Analytics report and search results

How to Improve SEO with Web Analytics & 7 Key Metrics


Everyone wants their website to rank highly in Google — and that’s exactly why the world of SEO is so competitive. Since search engines are how most people discover new sites, ensuring your site shows up for the right search terms has become vital to marketing. 

In order to succeed in such a crowded space, it’s essential to equip yourself with the right tools and processes to ensure your website is maximally optimised for search engines.

If you’d like to improve your website’s SEO rankings, leveraging web analytics is one of the best places to start. Web analytics provides valuable insights to help you assess performance, user behaviour and optimisation opportunities.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

The basics of SEO and web analytics

Before we discuss how to use web analytics for SEO, let’s start with a quick explanation of both.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) encompasses a broad set of activities aimed at increasing a website’s position in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user enters a query (e.g. ‘marketing agencies in Dallas’) in a search engine, the websites that appear near the top of the page are optimised for search engines and therefore ranking for that particular term. 

SEO is affected by various factors pertaining to the individual page and your website as a whole. Text, metadata, site authority and user behaviour can all impact whether a search engine presents your website to a potential customer.

Web analytics refers to the monitoring/assessment of metrics that track traffic sources and user behaviour on a website. This involves the use of a web analytics tool to collect, aggregate, organise and visualise website data so that meaningful conclusions can be drawn.

While Google Analytics is a widely used tool, its reliance on sampled reports limits the depth of insights compared to other web analytics platforms. At Matomo, we set ourselves apart by prioritising comprehensive data analytics that avoid data sampling methods. Our commitment to privacy not only distinguishes us but also enhances accuracy.

By utilising privacy-friendly tracking practices, we can ethically and accurately track 100% of visitors, providing a deeper understanding of user behaviour and website performance.

The importance of website analytics for SEO

SEO revolves around search engine algorithms — rules dictating a website’s ranking for a search query (i.e., keyword). The algorithm considers numerous factors to determine a particular site’s SERP ranking. So, to achieve strong SEO, your website must exhibit qualities the algorithm deems important. That’s where web analytics comes into play.

Web analytics allows you to track key metrics and data points that affect how the algorithm ranks your website. For example, how much time do users spend on your site? Which external links are referring traffic to your site? How do your site’s core web vitals stack up? 

What is measured gets improved. The right web analytics tools allow you to track and manage the many factors affecting your SERP rankings. Understanding this data will give you the insights needed to make positive adjustments, ultimately improving your website’s SEO.

How do you analyse a website for SEO?

A website’s SEO analysis needs to focus on relevant data that applies to search engine rankings. When conducting your website SEO analysis, here are some notable metrics and data fields to pay attention to:

1. Bounce rate and dwell time

These metrics denote how much time users spend on your website. The primary goal of search engines is to deliver results the user finds helpful. Suppose users usually exit your site after only a few seconds. In that case, Google may view this as a negative indicator because it implies that once the user got to the website, they quickly saw it wasn’t what they needed. 

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who landed on your page and left without converting or taking the desired action. For example, if twenty people land on a page and ten don’t click anything on it and instead hit the “back” button on their browser, the page has a 50% bounce rate.

Dwell time refers to the actual time someone spends on your page. Generally, longer dwell times indicate the user finds the page interesting or useful. This tells search engines they found what they needed.

Bounce rate on Matomo's Page report
Bounce rate and average time on page via Pages report

To reduce bounce rate and increase dwell time, you should make your site’s content more captivating and ensure there aren’t any technical issues with your site (e.g. pages taking too long to load or not optimised for mobile).

For example, if you find that a particular blog has a very short dwell time, there is some disconnect between what the user expects when they click and the content they see. You might respond by changing the title and metadata to reflect the page’s content, or you could try to change the content to fulfil reader expectations.

2. Broken/dead links

Since search engines want to give users the information they need, broken or dead links are a big problem. When a search engine ranks a page highly, it’s effectively telling the user, “Trust me, this is a good resource.” So, a dead link makes you look bad and can make the search engine appear less reliable. That’s why Google tends to punish sites with dead links and pages.

Perform a technical analysis to scan your website for faulty links. If your site contains broken links that lead to 404 pages, this can detract from your website’s SEO rankings. Redirect those links to a related page or remove them.

Crawl Errors report in Matomo
404 errors via the Crawling Errors report

Matomo’s Crawling Errors report can give you instant access to this technical information so you can resolve it before it begins to impact your ranking.

It’s a good idea to perform periodic reviews of your site. With an advanced tool like Matomo, you can even create automatic reports.

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3. Scroll depth

Measuring scroll depth (how far users scroll down the page) can help you gauge the quality of your content, which goes hand-in-hand with bounce rate and dwell time. When a user scrolls down your webpage, it can show that they find your content helpful and want to learn more. 

Understanding scroll depth can also help you make web design decisions. For example, if you find that almost no one who lands on your blog posts scrolls more than 50% down the page, you could decide your audience prefers shorter blog posts. 

To assess scroll depth, you can use a Tag Manager to track the specific scroll percentage on your site’s pages. In web content, a tag is simply a small piece of code that allows you to record events and customer behaviours. Matomo’s Tag Manager is designed to make it easy for non-technical users to track and learn about scroll depth and other events without complicated coding.

4. Transitions

Studying how users transition from page to page within your site can help you understand their behaviour holistically. Which pages do they tend to gravitate towards? Are there CTAs on your blog that aren’t driving many click-throughs? Optimising user journeys will, in turn, elevate the overall user experience on your site.

Transitions and user journeys are important for SEO because, like dwell time and scroll depth, they can reflect how useful your content is. If someone arrives at your site from a search engine results page, spends a few minutes on your page and then clicks an internal link to another page, it tells Google your content is interesting and helpful. These are results search engines want to reward with high rankings.

Matomo's Transition report
Previous and following actions of visitors for a website’s cart page via the Transitions report

You can use your web analytics software to track transitions and map user journeys. For example, if many visitors to a product page click and then transition to a related product, this can be used for special offers and other marketing campaigns. Matomo’s Transitions report allows you to visualise and learn where users come from and where they go.

5. Internal site search

You can use site search tracking and reporting to learn your audience’s wants. Site search refers to the search functionality on your website. Today, it’s standard for blogs, e-commerce sites, and other properties to have a built-in search bar. How people use that tool can tell you much about your customers and what they want.

If you notice a trend (e.g., most searches are for pricing because your pricing page isn’t in the navigation menu), this can inform both site architecture and content planning. If many customers search for a page, that’s a clear signal you should make it easier to find.

Matomo's Site Search Keywords report
List of keywords via Site Search Keywords report

E-commerce sites, in particular, should be monitoring branded queries, especially regarding brand misspellings that could be causing users to bounce off the site. These product searches can inform new content pieces, like blogs, or even impact paid media campaigns.

6. Segments

Separating your visitors into distinct segments can produce granular insights that paint a more accurate picture. As you create more web pages or content, you can specifically target the needs of your primary segments. For example, a fishing supply business might determine that people new to the sport are one of their largest segments. This might lead you to create more introductory content or to feature entry-level products on your homepage.

For another example, you may notice that your bounce rate is far higher on mobile or with users from the UK. In both cases, this knowledge will clarify where to focus your optimisation efforts (e.g. mobile responsiveness, UK-specific content/landing pages, etc.).

Website visitor segment via Matomo's Site Search Keywords report
Matomo’s Site Search report combined with the Returning Users Segment

One of the biggest benefits of tracking and understanding your customer segments is it helps you better understand who your customers are and what they need. This allows you to identify and target important keywords in search engine optimisation and other marketing efforts, like paid media.

7. Acquisition channels

It’s crucial to analyse where your website traffic is coming from. Reviewing your acquisition metrics will reveal which external websites are referring the most traffic to your website. Like segments, traffic sources help you understand who your website visitors are and how they ended up on your site.

Links from external sites (also known as backlinks) are among the most important ranking factors because this tells Google that your site is reputable and credible. So, you may cultivate a relationship with these sites (or similar sites) by offering guest blogging and other link-building initiatives.

Referral Website report in Matomo
Referral websites via Matomo’s Websites report

In addition to the above, you should also be monitoring your Core Web Vitals — which leads us to our next section.

What are Core Web Vitals and why are they important?

Core Web Vitals are a set of 3 primary metrics that reflect the general user experience of a website. These metrics are load time, interactivity and stability. 

  1. Load time (also called largest contentful paint or LCP) refers to the amount of time it takes for your website’s text and images to load.
  2. Interactivity (also called first input delay or FID) refers to the amount of time it takes for user input areas (buttons, form fields, etc.) to become functional.
  3. Stability (cumulative layout shift or CLS) refers to the visual/spatial integrity of your website. If text, images, and other elements tend to suddenly shift position when a user is viewing the site, this will hurt your CLS score.
Matomo's SEO Web VItals report
Core Web Vitals metrics via Matomo’s SEO Web Vitals report

So, why are these Core Web Vitals metrics important for SEO? Generally speaking, Google prioritises user experience — and Core Web Vitals affect users’ satisfaction with a website. Furthermore, Google has confirmed that Core Web Vitals are, indeed, a ranking factor.

Matomo enables you to track metrics for Core Web Vitals which we refer to as SEO Web Vitals. Since these metrics impact the rankings of every page on your website, they’re well worth the effort of measuring and improving them.

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How to measure and track keyword performance

We can’t talk about SEO and analytics without touching on keywords. Keywords (the words/phrases that users type in a search engine) are arguably the most cardinal component of SEO. So, outside of website performance, it’s also necessary to track the keywords your website is ranking for. 

Recall from above that SEO is all about ranking highly on SERPs for certain search queries (i.e. keywords). To assess your Search Engine Keyword Performance, you can use an analytics tool to view Keyword reports for your website. These reports will show you which keywords your site ranks for, the average SERP position your site achieves for each keyword, the amount of traffic you receive from each keyword, and more.

Top keywords generating traffic via Matomo's Search Engines & Keywords Performance report
Top keywords generating traffic via Search Engines & Keywords report in Matomo

Digging into your keyword performance can help you identify valuable keyword opportunities and improvement goals.

For example, upon reviewing your highest-traffic keywords, you may choose to create more blog content around those keywords to bolster your success. Or, perhaps you notice that your average position for a high-intent keyword is quite low. In that case, you could implement a targeted link building campaign to help boost your ranking for that keyword. 

Final thoughts

In this article, we’ve discussed the benefits of web analytics — particularly in regards to SEO. When it comes to selecting a web analytics tool, Google Analytics is by far the most popular choice. But that doesn’t make it the best.

At Matomo, we’re committed to providing a superior alternative to Google Analytics. Matomo is a powerful, open-source web analytics platform that gives you 100% data ownership — protecting both your data and your customers’ privacy.

Try our live demo or start a free 21-day trial now – no credit card required.

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A powerful web analytics platform that gives you and your business 100% data ownership and user privacy protection.

No credit card required.

Free forever.