How do you know if your SEO is working hard for your website?
Metrics for search engine optimisation (SEO) are notoriously hard to get your head around. However, there are a few simple ways that you can easily check whether your SEO strategies and tactics are working as they should be.
This will, in turn, allow you to further optimise your website to attract the traffic you want.
Even though most business use outside help, it’s important to understand the basics, says Simon Dell, director of digital marketing agency TwoCents Group.
“Tackling SEO can be fairly complicated and is generally best left to a professional, but getting a basic understanding of how it works should be a priority for every business owner, and isn't hard,” he says.
Why is testing SEO important?
The primary way people find stuff online is by searching for it using a search engine, such as Google. SEO helps your website appear higher in organic search results.
Testing the SEO capabilities of your website is also important because, like any marketing tactic, you should always be assessing your performance so you can allocate more or less spend to particular areas.
“More and more people use search engines to discover businesses so SEO is an important marketing channel to keep monitoring. SEO testing is also really simple so there are no excuses for not being able to do it,” says Ned Dwyer, founder of Tweaky.com, a service that lets people find someone to make small changes to their website.
“People think that you need to have a lot of technical knowledge to test and analyse your SEO, but in reality there are plenty of tools that will do the heavy lifting for you,” Dwyer says.
SEO checking tools can also spot where your website has broken links (links that go to wrong or old web pages) which negatively affects SEO performance.
Three simple steps to testing SEO
There are a number of free tools that allow you to understand where your website ranks for certain keywords. But Dell warns that it's important to use those, and not your own computer, because that will give a false result. “You need to see the results as everyone else sees them,” Dell says.
1. Integrate your Google Webmaster Tools account with Google Analytics.
This will allow you to see what keyword search queries your website is appearing on and what percentage of people click through to your website. (See here for more details.)
2. A rank check to see how visible your website is in the Google search results. First, go to your Google Analytics account and check which keywords are responsible for sending you traffic from search sources. Then, use a rank checker tool (Dell recommends SEOBook.com) to see where you're appearing for those keywords. You can also find keywords via the Google Keyword Planner Tool.
3. The last thing you should do is make sure you setup your Google Webmaster Tools account. This will help uncover potential technical issues for you. It runs this automatically so all you need to do is get your account set up.
SEO testing misconceptions
Dwyer argues that it’s not as important to find out how highly you’re ranking as it is to find out which keywords people are searching for, as there’s no point being number one if nobody is searching for that term.
“I generally don't care so much about the ranking – I mostly care about how much traffic I get for certain keywords. I then build up my content around these keywords which leads to more traffic,” he says.
So there you have it: some simple ways (and the reason you should) be testing the SEO of your website. Basically, it’s about being found (short of paying for search advertising).
In later articles we’ll go into more depth about search marketing strategies and the differences in keywords between organic search like we’ve been discussing here, and keywords for paid search marketing.