You’ve got a good idea who’s using your website right? Wrong. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken with potential clients about their website and they can’t answer the simple questions like how many people visit on average in a month or which content is most popular. So if this is you fear not, you’re not alone. But it’s staggering to me, with free tools available like the Google Search Console and Google Analytics, that website owners aren’t using the data at their fingertips to provide an insight into how people are interacting with their websites.
We believe that monitoring content on the SERPs for out clients will create many opportunities for them. This post identifies 10 reasons why we believe you may benefit from this service.
1. To improve click through for your content on the search engine results pages (SERPS)
Did you know you could specify the title, url and meta description (see below) for every piece of content published on your website? And that you can track the rate at whch people are clicking on your content when it appears on the SERPs? You should monitor your site to check that the titles and metas you assign always adhere to the rules; no more than 70 and 160 characters (including spaces) respectively; and that both should be unique to one piece of content on your site.
The title you assign to your content is probably the single most important variable that could influence how well it ranks. Make sure the keyword you’re targeting is used within it as early if possible. That it is repeated and legible in the url (permalink) and that the meta descriptions you write entice visitors to your content not the others on the page. A call-to-action can help.
You can monitor the click through rate for the cornerstone content on your site and tweak these key variables to improve the outcome as necessary.
2. To influence what content appears below the meta description for your homepage on the SERPs
You can add structured data markup to your content to advise Google what it’s about. SEO’s do this in hope of achieving the valuable rich snippets for their content on the SERPs which can draw clicks.
This can be particularly effective if your organisation have earned positive reviews for their products, hold regular events or have published recipes for example.
In addition although we can only influence which sitelinks are shown below the meta description to an extent – and in many instances there won’t be any – we can remove sitelinks that are inappropriate. If you don’t have any sitelinks you might consider reworking your site architecture. Google considers many things when determining whether or not to add sitelinks, but this factor is a pretty important one.
3. To check how your content is performing against the keywords you’re targeting
When your website was created it’s likely you had an idea about which keywords you were looking to rank for. If you didn’t, don’t worry it’s not too late. Today is day one.
It’s crucial to see how your content is performing for the keywords you’ve targeted and also to check whether there are variations of those keywords that you might be wise targeting too. If you don’t monitor the performance of these pages then you may miss something that has had a positive (an earned backlink) or negative impact (duplicate content) on your ranking, and not learn from it.
4. To analyse how new content is received after its published and promoted
Provided you have set up your goals correctly you can get stats on how many people are reading your new content, who they are, how long they spend on the page, how they found it, where they went after reading it and much more. Tracking this against the way you promoted the content can help you understand what worked and what didn’t so as to manage your promotions in future. You might like to read our post on how to promote your blog posts and attract links.
If nothing else you need to check that your content has been indexed – to do this you need to either resubmit your sitemap after publication, fetch the page using the Search Console or share it via Google+.
5. To check your site has not received a penalty
If you’re not monitoring the number of pages being indexed by Google (added to their library if you like), and you’re not set up to receive notifications via your Search Console dashboard, then you have little or no chance of knowing if Google have applied a penalty to your site. There are many reasons why Google will penalise websites, the most common being old school black-hat techniques like buying links, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, excessive reciprocal link exchanges and the like. If you’re not doing any of these your website should be fine, but it’s worth keeping on eye on this metric all the same.
6. Check for crawl errors
If you’re introducing and removing content from your website, as other websites will, you may end up with broken links. You need to monitor the crawl errors report to ensure that you don’t end up with internal or external linking issues on your site. If you do spot errors you fix them, tell Google amd move on.
7. To see if people are doing what you want them to do on your site
It’s crucial to set goals based on your objectives from the start. If you don’t set goals you can’t track whether they are being met or not. If visitors are not reading the content you’ve spent hours creating you’ll need to consider the worth of said content and how you go about promoting your content going forward. Take the blinkers off.
8. To see if visitors are entering the site where you expect them to
You might assume the majority of your visitors join your site via the homepage. Though this is often the most popular gateway to your content, your site will have many landing pages and you need to assess the bounce rate (% of one page visits, generally perceived as being a negative metric, but not one that should be considered in isolation) for each and look to improve the templates and signage for these pages as necessary.
9. To understand where your visitors are coming from
You can use the acquisition report in analytics to see the means by which visitors arrive at your site, be it directly (by typing or pasting in the url), organically (clicking on a link in the SERPSs), by referral (clicking on a link on another piece of content) or via social media. Needless to say the value of learning where visitors have come from is huge.
10. To understand what your visitors look like
You can segment your audience to get a clearer understanding of the type of visitors using your site. The benefits of doing so are many and varied, the most obvious being the knowledge could be used to target larger volumes of the types of visitors that spend the most time interacting with the content on your site and converting to your goals.
So there you have it. 10 reasons why you should be monitoring the way your content is being interacted with and displayed on the SERPs. Of course there are many more – why not take a moment to add your thoughts below? If you want to discuss our services in this area – you’d be best to contact us.
Main image by Stevebidmead