Organic Keywords: SEO for Beginners

Organic Keywords: SEO for Beginners

Whether you’re a digital marketing professional helping other companies grow their online presence or an ecommerce website owner trying to boost your brand, there’s no getting around the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO for Beginners

SEO is critical to boosting internet visibility, making it easier for potential customers to find the products, services, and knowledge they need online.

Organic keywords are one important cornerstone of effective SEO. This is a type of keyword used to attract organic search traffic for free. 

If optimized correctly, there’s even the potential to rank for featured snippets — something that will help improve your click-through rate (CTR). Read on for an introductory guide to understanding organic keywords for SEO beginners.

What Are Organic Keywords?

Organic keywords are keywords used in SEO to attract “free” traffic. The “free” label is important because it sets organic keywords apart from pay-per-click (PPC) keywords used for Google Ads and similar platforms. The fact that organic keywords are free also makes them a cost-effective online marketing tool worth learning.

Affordability aside, organic search is a very valuable marketing tool. Google now processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day (that’s an average of about 40,000 keyword search queries per second).

If you can capture some of that organic traffic, you can boost your site’s visibility in a big way. The implementation of well-researched and carefully selected organic keywords can help you achieve this goal.

How Do I Find Organic Keywords?

There are a few ways to find organic keywords that are likely to help your website climb the search engine results pages (SERPs) of Google, Yahoo Search, Bing, and other search engines.

Below, we’ll walk you through a few options for researching and identifying organic keywords that will help drive your traffic to your platform.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics can help you identify which organic keywords drive traffic to your site. You can then leverage those keywords even further and maximize their impact. Landing page reports are one way to do this. 

In the Analytics dashboard, select “Behavior” > “Site Content” > “Landing Pages.”

google analytics behaviors tab

From there, you can click the URL slug (or enter it in the search bar). Then you need to go to “Secondary Dimension > “Advertising” > “Keyword.” Or, you can search in the mini search bar within “Secondary Dimension.” – Read more

#SEO #keywords

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How to Use Tags with Good SEO in WordPress

How to Use Tags with Good SEO in WordPress

Good SEO in WordPress. If I asked the vast majority of website owners ‘what brings in the majority of your traffic’, the top answer would be ‘my articles of course’ and that is a completely acceptable answer.

But, a better answer would be ‘my articles, but I also gain a lot of traffic from my categories and tags’.

Now we are talking.

This is because categories and tags play quite a crucial role in website traffic, organizational structure, and SEO. Up to this point, from reading around, it seems categories are given some merit, but tags are generally not used/used inappropriately or are told to be deindexed by search engines. I’m here to tell you that if you use your categories and tags correctly, you could increase your traffic by quite a lot, with auto generating content that takes up a fraction of your time. For me, this number was a 40% increase.

WordPress Categories Optimization

Categories are an effective way to archive articles under a category heading to organize a website. There are many benefits to doing this:

  • It helps your web users browse similar content on your website
  • It helps Google better understand what your content is about
  • It helps the architectural structure of your website, by having content under categories – this helps give a better understanding for Google and web users what your website is about

For example, let’s take an example of a bakery recipe blog that creates recipes for a range of bakery products. Effectively categories for this could be:

  • Cookie Recipes
  • Bread Recipes
  • Cake recipes
  • Pastry Recipes
  • etc.

Good SEO in WordPress

This ultimately tells people what your site is about, and how they can better explore your content. As well as this, it gives more indication to Google what your content is about, even before crawling the content itself.

For even better SEO, it could be a good idea to include the category in the prefix of your URL too. That way, your website structure is reflected in your URL for all of your content.

As well as this, you can create hierarchal categories, such as a category beneath a category – again, this helps – Read more

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Does Your Google Ad Spend Buy Better SEO?

Surely spending more on Google Ads will get you better placement in organic search also, right? That’s the claim that one Google sales representative allegedly made to a prospective client recently. But is it true that higher ad spend equals better organic results? Does your Ad spend Buy Better SEO?

Ever since Google Ads launched as AdWords on October 23, 2000, digital marketers have speculated that there must be a connection between dollars spent on pay-per-click (PPC) ads and performance in the free organic search results. Twenty-one years later, it’s still a common question that clients ask: “Can I buy better organic search performance by increasing my ad spend?”

The answer is, unequivocally: “No.”

Google Ads spend does not affect organic search performance in any way. Nor does participation in or purchase of any Google product from GSuite to the $150,000-per-year Google Analytics 360.

In Google’s words:

“While advertisers can pay more to be displayed higher in the advertising area, no one can buy better placement in the search results themselves.”– Google

“Search listings are free, and no one can pay for a better ranking, because Google is committed to keeping our search content useful and trustworthy. … Running a Google Ads campaign does not help your SEO rankings, despite some myths and claims.”– Google

To many, it seems like a logical connection: Giving Google more money should come with fringe benefits. But Google’s product isn’t search results, it’s the attention of human searchers. The search results are just bait to lure the searchers to Google so their attention can be sold to the highest Google Ads bidders. 

Searchers will only continue to give their attention to Google freely if Google’s search results are relevant and unbiased. Therefore, it’s in Google’s best interest to keep a distinct separation between church (organic results) and state (paid results).

It’s such an important aspect of Google’s business model that Googlers in all roles are educated about that separation when they’re hired — including, in theory, the errant sales rep. – Read more

#BuyBetterSEO?

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How to Build a Site Structure for SEO

Getting your website’s structure right is one of the most important technical SEO basics, yet it’s often overlooked.

A website shouldn’t be a random collection of pages and posts. It should be an organized collection of content that’s easy for search engines and users to navigate and understand.

In this guide, you’re going to learn how to build a site structure that works and helps your site achieve SEO success.

Specifically, we’ll look at:

What Is Site Structure?

Your website’s structure is the way that content (pages and posts) is grouped. This is sometimes referred to as your website’s architecture and is all about how your content is linked together and presented to users and search engines. It’s your website’s framework. 

A good website structure makes it easy for users to navigate between pages and search engines to crawl your content and understand what your site is about.

Think about it as how pages on your website relate to one another, specifically how they branch off your homepage and are grouped within deeper directories.

And planning a site structure includes considering your:

  • URL structures
  • Navigation menus
  • Categorization
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Internal linking

The Importance of Your Site’s Structure

Whether you have a small website or a large website, site structure is an important component for success as your site structure impacts both users, in terms of its accessibility and user-friendliness, and for search engines, in terms of crawlability and technical aspects.

So let’s take a look at the reasons why you need to take the time to properly define this for these two key reasons…

Site Structure for Users

Your website’s primary purpose is to put your products or services in front of your target audience, such as your next customer or client. That means that your users should be at the heart of everything you do.

And when we look at the reason why your site’s structure is so important for your users, we can break it down into three key things:

Site Structure Is Important for UX

The structure you choose has a direct impact on your website’s usability, and this means making it easier for users to find the products, services, or information that they’re looking for.

The easier it is for someone to find what they landed on your site for, the higher the chance that they’ll become a client or customer. 

A Good Site Structure Makes It Easier to Navigate

When you carefully plan out your site’s structure to help users find what they want as easily as possible, you’re making it easier to navigate.

Since one of the key functions of content on a website is to help push prospects through your sales funnel, it makes sense that you’d want to make it as simple as possible for a user to flow through the sales funnel by improving your navigation.

A Good Site Structure Groups Content and Makes Pages Easy to Reach in As Few Clicks As Possible

No one wants to spend an age looking for the content that they’re after. A good site structure makes it easier to find pages and posts in as few clicks as possible, keeping users engaged and stopping them from bouncing. 

Site Structure for Search Engines

While a good site structure is important for presenting a great user experience, it’s also a key part of achieving SEO success.

Structure your site in the right way, and it’s easier for the search engines to understand and rank your content higher on the SERPs.

The key reasons why site structure matters for search engines are:

Topically Grouped Content

Topical SEO is a big deal, and your site’s structure is a key way to showcase how different pages and posts are connected.

Often referred to as topical relevance or topical authority, grouping together related content pieces helps to position you to search engines as experts in your field, showcasing that you cover a topic in great depth. 

This helps search engines understand what your website is about and give context to the keywords you should be ranking for. 

Highlight Your Most Important Content

The right site structure helps you highlight your most important pages (often called pillar pages or hub pages) and position them as the pages that should rank for competitive, high volume keywords (think generic terms).

A Good Structure Makes Your Site Easier to Crawl and Find New Pages Faster

A good site structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and find new pages (and changes to existing pages) faster.

If Google can’t crawl all of your website’s pages, it’s going to struggle to index them. However, you shouldn’t face this issue with the right structure as all content should be linked to from at least one other page.

Your Site Structure Passes Link Authority

Backlinks are a key ranking factor. To maximize the benefits from your link building strategy, you need to make sure that you’re properly distributing link authority throughout your site.

To earn high-quality backlinks, you want to have different pages answering different questions. This way, you have several pages across your domain that are beneficial to users. You’re able to acquire more relevant, quality backlinks this way, too.

The right site structure helps you to do this effectively. 

Helps to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization can prevent your site from ranking as well as it could when two or more pages that have the same intent compete with one another. The right site structure can make it easier to stop this issue from occurring due to a clearly defined place on your site for a particular topic or piece of content. 

What Does a Good Site Structure Look Like?

We’ve already defined that a good site structure should:

  • Group topically related content together
  • Highlight your most important pages
  • Keep content simple and organized in a logical hierarchy

Before we dive into how to define your website structure, here’s what a well-organized structure looks like:

See how content is grouped around key pages that come off from the site’s homepage? Content is placed in a logical hierarchy, and it’s clear to see how this could easily be expanded as the site grows. 

This site architecture is based around what is known as topic clusters, and we’ll give a quick breakdown of the strategy:

Topic clusters are a group of content that revolves around a central topic and use a pillar page to link to and from. In short, topic clusters are centered around a single topic and offer multiple internal linking opportunities to keep readers on your site. 

They’re an effective approach to structuring your site, helping you group topically related content together and putting in place a solid internal linking structure. Here’s an example topic cluster with a pillar page:

Using topic clusters helps you showcase topical authority, which is vital for earning top rankings on the SERPs. 

How to Define a Site Structure That Works

Ready to plan out a site structure that works great both for your users and search engines? Here’s a step-by-step guide to defining your website structure: – Read more

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: Which Is Better for SEO?

One of the biggest ‘arguments’ in SEO is the subdomain vs. subdirectory debate. 

Which is better for SEO? Does it actually make a difference? If a blog is hosted on a subdomain, should you migrate it into a subdirectory? What’s Google’s stance on this?

These are just a few of the many questions commonly asked in the SEO community on social media, often met with differing responses.

And in this guide, we want to clarify the confusion and help settle the debate about ‘subdomain vs. subdirectory.’ We’ll dive deep into the technical SEO considerations that you need to take and outline the instances when they make the most sense to use.
Specifically, we’ll look at:

Understanding Subdomains and Subdirectories

Before we look at which is best for SEO, let’s first take a quick look at the technical difference between subdomains and subdirectories.

Subdomain: blog.yourdomain.com
Subdirectory: yourdomain.com/blog/ 

Essentially, a subdomain is a child of the parent domain, and they are sometimes used for hosting:

  • Blogs
  • ecommerce stores (when these are part of a larger site)
  • Internationalization (different websites to target different markets)
  • Separate mobile sites
  • Quote forms 

Notice that in the subdirectory (also known as a subfolder) example, the /blog/ sits within the main domain. It’s part of the main yourdomain.com website in the same way that any other page would be. For all intents and purposes, this is just another page on this website.

But a subdomain sits outside of the main domain; it sits within its own partition of the domain. In this example, it’s being used to host a blog.

A subdomain will always sit before the root domain when looking at a URL, whereas a subdirectory will always sit after.

If you’re currently not sure how many subdomains your site is using, or if it’s using any at all, you can use the Semrush Site Audit Tool to view your site’s structure, including any subdomains:

Just make sure when setting up the tool that ‘including all subdomains’ is selected for the crawl scope.

Why is there such a significant debate in the SEO community between subdomains and subdirectories? And is one better than the other when it comes to ranking on the SERPS?

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Giving Context to the Debate

Let’s clear one thing up; your website’s structure significantly impacts your organic search performance. 

The choice between a subdomain or a subdirectory for certain areas of your site can help or hinder your ability to drive growth. But similarly, there are instances when it does make sense to host part of your site on a subdomain.

This is very much an ‘it depends’ scenario. It’s important that you understand the different use scenarios and how they can impact your site’s organic performance. 

So then, where does the confusion come from?

This debate is sparked by the fact that Google treats subdomains as separate entities to your main domain, largely because some websites place different content on subdomains that shouldn’t really be associated with the main site. Or in some instances, those subdomains of the main domain are controlled by different people. – Read more

HTML Sitemap: The Benefits for SEO and Users

Well-executed technical SEO means making your website crawlable. An HTML sitemap is the key to success. Search engines read your sitemap and use it to crawl your site — meaning they send a bot to the webpage to “read” it. Google bot and other search engine crawlers then determine what’s on that page.

This is the first step in getting your page to show up in search results. Basically, the HTML sitemap helps search engines categorize your website, making it more accessible for search engines and humans alike. Below, we explain just what a sitemap is and how to create one.

What Is an HTML Sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is a file that lists all the important pages of your website that you want search engines like Google and Bing to index. Indexing refers to how search engines gather your landing pages and store them in their database. The search engine refers to this database to respond to user search engine queries. If a homepage is not indexed, it can’t be found and won’t rank in search engine results.

The sitemap doesn’t just list the pages on your website. It also contains information about each page, such as when it was created and last updated and its significance relative to the website’s other pages. Creating a sitemap is a critical first SEO step for new websites. However, even if you have an older website, it’s worth making a sitemap.

Google recommends sitemaps for large websites of more than 500 pages, but most experts agree it’s worth establishing a sitemap as soon as you create a website.

Why? Your website isn’t stagnant. It’s constantly evolving. For example, if you have a blog, you’re probably adding new pages every week. As you add pages, having a sitemap will make it easier for search engine robots to find and categorize those pages.

HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap: What Is the Difference?

There are two main types of sitemaps: HTML and XML. Hypertext markup language (HTML) and extensible markup language (XML) are two coding languages used to create webpages.

When it comes to sitemaps, the main difference is that HTML sitemaps focus on making the website more user-friendly for humans, while XML sitemaps are written solely for search engine spiders (crawlers).

Benefits of an HTML Sitemap

Given that search engine spiders prioritize XML sitemaps for fast crawling, you might wonder why you should bother with an HTML sitemap. After all, the spiders are what determine how and if the page is indexed and ranked.

However, don’t forget that Google also factors in user experience when ranking websites. By showing the search engine giant an HTML sitemap, you demonstrate your website’s user-friendly functionality.

Aside from making your website more user-friendly and improving its SEO ranking, an HTML sitemap has other benefits:

  • Organize large websites: The sitemap essentially serves as a directory for all webpages, allowing users to quickly find what they’re looking for.
  • Make it easier for search engines to categorize your content: To properly rank your content, search engines need to know what it’s about.
  • Easily add new content to dynamic sites: Sitemaps are critical for websites that change frequently. When you add a page, a look at your sitemap tells you where it logically fits.
  • Find internal linking opportunities: Your sitemap also allows you to quickly identify internal links, which are also critical to improving SEO.
  • Identify areas to improve site navigation: You can also use your sitemap to see how you can improve your website’s overall navigation. This can be handy if you have an older site with a lot of archived content that isn’t well organized.

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How Do I Make an HTML Sitemap?

Talk of a markup language like HTML might make you think, “I’m not a coder!” and immediately write off the possibility of creating an HTML sitemap. However, it’s very easy to create a sitemap, and you don’t have to be a coding whiz. There are two ways to make a sitemap: using a CMS plug-in or manually.

Whichever route you choose, once your sitemap is complete, submit your sitemap to Google Search Console for indexing. Input your domain and verify ownership, as directed by Google.

You can then access a search console dashboard. On the left-hand side, you’ll find a “Crawl” section. Click on “Sitemaps” and “Add/Test Sitemap.” The tool will flag any errors.

Once these are fixed, click submit, and Google will ensure your website is indexed.

Use a Plug-In With Your CMS

You can use a plug-in for your website’s content management system (CMS) to create a sitemap. If you use WordPress, download the Hierarchical HTML Sitemap plug-in or Sitemap plug-in.

Create a new page for your website labeled “Sitemap.” Then, follow the plug-in instructions to add the HTML shortcode to the page. Publish when you’re done.

There are different plug-ins for other CMSs, like Joomla (e.g., JSitemap) and Drupal (e.g., Site map module).

Add a New Page Manually

If your site is smaller (100 pages or fewer), you can create a sitemap manually. Make a list of all the links on your website and organize them according to pages and subpages. You can also use the sitemap generator XML-Sitemaps.com.

What Does an HTML Sitemap Look Like?

Are you still confused about sitemaps? Seeing an example of one can clarify matters. Here is a peek at the sitemap for Target Careers: – Read more

7 Ways SEO & PPC Can Work Together in 2021

If your SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) teams exist in complete silos, it’s time to change that.

Commonly held opposing viewpoints are: PPC is too complex, and SEO is too slow. (For the record, I don’t agree.)

When these two teams collaborate, you’ll be rewarded with magical insights, learnings, and results that neither team could get on its own.

These channels aren’t meant to be siloed, and getting them aligned is one of the most underrated ways to improve your overall digital marketing performance.

PPC is one of SEO’s most powerful tools — and vice versa. Here are seven ways to thrive in both SEO and PPC.

1. Avoid paid keyword traps.

Sharing keyword intelligence is a standard best practice. Sometimes, certain types of keywords can have subtle differences, and end up aligning to the wrong intent. It’s important to understand the intent behind search terms, because you want to avoid keyword traps.

SEO-focused marketers are the masters of understanding search intent, and therefore collaboration between SEO and SEM is critical.

For example, the restaurant POS software, Toast, is bidding on “phone systems for restaurants” but they don’t sell phone systems! They’re broad match bidding on terms containing “restaurant.”

search results for phone systems for restaurants

This is why Google has become a modern day casino for advertisers. The marketing team at Toast is gambling on the mere possibility that restaurant managers seeking a phone system might also be in the market for POS software.

While it might work, the potential for bleeding is likely. That said, Toast is venture-backed and valued at $4.9B, so this is probably a gamble they’re comfortable taking.

You need to study the search results closely if you want to master the art of understanding keyword intent. Google often signals their own interpretation of a search term, based on the types of results.

For example, if you Google “sales funnel” the search engine results page (SERP) indicates you’re looking for the definition of a sales funnel.

The results are largely definition style SEO pages, and therefore it’s obvious that a product page wouldn’t rank for this query.

search results for sales funnel

Let’s examine another example of a keyword trap. If you perform a Google search for “online training” you’re going to see two vastly different results in the ads.

  • Cisco – Virtual Classroom Solutions
  • Udemy – Best Selling Online Courses
search results for online training

These are two wildly different search intents. How do you know if a searcher wants online training software versus online courses? There’s no way to be 100% certain.

However, the organic results are overwhelmingly online course companies such as Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera. The people also ask box is hinting at the search intent, because most of the questions are about online training.

people also ask box

Based on what the organic listings are showing, I would conclude that Cisco’s ad is largely irrelevant. They might get lucky and grab some clicks, but they’re probably losing money on this ad set.

Now, the question becomes, do they care? Probably not. After all, they’re a $180B market cap, which means Cisco can afford to continue making Google rich.

search result for cisco market cap

What about the small guys? This is where SMBs have a tremendous disadvantage, and can’t afford to bleed on paid ads like the behemoths. For that reason, I would recommend startups prioritize SEO efforts in order to avoid the royal rumble of paid ads with giant companies like Cisco.

Let’s also examine “sms marketing examples” where Mobile Monkey nails the search intent with this page, and gets rewarded with the organic featured snippet. Meanwhile, advertisers are off the mark.

  • Vonage – hoping that a subset of searchers might be interested in APIs for SMS.
  • Remarkety – hoping that a subset of searchers might be interested in SMS marketing solutions.
featured snippet search result for sms marketing examples

What’s the bottom line?

SEOs will habitually review SERP signals to make sure the content they publish matches with Google’s organic search results, and ultimately delivers a high degree of satisfaction with regard to searcher task accomplishment.

Is your content helping searchers accomplish the task they need to complete?

This is particularly useful when there are potential keyword traps — words and phrases that sound good, but have dual meanings or a mismatched intent.

If potential dual meanings exist in your industry, SEOs will catch them. All that’s left to do is to get them to share their insights with your PPC team.

2. Share PPC insights on best performing headlines and descriptions.

When your SEO team decides to pursue a new keyword, it can be months before they see measurable results. If it was the right keyword and phrase to target, that’s success.

But if click-through rate (CTR) and engagement is low — even if it ranks on page one — you’ve now spent your time and budget running circles in an SEO hamster wheel. And, by the way, CTR is an indirect SEO ranking factor.

SEM is the exact opposite. You’ll know whether or not PPC ad copy is working — usually within a matter of days with low investment. So you might consider using PPC to get fast, short-term results, and use those insights to fuel your larger SEO strategy.

Test as many ad copy variations as possible, until you have the data that will support your SEO campaigns.

Here are some things you can test:

  • Headlines, title tags, and description copy.
  • Keywords and topics.
  • Specific keyword angles.
  • Landing page variations.
  • New product messaging.

PPC campaign results will reveal each headline’s impact on clicks, time on page, bounce rate, goal completions, and other meaningful engagement signals. If you run longer tests, you can also learn how a specific keyword’s demand fluctuates from month to month, which will help you set more accurate expectations with your SEO team.

Use PPC insights to choose the best topics, write and optimize your headlines and meta descriptions, and align to your audience’s needs and expectations.

3. Optimize your landing pages to reap both SEO and PPC benefits.

Spending money on paid ads without running efficient landing page tests could result in tons of wasted money and effort. 

The benefits of optimizing your landing pages are fairly obvious: you don’t burn precious marketing dollars on ineffective content experiences.

If you’re looking for more in-depth specifics on creating landing pages that convert, I would recommend checking out 19 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2020.

Ultimately, SEO & PPC teams must align their most valuable assets —landing pages.

3 important actions need to happen:

  1. You have a noindexed, conversion focused landing page built for PPC advertising. Your main goal conversions are going to be form completions, demo requests, live chat inquiries, etc.
  2. You are working with the SEO and CRO teams to build new landing page variants with intelligent hypotheses. Your goal is to split test these pages and monitor the results.
  3. You are working with the SEO team to create a separate asset, which is longer-form and educational, on the same topic for which you want to drive organic visibility.

Ultimately, marketers should craft a surround sound search engine marketing strategy.

Say, for example, a shopper searches for your brand or product name, clicks on your PPC ad, stays for a minute, and then exits the page.

Days later, they search for guides to help them choose a solution, which leads them to an educational piece of content you produced on that same topic.

As they click around, browse, and scroll through the online listings, your brand is on their radar. They get used to your tone, visuals, and messaging. If they liked what they saw through your PPC ads, they’ll look for your name in a sea of organic listings the next time — and vice versa.

In brand marketing, what gets repeated gets remembered, and what gets remembered, gets done.

SEO expert, Rand Fishkin, wrote about the ludicrously powerful influence of brand repetition in his 2020 election recap article: – Read more

12 Important SEO KPIs You Should Track

The Importance of Properly Tracking KPIs

Goals and KPIs are among the most important parts of your SEO strategy, yet one of the most commonly overlooked areas.

Without KPIs, you will not be able to effectively track your campaign’s progress and ensure that your efforts are paying off or determine if you are on the right track towards success.

It is no hidden secret that SEO takes time to deliver results and returns, but by setting KPIs (key performance indicators), you can be in a better position to demonstrate the impact that your strategy is having on business.

They can also help you to manage expectations with other stakeholders. SEO KPIs should form the basis of your strategy and act as a way to both measure and report on success and progression, but you need to know what you should be measuring. 

In the guide below, I will help you understand the most important KPIs you should be using.

Specifically, we will cover:

  • 12 SEO KPIs You Need To Track
    • 1. ROI
    • 2. Conversions (Sales and Leads)
    • 3. Organic Visibility
    • 4. Organic Sessions
    • 5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic
    • 6. Keyword Rankings
    • 7. Backlinks
    • 8. Organic CTR
    • 9. Bounce Rate
    • 10. Average Time on Page
    • 11. Coverage Issues
    • 12. PageSpeed

12 SEO KPIs You Need To Track

It can be confusing to know which KPIs you should be tracking to see a regular snapshot of how your SEO campaign is progressing, so we have rounded up 12 that we think are essential to keep a close eye on.

These are metrics that give you an overall view of how your efforts are paying off, allowing you to demonstrate the impact you are having while also spotting any issues before they turn into problems. 

1. ROI

For almost every business, an SEO strategy’s ultimate goal is to drive a return on investment. And whether that is an investment into an in-house team and resources or an agency, that means seeing more money back than you spend.

Tracking ROI from your SEO activities is crucial for the simple reason that it is the best measure of success that there is — more money in the bank than you are spending. But remember that it can take time to see an ROI, often six to 12 months or more. 

Know where your ROI target is, and you can measure your performance against this on a regular basis, understanding and reporting on how it is improving.

You can measure ROI based upon your investment into SEO, and the revenue returned from the channel. 

2. Conversions (Sales and Leads)

While a financial return is the overarching KPI that many businesses work to, it inevitably takes time to see returns. And for that reason, you shouldn’t rely on ROI alone. 

Measuring and tracking organic conversions (either sales, leads, or both depending on your business’s set up) is a solid way to demonstrate success. After all, an increase in organic conversions can easily be attributed to your efforts. 

Just be sure to know the conversion benchmark before you began working on a campaign; otherwise, you will find it harder to showcase the increase from what was already being generated.

A recommendation is to take an average of conversions generated in the three months before your campaign began and use this as a benchmark for measuring growth. 

You can track conversions in Google Analytics, measuring goals for lead conversions and the eCommerce report to track sales by channel. 

3. Organic Visibility

Coming back to the point that it takes time to see financial returns from SEO, one solid KPI that you can track and measure to show consistent growth is organic visibility. And you can measure and report on this in two ways.

First, showcasing growth in impressions from Google Search Console.

This is the perfect way to show continued growth in visibility, given that impressions show the searches that your site was visible for, even if they didn’t result in clicks. Typically, that is because you see an increase in ranked keywords, but these aren’t in traffic driving positions (yet).

Either way, an increase in impressions shows an increase in organic visibility and a great measure of continued growth. 

You can also show an increase in organic visibility by looking at keyword trends on the Organic Research tool in SEMrush, where you can see how your visibility has changed for all indexed keywords, including those in lower positions. 

4. Organic Sessions

Growth in organic impressions should result in an increase in organic sessions, and this is where you can start to demonstrate a real impact from your SEO strategy.

Once your efforts are taking effect, one of the key metrics that you will see an impact on is organic sessions (traffic).

Impressions result in traffic, and traffic turns into conversions; and when you look at it this way, seeing an increase in organic sessions is the point at which you truly start to notice an improvement in your SEO ROI.

Measuring organic sessions is really simple to measure in Google Analytics. But, for the purpose of tracking SEO KPIs, we recommend focusing on data from Google Search Console, as this will allow you to exclude brand searches and view organic clicks for non-branded terms in isolation.

This is important to ensure your data isn’t being skewed by brand activities that are driving an increase in branded searches.

To do this, head to the Performance report and hit the +New button at the top of your screen where you can choose to filter out your brand by choosing ‘Queries not containing.’ Enter your brand name (and variations of), and you will see how non-branded traffic is performing.

A key thing to pay attention to when analyzing organic sessions is seasonality, making sure you are comparing Year on Year rather than Month on Month to compare like for like and accounting for any seasonal fluctuation in demand. 

To do this, hit the date bubble at the top of your screen, choose ‘compare’, and select your preferential period.

5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic

While you want to exclude branded searches to analyze the true impact of your efforts on organic traffic, another key measure of success and progression is a shift in the percentage split of non-branded traffic that your site is receiving.

Branded traffic is usually driven either by previous knowledge of a business or a recommendation from someone else. Maybe a searcher has seen your ads on social, seen your latest PR campaign, or even met you at an event. What’s important to note here is that the searcher already knew about you.

While that clearly means one marketing channel is working well, this usually isn’t going to be traffic that you can attribute directly to your SEO activities.

Non-branded traffic is usually people searching for keywords around your products or services that you rank prominently for. In other words, traffic from searchers who probably weren’t familiar with your business before they saw you ranked on the SERPs.

And you should be measuring the split of branded vs. non-branded traffic, something that you can easily see using the SEMrush organic research tool:

6. Keyword Rankings

While keyword rankings maybe aren’t as important as some of the other metrics mentioned here, they certainly have their use, and we strongly recommend that you track how your main target keywords are ranking on the SERPs.

If we look back even five years, rankings were how pretty much any SEO campaign’s success was measured.

So then, what changed? Semantic search

In the past, most businesses tracked a handful of keywords and hinged their strategy’s success on that; the reality is that nowadays, a single page of content can rank for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of different keywords. And that is not forgetting personalized search — meaning that different searchers can see different results for some queries.

Let’s look at an example of different keywords. The Organic Research tool will let you see keywords a page ranks for. – Read more

3 Types of Pillar Page (and How They Help With Ranking)

What Is a Pillar Page?

In effect, a pillar page is a hub or basis on which the cluster pages are built. It provides a comprehensive overview of a topic but leaves room for more detailed coverage of the topic in the cluster pages, which typically focus on a particular aspect of the topic, often a keyword.

For example, a pillar content page on SEO might briefly touch on technical SEO and then link to a cluster page that goes far more in-depth on the topic. 

Pillar pages are often longer than typical blog posts (usually 2,000 words or more) because they touch on all parts of a topic. Pillar and cluster pages link back to each other, but if the pillar page design does its job right, it becomes an authoritative source that attracts many external links.

The Benefits of Pillar and Cluster Pages Include: 

  • Increased engagement: Well-organized content makes it very user-friendly for viewers, driving up engagement. 
  • Longer session durations: Because the pillar-cluster pages are interlinked, this arrangement tends to keep visitors on the site longer, driving up engagement and page views.
  • Provide better signals to Google: Because pillar and cluster page groupings are so well organized, it is easy for Google to determine their subject matter and rank them. Badly organized webpages tend to be poorly ranked by Google, so content organized by topic pillars and clusters tends to get rewarded with higher rankings.

Comprehensive pillar pages are one of the most effective ways to create content that appeals to search engine algorithms and targets audiences with authoritative information.

Next, we will explain some of the main types of content pillar pages. Keep in mind that the divisions between these categories are not absolute, so some pillar pages might have elements of each.

1. The “Guide” Pillar Page

As its name suggests, a “guide” pillar page strives to be the ultimate authority on a subject. It could be a 101 guide for beginners or something more sophisticated aimed at a specific industry segment. A guide or an “ultimate guide” serves to establish your authority in a field or subject matter, builds your brand, and helps establish trust with a particular audience.

The guide pillar page gives a comprehensive overview of a topic that makes it an authoritative destination for those interested in the subject. It also links to related cluster pages that expand knowledge on particular aspects of the topic, often related to a specific keyword.

A timely and well-conceived guide pillar page can garner a lot of attention, boost website traffic, attract backlinks, and nurture an audience who can be converted into subscribers or paying customers.

Some good “guide” pillar page examples include:

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Meetings in 2020

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A strong topic for pillar pages tends to be evergreen, and one example is remote work. Slack decided to create a useful guide for its users with “The Ultimate Guide to Remote Meetings.” 

There is a lot on this page that makes it a great pillar, particularly when understanding what the reader can expect and the navigation. At the top of the page, there is a note about how long it will take the reader to get through the content and a few bullets that emphasize best practices for remote meetings. 

There are also a lot of interactive elements throughout the piece to help keep the reader engaged. For instance, the floating navigation bar allows the reader to quickly jump from one section to the next. The page includes a video that shows a remote meeting in action.

 Slack’s internal linking strategy for the pillar page directs readers to topic clusters that include more tips for remote work and specific benefits to using Slack. 

Brand Awareness: Nearly Everything You Need to Know

Typeform is a Barcelona-based online software as a service (SaaS) company specializing in online form building and online surveys. It also has a series of well-designed, visually attractive pillar pages devoted to brand awareness, like this one

A navigation menu off to the side makes it easy to navigate the long scrolling page of information on brand awareness basics — tracking your brand awareness, kick-starting your brand awareness, and measuring your brand awareness — and offers some parting words of advice.

The page has many links to related resources, including external and more internal links toward the end of the page.

Typeform’s internal linking strategy for this pillar page links to other resources in their blog and pages with their service offerings — specifically templates that potential customers can use. 

2. The “What Is” Pillar Page

A very typical query made by people is, “What is …” They hear about something interesting, controversial, or timely and want to learn more.

  • “What is programmatic advertising?”
  • “What is herd immunity?”
  • “What is Kubernetes?”

To tap into this desire to learn more, a pillar page can serve as a definitive examination of a subject — a highly useful stand-alone resource that links to related cluster pages and develops aspects of the subject in greater detail. In many ways, it is authoritative, like a guide page.

If you develop a page that matches a widespread interest (“I have heard something about this a couple of times and want to learn more,” or “I have always wanted to know more about this”) and build a case for its importance, you have created a great way to drive organic traffic to your site. The traffic becomes a top-of-the-funnel flow that eventually can be won over as valued customers with the right conversion strategy.

Here are a couple of examples of “what is” pillar pages that do their jobs: – Read more

How to Turn Your Website’s Ghost Visitors Into Qualified Leads

Generating traffic is only part of the problem for businesses looking to drive sales and put their brand on the map. Turning ghost visitors into actual leads is the second obstacle to overcome. With lead generation vital for forward-thinking companies, Head of Marketing at Lead Forensics, Jamie Richards, shares his tips to convert web visitors into customers. In this guide, Jamie will discuss the critical considerations for business owners on a mission to generate more leads and boost web conversion rates. 

How does discovering your unseen website visitors accelerate growth?

Data is incredibly precious for businesses looking to capitalize on web users’ popularity and turn more ghost visitors into high-quality leads. Many B2B leaders are unaware of their business website’s power and potential to unlock opportunities to facilitate sales directly from the website. Using a potent blend of data analysis and technology, business owners can discover a raft of useful information, which can be used to shape future strategies and create opportunities to increase revenues. 

An IP address on its own doesn’t provide a tremendous amount of information, but if you utilize reverse IP tracking technology with a matched database, suddenly, you have access to all the names of business clients visiting your website. These names were hidden previously. Once you know who is visiting your website, you immediately have leads at the funnel’s top, and you can set about trying to capitalize on emerging revenue opportunities. By turning a ghost visitor into an actionable lead, you can improve ROI for each campaign. Also, having access to enriched data, including site analytics, on-site user behavior, firmographic data, and critical decision-makers’ contact details, you can gain a more in-depth insight into visitors, which will speed up movement in the funnel and maximize the chances of lead conversion. 

PPC and SEO for Small Businesses 

The importance of a website that delivers cannot be underestimated in a digitally-driven B2B world. It’s crucial that clients and prospects can find your site easily, so digital tactics such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) play an essential role. The higher the search engine ranking, the better the position on the search engine results page.

For business owners that don’t have digital marketing expertise or access to an in-house team of SEO experts, it’s wise to seek professional advice. Expenditure on Google AdWords, Bing and social media ads often form a large part of your strategy. 

Effectively, this means you’re then paying for website traffic to go to a particular landing page. If the visitors fail to convert, it’s not only the loss of an engaged lead you can no longer see, but also a missed opportunity. Using Lead Forensics, you can recapture those leads and see real return on investment. 

Recapturing Lost Leads

Thousands of leads are lost each month, so how do you recapture them and increase customer numbers? Most B2B marketers wait for their visitors to make the first move, but what happens if they don’t choose to get in touch or place an order if they don’t respond immediately to your high-end, engaging campaign? If there’s no interaction, how would you know that a visitor was even on your site, and more importantly, how can you turn a one-time visitor into a customer? 

Try employing reverse IP tracking rather than relying solely on Google Analytics tools, removing IP data. With this technique, businesses can see who has visited their site and gain access to extra information, which increases the value of the lead and provides genuine opportunities to recapture unconverted leads in real-time. – Read more