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How do we measure SEO success?

Everyone wants to improve their site’s search engine optimisation. Everyone ought to be working on it. But I can assure you of one thing: not everyone is measuring if it’s working.

If you’ve employed someone decent to help you with your website’s SEO, they’ll have set up some good benchmarks against which their progress can be measured. (If you’ve employed some charlatan, they most certainly won’t have done so).

Unless you’re specifically working on a limited number of search terms, however, your progress shouldn’t be measured by monitoring your ranking for those terms. It’s the “long tail” of searches which matters, and therefore you need to be measuring the overall volume of traffic you’re getting from Google.

This is easy to do in Google Analytics. You might also like to only look at “quality visitors”, such as those from the parts of the world you’re interested in, and/or those who engaged with the website.

An interesting further refinement to the measurement would be to specifically exclude searches on your company name (which for many companies is actually the majority of searches). This would give an indication of the more technically-oriented search engine traffic. However, Google no longer passes through the actual searches to Google Analytics, so we can’t do this.

What we can do, however, is to look at visits which didn’t go to the company home page. That might cover this more interesting traffic. If you’re competent in setting up Google Analytics segments, try this: sessions which came from Google AND were from the UK (or wherever) AND did not have the home page as their landing page AND which lasted more than 20 seconds.


Interesting Google traffic: fell through 2013, but recovered last year

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