During a Google Search Central Lightning Talks series video, Mariya Moeva, a product manager at Google, discusses how to make sure that your WordPress site is working for you.
She explains that the first thing you need to do to have a successful site is to translate your real life business goals into online metrics. You know why your business exists. Maybe you have a shop where you want to sell Swiss cheese. Or maybe you’re writing a blog where you talk about traveling to parts of the world. But how can you know if you’re doing well in the online world?
She then went on to explain if you have a blog, one thing that might be worth keeping track of is what portion of your readers are visiting only once and what portion come back, as well as how much time on average each of these groups is spending on the site and how many pages they’re looking at. And if you have a shop, she recommends that you might want to keep track of cart completions on the online version, instead of sales in the real world.
So once you determine what type of site related metrics you should track exactly, you need to define what tools provide them in a reliable way. You need to check things like how comprehensive the data is, what the sources are. And does it answer all of your questions because it might turn out that you need to mix information from a few different tools to get the full picture of how your site is doing. And of course, usability and price factor in here as well.
Is There a Steep Learning Curve?
Can you make this work with your site? Mariya explains that if it requires a significant learning curve to just start using it, then maybe something else would be a better option. Or maybe it provides really interesting data, but it’s charging you every month, whereas you could find the same data somewhere else for free.
Keeping Track of Your Users
Once you pick the right tools for your purposes and set everything up, the data will start aggregating. The most important thing here is to set a baseline so you can compare and track improvements later on. How is your site doing right now? How many cart completions are you getting per day? Or, if you have a blog, what’s the breakdown of new versus returning readers? You probably need to track this for a few months to get a solid set of data and really draw any conclusions. Be patient, Mariya says.
If you don’t know your site’s baseline, you wouldn’t know if you’re improving or not. And of course, when you set a goal, the other thing is to be realistic. We very often hear things like Oh, I want to show up for a word such and such at position number one in search results from site owners. She then goes into competition and why this is something to pay attention to: depending on how competitive your industry is, this might not be something worth chasing after. Even if you’re showing up for a specific word in a specific place, people actually don’t visit your site from the search results.
Digital Marketing is an Ongoing Process, Not a One-Time Setup
Finally, it’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process. It’s not a one time setup. Think about what actions you can take to improve specific metrics that are important to the success of your site, and then commit to following up when you see the metric change in either direction. Also set a schedule to check in on your site regularly. Soon, you’ll notice seasonality or weekly patterns, and you’ll get a feel for what to expect.
Now that we’ve seen the four principles in action, let’s look at how this would work in practice.
For her first example, Mariya uses Rosemary Rocket, who is a blogger writing about her travels on the WordPress site. Rosemary makes money in two ways. The first is from recommending places to stay and things to do in all the countries and cities she has already visited. She places links which give her a small commission when people book via her site. So one good online metric that she needs to track to understand how well her website is working for her is the click through rate, or CTR, on these links in her blog posts about different destinations.
Rosemary also offers a service to help build out an entire trip for people to a specific destination. Online, people can sign up on her site to get a custom itinerary from her. So a good metric would be to track completions of the signup form here as well. And now that she has defined two concrete, detailed metrics to keep track of, it’s time to track down which tools might have that information.
Tracking Your CTR (Click Through Rates)
In the case of click through rate or CTR for booking links, some good options might be to set up goals in Google Analytics to track the clicks and then compare these two page views for each post containing a link. Additionally, it would be a good idea to understand which posts are most popular in search, which is available in Search Console, and how people find these posts, which is also in Search Console where you can see all the queries that your site is showing up for in the search results.
For the other metric “how many people completed the form,” it’s possible to set up a tracking goal in Analytics as well. And it would also help to track bounce rate from analytics and understand how people find the page from search results via the search query information and Search Console.