As you probably already know, tracking is a critical component of search engine optimization (SEO). After all, you cannot possibly know what is working well and what still needs to be tweaked unless you track your results. Watching your trends over time will let you know how your website is performing overall, as well as which Web pages are doing well and which need an SEO overhaul.
Yet, with so much available data out there, it can be tough to know where to focus your tracking. Here are the essential elements that every business owner should track, and how to go about tracking them.
The most obvious way to check your keyword rankings is to simply type your keyword phrases into Google and see what pops up. Unfortunately, your results will be heavily skewed. This is because Google personalizes search results based on previous browsing history. Since you are likely a frequent visitor of your own site, Google will artificially inflate your site’s rankings when you search for your keyword phrases from your own computer.
To get around this, you can use Google Analytics to learn your true, unbiased keyword rankings. Make sure you have an account at www.google.com/analytics and that the relevant code has been added to every page of your website. Also ensure that you have a Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) account at www.google.com/webmastertools and that the two accounts are linked.
Under Google Analytics’ Acquisition tab, click on Search Engine Optimization and then Queries. This will show you the keywords for which you are currently ranked, along with additional information for each keyword like the number of searches, your average Google ranking for that keyword, and your average click through rate. These numbers are unbiased, so they will not change based on your browsing history.
Search Engine Traffic
Your search engine traffic is all of the organic (non-paid) traffic that visits your website from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Under the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics, click on All Traffic, then Channels, then Organic Search to view your search engine traffic trends.
The precise numbers here are not what’s most important. Instead, look for general trends over the past 6 to 12 months. Do you see a general climb? If so, then you are doing well. If you see a general decline, then your SEO needs attention. Also note any major spikes, whether upward or downward, and see if you can determine the reason for them.