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What Is SEO And What Does It Get Me?

Tracking SEO With Google Analytics
[Note from Ross: This is part of a series of blog posts by Cassie, a student in our MKT513 Digital Marketing Masters Class. She’s documenting what the course is like from the student’s perspective. She received a partial scholarship in exchange for her blog posts about the course.]

This week in our Digital Marketing Masters Class, we started to learn more about SEO and how to use it. If you have a website, you have probably seen the letters SEO. But do you know what it means?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and refers to the set of rules that dictate how a search engine, such as Google, interprets and ranks your website’s content. Because Google is the number one search engine in the world, you would be wise to follow their SEO standards. Google’s SEO Starter Guide is a good place to start.

Once you start implementing SEO best practices you will see your website start to rank better in web searches, and hopefully start seeing more traffic because of your efforts.

How To Tell If SEO Is Helping Your Website

First, do your homework. Right now, today, make sure you sign yourself up for Google Analytics. This free web analytics tool from Google will help track the successes of your SEO efforts. Google Analytics can track a number of different metrics. It’s important to set up a customized dashboard to easily track the specific metrics that are important to you and your business.

There Are Three Types of Web Analytics Metrics

Basic Metrics

When you first jump into analytics you should start with the basics. Pageviews, or “hits”, refers to how many times a page was accessed on your website. Time on Page will let you know how long someone spent on each page, which will give you great insights on how people are interacting with your content.

Some other basic metrics to track might be Entry and Exit so you can learn where people first land on your website, and where they exit your website.

Calculated Metrics

For many businesses, the basic metrics are a good starting point, but once you get a good handle on how to interpret that data you will want to add in some Calculated Metrics. The business type will determine which metrics to track.

Average Page Depth (pageviews/sessions) measures the engagement on your website. Media companies will want to track Average Page Depth so they can show advertisers how much time their website visitors spend browsing their website. E-commerce websites might be more interested in tracking Unique Pageviews because they can correlate increased sales with those higher traffic numbers.

Site Bounce Rate is a metric that everyone should be tracking because it will tell you the percentage of people who exit your site before clicking to a new page. If this is happening it could mean that page wasn’t what the user was expecting and it could be a sign that changes need to be made to the design.

Manual Metrics

Once you’ve tackled the Basic Metrics and found a few good Calculated Metrics to add to your dashboard you can take a look at some of the Manual Metrics.

Manual Metrics are not automatic in any analytics packages and will require you to set them up.  They allow you to track specific actions on your website such as how many times a specific video is watched.

You can also set a Manual Metric for when users hit a specific page of the site such as a “thank you for signing up”, or checkout page. Setting these metrics will allow you to track your specific goals over time.


Interpreting Web Analytics

Fast forward a few weeks into the future. Imagine you’ve got your Google Analytics dashboard installed and the dashboard customized to the metrics you’ve decided to track. Now what?

Now that some time has gone by and some data has come in, it’s time to interpret that data. Analytics will help you figure out what is helping your conversions, and what may be hurting them.

After a while, you’ll be able to make educated decisions on important changes you need to make to continue progressing towards your goals. And that is where SEO comes right back into play.

Once you’ve done the full circle from initial Google Analytics set up and SEO implementation to analyzing your key metrics you’ll want to start the process over. Continue to test and improve your SEO methods. You should track your progress through web analytics as you go.

SEO is a great way of helping you get found on the internet, but web analytics will need to be set in place to ensure that once people find you they are converting.