Achieving a top spot in search engine rankings and boosting organic traffic is the ultimate goal of any well-executed search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. But how can you determine if your SEO strategies are effective, particularly in the early stages? The answer lies in Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These metrics help evaluate the success of your SEO campaign and discover areas that need fine tuning.
In this article, we’ll cover eleven essential SEO KPIs you should monitor to guarantee that your website climbs in search engine rankings and that your SEO efforts align with your objectives.
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When your webpage ranks for a keyword in Google search, it will show as an “impression” in Google Search Console. For example, if people search “baseball bat” and your site shows up anywhere in the top 100 results, then your website got an “impression” for that keyword.
Impressions are the first metric that will show when you start doing content marketing and SEO, long before clicks or conversions. If you’re writing content and seeing very low impressions, you might need to examine your content strategy or more closely optimize your content.
Organic Search Traffic
The closest tracked SEO reporting metric is the number of monthly organic visitors. As you optimize your website and improve your off-page SEO, your keyword ranking should increase which should then fuel an increase in organic search traffic and organic sessions. This is SEO 101, and that’s why organic traffic is arguably the most important and popular metric to track.
Organic Keyword Clicks
While overall organic traffic is important to gauge, it’s still a broad measurement of all people who visit your website from Google. It doesn’t provide information about what specific keyword or content brought them to the website. When you measure clicks in Google Search Console, you can see the exact keywords that people searched when visiting your site which improves your understanding of the effectiveness of your SEO content strategy.
You can track clicks for keywords and web pages, and also filter out clicks to remove branded keywords, which are terms that contain your brand name or related brand terms. These terms aren’t often the target keywords you’re trying to rank for, so filtering them out shows you click data for target keywords.
Keyword ranking refers to the positions of your target keywords on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In SEO, we give keywords a position of 1-100, with keywords in position 1 being the first organic result. Good SEO should boost your site’s visibility in search results, so tracking keyword rankings is important for evaluating the success of your campaign.
In recent years, Google and other search engines have introduced dozens of additional opportunities for brands to show in search results. There are Maps, “People Also Asked” dropdowns, “Featured Brands”, “Popular Products,” and several other search results types. These sections, also referred to as Snippets, are key places to track as well.
If your website has slow load times on mobile devices or is frequently crashing, it could negatively impact your conversion rate and even your SEO because Google prioritizes page experience as a ranking factor.
If this is the case, we recommend fixing the performance issues. While this type of technical SEO doesn’t always directly correlate to more organic traffic, it can absolutely help your SEO as well as improve your site’s user experience.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
CTR measures the percentage of users who click on your site’s listing on the search results page compared to the total number of searchers who saw the listing (impressions). A high CTR (>15%) indicates that your meta title and description are effective in attracting users to click on your website.
If your website ranks high for a specific keyword but your CTR is low, you need to optimize your meta title and meta description to encourage people to click on your link.
To measure how your website performs organically against direct competitors or within your industry, search visibility should be measured. This metric goes beyond SEO clicks and traffic to take a comprehensive view of your organic performance. When your organic footprint is growing and you’re overtaking keywords from competitors, your visibility will quickly increase.
While a lot of SEO KPIs focus on how search engines are ranking a specific page or keyword, engagement statistics measure how users interact with your content, which provides insight into how well your content is being received. Some popular engagement KPIs include:
- Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. When a majority of visitors leave your site quickly, it can mean your content isn’t engaging or readable.
- Average time on page shows how long users stay on a specific piece of content. If you’re driving traffic to a key blog and users are only staying for 5-10 seconds, chances are you should rework it.
- Session duration measures how long a user stays on your website.
While these statistics are not ranking factors poor performance in these areas, can signal a need to optimize your content strategy so your target audience finds it engaging.
One of the challenging aspects of SEO is getting a new website – or one that has never done SEO before – to rank higher on Google against long-time competitors. One of the issues we run into is that these sites lack the domain authority to compete.
Domain Authority is a score of how “authoritative” search engines see your website. It’s measured on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being a site like Amazon, Facebook, and other large brands. The number of backlinks – and their domain authority – are the biggest factors, and most newer sites don’t have many of them.
In order to grow your domain authority, most brands start a link building campaign to secure more backlinks. As your backlinks grow, your domain authority should rise too. You can track your site’s domain authority and backlinks from any number of SEO tools including Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush.
Conversion rate measures the percentage of visitors who accomplish a desired action, such as purchasing a product on an eCommerce store, subscribing to an email newsletter, calling a phone number, or completing a contact form on your website.
Conversions are considered one of the most important SEO KPIs because they show how effective your overall content marketing strategy and technical SEO work are. Many people see conversions are the ultimate measure of ROI (return on investment).
SEO vs Other Digital Marketing Initiatives
Many of these KPIs will sound familiar if you’ve done digital marketing like PPC or social media ads in the past. SEO often is judged with the same expectations as paid advertising; however, it’s very different and needs its own set of KPIs and benchmarks to understand its successfulness.
It’s important to track the right conversions in an SEO campaign. A brand new eCommerce site should focus on converting users to an email list or promotion signup. Sales might be a lagging indicator of SEO success. Similarly, SaaS brands should have a unique conversion (newsletter signup, webinar registration, e-book download, free trial) for each stage of the user journey. Expecting first-time visitors who land on a blog post to sign up for a free trial is impractical.
Companies and SEO experts should recognize that increasing organic conversions is not a siloed event. There are multiple factors and touchpoints that go into increasing the number of conversions a website receives. However, a high conversion rate indicates that your SEO efforts are not only driving relevant traffic to your website, but also that your content and brand are effectively engaging and converting visitors.
By monitoring the right KPIs & metrics, you can ensure that your optimization efforts are producing the desired results. These KPIs provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your SEO, help you identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.