Developing a great SEO status for your website requires more than just the use of good site structure principles, content and link building strategies. It also requires strategic measurement practices which are designed to optimize the quality and volume of your site's traffic. This is accomplished by examining customer behaviors and determining which site features can be adjusted in order to create a greater number of positive behaviors.
If you are looking to become more relevant to the search engines, measurement is something which you MUST practice and master. You cannot manage or improve what you cannot measure. Measurement gives you a verifiable and practical means by which you can allow your customers, not you, to determine what is working and what is not.
What to Measure for SEO
Good website measurement practices allow you to examine your customer's interaction with your site by examining the following components:
The bounce rate is the rate at which your customers exit a page on your website without clicking through to another page. For instance, if a visitor lands on your home page and clicks the back button without going to another page on your site, this is considered a bounce. The bounce rate applies to visitors who arrive on any page of your site and leave without going a second page.
For most websites, a bounce rate of between 20 and 30 percent is considered to be good. If you find that your bounce rate is high, you can improve it by testing one feature of your web pages a time.
For instance, do a 50% split test between two headlines and see if your bounce rate improves. If it does, you know to use the new headline because it is more engaging. However, if there is no change, you simply move on to the next most noticeable feature of the web page.
If you have a specific action which you want your customers to take in order to get to another page on your site, test the feature which solicits that action from your customers first. Repeat this process until your bounce rate is low enough to satisfy you and move on to testing the next dynamic.
Time on site
The more time your customers spend on your site, the more valuable your site is considered to be. The average time spent on most websites is between two and three minutes so right away you want to make sure you are getting at least that. The best way to measure and improve the time that your customers spend on your web site, is to work on improving the time spent on each of your web pages.
Time on each page
Beginning with what you consider to be the most important pages of your website, begin split testing one variable at a time to improve the time your visitors spend on that page. As you are doing this, the most important variable which will be testing is website content. Testing your content will have a twofold benefit, as it will encourage you to constantly add new content to your web pages which is always good for your SEO status.
Another way to increase the time customers spend on each page is to add interactive features to your website such as forums, articles, blogs and content rich multimedia features such as videos and audios.
If you have done a good job on measuring and improving the last three components, this one ought to be easy. Improving the amount of actions taken on your website is going to depend on the goal of your site. For instance, if your site is designed to collect customer contact information then want to split test your opt in forms in order to determine which one is going to get the best results.
If you have an opt in form which leads customers to a direct sales page, split test the sales page beginning with the headline and working your way down to the call to action. Testing customer actions may also require you to split one long sales page into two pages order to determine which section of the sales page is the weak link in the chain. For an example of this approach see the Fat Loss for Idiots sales page.
Measuring these primary components ought to help you to make tremendous strides in improving your website?€™s SEO status. Other things which you will want to measure include: keyword density, the methods by which your customers are finding your website and what the most popular pages are on your site.
Helpful Measurement Tools
The following tools will help you to accurately measure your customer behaviors so that you can work on improving your website's SEO status:
Google Analytics is a free and effective tool for measuring bounce rates, time spent on your website and conversion rates. Google Analytics also has a powerful feature which can help you to set up automated split testing.
Some shopping cart and e-commerce solutions such as 1Shopping cart include measurement tools which can help you to determine how effective your sales pages and opt in forms are. In addition to this, some e-mail marketing systems such as Aweber and Constant Contact allow you to measure conversion rates for your opt in forms.
Yahoo site explorer
Yahoo site Explorer is also a resource which can help you to check your back links and website statistics such as time spent on site and ranking variables.
If measuring and testing to improve your site's SEO status seems like a lot of work that is because it is. However, with a little hard work and perseverance the results you will get can be tremendous.
Additional Resources and Reading
Great tool for information on keywords and resources for keyword research.
Terrific forum where internet marketing experts discuss measurement techniques, SEO trends and much more.
Resource with very scientific information about the approach to SEO.