Google Analytics is a monster tool for tracking traffic patterns, sources, trends and more. It’s so extensive that it can easily help jack up your web site visitors from 100 a month to 10,000. IF you know how to use it right.
This is a real-life story which was inspired by some SEO work I recently did for one of my clients. In the past few months it has become increasingly obvious that Google cares about more than just links, and my hope is that this story will give you some ideas about how to make your own sites better and more popular.
Successful link bulding isn’t just about slapping on the most popular keywords, but about understanding which keywords work for you.
A quick background
My client had originally come to me with about 2 or 3 keyword ideas which they were pretty much set on ranking for, whatever it took. Now many SEOs would have been rubbing their hands in glee, but before we went full throttle I convinced the client to let me do a little research for them.
If you launch into a campaign without doing your research first you could make your life a lot harder and eventually shoot yourself in the foot. So here’s what I did and found:
The research process
I always look at a selection of key areas for clues about what is going on. Here are the main points of interest for this client in particular:
In the last 3 months (Jan – March)
- Only 13% of traffic arrives via the home page.
- Approximately 1,000 keywords account for 80% of the traffic.
- There were 5 particularly high traffic pages with very high bounce rates.
The next question then is what to actually do with this info, and how does it help with your SEO?
Well, the first lesson is that for this particular site, the home page isn’t that important as compared to the site as a whole. There are dozens of smaller pages which are collectively bringing in tons of highly targeted traffic, so my first move is to work on improving these pages and their rankings.
Spending all of their SEO budget on 3 key phrases wasn’t a good idea either — those 1,000 keywords or so that bring the majority of their traffic are where the money is at. You obviously can’t build decent quality links to target that many keywords, but with the right site architecture and a campaign of quality link building to build authority you can certainly help things along.
Finally, those all important user metrics were letting the site down — the 5 pages I had picked out needed improving, because if we could lower the bounce rate and improve the content the client would keep more traffic and probably find that their rankings improved too.
The plan of attack
Step 1: Fix the holes in the bucket so to speak, starting with the weaker pages.
Step 2: See if there is any way we can improve the site in general, navigation, layout, content etc.
Step 3: Split test! We tried a few different ideas and recorded the results, eventually finding a winning combination which resulted in the bounce rate being lowered by circa 11% overall.
Step 4: Look at what keywords people are using to reach each of those 5 weak pages, decide whether the existing content is a good fit for those queries and consider changes which could keep more users on the page and on the site. The key here; call to action.
Step 5: Link building — we weren’t interested in building keyword links through brute force; we wanted a selection of very high quality, natural-looking links, to the home page and to some deep pages. We wanted to make the site more authoritative, and allow those 1,000 or so keywords to rank even higher, not to mention gaining a few more.
Those 5 pages have gradually improved and now they have much lower bounce rates and tend to get more organic traffic too — which is probably not a coincidence.
They are now getting their traffic from around 1400 keywords, and traffic has increased. Plus, by lowering bounce rates all round they are retaining more traffic too.
We are continually building lots of links that actually drive traffic, so they are also getting an extra little bonus from that, and their organic traffic has clearly grown overall.
This just goes to show that SEO isn’t just about links or rankings, it is about understanding where your traffic comes from and enhancing what you already have. Using Analytics this way is very powerful — it takes time to get your head around it, but it pays off in dividends.
If you work hard to improve your site, make the most of whatever traffic you get and back that up with quality link building, and you will see the results for yourself.
About The Author
Hi, my name is Mark. I am a freelance SEO consultant and link builder, I help small business owners (and bloggers) to get more natural search traffic and to build a more successful blog. Please check out my website ToMakeALiving.com and get in touch to find out how I can help you.