What Google Wants: Why You Have to Track Search Engine Optimization KPIs

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Do you even know where to being with an SEO strategy? Here's some data to show you what Google ranks and how.

Search engine optimization can be one of the most important KPIs at a company, especially when online traffic is the number one source of new customers.

The more customers that naturally find you on search engines, specifically Google, the less you have to spend advertising to get them in your door. And advertising can be an expensive way to get new customers, especially on search engines when you're in a constant battle with the big boys.

At my company, we dove into our own SEO KPIs and developed a strategy for gaining in the search results because we're not spending on advertising. It's a must for us. So if you don't have a strategy yet, it's time to think about developing one. You need to know how to attack the opportunity (note I did not say "problem"). 

One strategy should be to have a focus on core keywords, but also optimize your site and landing pages for the "long tail keywords", those are keywords that might not get a lot of searches but sure do convert well because they're so specific. 

The first thing you need to do is discover your keywords. You probably have a close idea of what they might be but do you know all of them? Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner (even if you're not planning on advertising) to see how many monthly searches a keyword gets. Moz and SEMRush are great tools to track your keywords and positions as well as give you a list of other keywords to optimize for. 

Once you have your list of keywords (and it will always be changing), it's time to pick your SEO battles, but where do you start? One idea is to look at real-world data of how Google reacts to weighting your site based on their algorithm.

Below is the Moz bar chart of what factors contribute to Google’s search algorithm. This chart was created by insights from a ton of SEO experts, and focuses on key efforts that are going to really move the needle.

Moz chart: factors make up Google Algorithm

So the first question to ask yourself is how much time do you have to devote and what can you attack first. According to Moz, it's pretty clear what makes the most sense so these are some great search KPIs to attack and see if you can move your own search needle. 

Inbound Links

Inbound linking is at the top of what Google looks at when they decide where to put your page in the rankings. Is it a real site? Are there real and quality inbound links linking to your domain?

Google wants inbound links to be directed from quality sites that have a good domain authority. We use the Moz bar when we’re looking at sites and if they’ve got a killer domain authority, they make the list for us to go after and ask for links.

Page Level Links

Since page level linking makes up the second highest of the ranking factor according to Moz, it's time to take a look at your website and blog. You might find that you're not doing enough linking from page to page on your site or from your site to your blog. You might also not want to link single words, but phrases that make sense to link as well. Don't just link your company name to your website, link other keywords or phrases as well. And it's OK to link visitors off of your site, especially if it's contextual and makes sense to your reader. 

Page Level Keywords & Content

Keywords and content at the page level are the third (and still quite a large part) of the Google ranking factor. Assess your site, you might find that on specific pages you would rank higher for one of your "long tail" keywords so go ahead and optimize your URL, Title, Description and content on that page for that specific keyword. Now you can track from that page how you're performing.

For example, we have an integration with Google Sheets where you can take your Sheets data and create great-looking dashboards. So we have a specific Google Sheets dashboard landing page where the URL reads: https://www.dasheroo.com/google-sheets-dashboard. We put the keyword right in the URL and use the keywords in the description and the content. We now rank #8 on the first page for that keyword. 

If you haven't focused on your own SEO, it could be time and it could be the big opportunity you need to move the traffic needle for your own website. 

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