Search Engine Optimization is shrouded in mystery for most people. Black hat and grey hat SEO certainly don’t help matters with continuously morphing tactics to stay ahead of evolving search engine algorythems.Given that Udi Manber, VP of engineering at Google states that the search engine typically updates its algorithm 9 times a week, gaming the system never works for long. So it’s best to concentrate on the basics, the things that we know work.
If you write quality content you are already practicing good SEO and after mastering a few basic concepts you’ll be a pro. There will be a few things that you might have to have your webmaster help you with to improve your SEO, but many of you will be able to handle all this yourself. Even if you can’t accomplish any of this without help from your webmaster, this series of articles will improve your ability to communicate with them and will ensure that next time you do a site redesign that you get what you deserve.
I’ll be presenting articles that will walk you through the how and why of SEO practices. But first, if you don’t already use Google Analytics, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
If you aren’t running Analytics head over to the Google Analytics website and sign up, set up and insert your tracking code into your website. If basic HTML makes you queazy, ask your web developer to take care of this. It shouldn’t take them more than 5 minutes. Being able to track conversions, bounce rate and click through rate are all essential to optimizing both your search engine results and your website.
Conversions are discussed in the article on setting goals in Google to Measure Performance mentioned above. A conversion is whenever a user does what you want them to do. Depending on what your site is built to do it could be viewing your contact info, making a purchase or commenting on an article. You create your own goals within Analytics. My goals are met whenever spends more than two minutes here, reads more than one article, or buys the book.
Bounce rate is an indicator of how people are using your site. A bounce is when a user comes to your site and does not click on any links. They close the window or go back to the search engine. If you are a restaurant and have a well designed site with your phone number, hours and menu on the front page then this metric is totally irrelevant to you. 99% of the people that come to your site are looking for information that is right on your front page so your bounce rate will probably be what would be considered horrible in the SEO world. However, if your site has many pages that go over your products or you have a blog, then a high bounce rate is an indicator that something needs changing within your site.
Click Through Rate (CTR) is a measurement of how many people are clicking on your site when it is presented to them. This result can tell you alot about how well your page titles and snippets are written. Even if your page has great content, a bad title and a bad snippet means users won’t click on your search listing. This is actually found on Google’s webmaster tools, which is implemented in a similar fashion to analytics. I love it because it tells me what people are searching for and where my site shows up in the search results. That’s great data that will allow me to write an article next week about mail chimp!
If you’re excited to dig in check out my earlier article on setting goals with Google Analytics or this post on the basics of keyword optimization. Otherwise watch out for tomorrow’s article covering the nitty-gritty of search engines and your website’s code.
EDIT: Here are links to the articles that followed this one in SEO Week.