Tracking Results – What To Track and How
There has been a lot of buzz lately about how social media has overtaken search engine results page (SERP) rankings in importance for the visibility of a website. Maybe you have heard associates say something like, “Don’t bother with search engine optimization. It’s all about Facebook now.”
A quick glance at the chart below would seem to confirm this line of thinking:
Many companies would look at a chart like this and surmise that since seven of the top eight factors are social media related, all they need to do is keep up their social media efforts and everything will be fine. By the way, do take notice that Google+ is the #1 ranking factor on the Google search engine. How shocking! On the other hand, Facebook occupies four of the top six positions. The proper way to look at social media sites is that they are tools to help improve your search placement. Social media is a means, not an end.
The astute marketer understands that the critical factor is how everything intersects to create a synergy that benefits their search engine marketing efforts. As long as most people continue to use Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find websites, abandoning solid SEO practices is a mistake. After all, even though back-end optimization techniques occupy the lower part of this chart, they still account for about 40% of the total.
The questions Internet marketers should be asking revolve around how to determine which efforts result in the highest possible SERP rankings. Some of the best tools for accomplishing this are free for the asking.
It’s All About Analytics
There are plenty of vehicles available to analyze websites and some of the best ones are free. Here is a breakdown of your top options:
Google Analytics is arguably the best way to determine the source of your online traffic, free or paid. Anyone with a website should be looking at their Google Analytics results at least monthly. Anyone who has not been monitoring it is missing a terrific resource. Most of those who begin to use it wonder why they never had before. Others look at it and decide it is just too complicated, that they don’t have time, or they come up with some other excuse. Yes, there is a learning curve and you cannot just call Google for pointers. Like many other online tools, some of the best advice you will hear is to just start playing with it. Some of what you will learn includes:
- The sources of traffic to your website
- The volume of that traffic
- Which social network activities are generating traffic
- How many referrals you are receiving from your AdWords campaign
- The demographics of your site visitors
- Bounce rates
HubSpot’s Marketing Grader unabashedly wants you to buy SEO services from them. However, their analysis tool does offer some interesting if cursory insight into the current state of your website. Checking and comparing the results monthly is a bit of an effort and compared to many alternatives, can be pricey for what you get. Use of the Grader only is free.
The Moz OpenSite Explorer is a product of one of the SEO industry’s most highly regarded research firms. For no charge, you can find out such details as your current domain and page authority, as well as the number and sources of linking root domains. Subscribers get additional details such as Facebook Likes, Tweets, Google +1s, and much more.
The Bottom Line
No matter what, keep in mind that none of this means a thing unless the content on your website provides value to site visitors. Even if you decide to employ a top search marketing firm with reasonable rates to help guide you through these issues, the words on your pages are still the most important factors driving traffic to your site.