The 8 Most Important SEO Data Points of Any Website
SEO

The 8 Most Important SEO Data Points of Any Website

Data is the currency of online marketers. If you’re an SEO or digital marketer, you know exactly what I mean. You live in a sea of data — numbers, line graphs, bar graphs, pie graphs, venn diagrams, percentages, proportions, analyses, analytics, and every combination of said metrics.

I get that. I’ve helped to found two analytics companies. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to get the quick-and-dirty on things — the barebones numbers that provide the core information source on a website.

Those are the numbers that I want to explain in this article. When you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know the eight data points that will give you an accurate read on your website. Then, you can take action based on what you know.

What you’re about to discover will enhance your ability as an SEO, a marketer, and a digital expert.

Domain Authority

The Domain Authority of a website is a number developed by Moz that functions as a comparative metric for how important and powerful your website is.

Here’s how Moz defines it:

Domain Authority is Moz’s calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, and MozTrust scores, and dozens of other factors. It uses a machine learning model to predictively find an algorithm that best correlates with rankings across thousands of search results that we predict against.

Domain Authority is measured on a 100-point scale. If your site is in the 20s, it’s not so hot. If your site is in the 90s, you’re doing really well.

Why It Matters

The Domain Authority metric has proved to be one of the most reliable numbers for determining the success of a website in the SERPs. A higher DA invariably translates into bigger traffic and better search ranking.

I’ve developed a chart to help you understand your DA. Find out your domain authority (“Where to Find It” below), and then find out how you’re doing.

Thankfully, you can improve your Domain Authority through careful and persistent work.

Where to Find It

Domain Authority is publicly available for any website. You can use the following free sources

Site Speed (Load Time)

A website’s speed is basically how fast it appears in a user’s browser.

Technically, site speed is dependent upon load time. Load time calculates the latency from the point at which a user submits a request. The network server time and browser time are both factored into the equation, along with the page size (measured in bytes), and requests.

Though there are a variety of technical factors to load time, the most important issue to take notice of is the number of seconds/milliseconds it takes for your page to appear.

Why It Matters

Site speed is crucial for two related reasons — 1) SEO and 2) user experience.  From an SEO standpoint, it’s apparent that Google devalues sites with long load times. This may be tied to the user experience issue. Pages that take a long time to load have higher bounce rates and lower levels of engagement.

You know this experientially. If a page takes a long time to load, you probably become impatient. You may click off to a new tab to pass the time while the slow-loading page comes into view. Or, you may just forget about it altogether.

Where to Find It

There are a variety of helpful places you can get site speed metrics. Here are the top three free places:

Quicksprout – (full disclosure, this my company) My analysis tool gives you both a basic speed score, and a full report. The “speed score” is a handy number for determining how you rank, along with load time (in seconds), page size, and requests.

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A more advanced report (also free) provides a full graphical readout of speed metrics based on content analysis, page type/file/size/load time, scoring performance, along with a series of recommendations.

PageSpeed Insights – Google Developer Tool

Google’s pagespeed tool is another handy and freely available source of speed insights.

Their analysis provides desktop and mobile displays for your site, along with scores, images, and recommendations.

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Pingdom Website Speed Test

A quick and easy analysis of site speed is provided by Pingdom Tools. The Pingdom readout displays the performance score, and load time in milliseconds.

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Backlinks

A backlink is any link to your site from an external site. There are entire companies devoted to analyzing this set of data alone. There are an infinite number of ways you can slice, dice, analyze, parse, interpret, and view this data, but the simple metric that I want to point out is the number of backlinks.

Why It Matters

It’s an undisputed fact in the SEO world that backlinks are the most crucial component of a website’s health and wellbeing. Without strong backlinks, you have no search engine optimization, no authority, no traffic, and very little in the way of digital marketing success.

It is still extremely important that your site have a variety of strong backlinks to show the search engines that your site is valuable, useful, and worthy of high rankings.

Backlinks, or more comprehensively, a site’s link profile as a whole, is the most important factor Google considers when it analyzes a site for ranking.

It’s dangerous to rely on the number of backlinks alone as a determinative metric for taking action. A site could have billions of backlinks, but a huge percentage of these may be spammy, thus compromising the link profile. Another website may have just a small handful of backlinks, but they are all high-authority, reputable, niche sites that lend value. Although this is one of the most important numbers to consider for SEO, it should be considered in conjunction with other factors.

Where to Find It

Quicksprout – Get a quick score of your total backlinks using my analysis tool. There’s no distracting data here — just a simple number and rating (“high,” “medium,” “low,”).

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Open Site Explorer – For a comprehensive yet free analysis of your site’s link profile, you can use Open Site Explorer. They provide some parsing of the data.

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Google Webmaster Tools – GWT allows you to download a selection of links and view the top linking domains, latest links, and sample links.

Number of Indexed Pages

The number of indexed pages is a count of how many pages the searches engines have crawled, and are thus returning in search queries.

Why It Matters

Indexed pages is basically a count of your website’s content. The more blog articles you write, for example, the more indexed pages you have. Besides, the more pages you have, the more opportunity you have to rank for given keywords. In addition, you can strengthen your own internal link profile with more indexed and interlinked pages.

Having a lot of indexed pages doesn’t mean your site will automatically rank better. Matt Cutts made this clear in a video he released last year:

Even though the quantity of pages isn’t a direct rank factor, the quality of those pages is. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t have quality pages without having some quantity.

The more quality content you produce, the better your site will do. Your number of indexed pages should always be growing. You may have to start small — ten or fifteen — but the number should always be rising.

Where to Find It

Quicksprout – (again, my company) You’ll get a quick number of total indexed pages, with a comparative rating.

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Google Webmaster Tools – The data from GWT gives a chart showing the number of indexed pages in your site. In addition to seeing the present status of indexed pages, you can see the growth or decline of how Google is indexing your content.

Navigate to Google Index → Index Status to see the data.

The screenshot below is a negative trend, reflecting deindexing of a huge percentage of indexed sites, coinciding with a site launch.

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Social Media Interaction

Social media counts tell you the number of people who are sharing, liking, or otherwise interacting with your social media presence.

Why It Matters

Social media is important, because it reflects how your site is doing socially. Social is its own form of search, and the level of social virality that your site produces is a huge indicator of its SEO success.

Where to Find It

In order to have social media metrics, you must first have a presence on social sites. It’s as easy as checking the number of followers.

The Big Four social sites are the most important:

  • Facebook Likes
  • Google+ Follows
  • LinkedIn Followers
  • Twitter Followers

You can also get an overview of these four plus Pinterest using my Quicksprout tool, Social Media Analysis. This is probably the most comprehensive social dataset that you can find for free in one place. Here’s a sample of one of the charts:

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Site Sessions

A website “session” is basically a user interacting with your site. A “session,” however is not just a “visit.” Although the number of visitors to your site is important, the number of “sessions” provides a more nuanced and accurate perspective of how users are interacting with your site.

Google defines sessions as “a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple pageviews, events, social interactions, custom variables, and e-commerce transactions.” A session, then, can include several visits, or may count as two visits, if a single visitor takes, say, an hour break in between visits.

Why It Matters

The total number of sessions within a given time frame is a helpful number for determining how many people are visiting your site. I recommend using this number as a corollary data consideration to your site traffic, because it incorporates a medley of subtextual data for a more intuitive read on user behavior.

Where to Find It

Google Analytics, or any other tool that use the Google Analytics API, is the only source of session data for Google search traffic.

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Organic Visits

Organic visits are the number of visitors referred by an unpaid search engine. “Organic” is usually contrasted with “paid,” which is traffic that comes from Adwords or other advertisements.

Why It Matters

Organic visits matter a lot, because this is the number of users who are finding your site by typing queries into Google or other search engines.

This is the goal of search marketing — creating a website and web content that people will find organically. The more organic visitors, the better you’re doing with your content and content marketing.

Where to Find It

You can examine organic traffic at a granular level using a variety of keyword tracking tools. However, Google Analytics provides a broad overview of this information.

In Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisition → Keywords → Organic. Though many of the results are “not provided,” you can still gain a helpful understanding of how users are accessing your site.

The best way to view this data is in a pie graph form in order to determine how your organic visits compare with direct traffic, referral traffic, and other traffic forms.

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Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is defined as “the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.”

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Why It Matters

A site with a high bounce rate is a site that is performing poorly in the experience of users, and therefore in the judgment of the search engines. If people visit a single page on your site and do not go deeper, they are considered to have bounced.

The search engine takes this behavior into consideration, and uses it as a factor in ranking your site — one of two user metrics used by Google for SEO ranking. If a lot of users are bouncing, then the search engine will devalue your site. It’s just that simple.

Where to Find It

You can access bounce rate data in Google Analytics.

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Conclusion

The end goal of data is action. Determining the best action to take is predicated upon getting the  best data. From the eight points above, you can learn a lot about your site, and take appropriate and decisive action to correct any shortcomings.

  • A loss of indexed pages can signal a site redesign error, an algorithmic penalty, or a manual penalty. Swift action to remediate toxic links or redirect 404s should be taken.
  • A low number of social interaction indicates a loss of potential social traffic. Action should be taken to enhance social presence.
  • A high bounce rate can indicate poor usability, incorrect keyword usage, or website with conversion optimization needs. Action is required.
  • A long page load time will result in frustrated users and loss of ranking. Action should be taken to improve speed.

The action you take is just as critical as the data you view. But, data is the starting point.

What is the most helpful SEO data that you use?

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: StevanZZ via ShutterstockScreenshots: Taken June 2014

 The 8 Most Important SEO Data Points of Any Website
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.

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12 thoughts on “The 8 Most Important SEO Data Points of Any Website

  1. Great write-up Neil. Concise and to the point, I think these are great go-to metrics for measuring SEO. All too often, people forget to get back to the basics. This is a good summary of that. Also, love the Quicksprout analysis tool!

  2. Hi Neil,

    From the points you mentioned, I was ignoring two points one is bounce rate and another one is index pages.

    These days the average bounce rate of my blog is 68% and I actually worried about. To overcome this negative factor i am doing Internarlinking, trying to makeke content more interetsing and all. Any other tips ?

    By the way what is the average bouce rate for a blog ?

    To increase Index pages now i think i should be more active on blog and post more frequently.

    1. Hi Tanya,

      The standard bounce rate you see in analytics is a flawed metric because when a person visits your blog from the SERP and stays their for 10 minutes or so to read, it is considered by GA as a bounce.

      If you want to see the accurate bounce rate of your website you need to implement changes to your GA code. When implemented, you will see the Adjusted Bounce Rate for your website.

      Check out this article from SEW that can help you out in this matter:

      http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2322974/How-to-Implement-Adjusted-Bounce-Rate-ABR-via-Google-Tag-Manager-Tutorial

      Cheers!

      1. I think you meant seconds, not minutes. And it also depends on the type of page. Some pages only take seconds to perform the action or goal you intend your users to perform. Youtube has hundreds of tutorials explaining the features of Google Analytics. The Analytics team at G also holds Hangouts on Google+ sometimes, great resource’s. I manage a few sites, same theme/design/niche/topic… the only difference is the location we target. Some of the sites have a 30% bounce rate and others as high as 75%. Don’t sweat the BR too much, just deliver what your audience wants/needs and you’ll do well.

        Great tips Neal, thank you. Pingdom is great, their notifications are a lifesaver. Not a fan of the Google developers site test tool myself, some of their “recommendations” just aren’t actionable and a few are just crap… love your stuff though!

  3. Very informative post, Neil. Domain Authority of my blog is very low. I have been working very hard for the last few weeks to increase the DA. Hope I can see some improvement in next update.

  4. I know this is from a slightly different angle but when I link to a site I look at their Alexa rank. After all, the aim is to drive traffic to your site so the lower their Alexa, the better the link is because there is more potential for traffic. I would be interested in other people’s opinion on this

  5. Found your post over Google+ this morning. I have gotten in the habit of collecting your articles to share with my peers… all your points that make perfect sense.

    Given the wax and wane of Google algorithmic updates, I have adopted a more pragmatic view as follows; “If you enjoy top 10, free organic page position, don’t hold your breath. After all it’s ‘free lunch’. And you know what they say about a ‘free lunch’.

    Google giveth, and Google taketh away.
    - Amen and Namaste to you brother Neil