There’s an old saying that makes the round in digital marketing circles: “The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results.” The data proves it true. A recent study suggests that just 0.78 percent of Google searchers click on something from the second page.
The data is clear: if you’re on the second page of search results (or even toward the bottom of the first page), you might as well not be there at all. That can be a big problem, particularly for banks and financial institutions that use their websites as a growth pipeline for new customers and leads. Understanding how your website works on the backend, and how search engines read it, can help you improve your rankings for key terms, regions and audiences.
Here are four key website metrics every organization should track and understand to improve their search rankings.
Think about your website’s domain authority like its overall search grade. The score was developed by the SEO organization MOZ to help web developers and content creators quickly understand how well a site would rank on Google search results pages. A domain authority score can range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. The score is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including things like linking root domains and the number of total links, and compiling them into a single score.
Your domain authority score is best used as a comparative tool instead of as a standard score. It matters where your domain ranks in comparison to your competitors, not where it ranks on the absolute scale of one to 100. If your score is a 20 and your five closest competitors have a score of 10, you’re doing great. If those competitor scores are higher than yours, you know you have work to do in order to rank better on Google search results pages.
MOZ has made it easy to check any website domain authority score for free. You can check yours (and your competitors’) here. Use your current score as a benchmark and try to improve upon it over time. How do you do that? We’re glad you asked…
A referring domain is any website that links to your website. Referring domains are important because Google sees a link from another website as a kind of endorsement or positive review of your website. If the linking site has a high domain authority, it’s even better. That domain will share some of its authority with your website when it links to it, likely increasing your overall score. Similarly, a domain that has a reputation for spam can hurt your domain authority when it links to you.
There are a few ways to check your referring domains. Ahrefs offers a free tool that is quick and easy to use. Paid platforms like SEM Rush can help you sort through your referring domains, track high performing ones, and identify and remove any that could be hurting your overall domain authority.
A backlink is an individual hyperlink from another website to your website. People often get confused about the difference between a referring domain and a backlink. Think of a referring domain like a phone number and a backlink like an individual phone call. A single number, or referring domain, can call, or link to, your website multiple times. The more times it does, the more authority Google gives to your site. The overall number of backlinks to your website is a key piece of your overall domain authority.
You can see the total number of backlinks your website has using the free Ahrefs tool you used to check your website’s referring domains. Keep an eye on the total number. Any large dips could be cause for concern. You should see this number grow over time. Remember to ask for links to your site from sponsorships, news articles and partnerships.
Google maintains an index of web pages that it can potentially return in a search result. Think of this index like the library of results Google can return for any query entered into its search engine.
Google regularly combs the internet for new pages or significant updates to existing pages and adds them to the index. If a page isn’t in the index, it can’t be returned in search results.
Performing an audit of your website can help you determine the number of pages Google has indexed from your website. From here you can work to clean up things like duplicate and outdated content that you don’t want to show up in search results.
An easy way to see the total number of pages Google has indexed on your site is to search your website domain on Google. Below is the result for the Esparza website. You can see that we have 139 pages indexed on Google.
You can use a free web crawling tool like Screaming Frog to create an index of each of these pages. This can help you audit and identify errors in the pages on your site.
If you find pages on your site that should be in the index but are not, you can submit them for indexing through the Google Search Console, a free tool offered by Google’s webmasters.
Paying attention to these four website metrics, and how they change over time, can help you improve your organization’s organic search rankings for topics you care about, ultimately leading to more traffic and more customers. Do you have questions about search engine optimization or how your website is set up? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free website consultation.