Forget PageRank, Here are the Numbers You Should Care About

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Although every prominent SEO blogger has been saying for years that Google PageRank doesn’t matter, all you have to do is spend a few minutes in any SEO or Internet marketing forum to see that the obsession with that little green bar is alive and well.  From bloggers to website developers, people all over the Internet can’t seem to get past the idea of PageRank.  The reason that PageRank has remained so prominent in the minds of many in spite of the fact that they have been told they shouldn’t worry about it is that it’s visible and available for every website.  It takes time to really evaluate a website, and PageRank is viewed by many as a really easy way to gauge a website on a scale of zero to ten.

So, since you shouldn’t be worrying about the PageRank of your website or anyone else’s, what numbers should you be paying attention to?  If you remember a post I made back in July, I said that the bounce rate is the most important figure that an analytics program will provide.  In addition to the bounce rate, here are a handful of other numbers that I think are worthwhile to spend your time analyzing:

Conversions: Not every website has something to sell.  For some websites, their ultimate goal may be to get users to sign-up for a monthly newsletter.  For many bloggers, the ultimate goal is to increase their RSS readership.  Regardless of what your goal is, the most important thing is that you have one.  If you are churning out content and waiting around to get rich, it’s time to take a step back, give yourself a quick reality check and then decide what you are actually trying to accomplish with your blog or website.

Once you have a clearly defined goal of what you are trying to accomplish, you can begin tracking conversions for that goal.  Tracking conversions can give you a very accurate idea about what activities you should be spending your time on.  For example, you may think that spending six hours on creating and promoting a piece of content that brings you a lot of visitors is a very worthwhile way to spend your time.  However, if your goal is to acquire new RSS subscribers, and this activity only brings you sixty new subscribers, while you get an average of thirteen new subscribers per post that you spend forty-five minutes writing, you start to realize that even though the piece of content you spent a lot of time on might have generated a lot of traffic, it wasn’t actually effective at accomplishing your goal.

Google Cache Date: While I don’t think Google PageRank has any real value for SEOs, one metric provided by Google that does matter is the Cache Date.  The Cache Date shows the last time that a page of a website was crawled and cached by Google.  If your website has been cached within the last few days, it shows that Google is crawling your website on a regular basis.  However, if your cache is weeks (or even months old), it shows that Google is not regularly crawling your website, which either means it has no new content or very little authority within Google.

To check the Cache Date of your websites (and the websites of others), you can either click the Cached link (which will show the date at the top of the page), or you can use a Firefox extension like SEO for Firefox to see when a page was last cached.

ROI: This may be the last number that I discuss, but it’s arguably the most important.  At the end of the day, you want to make sure that your online endeavors have a positive ROI.  If you spend two thousand dollars and only earn a thousand dollars back, you just experienced a negative ROI.  If you don’t carefully track your ROI (whether it’s on PPC advertising or SEO investments), you may end up putting yourself into the red.  By carefully tracking your ROI on all of your projects, you can ensure that the money you are investing is leading to positive returns for you and your website.

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