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In this course, author David Booth explains what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how you can start using it to increase your website's visibility to search engines and attract the right kind of traffic to the right kinds of pages on your site. Discover how to read a results page and find your ranking, and see how rankings affect both large and small businesses. Then find out how to implement basic optimization strategies, like conducting keyword research, building inbound links, optimizing your pages and content, and measuring your successes and progress while planning for a long-term SEO strategy. SEO for ecommerce, local search, and an international audience round out this comprehensive look at the basics of SEO.
One of the biggest challenges you might find is in figuring out whether your SEO campaigns are succeeding or failing. SEO measurement not only involves the analysis of basic metrics like traffic resulting from organic search engines and specific keywords, but it also requires a holistic approach to measuring business outcomes and making adjustments based on data. If you've never paid attention to SEO before, there are some basic things you'll need to have checked off your list. Before you can do anything, you need to make sure that you have an analytic solution installed.
Once you're collecting the data, you will need to define your business objectives and the key performance indicators, or KPIs, you'll use to measure them. For example, you might want people to submit a contact form on your website. In that case, you can configure your analytic solution to track that as a conversion action, and you might look at KPIs like the number of conversions that occur and the conversion rate. This is just one example. But remember, you'll have lots of goals for your website, and that means you'll have lots of KPIs to continually monitor and improve upon.
You'll also want to establish some SEO-specific KPIs that can help you understand how your SEO efforts are paying off. Things like organic search traffic, or visits to your website from search engines that are not generated by paid search, but organic listings; your total organic search traffic compared to a previous timeframe, like month-over-month or year-over-year; non-branded keyword searches, or searches where your brand or your business name was not part of the search term; and target keyword rankings, or how well you rank for each of your target keywords.
While this last one might not be available in your standard analytics reports, there are plenty of tools out there that can automate the monitoring of keyword rankings over time. Anyone working in SEO that's worth their paycheck should be keeping an eye on these metrics at a minimum, but this is really just scratching the surface. While attracting traffic to your website through your SEO program is certainly important, you also need to see what the traffic is actually doing once they get to your site. When you analyze traffic that comes from a certain search engine as a result of a certain keyword search, and lands on a certain landing page, you should also start to look at how that traffic converts on your business goals.
If you're in an ecommerce situation, then you should obviously be looking at things like revenue, average order values, and other transactional data. But even if you don't sell your products online, you've still got lots of things to track. You can look at leads that come in the form of newsletter subscribers, social followers, event or demonstration sign ups, driving directions to your brick-and-mortar store, contact forms, or anything else you can dream up. And these days there are lots of analytic solutions that allow you to track phone calls back to the source of traffic as well.
Make sure that you're measuring all of these important business goals so that you can look at the conversions and conversion rates from the traffic your SEO is generating. Ensuring that you're collecting the right data, reporting on your KPIs in a meaningful way, and analyzing the data to really understand what's happening with your SEO strategy, is a foundation, but just looking at the data doesn't change anything. Measuring and improving your SEO over time is a continuous cycle of measurement, learning, and taking action. You have to use the data to learn what changes you can make to your strategy, and once you've made those changes, you'll start the cycle over again by measuring whether or not those changes produced an improvement.
Until you reach perfection, there's always something you can be doing better. And a data-driven measurement plan for your SEO will have you on the path to continuous improvement.
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