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How to Measure the Quality of Your SEO Traffic Using Google Analytics



How to Measure the Quality of Your SEO Traffic Using Google Analytics

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Before you start reading, I’ll forewarn you that this article will start with a tweet and end with a challenge. Sound good?

From one of my favorite SEO role models, and founder of Women in Tech SEO, Areej AbuAli

So, before getting lost in the sauce in the various metrics, it’s important you understand that your business goals are unique to you, so the way you measure your goals should reflect that. From there, the next steps are to get a better grasp of what quality traffic means for your website, and then evaluate how users engage with your content. 

To get a better understanding of what’s considered “quality traffic”, we’ll look into various Google Analytics metrics that will help you create a rock solid SEO strategy. 

Why does quality of traffic matter for SEO success?

At the end of the day, quality traffic is what accelerates business success, especially for post-publishing optimization. 

For example, let’s assume your blog has 200 visitors per month with a conversion rate of 1%, generating two leads. By improving the quality of your traffic, your conversion rate and number of leads will also increase:

  • Traffic: 200

  • Conversion rate: 4%

  • Leads: 8

This indicates that “superfan” visitors are far more engaged and therefore more profitable than moderately excited users. Google’s new page experience algorithm update further solidifies this statement. 

It’s become crystal clear that the way that consumers interact with your website contributes to your business growth. 

How do you measure the quality of your organic traffic in Google Analytics?

We can go on and on about Google Analytics, but today we’re specifically looking at traffic quality. Here are the top metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Engagement metrics: time on site, pages per session, exit rate

  • Conversion metrics: conversion rate, form submissions, other goal completions, 

  • Relevance metrics: bounce rate, user geo-location, new and returning visitors

Engagement Metrics

Time on site

The time on site is the measurement a user spends on a site, regardless of whether it’s being used or not. For instance, let’s say a user has multiple tabs open but isn’t necessarily using all of them at once — Google Analytics still counts the time the tabs were open. 

In fact, Google counts sessions up to 30 minutes without a visitor clicking on other pages. But once the timestamp hits 30 minutes, that session will be counted as a bounce. Knowing this, it’s clear that not every user who lands on your site is highly engaged.

Generally speaking, the more time a user spends on your site the better. This indicates that your SEO strategy has defined content that is worth their while. Furthermore, the way you have structured your site not only helps them find the information they need, but they also read more about other topics or services that you might be offering. 

A good time on site indicates: 

To set efficient goals, you could measure time on site together with the next metric, pages per session. 

Here’s a sample goal:

Users who spend an average of four minutes on your site, and at least two pages per session are more likely to be engaged with your content. 

To find this metric, click audience (on the left side) > overview (underneath) > under overview, click average session duration.

Pages per session

To put it simply, pages per session is the average number of pages a user views in one session. It is one of the most important behavior metrics within GA, as it indicates how deep within your site a user navigates to. Essentially, the more pages they view, the more interested they are in what you have to say. Typically the first page a user lands on is your home page, but the goodies are on your service or product pages. With that said, to obtain quality traffic, you should aim to have at least two pages per session on average. 

If you aren’t seeing these results, you need to start investigating what isn’t working. It might be that you’re targeting the wrong keywords or your audience is in the wrong country, and therefore they bounce. 

If they land on your home page and don’t move onto another page, it’s a possibility that your home page isn’t properly linked to other pages, it’s too slow when loading, or the overall architecture of the site is confusing. Tweak this if necessary, and observe what happens. Often, the simpler it is to get around your site, the better! 

Now, as you view your pages per session, I recommend segmenting pages per session based on channel, so you can see which streams have a greater impact and double down on that. 

To find pages per session, navigate to GA, and then click “Acquisition overview”. Under the behavior bar you’ll see “pages per session”:

Exit rate

This one’s pretty straightforward. An exit rate tells you how often a customer has left your site from a page. Unlike a bounce rate (which I’ll discuss later), the exit rate tells you that a user left one page, and went to another. Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate.

Let’s say a new visitor enters your homepage, but they want to learn more, so they navigate to your blog. They spend some time reading your content and find what they want, so they exit. This shows up as a percentage under site content > all pages > exit rates. 

(see image below to visually see where to find the exit rate on your Google Analytics) 

Of course, if the exit rates are high you’ll want to assess elements like:

  • Website copy

  • Images/videos

  • Site load time

  • Page design

Start by tweaking one element at a time and analyze the results after each change until your exit rates start improving. Some pages will inherently have higher exit rates than others such as  your privacy policy and contact us pages (usually users find what they’re looking for on Google without entering your site). 

However, if you manage to decrease the exit rates for your services pages, blog posts, and/or product pages by tweaking the components we just talked about, you’ll find higher quality traffic and more conversions.

Now that you’re an expert in engagement metrics, let’s have a closer look at conversion ones.

Conversion metrics

Conversion rate

Google Analytics adds up all the goal completions of  your site  and calculates that as the overall website conversion rate. Nonetheless, consider looking at each goal separately to see how they’re performing so that you’ll know which goals you’re meeting and which conversion goals need to be adjusted. 

To view each individual goal, navigate to “goals overview” and then pick the goal you want to assess by selecting it in the drop down menu. From there you’ll see your conversion rate overview for that particular goal. Here’s an example of goals in the below image:

Now let’s look at how organic traffic plays a role in this scenario: 

How can we discover whether or not organic traffic on your site is helping you reach your conversion goals? If for example your conversion rate has gone down, while your organic traffic has gone up, it’s possible that you’re targeting the wrong keywords, thus getting less qualified visitors to your site. From there, you’d need to analyze which keywords need to be replaced (hint: check Google Search Console for keywords that are bringing in the highest CTR).

By switching your perspective and looking at the conversion rate of each goal through individual traffic sources, you can make better decisions to optimize and therefore obtain higher quality leads. 

Form submissions

 To get the most out of Google Analytics, I suggest setting up event tracking for form submissions so that you have a clear overview of what users are doing on your website. Tracking your form submissions allows you to understand how users navigate to the form page and focus your marketing efforts there.

Coming back to SEO, the relationship between form submissions and quality of organic traffic is quite similar to conversion rate. A form submission is considered as a goal which users are prompted to complete. If a large percentage of your users don’t fill in a form, this indicates that they are not engaged and therefore are not the right kind of visitors you should be targeting. If this is the case, re-assess the kind of information you request, the usability of the form, and the overall UX of your form page to make it more relevant and engaging.

To track your form submissions, click on admin at the bottom left hand corner > click view > click goals. 

Other goal completions

In addition to the metrics mentioned earlier, you can also set up goals like trial sign ups, newsletter sign ups, ebook downloads, or case study downloads (to name a few). You can track these goals by time, events, pages, or url. 

For example, if you recently posted on your social media channels about a free download, you can set up a goal and pinpoint which social media post brought the most traffic and assess the ones that worked better.

As mentioned earlier, tracking your various goals helps you better understand your audience as well as how they engage with your website. You will be able to deep dive into the channels that work best for your overall marketing efforts, as well as identify ways to incorporate UX and content design into your SEO strategy.

False conversions

I’d like to mention that although tracking metrics in Google Analytics is important, it’s just as critical to ensure you’re not skewing your data through false conversions. Inaccuracies in your data set could cause several problems and lead you to the wrong conclusions about your traffic and its quality. Looking at such false data will be the reason to decide on and implement the wrong SEO strategy for your website. 

To double check the goals you’ve set up, look for the conversions tab > goals > reverse goal path. Once there, you can identify where your goal conversions are occurring and if there are incorrect pages popping up that could be a sign you’ve incorporated the wrong data for a goal. 

Check out the visual below for further direction. 

Relevance Metrics

User geo-location

To find your audience’s geo-location, scroll to the audience on the left hand side, then geo, and finally location. Here you’ll find all the different countries that users are coming from, their acquisition, behavior, and conversion data. To get even deeper, you can click on a specific country and see state or city level data. 

For larger and international businesses, the big picture geo location data will be most useful, but for smaller or location specific businesses, the granular data will be crucial. For instance, if you’re a boutique clothing store, the city view helps you understand what locations your customers are coming from so you can create more relevant content and optimize according to location. 

By understanding the demographics of your audience, you can create highly relevant content to answer their questions and improve the quality of your organic traffic. 

Bounce rate

We spoke earlier about bounce rates, but let’s unveil how to use this metric to help your company. The bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who land on your site and quickly exit without navigating to another page. 

For example, if you have affiliate links on your site, a user might click on a specific link and go off onto a new browser window. Your bounce rate would be high but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this particular situation, as affiliate purchases are one of your business goals. If you’re a service based brand and you have a high bounce rate, this indicates that people can’t find the information they’re looking for on your site and exit.

Your bounce rate will depend on the goals you’ve set up on Google Analytics and what type of business you have. If you look at the acquisition overview section of your Google Analytics, you’ll come across the bounce rate. Here you’ll notice the bounce rate percentages from different sources of traffic. If the bounce rates are high for organic traffic, that could mean you’re targeting the wrong keywords or audience.

If you’ve already switched to GA4, you may be missing the bounce rate metric from your dashboard. What GA4 gives you instead are engagement metrics.

GA4 tags users who have either visited more than one page, completed an event or conversion, or who have been on the site longer than 10 seconds as “engaged users”. This metric will usually be higher than bounce rate, because certain sessions that would have been considered a bounce are now classified as an engaged user. The engagement overview on GA4 gives you an idea of how many of your users engage with your content and for how long, which is a useful substitute for the GA bounce rate metric.

New & Returning visitors

To get more information on your new and returning visitors visit the audience tab, then click on behavior and “new and returning visitors”. Instead of looking at these metrics separately, it’s a good rule of thumb to view them simultaneously as your company grows. 

Over time, you should see both numbers increase. However, if there’s ever a drastic decrease in the amount of returning visitors, that could be an alarming metric. You’d need to deep dive into the reasons why this is happening (such as a recent change on your site or the wrong marketing tactic). 

Benchmarking Google Analytics traffic data 

Let’s be honest here… you need benchmark data to truly understand how well your website is performing. I get it, we’re humans and we need guidelines! So in this section, I’ll cover low and high percentage rates for metrics discussed above. 

For example: 

To add, the new versus returning customers metric varies by industry and type of business however 20-30% for returning visitors is a typical ratio to achieve. 

How to use Google Analytics data to improve your website’s SEO traffic quality and user engagement

Google Analytics data is valuable because it helps us prioritize and strategize how to improve our SEO traffic quality. To truly see the benefits of using Google Analytics and to improve the traffic quality of your site, you’ll need to monitor engagement, conversion, and relevance metrics  over a long period of time, but these are only one part of the puzzle. Sustainable growth will come from continuously researching, analyzing, and adjusting your site.

Downloadable version here

What to do if your engagement metrics are underperforming

On page optimization

Optimizing your published content is an easy way to improve the quality of your traffic and increase engagement. To do so, you want to look at applying keyword research that matches search intent. Group keywords with similar topics and identify the right terms to target through each page of your site.

Other specific on page optimizations include:

  • Incorporating your target keyword in the first 200 words of your copy

  • Your page title and meta description to have the acceptable Google length (72 characters for title and 170 for meta description)

  • Your target keyword is included in H1 and subheadings

Now, let’s focus on design. 

Think of content design 

Another quote for you from Ginny Redish, Consultant Specialist in Web Usability and Writing: ​“Content is the user experience”.

With that in mind, the layout of your website and the way visitors consume content has a gigantic influence on your user experience. Not only can creating human-first content design improve your SEO, it can consequently enhance your traffic and engagement metrics. 

Here are some pointers on how to make this happen:

  • Avoid large images and videos that take up a lot of page ‘real estate’

  • Split your content into short paragraphs and headings

  • Emphasize important words and elements to improve readability

  • Use lists and tables where possible

Up next, what to include in your blogs to ensure an excellent website experience.

Write articles that provide the right amount of information

Articles should be comprehensive, not too long just for the sake of word count and not too short where information is missing. Users will know if you’re keyword stuffing or simply providing fluff content that doesn’t actually solve their problems. 

To make sure this doesn’t happen check out these tips:

  • Create articles that match the word count of top-ranking competitors but also make content succinct enough so that it doesn’t overwhelm your readers

  • Create longer articles that can be promoted on other channels such as social

  • Create longer articles that increase time on site metrics

Use the right language

There should be a balance between SEO language and copywriting. Ensure you’re using the right language with these tips:

  • I said it before but I’ll say it again…Avoid keyword stuffing (user’s can smell a keyword stuffed article a mile away!)

  • Avoid language that is not understandable from the user

  • Use simple language with the right amount of keywords and spread those out evenly across your content.

Study the way your audience communicates, and model your content and copy after that. You want your audience to feel comfortable and drawn to your content, not confused and repelled. 

Improve User Experience (UX)

Look at your website and assess how easy it is to read, navigate, find out key pieces of information, and perform any actions.

Here are some quick reminders:

  • Place CTAs in the right spots

  • Ensure readability is consistent 

  • Make sure information is easy to navigate

  • Make sure the site architecture has a solid flow

Ensure the website’s design works well on both desktop and mobile

As more consumers buy online for just about everything, the mobile user experience will contribute to your overall rankings. Here are five tips to optimize your responsive site:

  1. Check Page Speed Insights for mobile vs desktop

  2. Ensure all elements are properly visible and readable on both desktop and mobile

  3. Optimize image scale on mobile

  4. Simplify navigation

  5. Shorten your text 

What to do if your conversion metrics are underperforming

Use direct-response copywriting techniques

Use compelling language that encourages users to take immediate action. Copy should be targeted and to the point. To support that statement, 54% of American adults read at a sixth grade level, or below according to the U.S. Department of Education. So the simpler the copy, the better.

Optimize call-to-actions

Make sure CTAs are placed in the right spots within a page, have the right color and the right text. Use powerful and emotionally driven words that’ll entice quick wins. You’d be surprised at how a single word tweak or color change can drastically increase conversions. Not to mention, this is the precise method to ensure that SEO is bringing in conversions and leads.

Avoid any elements that could distract the user

Although some may suggest pop-ups, let’s be real here— the majority of the time you scramble to click the x so you can get back to scrolling. With that being said, avoid pop-ups, numerous CTA’s, and banners. If people are always in a rush to leave your site, that certainly won’t help any element of your marketing strategy.

What to do if your relevance metrics are underperforming

Target the right keywords 

Before creating a page or a blog, start with keyword research to identify which keywords you should target through your new piece of content. Think like your customer and identify exactly what their intent is and what’s trending in your industry. Also, pinpoint long-tail keywords that are highly specific to the niche you serve. This way, the content you put out will be for a very targeted audience, therefore conversion rates will be higher. 

Review the topic and focus keyword search intent

If the keywords you have selected are not performing well, review whether you selected the right ones and if they match search intent. Research what competitors are doing, so that you can put your own spin on the content around these keywords. 

Localize your content so you’re targeting the audience in your target market

Create content that’s relevant to where you’re located. For instance, if you own a pizza shop in Chicago, you might create a blog about the best places to get fresh cheese in Chicago. So instead of just developing random content, think about localizing content and examples that’ll attract the most qualified audience.

Work on site speed (slower websites have higher bounce rates)

In this day and age consumers want information at the speed of light, in fact 1 in 4 consumers will abandon a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. Tough crowd, right? To ensure speedy load times, visit Google’s Page Speed Insights to assess where the site stands in terms of page speed and to identify elements that slow down your website.

Use Google Analytics data to measure and improve the quality of your SEO traffic

At the end of the day, more qualified traffic = more money in the bank. 

So your overall goal should be working towards creating the highest quality content, website, and user experience to convert those visitors into loyal customers. 

To reach these goals, make sure to map out engagement metrics like time on site, and pages per session, conversion metrics like form submissions, and relevance metrics like bounce rate and user geo-location. 

Now, in the beginning I said I’d end with a challenge, so here it is: Create a list of 3-4 priority metrics and craft a realistic goal for each of those. Can you do that? Great! And, for on-going reflection, bookmark this article so that you can refer back when need be. You’ve got this!

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub



ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub

Enterprise customer data platform ActionIQ has announced the launch of a new product, CX Hub. The company has also rebranded as AIQ. The CX Hub is designed as a set of modules offering self-service access to customer data, allowing users to build audiences and orchestrate experiences at scale.

After eight years of growth as a CDP serving B2C, media and other sectors, the changes represent a “new approach to our product and brand,” said CEO and co-founder Tasso Argyros in a release. The modular framework will ingest data from any source, integrate with any activation channel, and also allow components to be used with a third-party CDP.

The modules. CX Hub is comprised of four solutions:

  • Customer data platform.
  • Audience center.
  • Journey management.
  • Real-time CX.

The Hub is also designed to be accessible to business users with a friendly UI and extensive automation capabilities.

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Why we care. This is a significant development in the CDP space — a space that has been transforming rapidly, with many of the early established CDPs being acquired and ingested by more extensive suites such as digital experience platforms.

ActionIQ, one of the leading B2C CDPs, is now describing itself as “the leading CX solution.” It seems to be future-proofing itself by extending its capabilities across orchestration and execution channels, not by acquiring or building those solutions, but by seeking to provide modular integration between its (or a third-party’s) customer data management tool and orchestration and execution channels.

Sometimes we wonder how many independent, traditional CDPs will be left standing a year from now.

Read next: Deep changes in the CDP space

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update



Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll



Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll

Earlier this year, revenue orchestration platform LeanData released a report suggesting that lead management remains a “heavily manual” process. Based on a survey of more than 1,700 sales, marketing and operations professionals, the results showed that, despite all the talk of digital transformation, the number two challenge for revenue teams was too many manual processes and not enough automation (the number one challenge was insufficient pipeline).

LeanData, which partnered with Sales Hacker, Outreach and Heinz Marketing in conducting the survey, is interested in that result, of course, because lead management is precisely the process they offer to automate. We were struck by the contrast with Scott Brinker’s recent statement that we are arriving at a post-digital-transformation era: “(C)ompanies are no longer planning to become ‘digital.’ They are digital.”

And then we got the results of our 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey. Among the surprising nuggets to be mined from our findings was that 77% of respondents identify spreadsheets as the tool they spend most time (10 or more hours a week) working with. That doesn’t mean that spreadsheets are a marketer’s most important tool, but it does suggest that manual processes remain a key part of daily life for marketing managers and staff.

We wanted to extend the opportunity to all our readers — B2B, B2C, agencies — to give us a reality check on spreadsheet use. MarTech is marketing, we like to say, and certainly today’s marketing is fundamentally data-driven and digital. But is it too soon to say that marketers are working in a digital and largely automated environment?

Download the 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey here

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About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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