Search engine optimization is not a precise science. A lot of what we do in SEO is based on assumptions and has a chance of working, but it’s often difficult to tell whether it does. That’s why it’s critical to arm yourself with a few reliable metrics so you can both measure your results and identify new opportunities for optimization.
In this article, I’ll look at the most important SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), as well as the tools that can help you find these metrics. Measuring the effects of SEO will help you determine whether you’ve chosen the best SEO strategy and will keep you motivated to keep optimizing your website.
Tracking SEO KPIs is not only about SEO performance
Goals and KPIs are important components of your SEO strategy that are often overlooked. It’s impossible to effectively track your campaign’s progress without KPIs. It’s no secret that SEO takes time to produce results, but by setting KPIs (key performance indicators), you can better demonstrate the strategy’s impact on business. They can also help you manage stakeholder expectations. SEO KPIs should be the foundation of your strategy, used to track progress and measure success.
The effectiveness of any SEO effort is determined by how you set your SEO goals and measure the effects. Marketers are in charge of this because, in general, the primary goal of any company is to increase profits. Together with your digital marketing team, you measure SEO KPIs and review SEO efforts on a regular basis. In terms of SEO KPIs, good website optimization entails reaching a more targeted audience while spending less money.
In this guide, I will explain the most important KPIs you should use.
1. Organic traffic
Search engine traffic is the most important KPI to track in SEO because it is the ultimate goal of the strategy. Look for a steady increase in organic sessions, which is usually very gradual and barely noticeable. The value of your SEO efforts can be better understood by comparing organic traffic over time, usually via a year-over-year graph.
How to check:
- Log in to Google Analytics
- Click Acquisitions
- Click All Traffic
- Click Channels
If possible, set a target date range of at least one month for monthly reporting. However, you can adjust based on the period data that you need. For example, you can also use a previous period or year as a benchmark for your comparison.
Your organic traffic is less likely to fluctuate significantly as your website grows in size. A smaller segment of your websites, such as a blog, a product catalog, etc, or even a single page will be the focus at that point. Viewing their SEO traffic separately will provide you with a much more detailed picture of what’s going on with your search performance. This can be accomplished by either creating custom segments or using Google Analytics’ filter options.
2. Branded Traffic
If people actively search for your brand, it indicates that you are doing something right. Analyze your branded traffic while concentrating on individual queries. Branded SEO traffic is generated when keywords containing your company name are ranked on SERP. Because these searchers are your direct customers, branded traffic typically converts at a higher rate.
Along with branded traffic, segment your organic search and examine commercial traffic, which is generated by keywords with a clear intent to purchase. These queries contain commercial terms such as ‘buy’, ‘order’, and ‘for sale’. By concentrating on the commercial component of your organic search, you can determine how firmly your company is positioned in the commercial niche. Additionally, commercial and branded traffic are ideal KPIs for marketers to track because they enable the measurement of overall brand awareness.
In Google Search Console, you can view all of your branded queries, as well as their impressions and clicks. And if you connect your Search Console to Google Analytics, you will have access to all of these stats in one place.
How to check:
- Login to Google Analytics
- Navigate to Acquisition
- Choose Search Console
- Choose Queries from the navigation bar and utilize the advanced filter and create a dimension to restrict your search to queries that contain your company name.
3. Keyword rankings
This is where your pages appear in search results for specific keywords. The higher your pages rank in search, the more visitors you get. Moreover, SEO traffic is very sensitive to even minor changes in keyword rankings. A single position change can affect thousands of users. It’s important to monitor keyword rankings and respond quickly to changes.
If we go back to 2015, keyword rankings were pretty much the only way to judge the performance of any SEO operation. But nowadays, it’s different because of semantic search. Historically, around 5 years ago, the vast majority of businesses tracked a small number of keywords and judged the success of their strategies on the basis of those keywords.
However, the time has changed, and nowadays, when you produce one piece of content, this content alone can rank for hundreds, and often thousands of different keywords. Not to mention that there is personalized search, which means that different searchers may see slightly different results for the same query depending on their computer’s configuration and location as well.
How to check:
You can use the keyword tracking or rank tracker feature on your favorite SEO software.
It is critical to distinguish between what is referred to as a Google dance (a period during which Google rebuilds its rankings and results fluctuate widely for a three to five-day period) and a genuine ranking drop. If you notice a slight change in your rankings, wait up to a week to determine whether it is a glitch. And if the situation does not improve on its own, it’s time to examine pages that have surpassed you in the rankings and borrow their optimization strategies.
4. Organic CTR
Although CTR (click-through rate) is used as a ranking factor, the reality is that the higher your organic CTR, the greater the number of people who will click on your listing on the search engine results page. This is something you should be tracking, both at the page level and at the query level. The click-through rate (CTR) is a straightforward metric that indicates the percentage of people who visit your page after their search results in an impression, the higher the number, the better.
You need to check this in order to determine how relevant your title tag and meta description on snippet (the elements that appear on the SERPs) are in relation to a given query, organic click-through rate (CTR) becomes extremely important. Again, context is required, and the average click-through rate (CTR) that each position can expect to receive is as follows:
- Position 1: 31.73%
- Position 2: 24.71%
- Position 3: 18.66%
- Position 4: 13.60%
- Position 5: 9.51%
- Position 6: 6.23%
- Position 7: 4.15%
- Position 8: 3.12%
- Position 9: 2.97%
- Position 10: 3.09%
How to check:
You need to go to your Google Search Console and click on performance and choose the page. Now, compare the CTR from your Google Search Console data with the graphic above.
When you compare your own CTR to this, you will quickly see whether you are outperforming the average or whether you need to improve your performance.
5. Organic Search Visibility
Organic search visibility is a solid KPI that you can track and measure to show consistent growth. There are two ways to measure and report on this. Even though impressions don’t result in clicks, they’re a great way to demonstrate your site’s continued growth in online visibility. These keywords are ranking higher, but they aren’t driving traffic to your website. This is the most common reason for this phenomenon yet. Increased impressions, on the other hand, are a great indicator of continued growth.
How to check:
Google Search Console is a great tool for tracking visibility dynamics.
6. Bounce rate
In addition to helping you determine whether your content is engaging visitors, the bounce rate can also help you determine how relevant your content is to the search queries that it is ranking for on Google. Bounce rate is a metric that calculates the percentage of sessions in which a user loads a page and then immediately exits without taking any action. The bounce rate is calculated by dividing the total number of sessions by the number of non-interactive sessions. As a result of a high bounce rate, users are less likely to convert from their traffic. Even small changes can make a difference, but if you don’t keep track of them regularly, you might miss the opportunity.
How to check:
- If you are using Google Analytics, you can find the bounce rate of your site and pages under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
A typical bounce rate ranges between 40% and 60%, implying that roughly half of all sessions are expected to end with no action taken. However, this will differ greatly depending on your industry/niche. Bounce rate is an important KPI because satisfying the user’s search query is a top priority for search engine algorithms. When a user searches for a keyword, Google wants to show them the most relevant and high-quality results that address the problem.
7. Average session duration
How long do your visitors typically spend on your website? Do you try to persuade them to stay longer? Average session duration is an important metric to consider when measuring user engagement on your website. By monitoring session duration, you will be able to assess the quality of your site and determine whether any changes to its structure are required. You should create an in-depth content structure to have a longer session duration: internal linking, breadcrumbs, hamburger menus, and so on.
Session duration is an important KPI because it indicates the quality of your site’s content as well as how motivated users are to stay, read, and click deeper into the site architecture. So, has something changed to annoy your users if you notice a decrease in session duration?
How to check:
- This can be tracked in Google Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
The more time a user spends on a page, the more engaged he or she is. And the more engaged someone is, the more likely it is that they will convert. As a result, you should be measuring the average time on page for your site, both sitewide and on a page-by-page basis, and thinking about ways to increase it if you see low durations.
8. Audience retention
The number of returning visitors to your site is another important KPI to track for performance optimization. As John Mueller reiterated, you need more repeat visitors, which is all about establishing trust, authority, and brand awareness. Growing your permanent audience is important because it shows that your site or your company is capable of establishing a long-term relationship. But also because you have met your target audience out there. The audience retention rate is an important KPI for the media and bloggers because it indicates how deeply they engage with visitors, as well as whether users like their site and find its content useful.
How to check:
- To begin, under the Audience > Overview tab in Google Analytics, you can get a general overview of your new and returning visitors.
The percentage of sessions performed by returning users, the number of page views per user, session duration, and other important statistics about your site’s audience are all available here.
- Go to Audience > Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics to track this indicator in greater detail.
Set the Cohort Size and Time Range, then select the User Retention metric.
You will be able to see a breakdown by days, weeks, or months, as well as the percentage of users who returned to your website. This way, you can measure the most successful campaigns you’ve run and see where you can improve.
9. Conversion rate
While a financial return is the overarching KPI that many businesses strive for, seeing results takes time. As a result, you should not rely solely on ROI. Measuring and tracking organic conversions, either sales, leads, or both, depending on your company’s setup is a reliable way to demonstrate success. After all, an increase in organic conversions is easily traceable to your efforts. Just make sure you know the conversion benchmark before you start working on a campaign; otherwise, it will be difficult to demonstrate the increase over what was previously generated. It is suggested that you use an average of conversions generated in the three months preceding the start of your campaign as a benchmark for measuring growth.
How to check:
Conversions can be tracked in Google Analytics by measuring goals for lead conversions and using the e-commerce report to track sales by channel.
Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon. You must be aware of the current state of your link profile, both in terms of identifying any new links you are earning and any issues with toxic links that appear.
You should track the following link metrics:
- Number of backlinks in total
- Total number of backlinks
- Total number of referring domains
- Number links lost
- Number of links earned
- Toxic links
How to check:
You need SEO Software to perform a backlink analysis
11. Core Web Vitals
Google has recently introduced Core Web Vitals as the latest user experience metrics and potential ranking factors. For the time being, there are three ‘vitals,’ all of which are about page speed, but Google has hinted that more UX metrics will be added in the future.
Despite the fact that there are numerous other technical SEO metrics available, I believe that Core Web Vitals are the right KPIs to include on SEO dashboards because they will soon become the focal point of technical optimization.
How to check:
- Go to Enhancements > Core Web Vitals in your Google Search Console dashboard.
The report tracks technical issues over time, so determining which website changes caused the problem should be fairly simple. If not, the report includes a list of all issues discovered at the bottom of the page.
12. SEO ROI
The ultimate goal of almost every business’s SEO strategy is to generate a return on investment. And whether it’s an investment in an in-house team and resources or in an agency, it means seeing more money returned than you put in.
Tracking ROI from your SEO activities is critical because it is the best measure of success, more money in the bank than you are spending. However, keep in mind that it can take time to see an ROI, often six to twelve months or more.
Know what your ROI target is, and measure your performance against it on a regular basis to understand and report on how it is improving. You can calculate ROI based on your SEO investment and the revenue generated by the channel.
All metrics should not be tracked at once. Choose your KPIs based on your project’s goals. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a useful tool for evaluating your SEO results.
Specify your goals in your essay. What do you hope to accomplish? As an example, if you want to increase the number of visitors by 35% by the end of the year, specify that goal in your goal setting. Endorse the budget and give it your blessing. Before you begin, determine how much you are willing to spend on SEO.
Make sure you’re using the right SEO Software or any tracking tools like Google Analytics, or CRM systems to keep track of your customers. For time savings and detailed reports, automate the tracking process to save time and effort.