Every digital marketing team uses data from SEO metrics to gauge their success. And why shouldn’t they? Without the raw numbers to back them up, it would be practically impossible to justify the cost — or show the worth — of any SEO campaign.
Unfortunately, not all metrics are created equally, especially if you work with a hands-on boss who wants you to work within old-school parameters. While conversions, bounce rate, and time on site may prove critical to the success of a campaign, there are other metrics that you don’t need to consider, some of which can actually hold you back from working on more important KPIs.
So what are the metrics that you should avoid? The odds are good that you can find more depending on your business’s goals. But there are four common ones that practically every SEO campaign can do without.
1. Ranking for Broad Match Keywords
Additionally, they’re highly competitive because they’re the some of the most common searches, meaning that they yield thousands of search results. As a result, a broad match strategy involves fighting an uphill battle against numerous competitors that delivers very few — if any — actual conversions. And that, unfortunately, is wasted time.
Instead, focus on long tail keywords. These keywords are very specific (“buy running shoes online,” or “fix a frozen sink pipe”) and better reflect customer intent. That makes long tail keywords the most valuable to your business, funneling visitors to your site who are specifically looking for services you offer.
Essentially, you trade the stress of ranking for high-volume keywords for more specific keywords and earning more conversions. You may not rank #1 on the first page for “shoes,” but when someone is looking for a specific size from their favorite brand, you have a shot to rank up there with the big names.
2. Keyword Density
In dozens of press releases, videos, and articles, you’ll hear Google say that their primary concern is user experience. And with the advent of semantic search — an algorithm that gauges the intent of a query, instead of just matching words — it’s critical to write for users instead of search engines. It’s still definitely important to use the keywords that you want searchers to see, but it’s not so important to repeat them for 1-3% of the text on a page.
More accurately, it’s now critical for you to focus on the quality of your pages instead of the amount of times you use a specific word or phrase. Even though you may not initially rank as well as sites that use certain keywords with more frequency, pages with interesting content are ultimately more effective in increasing rankings, clicks, and conversions in the long run.
For example, if you run a wolf sanctuary in Pennsylvania, repeating the keyword “Pennsylvania wolf sanctuary” six times on every page would be a poor strategy. However, if you research the interests of your possible visitors and create content based around those interests, you’re on your way to establishing yourself as an authority in your industry. Plus, this also reduces the risk of sounding stuffy or spammy.
3. PPC Budget
One of the most common myths in digital marketing is that the money you spend on pay-per-click ads directly influences your site’s organic rankings. The truth is that each system is rated and ranked by separate criteria — PPC ads are delivered using a search engine’s auction system, and SEO rankings are determined by hundreds of on-site and off-site factors. In those regards, SEO and PPC don’t overlap at all, and improving one will not directly lead to an improvement in the other.
However, PPC and SEO can indirectly work together, allowing you to carve out a wider range of keywords than either campaign can handle on its own. Synergizing your strategies maximizes the chances you’ll rank well for relevant search queries and drive extra traffic to your site.
For example, if your organic rankings for a certain long-tail keyword are slipping, bidding on the same keyword can help maintain traffic to your site until your SEO recovers. Similarly, if you’re working on a strict budget, you don’t have to bid on costly ads for high-traffic keywords when you’re already in the #1 spot in organic rankings. So while they don’t directly influence one another, using PPC and SEO in tandem can yield some exceptional results.
4. Quantity of Social Media Followers
Simply said, your social media following does not directly impact your organic rankings. However, this doesn’t mean social media is useless — in fact, it’s just the opposite. By focusing on quality social media interactions, and not simply your follower count, you can use almost any social platform as an effective marketing tool.
While the quantity of your social media followers determines your potential reach, their level of engagement is much more important. Offering quality content and interacting with your customer base helps keep them vested in your company and what you have to say. You can have thousands of followers on any social media platform — but they won’t do much good for your business if you don’t take the time to create and post content that interests them.
For example, using Facebook Page Insights, we’re able to see the number of likes, comments, and shares our posts receive over time:
We can break it down even further by looking at the engagement levels of our individual posts:
By looking at this data, we were able to determine that our Facebook fans prefer posts about company culture over posts about industry news. Because of that, we adjusted our strategy to include more behind-the-scenes type posts with photos of our employees, and less about the technical details of marketing.
When we post about our company culture on our Facebook page, we typically reach a few hundred people, and total a few dozen likes, comments, and shares combined. That may not seem like much, but considering that the average organic reach for a business page post is about 2%, it isn’t a bad response from our 6,000 or so fans.
With these posts, we may reach a couple hundred or even a few thousand people who have expressed interest in our company previously, and by posting content that they like, we increase the chances that they’ll want to learn more.
This isn’t to say you can’t post written content — in fact, you should every once in a while, at least. But any photos or screenshots that help give a face to your company can easily become social media gold with the right caption.
Have you cut out any metrics from your SEO campaigns? Or are there any near and dear to your heart? Let me know in the comments below!