Before I began my career in SEO, I held a variety of positions in retail and customer service. I always put my personality first, to much success. Realizing my weaknesses, I avoided excel spreadsheets and data analysis as much as possible. Eventually, I realized that this approach, though fun, would not allow me to achieve my long-term goals. Starting at Wpromote, I quickly began the biggest technical learning curve of my life. I was forced to shake hands with the scary beast that I have feared since elementary school math class: data. For the past 8 months, data and I have been on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. That being said, I am happy to report that I have entered a new era of appreciation. If you want to understand SEO, if you want to succeed in business, you need to embrace data. Data is your friend, helping you to monitor your business’ progress. There is no need to be afraid of data.
Food For Thought:
As seen in the above graph, employees who embrace data are likely to improve their work performance. In particular, there are 5 data points that must be addressed on a regular basis to establish a strong web presence for a client:
- Domain Authority – Domain authority is a calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. You can find a site’s domain authority by using the open site explorer tool by SEO juggernaut Moz. Domain authority is important because it reflects how competitive your site is within Google. In today’s day and age, Yellow Pages is a thing of the past. People are searching for services on Google. SEO is all about using strategies to get your business as close to the first page as possible. If you can boost your domain authority, you will have a better chance of being discovered by the user and securing a sale down the line. The best way to boost your domain authority is to enhance your link profile, by getting links from strong domains.
- Site Speed – Somewhat self-explanatory, site speed indicates how fast a webpage loads, either in desktop or mobile format. Use the Google Developers page to test the speed of your site. Site speed is important because we live in a world obsessed with speed. We need information, and we need it NOW! In particular, Google is obsessed with speed. Google has been known to reward sites that load quickly with higher rankings. In addition to the Google influence, users crave a quick site speed. If your site takes too long to load, a user may switch to a different site provider to fulfill your needs. Strange Loop has stated that just “a one second delay can cost you 7 percent of sales.”
Here’s an example from Walmart to demonstrate this issue:
You can put tons of effort into your content, but if it doesn’t load quickly, users are likely to never see it, and your effort will be wasted. Luckily, there are some easy ways to improve site speed:
- Optimize Images – JPEGs and PNGs are your best options to enable a quick load time. In addition, make sure your code is correct.
- Reduce Server Response Time – You can use Google’s PageSpeed Tools to help with this process.
- Minimize HTTP Requests – Simplify the design of your webpage to allow quicker page rendering.
- Minimize Plug-Ins – Excessive plug-ins can slow down your site and cause technical glitches.
- Enable Compression – You can reduce the HTTP response and zip pages. Gzip is a helpful tool.
- Backlinks – Google defines backlinks as hyper-links that point to a particular web page. You can use Ahrefs to analyze backlinks as well as referring domains. To improve your backlink profile, you must first do some cleanup. Check out your current backlink profile and pinpoint any spammy links that could get you penalized by Google. It is important to measure the quantity and quality of your backlinks. If you have concerns about a link, reach out to the owner and ask he or she to remove it. Cleanup is a continuous process. While bloggers get back to you, focus on diversifying your content profile with blog posts, infographics, press releases, etc. When conducting new outreach, bear in mind your ratio of backlinks to linking root domains. Google will react negatively if there are far more backlinks than linking domains. The recent Penguin penalty by Google exemplified this fact. Focus on getting high quality links, and your backlink profile will improve.
- Bounce Rate – Bounce rate pertains to the percentage of visitors that go to a site and leave after viewing only one page. You can track bounce rate by creating your own Google Analytics account. Bounce rate is very important, as it has a huge influence on your ability to secure sales and track goals. If your bounce rate is high, your site could use tweaking. Consider some of these factors:
- Be mobile friendly – In today’s day and age, many people are using their smart phones and other devices to search for services and products. Provide a great mobile site and you won’t miss out on business if your customers are on the go.
- Avoid pop ups – Sometimes, pop ups can be a positive thing. For example, email boxes can help users get special deals on the site. Most of the time however, pop-ups are just annoying. Use sparingly.
- Simplify the navigation process – If you have an Ecommerce site, make your website interactive and provide a clear pathway for users to get to the products they desire. In addition, consider making your website intuitive, to target the specific tastes of certain demographics.
- Split up content and offer search functionality – Users have very short attention spans. Don’t bore them with long blocks of text. Prioritize the different sections of your site and split up information accordingly. Offer a search feature so that customers can find exactly what they’re looking for from the homepage.
- Organic Visits – Organic visits occur when users connect to a site through unpaid search engine listings. In contrast, paid advertisements are non-organic. You can also track organic visits in Google Analytics.
As seen in the graph above, organic search makes up 64% of web traffic. Because of its influence, it is imperative to optimize your website to improve your organic search rankings. At the start of an SEO campaign pay careful attention to keyword research: keep a balance between search volume and competition score to make sure that you are setting appropriate goals for your client. Once your keywords are in place, work to perfect your on-site data. Properly optimized meta descriptions and title tags can make a big difference, in attracting users and pleasing the search engines. Next, zone in on your content creation. Pump up your blog and distribute infographics to attract high quality links that can boost your backlink profile. If you do all of these things, you will be on the right track to higher organic search rankings.
Data is crucial to SEO. As Google continues to dominate our society, SEO has become an essential part of business. Jim Yu, the CEO of SEO management platform BrightEdge, recently said “It is essential that marketers dig deeper into search, social, local mobile data to understand how they all work in tandem to impact ranking.” Proper data analysis will get you higher rankings and set you apart from your competition. Once a number-hater, I am now a data groupie, with a burgeoning interest in what makes every component of SEO tick. Through my growth process I have learned many important things, a big one being…
Analyze your data properly to achieve higher search engine rankings, increase your influence within your market, and you can boost your business!