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.
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.”
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
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:
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
Read more blogs posts about how to improve SEO here
For your landing pages, blogs, homepages, and other online content to show up in Google’s search engine results, you need to ensure your website is indexable. Google Index is basically a database.
When people use the search engine to look for content, Google turns to its index to provide the relevant content. If your page isn’t indexed, it doesn’t exist in Google’s search engine. That’s bad news if you’re hoping to drive organic traffic to your website via organic search.
This guide provides greater detail about indexing and why it’s important. It also explains how you can check to see if your page is indexed, how to fix common technical SEO problems that cause indexing issues, and how to quickly get Google to recrawl index your site if it’s not already indexed.
Google’s index is simply a list of all the webpages that the search engine knows about. If Google doesn’t index your website, your site won’t appear in Google’s search results.
It would be like if you wrote a book, but no bookstores or libraries stocked that book. Nobody would ever find the book. They might not even know of its existence. And if a reader were looking for that book, they’d have a really hard time finding it.
Why Is Site Indexing Important?
Websites that aren’t indexed are not in Google’s database. The search engine thus can’t present these websites in its search engine results pages (SERPs).
As a refresher, here’s a quick overview of the search engine process:
Crawling: Search engine bots crawl the website to figure out if it’s worth indexing. Web spiders, or “Googlebot,” are always crawling the web, following links on existing web pages to find new content.
Indexing: The search engine adds the website to its database (in Google’s case, its “Index”).
Ranking: The search engine ranks the website in terms of metrics like relevance and user-friendliness.
Indexing just means the site is stored in Google’s databases. It doesn’t mean it will show up at the top of the SERPs. Indexing is controlled by predetermined algorithms, which factor in elements like web user demand and quality checks. You can influence indexing by managing how spiders discover your online content.
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How Do I Check If Google Has Indexed My Site?
There’s no doubt that you want your website to be indexed — but how can you know if it is or not? Luckily, the search engine giant makes it pretty easy to find out where you stand via site search. Here’s how to check:
In the Google search bar, type in “site:example.com.”
When you look under the search bar, you’ll see the Google results categories “All,” “Images,” “News,” etc. Right underneath this, you’ll see an estimate of how many of your pages Google has indexed.
If zero results show up, the page isn’t indexed.
Alternatively, you can use Google Search Console to check if your page is indexed. It’s free to set up an account. Here’s how to get the information you want:
Log into Google Search Console.
Click on “Index.”
Click on “Coverage.”
You’ll see the number of valid pages indexed.
If the number of valid pages is zero, Google hasn’t indexed your page.
You can also use the Search Console to check whether specific pages are indexed. Just paste the URL into the URL Inspection Tool. If the page is indexed, you’ll receive the message “URL is on Google.”
How Long Does It Take for Google to Index a Site?
It can take Google anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to index a site. This can be frustrating if you’ve just launched a page only to discover that it isn’t indexed. How is anybody supposed to discover your beautiful new webpage via Google? Luckily, there are steps you can take for more efficient indexing. Below, we explain what you can do to speed up the process.
How Do I Get Google to Index My Site?
The easiest way to get your site indexed is to request indexing through Google Search Console. To do this, go to Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool. Paste the URL you want to be indexed into the search bar and wait for Google to check the URL. If the URL isn’t indexed, click the “Request Indexing” button.
However, Google indexing takes time. As mentioned, if your site is new, it won’t be indexed overnight. Additionally, if your site isn’t properly set up to accommodate Googlebot’s crawling, there’s a chance it won’t get indexed at all.
Whether you’re a site owner or an online marketer, you want your site efficiently indexed. Here’s how to make that happen. – Read more
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:
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
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:
Essentially, a subdomain is a child of the parent domain, and they are sometimes used for hosting:
ecommerce stores (when these are part of a larger site)
Internationalization (different websites to target different markets)
Separate mobile sites
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ultimately, SEO & PPC teams must align their most valuable assets —landing pages.
3 important actions need to happen:
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.
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.
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.
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
2. Conversions (Sales and Leads)
3. Organic Visibility
4. Organic Sessions
5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic
6. Keyword Rankings
8. Organic CTR
9. Bounce Rate
10. Average Time on Page
11. Coverage Issues
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.
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.
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.
Typically, blogs and forums dedicated to SEO and PPC discuss what’s better. While these two marketing methods are really different, it doesn’t mean you can’t implement them both. And even if you’ve chosen only organic or only paid search to target, you surely need to investigate the other side. Both SEO and PPC share a few common features, and mastering them will help you make the right decision in due time. So, let’s touch upon a few SEO techniques and tools that help make this choice well-meditated.
1. Keyword research
Keyword research is the cornerstone for the effectiveness of your campaigns in PPC and SEO alike. Typically, an advertising platform provides a keyword research toolbox of its own, as it is the case with Google Ads Keyword Planner. If you’re using this tool for keyword suggestions and traffic predictions, you should keep in mind the keyword matching type and when to use it.
For Google Ads, there are four types of keyword matching: broad match, modified broad match, phrase match and exact match.
Broad match includes all the queries containing your keyword or parts of the keyword phrase and their variations in any position.
Modified broad match type will trigger your ads if the specified keywords are present in the search query in the exact or close variant form. You simply add the + symbol before the most wanted word in your keyword phrase (without a blank space before the keyword). Modified broad match is something between a phrase match and broad match. The modified keyword will match the search queries with exact or close variants of this word in them (single and plural forms, acronyms, derivatives, and close synonyms). The remaining part of the phrase will work on broad match.
Phrase match covers the search strings which may contain additional words but where your target phrase appears as it is.
Exact match sets to match queries with your target phrase as it is, without variants or additional words.
Which type of keyword matching to use
15% of daily Google search queries are new. Certainly, you can hardly predict them all, however large your keyword list is. The only way to target these unique queries is by using the broad match (or modified broad match as a variant).
On the one hand, broad matching will bring tons of impressions and clicks. On the other hand, you should not expect that the conversion rate will be really high. The problem is that broad match often drives a lot of irrelevant traffic. Do you want to pay for clicks that will never convert?
So if you want to profit from the broad match, you need to monitor carefully your search query reports and exclude all irrelevant keywords by adding them to your negative keyword list.
Try to predict unwanted queries ahead: explore your Google Analytics data to detect keywords that bring useless traffic which increases the bounce rate on your site. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels, and review the keywords under the Organic Search and Google Ads tabs. Filter the keywords by Behaviour > Bounce Rate, pay attention to other stats as well, and spot which terms deserve to be added to the negative keyword list.
To test the type of match and see if it works for you, clone one of your ad groups and adjust to use broad, exact or phrase match and set the keywords in it on modified broad match. Run both groups for some time, and then compare the search query reports to see what match type performs better.
2. Keyword mapping
Experienced PPC marketers know that the success of their campaigns relies on keyword management. Break down keywords into relevant groups and map them to landing pages. This way you will have all your stats structured and analyzed, and your top pages gaining weight and effectiveness fast. Tight keyword grouping, creating groups and subgroups, ensures that your ad is relevant to the user intent which results in higher CTRs and more conversions.
This approach works exactly the same way in SEO. Your one top-ranking page most likely will include several search strings close in their theme and intent. You will map a group of keywords, with several long-tail keywords among them, for which you will map one landing page to optimize.
3. Search volume
When you explore the search volumes to decide whether to optimize for a certain keyword, bear in mind that you will not get as many search traffic as it promises. You will rank only for some exact keyword phrases that are the most relevant to your site. And a couple of more diverse queries containing this keyword with lesser traffic.
And even on exact matching, the search volume data you will get in your Google Ads might be inaccurate. You can invest a lot of resources into optimizing for a traffic-heavy keyword only to find that the search volume it gains is not even close to the one you’ve got in your keyword tool. So the best way is to consider launching a small PPC campaign to test your performance and see how many impressions your keyword gets before you start optimizing for it.
Search volume and competition is the core factor to decide whether you can use this or that keyword to rank up in SERPs as soon as possible. There is the keyword difficulty score which you use to estimate your SEO optimization expenses.
3. CTR Optimization
No need to tell, the higher you rank, the more traffic you will get. High CTR is something that helps search engines to guess that the page is valuable to users, so with time, ranking position and CTR correlate. You need to try hard not only to show up on the top search engine result pages, but also to entice users to click on your pages, and further, to stay, engage, and perform conversions. This rule works for both SEO and PPC campaigns. Google rewards advertisers with high CTRs with cheaper clicks and higher placements. That is why PPC marketers take ad testing seriously. They constantly test new titles, ad texts and banners to offer the best-performing ad design. You can try similar testing with your organic pages, by optimizing titles, tags, and meta descriptions. – Read more
Are you attracting visitors to your website despite your digital marketing campaign? If not, there’s something seriously wrong with your strategies, particularly your search engine optimization (SEO). It is essential to do a regular SEO test or analysis to monitor the performance of your campaign.
Conducting a regular SEO assessment allows you to discover the fine points and flaws of your SEO campaign and make the necessary adjustments to optimize results. The upside is clear: with proper working SEO, you can attract valuable site traffic and potential leads. This article will discuss the common SEO mistakes you might incur, how to conduct an SEO analysis, and how to improve your SEO performance.
What Are the Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid
SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies to boost your sales. Becoming updated with the latest SEO optimization strategies will maximize the performance of your website. Here are some common SEO missteps you should avoid to ensure the effectiveness of your SEO campaign:
Practicing keyword stuffing – You might think that using your keywords a lot will boost your content’s rankings by Google and other search engines. However, it could be the opposite as too much keyword use or overstuffing will make your content spammy. If your content is labeled as spam, it will become useless and will hurt your SEO campaign.
To avoid this label, use your keywords naturally at strategic placements. The best practice is to use your keyword in the first 100 words and include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords or variations of your main keyword throughout your content.
Posting plagiarized or non-original content – Using plagiarized or copied content on your website will make it a ‘pariah’ to search engines. Invest in producing original and valuable content to improve the performance of your website. Make sure to post relevant, informational, and error-free content to build the reputation of your site.
Failure to invest in a mobile-friendly website – The majority of Internet users nowadays use their mobile devices to access and consume content. In the United States, 94% of people use their smartphones to search for local news or information. Your rating on search engines will be severely affected if you fail to make your website mobile-friendly. To avoid a possible drop in your ranking, test if your website is mobile-compatible.
Using the wrong keywords – The wrong choice of keywords will leave your content at the bottom of search engine rankings. Even if your content is top-notch, if you fail to use the keywords preferred by users and search engines, it will be useless.
To make sure you are using the right keywords, use optimization tools like SEMrush, Google Trends, and Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It would be best to use different types of keywords to increase the ranking of your content. These types are broad keywords, long-tail keywords, fat head keywords, and chunky middle keywords.
Failure to use title tags, image tags, and meta-descriptions – These SEO elements are important to search engines when crawling for content. Failing to include these essential components will hurt the researchability of your content.
Linking to low quality or unrelated internal and external links – Your use of internal and external links also affects the performance of your content’s SEO. Make sure your internal links are related to your content. Also, use reputable and well-ranking websites as external links.
Unwillingness to leverage social influencers to share your content – When sharing your content on social media, you should consider leveraging social influencers to promote it. Having an influencer to share your content will gain instant attention, while having them to promote your content will increase its visibility to the search engines.
The many benefits of leveraging influencers to build your relationships and conduct structured outreach make this a must in your optimization plan.
Lack of SEO performance analytics and monitoring – Failure to analyze your content’s performance will leave you in the dark about how your SEO campaign performs. You may use tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to regularly monitor and evaluate your SEO campaign.
5 Steps in Conducting an SEO Analysis
An SEO assessment is a vital part of your SEO strategy to boost your website content’s ranking potential in search engine results pages (SERP). This process will allow you to identify what’s working and what’s causing your content’s failure to rise. Let’s discuss the steps you should take to find out your website’s flaws:
Investigate your visibility on search engines like Google – Start your analysis by determining your content’s SERP performance and the overall visibility of your website on search engines. Having a clear view of where your website sits on the rankings will allow you to develop an optimization plan.
In calculating your search visibility, collect all the rankings of your keywords and compute the estimated click-through-rate (CTR) based on each ranking. Add all the CTRs and divide the total by the number of your keywords. The higher the result, the better is your website’s position in the Google rankings.
Analyze your content – Your content is an essential component of your content marketing strategy. Make sure you have no duplicate content by eliminating every duplicate you found immediately. Start your analysis with your top ranked pages.
There are several things to check in your content. Make sure your URLs are around four to five words long, and your meta-descriptions contain your primary keyword. Ensure your titles and headings are relevant and attention-grabbing and should also contain your keyword.
Check the quality of your backlinks or external links. Try to link your content to ranking and trustworthy websites to increase your site’s reputation. Your internal links should also be relevant to your content. Make sure to fix any broken link to improve user experience and avoid its negative effects on your SEO.
Check your domain, images, and technical SEO – To improve your SEO, use a simple, short, and easy to remember domain name that reflects your brand or business. Don’t use hyphens and special characters. To optimize your images, use alt tags and include keywords in your brief descriptions. Also, compress your images for faster loading of your content.
Your technical SEO also affects the visibility of your website. Some of the technical components you should check are your XML sitemap, robots.txt file, and website security. You may buy a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to boost your security. – Read more