WHAT SEO METRICS & KPIS SHOULD I CARE ABOUT?
In SEO, metrics and KPIs are the GPS for your website, helping you navigate the digital highway to success - just don't forget to buckle up for the data-driven ride!
Metrics & KPIs & SEO, Oh My!
You’ve likely heard plenty of talk about SEO metrics and KPIs. But there’s so much information out there that it can be downright overwhelming to know where to start and what metrics and KPIs you should really be focusing on. But before we get into these specifics, let’s first get clear on what SEO metrics and KPIs are.
SEO metrics are data points you should be tracking and monitoring to measure the performance of your website and ensure it’s fully optimized. Monitoring your SEO performance metrics helps you identify what’s working and what isn’t and can help you plan future strategies.
SEO KPIs are specific metrics used to evaluate and measure the performance and effectiveness of an SEO campaign. These metrics provide insights into a website's visibility, organic traffic, keyword rankings, user engagement, and conversion rates. They allow you to see if your strategy is working, what results it’s getting, and how you can improve going forward.
Now that we’ve gotten on the same page about SEO metrics and KPIs, it’s time to identify which metrics you need to be tracking, find out how to track SEO rankings, discover how to measure SEO performance, and learn how you can align these metrics with your business goals.
Essential SEO Metrics to Track
Let’s start with the essential SEO metrics everyone should be tracking. There are 4 different categories of essential metrics: Organic Traffic Metrics, Keyword Performance Metrics, On-Page Metrics, and User Engagement Metrics.
1. Organic Traffic Metrics
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- Organic Search Traffic: Organic traffic is the traffic you get from the search engine results pages (SERPs) without paying for ad placement. It shows your website’s visibility in search for keywords related to your business and niche. If your SEO strategy is working, you should have a consistent percentage of organic traffic flowing to your site.
- Referral Traffic: Referral traffic is visitors who come to your page through other websites without a Google search. This can be achieved through backlinks, email links, directory links, etc. When visitors arrive on your site in this way, Google tracks the website traffic as referral data.
- Direct Traffic: When users arrive at your site without a specific web search result Google Analytics categorizes it as direct traffic. This traffic can be attributed to a direct link, a bookmarked page, or your domain was simply typed into the search bar. Compared to organic traffic, direct traffic represents a more limited set of site visits.
2. Keyword Performance Metrics
- Keyword Rankings: Keyword rankings show you how well your website pages rank for specific search terms on different search engines. Knowing which keywords you’re ranking for gives you an idea about your current organic search visibility share and can help you decide whether to focus on further optimizing for those keywords or target other ones you want to rank for.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) for Keywords: CTR for keywords gauges how well your keywords are performing. You can use CTR to determine keyword intent and identify which keywords need improvement. The more your keywords, ads, and listings relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a user is to click on your ad or listing after searching on your keyword phrase.
- Keyword Difficulty and Competition: Keyword Difficulty (KD) is the process of evaluating how difficult it is to rank in Google's organic search results for a specific term. A keyword's difficulty is based on numerous factors, including domain authority, page authority, and content quality. KD is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a given keyword (i.e., how competitive a given keyword is).
3. On-Page Metrics
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate measures the percentage of people who land on your website and then exit from the same page without visiting any others. This a high Bounce Rate indicates your site is not desirable to the users you’re attracting.
- Exit Rate: Exit rate, on the other hand, captures the number of times visitors leave a website from a single webpage. It indicates how often visitors exit from it after visiting any number of pages on your site.
- Time on Page: Time on page is the amount of time a visitor spends reading the content on a single page. It’s calculated from the moment they land on a page until they click to go to the next one.
- Dwell Time: Dwell time refers to the duration that users stay on a webpage they've accessed from search engine results before going back to the search engine results page (SERP). It quantifies the period during which users engage with a page, starting from their initial click on a search result and concluding when they decide to leave the page.
- Pages Per Session: This is the average number of pages on a website users access per session.
Learn how BFO can help optimize your On-Page SEO.
4. User Engagement Metrics
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) in Search Results: CTR tells you how relevant searchers are finding your ad to be. It can be used to gauge how well your keywords, ads, and free listings are performing.
- Social Shares: Social shares metrics measure the number of times your content has been shared from social media platforms.
- Backlinks: Backlinks metrics allows you to monitor the number of backlinks to your website and compare it to your competitors. A large number of backlinks indicates to the search engine that the page is popular or important.
- Comments: Engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks tell you how well your content resonates with your audience.
- User-generated Content: User-generated content (UGC) is any content - from texts and videos to images, reviews, and more - created by people, rather than brands. UGC is used across all stages of the buyer’s journey to help influence engagement and increase conversions.
Conversion and Revenue Metrics
- Conversion Rate: This metric examines how effective you are at converting your online audience into customers. It is what happens when someone clicks your ad and then takes an action that you've defined as valuable such as a purchase, downloading a PDF, or completing a RFP.
- Goal Completions or Events: Goal completion measures how many of your visitors completed specific goals you set out for your site and can consist of reaching a destination, duration on site, pages per session, or it can be based on an event. This metric helps you understand how effective your digital strategy is at driving impact. One example is an email signup goal. It determines when people take the key step of giving you their contact information to be added to your email list.
Events should be used to track actions on-site, from button clicks to video views. Unlike goals, events can be measured more than once per session. You can track event flow in Google Analytics to see what traffic sources drive users to complete what series of events, and where they drop off.
- Revenue from Organic Search: Revenue is the amount of money you earn from your organic conversions. You can use Google Analytics or other data collection platforms to see the revenue generated by your organic traffic.
- ROI from SEO Efforts: ROI (return on investment) from SEO efforts estimates the business value of all SEO activities in contrast to their cost. This helps you determine how much revenue your SEO efforts have generated compared to the amount spent on them. Of course, SEO isn’t a quick fix and takes time to see significant results, so measuring your SEO ROI is complex – but still an important KPI.
Technical SEO Metrics
- Page Load Speed: The speed of your page load time tells you how fast your server responds to a request, and how long it takes to download and render the page. This KPI provides insight into how your user experienced the page with respect to page load. A webpage should fully load in less than two seconds or users will begin to bounce.
- Mobile-Friendliness: Mobile-friendliness refers to how well your website performs on a mobile device like a phone or tablet. With over half of all customers potentially reaching your site on a mobile device, it’s essential for them to have a positive experience with your mobile interface. Ensuring your website is responsive to mobile search is a must.
- Indexing and Crawling Issues: The number of indexed pages tells you how many pages (more specifically, URLs) a search engine has in its index. In general, you want to see the number of indexed pages steadily increasing as you publish new content. The larger and more complex your website is, the more important this metric becomes for you.
Crawl Frequency is a useful metric for identifying what Google deems as important on your site. It can be used to optimize your site for more organic traffic and, ultimately, more revenue.
User Experience Metrics
- Pageviews and Unique Visitors: Pageviews is a metric used to measure the amount of traffic a website gets. The number of pageviews represents the total number of times web pages were viewed by the site's visitors over a certain period.
Unique visitors is a metric that counts the number of people visiting one of your pages or multiple web pages on your website for the first time.
- User Behavior Flow: Behavior Flow visualizes the path a user follows from page to page or from event to event while on your site. This path can be tracked in Google Analytics and used to optimize for user tendencies to guide them to the conversion point on your site.
- User Demographics and Interests: Data on demographics and interests provides information about the age and gender of your users, along with the interests they express through their online travel and purchasing activities. Understanding the demographics and interests of your audience helps you better understand the type of content you need to develop, media purchases you should make, and the type of audiences you need to develop marketing campaigns around.
- Heatmaps and User Session Recordings: A heatmap is a visualization of your user’s interactions (clicks), which are represented by color in the image. Seeing where a user clicks helps you understand if they engage with your page the way you expect and if they’re finding all your call to actions (CTAs) and important buttons. Heatmaps help you to optimize your user experience and increase retention.
A session recording records every visitor's interaction with your website, including every mouse movement, interaction, and page visit. Session recordings can help you understand any confusion, ease of use, frustrations, etc. users may be experiencing while navigating your site.
Monitoring and Reporting Tools
Ok, so you know which metrics and KPIs are most important for you to monitor. But how in the world do you keep track of all these different metrics? Thankfully there are some fantastic tools to help you do so with great accuracy and efficiency. Three top tools you’ll want to have in your SEO arsenal are:
- Google Analytics (GA4): GA4 is the latest iteration of Google’s web analytics service. It enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites, and now mobile apps too.
- Google Search Console: Search Console provides information on how Google crawls, indexes, and serves websites. It can help you monitor and optimize search performance.
- SEO Platforms: An SEO platform provides a holistic solution to many digital marketing and organic search needs. These platforms bring data together from the best SEO tools to tell the whole story of your website's value and performance. Two of the most popular and reputable SEO platforms are Moz and SEMrush.
Additionally, you can partner with our Analytics team to get cutting-edge Website Analytics Services. We’ll help you understand all the data and use it to help you grow and reach your goals.
Setting Up SEO KPIs
There are 3 things you should do when setting up KPIs for SEO:
- Set SMART KPIs: SMART KPIS (Key Performance Indicators) are metrics used to assess performance. You’re likely familiar with the SMART acronym when it comes to setting goals. It’s the same here but used when creating your SEO KPIs. Your KPIs should be:
- Align KPIs with Business Objectives: It’s important to set SEO goals and KPIs that guide your decisions and actions to ensure your SEO campaigns result in business-related benefits. Aligning your SEO goals to your business goals is critical because it ensures your SEO strategy is bringing the right type of traffic to your website or landing page. While SEO and business goals may vary, they share the same end goal of increasing revenue and growing the business.
- Track Short-Term and Long-Term KPIs: Regardless of the KPIs you decide to track for your SEO efforts, it’s important to start doing so as soon as possible. The sooner you start collecting and analyzing data, the better informed you will be about your current performance and benchmarks. Setting and measuring SEO KPIs will help you continually evaluate the performance of your campaigns, allowing you to make smarter, data-backed decisions.
Periodic SEO Audit and Analysis
To stay on top of your SEO performance, know how to measure SEO success, and make any necessary changes as needed, it’s essential to plan on doing periodic reviews of metrics and KPIs, as well as letting data drive your SEO decisions.
- Regular Review of Metrics and KPIs: SEO KPIs and metrics are dynamic and always evolving. Therefore, to optimize your SEO KPIs and metrics, you need to review them periodically. When you do this, compare them with your benchmarks and industry standards and identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.
- Making Data-Driven SEO Decisions: You can greatly benefit from SEO beyond traffic purposes, using the wealth of valuable information you gain to help inform decisions in other areas of your business. For example, you can use data like search volume to optimize content and make it more personalized for the customer. You can also use it to cater to the customer experience at every level and make sure your marketing campaigns continue to be relevant.
Whenever you’re stuck with branding, content ideas, or understanding your customer, think about how you can utilize SEO data to get ideas and make informed decisions.
SEO Metrics & KPIs Are Your Friend!
We know just how confusing and overwhelming it can be to get a handle on all things SEO, especially when it comes to all the different metrics you can track and determining the best KPIs. But now that you have a general blueprint for which metrics to focus on and how to set up KPIs and link your SEO goals to your business goals, you’re far ahead of many businesses.
Set up a plan to ensure you’re continuously monitoring these SEO metrics so that you can make changes and improvements to your strategies and processes as needed. And remember to think outside of the SEO box of just focusing on traffic and, instead, take advantage of how the data can help drive your SEO strategy and influence business decisions.
Find out how Be Found Online can help you navigate the world of SEO metrics & KPIs to create a focused SEO strategy specifically tailored to the goals of your business.