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Identify the Visitor Activity You Should Track on Your Web Site

Web analytics allows you collect information about visitor activity on your Web site so you can improve it for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. You need to focus on the elements that are most relevant to search engine referrals:

  • Percentage of traffic from search

  • Conversions (leads, sales, and subscriptions) from search

  • Average time spent on site (or "visit duration")

  • Share of search traffic (Google versus Yahoo! versus Live Search, and so on)

  • Pages clicked on

The information that you use in your baseline should be unique to your business goals and ambitions.

It’s also critical to separate your paid search results from your organic search results. Paid search results come from pay-per-click (PPC) programs, where you can buy an advertising link on Google or any of the other search engines and pay a sum every time a user clicks on your ad. You need to separate these two types of results because it can skew your data and throw off proper analysis. You have to understand how subtleties in an SEO program, like descriptions in a listing or movement in a SERP (search engine results page), can impact your traffic and productivity.

This is also true with all of your PPC paid search programs, when you need to calculate your return on investment (ROI) on specific engines, keywords (search terms), or ad campaigns. Many PPC programs include the ability to tag your pages and track visitors from click to purchase.

With analytics, you can use different types of reports from any number of analytics packages as long as you know what to look for. But even without the analytics part, you need to think about a quality search experience. Regardless of how a user searches, you have to get them the information they want, while also trying to get them to perform your desired actions.

To help get you started, here are a few tips on items that you can track and measure:

  • Top search queries. You would be surprised how many businesses lose out on those desired conversions simply because they’re targeting the wrong keywords. This is why keyword research is so very necessary. Sometimes what you think would be a good keyword search term turns out to be quite the opposite. This is why it’s so important to be thorough in keyword research.

  • Top landing pages. A landing page is a page that someone uses to get onto your site. It might not always be your main page, but generally that would be the one you want to be your big landing page. When dealing with top landing pages, your concern should be the source of referrals.

    Because you’re dealing with search engine optimization, you should look at search engine results. This is your first contact with a potential visitor, so make sure that elements of your landing page speak to the search terms and the type of user you want to bring to your site. Changes in page titles, listing descriptions, and URLs can have an impact on a user’s desire to click on your page.

  • Top exit pages. Something you also have to monitor are the exit pages. If users are consistently leaving your site on a common page, it’s a good idea to figure out why.

    The process of pathing is reviewing the flow, page by page, that a user takes while visiting your site. If you begin to see that quality search referrals come into your site but are always leaving at a particular point, you need to work on the content or user experience you provide to keep those users from leaving. If the top exit page is the Thanks for Ordering page, you have nothing to worry about. However, these situations are rare. The most common top exit page is usually your home page.

  • Bounce rate. The bounce rate measures the percentage of people who leave your site right after entering a page, usually within seconds and without visiting any other page on the site. This stat goes hand-in-hand with measuring exit pages.

    If you have specific pages designated for SEO purposes, be sure to measure and track the bounce rate on a regular basis. You don't get desired conversions if no one wants to stay on your page.

Maybe you're targeting the wrong people with that landing page — after all, just because you rank well for a particular keyword doesn't mean the page that ranks is saying the right things to the people who come to that page. You need to dig in deeper and figure out what the mismatch is. Are your images loading too slowly? Is the page layout confusing? Does the content of the page not meet the visitor's expectations?

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