There seem to be a million and one website and SEO metrics to track. If you’re a small business owner trying to digitally market your products and services online, the avalanche of data can feel overwhelming and make your head spin. But some metrics are more important to monitor than others. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the top metrics you need to monitor and some of the problems indicated by these metrics. Let’s begin by looking at the importance of your backlink profile.
1. Backlink Profile
Backlinks aren’t necessarily as heavily weighted as they used to be. They're still very important, but focus on quality over quantity.
In the olden days, having as many backlinks as possible was many SEO professionals’ strategy, and they tried to inflate their SEO score with “link juice.” However, a lot of the backlinks during this era were low quality and generally spam links. For instance, a website administrator might spin several pieces of content and post them on a separate website, all with links back to one page.
The duplicate content didn’t add any value for Google’s users, so to mend the issue, Google rolled out an update that penalized low quality and spammy backlinks. Furthermore, be aware that Google says it's a huge mistake to pay for backlinks, because they can usually find out when web administrators are trying to game the system.
Instead, adopt two tried and true techniques for a strong backlink profile:
- Strive to make link-worthy content that’s so valuable people will naturally link to it on their own.
- Incorporate guest posts into your strategy – so long as the site on which you’re making a guest post has an audience that benefits from your content.
Tip: Use a backlink checker to monitor your profile and use the Google Disavow tool to sever links you think are disreputable. (be careful, using the disavow tool incorrectly could really screw up or remove your Google listings. Proceed with caution.)
2. Bounce Rate
Bounce is as much of a site metric as it is a ranking signal to the Google algorithm, and a high bounce rate can be indicative of several problems.
For those of you who didn’t already know, a bounce is when a user clicks a link to visit one of your pages, and then – for a variety of reasons – immediately leaves your page.
I can personally say that one of the main reasons I bounce from a page is due to slow loading speeds, which typically infuriates your audience. More about that in a minute...
High bounce rates could also indicate poor content quality, but you’re going to have to use good judgment and read between the lines to know if that’s the case. Be aware that a high bounce rate could equally indicate that users easily find the information they were looking for, and then left. Generally speaking, if a page is rich with information and content and you have a high bounce rate, users may not be finding the information they desire.
It could also mean that your site has too much text, and isn't broken up with headlines, pictures, etc. Us humans aren't keen on big chunks of text without something to distract us 🙂
On the other hand, if a page is not rich with content (such as an About page that lists simple information like store hours and phone number), chances are users are quickly finding the answers they wanted, and don’t need to spend a lot of time on that page.
The following root causes can cause bounce rates to increase:
Slow loading speed
Poor content quality
Bad site design
Technical difficulties (broken links, 404’s, etc.)
3. Average Page Load Time
As briefly discussed in the previous section, slow page load times can chase visitors off in angry droves. However, also be aware that page load time is a ranking signal to the Google algorithm. For the most effective SEO score possible and the best rankings, you should strive to make pages load as fast as possible. Google loves fast pages, your audience loves fast pages – everybody wins.
Also note that some of your visitors may be on slow or weak connections, especially those using mobile devices. If portions of your audience with only one connection bar and no Wi-Fi options in their immediate area try to download a page loaded with high resolution images, you can bet your bounce rate is going to increase.
The good news is there’s a lot you can do to decrease the amount of time page loads. The following solutions will help you decrease page load time to help increase your SEO performance:
Using compression plugins for images to conserve bandwidth. We like TinyPNG
Loading multimedia elements only after the page’s text loads
- Implement a Cloud Delivery Network (CDN). We're big fans of CloudFlare
Pruning necessary plugins and elements that slow down pages. See P3 to optimize your plugins
4. Pages Per Session
Pages per session is defined as the average number of pages a visitor views during a session on your website.
This metric can be extremely revealing for two reasons. Firstly, it is the opposite metric of bounce rate, and can emphasize how engaged your visitors are with your content – how beneficial the value of your website is. Secondly, the pages per session metric indicates a strong or weak internal link structure.
The longer you can keep a visitor combing through your content the better, and the more likely that visitor is to convert. The ultimate goal is to serve up information on a silver platter and provide solutions to problems and answers to questions – even if you link to another website. Nevertheless, if you can link to other resources contained on your own website, the more pages an individual will view and the higher your conversion rate will be.
If monitoring website statistics and metrics seems to be a droll tedium, it might be past time to higher the help of an experienced professional to alleviate the burden micromanagement. Time is short, and every minute spent tracking key site metrics is a minute you could better spend on growing your business.
Instead of exhausting your limited resource of time, let us help you grow your audience, refine conversion rates, and increase your bottom line.