How to Set SEO Goals & Analyze Web Traffic Trends
A solid search ranking is key for your website to be found by potential clients and consumers. However, marketers often struggle to answer questions surrounding the correlation between website traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. It’s important to note that SEO is not a cure-all for website traffic, as there are oftentimes other factors beyond your control that are affecting your site’s search rankings. Read on as we detail how to establish attainable goals and understand historical data to forecast website traffic trends.
Web Traffic Trends
“It depends” is the typical response by a SEO specialist to questions about future traffic results and trends. It’s an answer that often bemuses clientele and management alike. Why? Well, it depends. As anyone with knowledge of SEO can tell you, you can’t predict with any real accuracy what a change will do to your traffic since there are several external factors you have no control over. With that in mind, you can offer your clients an idea of incoming traffic while addressing and taking those external factors into account.
Here are certain issues, both in and beyond your control, as noted by Search Engine Land, that may help predict future traffic trends to your site.
Sometimes search engines update their algorithms, changing how they present data in order to improve user experience, which may impact how your site’s pages are ranked and clicked on. If your pages are negatively impacted by an update, it’s best to closely examine what’s changed and see if there’s a way to recover the traffic you’ve lost.
Take a look at your website over the last few years. If it’s growing at 4 percent year-to-year, that’s what you should most likely expect as a baseline for growth. Look at your history to see what projects or campaigns were done over the years to get an idea of the impact they may have had above and beyond the baseline trending. Making annotations in Google Analytics is a great way to create a results-oriented timeline of everything you’ve done.
Mistakes happen. According to Search Engine Journal, when something is missed in the quality assurance process, be it an unauthorized update or a third-party tool malfunction, traffic can be negatively affected. Because there are numerous touchpoints that can affect SEO, the more hands in the mix, the greater the chance that something can go wrong. Proactive monitoring of all elements of a website is not only critically important, it’s also the best way to ensure a steady stream of traffic to your site.
While there are external factors beyond your control that can affect website traffic, establishing an acceptable baseline can go a long way towards setting attainable traffic goals for your site’s SEO performance. Be sure everyone is using the same data and is looking at it in the same way with a Google Analytics account that’s shared by relevant members of your organization. This allows everyone to be able to access the latest website data whenever they want.
Additionally, a great way to gauge the state of your website’s current and projected website traffic is through an SEO audit. These quick assessments, a service offered by JSMM+VBM, can offer insight into a number of factors that may be affecting your website’s ranking on search engines, including keyword rankings, meta tags, focus keywords, headline tags and more.