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The year 2018 will witness few of the new trends in the search engine optimization arena as the digital marketing eco-space is changing to become more competitive. Along with the changing face of the market, increased users, and changing user behaviors, the search engine algorithms are also shifting and becoming more contextual than keyword based.
The world of SEO is dynamic and is certainly going to change in 2018 as well. One of the reasons among few is the framework of the web world along with the devices being used to browse the internet are changing.
Increasing number of users are now accessing the internet through their mobile phones. Search engines favor websites that use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which helps the web pages to load much faster on the mobile phones. There is a paradigm shift in the type of content, and more usage of videos are prevalent and is on the rise.
The increased implementation of Artificial intelligence has made demographic based keywords and long-tail keywords more important. Thus the organic digital marketing eco-space is evolving at a faster pace. To keep in tandem with this change, the SEO practices are also going through a shift. In this changed context, the top ten SEO metrics that you should track in 2018 are enumerated below.
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1. Ranking and keyword performance
Considering the fact that 18% of the organic clicks on Google always go to the first position, search engine ranking is the first important metric that should be tracked to gauge SEO performance. It is imperative to know how the web page ranks in search engines for the desired search keywords. Before determining the ranking factor, the keywords have to be identified which the potential customers would search.
The words and phrases have to be checked most of which would be more than one whord or long-tail keywords. Look for the long-tail keywords which may include location, descriptors or other related terms that make the search more precise, contextual, and useful.
Keyword tracking helps you to streamline your SEO strategies as you would know which keyword would require more attention and which of them are driving more traffic to the site. It would also give you a fair idea how your website is performing in terms of search engine results compared to the competitors’ websites.
If your website is listed on the first page of the search engine results like Google and Bing, it increases brand awareness and helps in branding. Some of the keywords may seem to be too competitive compared to the benefit that can be accrued from them. You can leave such keywords and pay more attention to the ones that can collectively bring more traffic to your site. To increase keyword ranking, the best practices are:
• Keeping a regular track of the improvement in search engine ranking
• Knowing the target audience
• Checking whether the internal linking is executed properly
Here’s how you can track keywords
Keyword rankings can be tracked using many of the SEO tools available in the market like Wordstream, Raven SEO, SEO Profiler, etc. Apart from offering keyword suggestions, few of these tools also show the action plans that can be implemented to improve results.
One of the best practices is to add keywords to track in the tracker you are using, each time you publish a post. This would help you know whether the right keywords are targeted and whether the traffic is growing over time.
2. Organic Traffic Volume
Continuous improvement of the organic traffic to the website should be the objective of the SEO efforts. When the website does reach the first page of the search engine results, driving more traffic becomes even more important which is the main intent.
Branded and Non-Branded keywords
The organic traffic volume to a website comes from the organic searches which are gained from search results that are not paid for. Organic traffic comes from two types of keywords namely non-branded and branded keywords.
Branded keywords are words related to your business or the brand name. Non-branded keywords are more important from the SEO perspective that the SEO specialists should focus on. The reason is these keywords are searched by people who do not know about your product or business but are still guided to your website through their searched keywords.
Track the volume of search engine traffic you attract every month and ensure that it is on the rise. A close watch is required for at least a few months. Google Analytics gives you the statistics on the main dashboard. The graph shows you the inflow of the overall traffic for the last 30 days. You can also adjust it for a longer period as well.
3. Measure quality of traffic
The website traffic is important, but the right target audience which suits your business is more important. This relates to the fact, the better the quality of the traffic the more the conversion rate and more will be the marketing goals fulfilled. This means:
• The average visit duration of the visitors should increase
• The page views should increase
• The bounce rate should be low indicating the duration of visitors’ stay on the site is more
If the bounce rate is high and the page views and average duration spent is low, there is some problem in the website that should be sorted out. If these metrics are high, it means the traffic is satisfied with what they are presented on the website, and it’s a precondition for more conversion rates.
The conversion that leads to purchase is the ultimate goal of any SEO initiative. Track the conversions and know from which source the conversion is happening at a higher rate. If the organic traffic is driving more of conversions, then the SEO campaign is effective. On the other hand, if the traffic is more from referrals from social networks and others it signifies that off-site campaigns like brand promotion and content marketing are performing well.
The conversions converted to monetary value would give you the ROI from your SEO campaigns. Not only the first time purchase of a customer should be taken into account, but the repeat purchases should also be taken into account which would take you to the calculation of customer’s lifetime value (LTV). Higher conversion rates always mean that the website is performing better in terms of accomplishing business goals.
5. Relevant Quality Backlinks
Creating credible backlinks is something that fetches higher rankings in search engine results page (SERP) and increases referral visits. Track the four metrics as mentioned below to have a better analysis of the performance of the backlinks.
• Backlink count – This tells you the number of links per page.
• Referring domain count – This is the number of domains that are linked to your website and the higher the count, the more the popularity of your site.
• Type of backlinks – It tells you the type of backlinks created.
• Anchor Text Distribution – By using the percentage of distribution, the referring domain count can be arrived at which is the measure of anchor text distribution.
6. Check Pages crawled per day
If you want search engines like Google to love your website a combination of different metrics like bounce rate, page views, time-on-page, etc. has to be healthy. Crawling of the page by the search engine also makes search engines like Google notice the changes like posting of a blog and rank accordingly.
Ideally, the numbers of pages crawled per day should be higher. This report can be found in the webmaster tools in “crawl stats” under “crawl.” Graphs of pages crawled per day is depicted which should be checked every month or after a couple of weeks. If the crawled pages per day go down suddenly, new crawl errors must have crept in which has to correct.
7. Page authority
Page authority is an aggregate of all important metrics like Mozrank, link profile, MozTrust, and many others for Google to know how competitive a website is. Page authority seems to be the factor with the greatest weightage for a website to rank well in Google. Page authority can be tracked in Moz and measuring a website’s page authority is cardinal to choosing the right techniques and strategies for SEO and also to ensure that they are effective.
How to influence page authority?
As Google takes into account many factors to calculate this metric the most effective way to influence this metric is to improve the overall SEO scores. The link profile should be strong enough as it influences MozTrust and MozRank. If the page authority seems to be low, link building strategies, content strategies, and social media engagement are the areas that can be looked into to boost the PA of a website.
8. Domain Authority
Domain authority represents the factors which can help it rank higher in search engines. If the domain authority of a website is more than 35 search engines give some weightage to it, and the results are higher rankings. Domain authority is the SEO metric that shows the number of root domains which link to the various pages of a website opposed to the links pointing towards your home page.
Thus if the website has more links from different pages, it would be considered by the search engine to rank higher than the websites which link to their homepage. Domain authority is calculated with the combination of metrics like root domains, mozTrust, mozRank, and the total number of links from your website.
How to influence domain authority?
While building a website, the inner pages of the blog or the website should contain targeted keywords hinting Google that the inner pages are as important for ranking purposes. A good number of quality backlinks should be built for the internal pages for it to show up in Google. This would build trust in each of the internal pages that will help in building a firm domain authority in the long run affecting ranking in a positive way.
9. Optimization of Load speed of a page
The reason why load speed of a page is an important metric is, if more time is taken for a page to load, the visitors may leave your website, and the bounce rate can go high. If you happen to see the bounce rate higher at the onset, load speed can be a factor. Although bounce rate can also go high for the poor quality of content as well.
The ideal loading time for a website is two seconds, but it is even better if it loads faster. There are many tools available to check the load speed like Google Page Speed, Quick Sprout, Pingdom or GTmetrix where you just have to enter the URL of your website and submit. The overall speed score of your website will be displayed at the top. You can also have a look at the detailed report as well.
The speed tests should be conducted on every page of your website along with the landing pages and blog pages. If the blog posts take a load speed of lesser than two seconds the rest of the webpages will do so as well. If the load time is more, you may have to look into the technicalities of the website and hiring an expert is always advisable.
10. Monitor traffic by devices
Google favors mobile-friendly sites and if the website is not responsive for mobile or difficult for the readers to read your content on mobile devices it would certainly be penalized by the search engine. Check whether the web pages are mobile friendly and if it’s not, refer to Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.
A mobile-friendly website is not only important for SEO purposes, but it affects the conversion rates heavily. The performance of your website on mobile phones can be checked out in Google Analytics. Go to “overview” section of Google analytics “Audience -> Mobile -> Overview” and glance at the other metrics like time on-page, bounce rate, etc. for each type of devices. If you see an anomaly in the data, there must be something technically wrong and should be addressed. Mobile statistics are a bit worse than the desktop scores, but there should not be a huge difference. If there happens to be a huge difference, there is a need for your site to be more mobile-friendly.