high bounce rate, users are not viewing more than a single page, the average time spent on a site is dwindling, it means that usability and conversion rate optimization should be your main focus. Ensuring that all your SEO traffic converts is an essential SEO milestone you should take. It does not matter the amount of traffic you receive. All that matters is the amount of traffic you convert. Fixing usability and conversion problems up front makes things very easy once you start receiving traffic.
You should always prioritize the main issues first.
Now it is my turn to hear from you.
Are you utilizing any of the above benchmarks?
Let us meet in the comment section.
Your reading is greatly appreciated.