As a website owner, you understand the importance of tracking and analyzing your website’s traffic and search engine rankings. By doing so, you can identify what’s working, what’s not, and make data-driven decisions to improve your online presence. In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for tracking and analyzing website traffic and search engine rankings to help you outrank your competitors.
As with all our tips in our articles, if you are unsure of how to do this, please feel free to contact us for help. We will be able to help ensure your analytics code is properly installed on your website, and provide you with a few suggestions for reports to look at to help improve your online marketing.
1. Set Up Google Analytics
The first step to tracking your website’s traffic is to set up Google Analytics. This free tool allows you to see how many people are visiting your website, how long they’re staying, what pages they’re viewing, and much more. By analyzing this data, you can identify which pages are popular, which ones need improvement, and where your visitors are coming from.
There are many ways to install Google Analytics on your site. If you use WordPress for example, you can use a plugin like Google Site Kit to help you add the code, or if you are more friendly with HTML you could add the code yourself manually. Be sure to install the code as per the instructions provided. That means, it is best to install the code near the top of your website so it can properly measure interactions with your site.
The reason to place the code at the top of the page as opposed to the bottom of the page is to more accurately measure things like time on site, bounce rate, and interaction rates. If the code is placed at the bottom of your site you may miss things if people don’t allow the page to fully load before they move on to other things.
2. Track Keyword Rankings
Keyword rankings are an essential metric for tracking your website’s search engine performance. By monitoring your keyword rankings, you can see how your website is performing in search results, identify which keywords are driving the most traffic, and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.
There are many tools available for tracking keyword rankings, including SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console. By using these tools, you can monitor your website’s performance over time and make data-driven decisions to improve your search engine rankings.
Keep in mind, however, that some of these tools have limitations. For example, some tools may not check your rankings at a data center close to you. Therefore the results may be slightly different.
With regards to using Google Search Console to check rankings, you must also be aware that this tool provides an average of rankings and not the actual current ranking. This is because Google rankings do tend to fluctuate – sometimes from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour – depending on the search phrase used and the volatility of the search market. For example, something newsworthy may fluctuate several times per day, while more generic phrases may only change once or twice per week.
3. Analyze Backlinks
Backlinks are an essential factor in search engine rankings, as they indicate that other websites consider your content to be valuable and relevant. By analyzing your backlinks, you can identify which websites are linking to your content, which pages are receiving the most links, and where you need to focus your link-building efforts.
Tools like Ahrefs and Majestic can help you analyze your backlink profile and identify opportunities to improve your link-building strategy.
Google Search Console also shows you a sampling of the backlinks pointing to your website. Therefore it’s important to use multiple tools to get a fuller picture of your backlink footprint, rather than assuming a single tool has all your backlinks. This is because some tools take longer to update than Google and may not have a complete picture of your backlink profile.
4. Monitor Website Speed
Website speed is a crucial factor in both user experience and search engine rankings. If your website is slow, visitors are more likely to leave, and search engines may rank your website lower in search results.
Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix can help you analyze your website’s speed and identify opportunities to improve. By optimizing your website’s speed, you can improve user experience, increase engagement, and improve your search engine rankings.
Site speed is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor in Google.
To learn a few ways you can improve your website’s speed, please review our article, called Techniques for Improving Website Speed and Performance.
5. Use Heat Maps
Heat maps are a powerful tool for analyzing user behavior on your website. By tracking where visitors click, scroll, and spend time, you can identify which areas of your website are working well and which ones need improvement.
Tools like Hotjar and Crazy Egg can help you create heat maps and analyze user behavior. By using heat maps, you can identify opportunities to improve user experience, increase engagement, and improve your website’s performance.
Back in the early 2000’s, our company founder was part of the original team to perform heat map and eye tracking research on how people use search engines. Before this time, most SEOs relied on “best guesses” and intuition. Our research proved that many of our assumptions up to that point were correct.
For more information on this research, search for the Golden Triangle of search. The golden triangle was an aggregate of the data we collected and it showed that most people searched from top to bottom and left to right, in a sort of inverted triangle. At the time, most in the industry found this groundbreaking.
Conclusion: Putting it All Together
Tracking and analyzing your website’s traffic and search engine rankings is essential for improving your online presence and outranking your competitors. By following these best practices, you can gather the data you need to make data-driven decisions and optimize your website for success.
If you need help understanding your analytics reports, or wish to learn more about anything mentioned in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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