In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the current situation as far as the meaning and significance of Google’s PageRank. The rest of the post follows …
So, with PageRank discredited as a truly useful ranking signal, what other metrics are worth focusing on?
1. Conversion Rate: The conversion rate logged by your site is an obvious place to start. It is the single most important metric related to your website and online marketing activity. It’s possible to have more than one conversion goal, for example if you do both PPC advertising and SEO, you’ll want different conversion rate data for each activity to monitor effectiveness, so you may have a number of conversion rates to grapple with overall. If you use Google Analytics, these are fairly easy to calculate if you use the goals function. You may also want to track different kinds of conversions over and above a site visitor completing a check out process. Examples include signing up for your newsletter, requesting a call back, completing a contact form to request an estimate or even liking your Facebook page.
2. Keyword Rankings: Keeping an eye on your keyword rankings is crucial to understanding how successful your current search engine optimization activities are. Whether you opt to do manual checks (be sure to disable the ‘customizations based on search activity’ preference on Google) or subscribe to a ranking report software package, be sure to record historical data. Logging in and seeing that your keyword is in position 5 today is of little use if you don’t know what the position was last week or last month. Keeping a close eye on keyword flux will help you pinpoint new activities that have lead to climbs or drops.
3. Pickup Rate: If you use content as part of your online marketing activity, either through article marketing or online PR tasks and are serious about measuring success, it’s important to keep a close eye on pick up rate, that is to say how often your efforts are published by other sites. Specialist media monitoring services can make this process exact but if your budget doesn’t run to that, detailed Google searches using the title or a line from each piece you issue will give a rough idea of how well your content is resonating with your target market and what the pickup rate is. A good pickup rate means you have the right balance of information, whereas a run of articles or news items that don’t get published elsewhere suggests your topics are off. This could also mean that your website content lacks relevance – a key ranking factor.
4. Bounce Rate: The bounce rate tab in analytics tells you the percentage of visitors that come to your site and then leave without looking at any other page. A low bounce rate means visitors are exploring other pages within your domain, suggesting your content is well pitched and the keyword your site is appearing for match your products and the need exhibited by site visitors. A high bounce rate means it’s back to the drawing board as visitors are landing and then leaving. This exodus could suggest that you’ve made poor keyword choices when optimizing your website or setting up a PPC campaign. It could also mean that your content is not compelling or engaging enough or that your web design leaves a little to be desired. It is possible to turn each of these negatives into a positive by looking at each page with a high bounce rate in turn and casting a critical eye over the content and look and feel of the page. Is it time to bring in a copywriter to better convey the plus points of your products or services? Or is now the time to freshen up the site design, allowing you to compete more easily with rivals?
PageRank still has its uses, but it no longer can be seen as one of the top metrics for judging your website. Instead, look to the four metrics discussed in this post for clues as to what may be causing poor ranking and how to remedy the situation.