One of the most important things a site owner can do is keep a watch on their site’s analytics. I don’t recommend that you scour the data daily and panic over hourly dips in traffic, but it is important to know what is going on with your site. SEO is not a set-it-and-forget it kind of thing, so routine changes, tests and general tweaking becomes a critical component of ongoing success. But you will never know what is or isn’t working for your site unless you look at your analytics and identify important trends. Focusing on one specific piece of data (page views, for instance) means you are missing out on the bigger picture; you lose the forest for the trees.
Here are 3 things to watch out for:
Significant traffic changes
If you’re looking at your data on a month-to-month basis (say May to June) and you notice that traffic drops from 3,000 to 2,800, there is no need to panic. Not every month is going to see an increase in traffic. Small shifts up and down are to be expected. However, if your monthly traffic drops from 3,000 to 1,500 something is seriously amiss. You don’t lose half of your traffic without good reason. Your site may have incurred a penalty, which could explain for the massive drop in traffic.
Keyword research forms the backbone of on-site optimization, and you may have been off the mark the first time you went at it. It’s important to check on your keywords to see if they are actually driving any traffic. Let’s say keyword A brings in (on average) 450+ visitors a month, keyword B drives 100+ visitors and keyword C delivers 900+. All 3 keywords are doing a pretty good job of delivering targeted traffic to your site. However, since you’ve been keeping an eye of your site’s analytics, you’ve noticed that a new keyword (one you aren’t specifically targeting) has been driving 150+ visitors a month for the last few months. That might be a keyword you need to actively incorporate into your site, as it reflects a change in search behavior.
Your site’s conversion rate is one of the best ways to tell if your SEO is working. A high conversion rate means that a targeted audience is being delivered to your site and they are finding the information they need, encouraging them to convert (each site has a different definition of what conversion means based on its goals). If you see that your conversion rate is slowly growing, that is a good indication that your SEO is making a positive impact. If your conversion rate is on a down slope, this signals that something is going wrong. Compare your conversion rate and traffic side-by-side. If traffic is going up but conversion is going down, that could mean that your off site SEO is sending the traffic over to your site, but your site itself is failing in some way.