As SEO becomes increasingly complex, measuring success has become more complicated as well. No longer can you simply rely on individual metrics to assess your overall SEO efforts. These days, you need to track numerous different SEO metrics covering everything from rankings and backlinks to conversions and engagement. In this post, we’ve detailed some of the most critical metrics to help you measure the health of your campaign and identify opportunities for improvement.
To determine if your overall SEO strategy is working, you need to know your organic traffic metrics. This refers to the number of incoming visitors that arrive at your site via search. You didn’t pay for them or get them from a referring website. These visitors found you by searching Google and clicking your link. You can use Google Analytics to view your organic search sessions, page duration, new users and bounce rate, all of which give you good insight into where your traffic is coming from and how they are responding to your content.
Due to increasing personalization, modern search results are seldom the same at the user level. Still, by tracking keyword rankings, you can determine two things:
The general momentum of your optimization efforts: Better rankings for a specific keyword usually indicate improved overall rankings, especially when it comes to long-tail keywords.
Keyword selection: If you see an improvement in other SEO metrics (such as organic traffic or domain rating) without seeing a corresponding improvement in target keyword rankings, it may be a sign of poor keyword selection. In this instance, you should select less competitive keywords and try to rank for them first.
You can use Google Search Console to find what keywords your site currently ranks for.
To motivate other sites to create relevant, high-quality links to your pages, you need to create relevant, unique content that will naturally gain popularity over time. That said, it’s not always clear which content will gain traction.
By tracking your backlinks, you can better assess the quality and relevance of your content. If you see a lot of backlinks to a specific blog post, you may want to create related or supporting content. At the same time, you should also assess the backlinks going to competitor pages to help inform your content marketing plan.
To track links, it’s best to have a mix of tracking tools, such as Google Search Console, Majestic, Moz’s Link Explorer, and/or SEMrush Backlink Audit / SEMrush Backlink Analytics.
Organic Click-through Rate (CTR)
Organic CTR indicates whether your content appeals to your target audience. It is essentially a measure of engagement while the prospective visitor is still on the SERP. As a general overview, this metric can be used to establish opportunities such as:
- Low clicks and high impressions suggest the need for improving CTR.
- High CTR with low impressions suggests the need for researching new keywords to increase impressions.
To collect this data, use Search Console.
The primary objective of SEO is generally to drive conversions from visitors, whether it’s a purchase, email signup, etc. To gauge the success of your campaigns, it’s vital that you track organic conversion rate, which essentially refers to the percentage of visitors who take predefined actions against a set goal.
Whether you’re tracking email signups, leads, sales or time spent on a page, as long as you have reliable analytics, you can identify the organic conversion rate of a page. This will allow you to evaluate the performance of specific content and your site as a whole, so you can make subtle tweaks or wholesale changes to optimize conversions.
Far too many marketers focus on gaining traffic without enough regard for what happens when they acquire it. Getting visitors is only half the equation. Once you have them, you need to make sure they are fully engaged in your content. Engagement metrics tell you everything you need to know about how visitors are receiving your messaging. They include:
- Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who exited your site without clicking a single link.
- Dwell time: The amount of time visitors spend on a page or site on average.
- PPV: The number of pages visitors accessed on average before exiting the site.
These are all insightful engagement metrics that show how visitors behave once they arrive at your site. In general, if a user spends more time on your site, they are more likely to regard the content as relevant and valuable.
While the aforementioned metrics are critical for assessing and honing your SEO efforts, they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous other key metrics you should keep tabs on, including everything from mobile rankings and page speed to crawl errors, pages indexed, social traffic, authority metrics, local visibility, top exit pages, crawl errors, new vs. returning visitors and more. It helps to have a knowledgeable partner who knows how to parse the data to identify weaknesses and spot opportunities for improvement.
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