3 SEO Metrics You Should Ignore (And What to Measure Instead)

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Web analytics gives us a lot of information using a small tracking code on our website. The problem is that so much information can be overwhelming, which leads us to focus on data and metrics that are not as important as they may seem.

The world of web rankings is a changing and complex one. SEO is one of the aspects that will give you the most headaches on your website. Mainly because it is not an exact science and there are many variables that can make your page hit a high or fall into the abyss. Also, no one knows for sure what works best. It is a matter of trying and doing things to the best of your ability.

Today we are going to see three well-known SEO metrics that you should ignore on your website. Or at least take a look at them from a different point of view than what you would normally do.

Your Website Traffic

Most people go into Google Analytics to see how much daily traffic they have. And that’s it. Let’s be honest: we all have done that.

The number of visitors that come to your website is one of the metrics with which we like to brag and compare ourselves with others. However, it is only a clear example of a vanity metric.

The traffic of your website is a measure of vanity. It is useless if it does not bring you benefits.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the most visited website in the kingdom?

Just because a website has 10 times the traffic of another one does not mean that the same thing happens with their income. A website with much less traffic can be much more profitable than a website with millions of visits.

What you need to ask yourself is if the traffic that has come to your website has served for something. Have visitors performed any actions that you want them to do? Have they bought your product? Have they left you a comment? Have they subscribed to your mailing list? Has your free plugin been installed on WordPress?

If you only go to Google Analytics to see the general numbers related to your website visitors, you are wasting your time.

Metrics related to the number of visitors to your website.
Metrics related to the number of visitors to your website.

Maybe you go a step further and not only look at the previous metrics, but also compare them with the previous period to see the trend your site is following. And then this may happen to you:

Comparison of the different traffic metrics on your website compared to the previous period.
Comparison of the different traffic metrics on your website compared to a previous period.

Negative trends in your metrics. That’s where you might panic and even consider leaving everything and abandoning the project. Big mistake! Trends can give you partial information. Who knows, maybe there is a global pandemic and your traffic has fallen down for that reason… 😉

What really matters is that the traffic that reaches your website is quality traffic. Traffic that is not just a number, but generates profits for you. It doesn’t matter if today you have a few hundred visitors less than last month, as long as they make more purchases.

You cannot just take the traffic of your website as the key metric to establish the progress of your project on the Internet. Forget about traffic and focus on your ultimate goals.

The Bounce Rate

Another metric that tends to bring web administrators down the road of bitterness is the bounce rate. This metric refers to the percentage of visitors who leave your website after visiting just a single page.

Screenshot showing the bounce rate of a particular page on our site in Google Analytics.
Screenshot showing the bounce rate of a particular page on our site in Google Analytics.

If a visitor organically comes to your website to read a blog post, then reads the post and leaves, now you have a bounce. However, your post has been read from start to finish. Do you realize that this bounce is making your day unnecessarily bitter?

The amount of information the bounce rate gives you is highly debatable. Further, depending on the type of page you have, the bounce rate will be highly variable. For blog posts, you can expect bounce rates above 80%, while for product listings the percentage will be much lower.

Further, someone causing a bounce on your website does not mean that they will not return in the future. Readers of our blog regularly visit our posts after we publish them and then leave. This bounce occurs every time we publish a new article. However we still have regular traffic that visits us every time we publish. Is this a wrong behavior?

If your website is working from the point of view of generating revenue, forget about whether it has a high or low bounce rate. You will end up too confused if you look only at the bounce rate. And what’s worse, many techniques that you will find on the Internet to lower the bounce rate are nothing more than tricks to fool your web analytics tool. Avoid them and focus where it matters.

The Number of Conversions

In most web analytics tools you can define when a conversion occurs. That is, when one of your visitors performs a specific action that is key to you, such as purchasing a product in your online store.

However, just looking at the number of conversions that occurred on your website in a specific period of time is wrong. That number is only telling part of the story.

If today 3 visitors make a purchase but yesterday we had 6 sells, is our website working much worse today? It doesn’t have to! If the products sold today are more expensive than the ones you sold yesterday, or if the amount of products in today’s order is higher than yesterday’s, the number of conversions is giving you a wrong impression of the performance of your website.

In the Conversions section of Google Analytics you can see the conversion funnel graphic of your website that you just defined as a goal. Here you have the previous example taken from the Google Analytics demo account, where you can see the real funnel of the Google merchandising store.
In the Conversions section of Google Analytics you can see the conversion funnel graphic of your website that you just defined as a goal.

Also, conversions can be extremely different, from clicking a link or filling out a form. Is any of this causing income to be generated on your website? You can have many conversions but not get a single dollar from them.

Remember this mantra: if it doesn’t end in profit, then it shouldn’t be your most important metric.

So, What do I Measure?

Very easy: if there is something you should control on your website, it is the conversion rate. That is, the percentage of visitors who end up taking the action you want them to do.

If you have a store, you should know what percentage of visitors end up making a purchase. Or if the goal of your website is to visit a specific page, what percentage of your traffic ends up visiting that page. Or what percentage fills out and submits a form. Or much more precisely, what percentage of your traffic clicks on a particular link or button.

Keeping track of your relevant conversion rates and seeing how they change over time due to the changes you make is key. Because any change you make on your website can affect them, it’s important that you test every change to see how it works before applying it.

If you ignore vanity metrics and focus on optimizing your conversion rates, you will be able to improve your website’s goals.

Featured image by William Iven in Unsplash.

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