Measuring the success of your site isn’t plain and simple; there are numerous metrics that you need to unpick to understand how your SEO efforts are paying off. In this article, we’ll highlight the most important KPIs that you should pay attention to, no matter what your SEO campaign’s complexity or scale is.
10 important SEO metrics for your business
1. Organic traffic
Let’s kick off with what is probably the most obvious SEO metric you’ll be interested in; organic traffic. Firstly, if you’re just getting started with stepping your SEO game up, it’s important to remember that results will take time. If you’ve just optimised a landing page, it could potentially take months before you notice significant changes to the level of traffic it receives online. So, tracking your organic traffic and seeing increases in visitors over a longer period of time is more beneficial than looking at short-term progress.
If you see higher levels of traffic month-on-month, this is evidence that your efforts are driving more visitors and leads to the site which could then lead to a higher number of conversions.
What you’ll want to dig deeper into, however, is the type of traffic you’re bringing in - is it of good quality and is it actually valuable to your business? For example, bot traffic (non-human visitors - don’t worry, we’re not talking aliens here, just programs that run automated tasks on the internet) could create deceiving levels of traffic. There are good bots and bad bots out there (Google’s John Mueller has said that bot traffic won’t have a negative impact on SEO performance), but either way, your data could be misleading.
2. Click-through-rate (CTR) and organic impressions
Rankings play a big part in CTR, in fact, over 25% of people will click on the first result on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This means that your CTR could either indicate that you’re not ranking well, or, that users aren’t enticed enough to click on your result.
What the CTR could indicate, is that even though your web pages are ranking well on the SERP, they’re not catching the eye of users. You can use data on your CTR to decide whether it could be beneficial to revisit your meta titles and descriptions - are they unique and do they clearly highlight the content and purpose of your pages?
Google Search Console is a great tool for monitoring your CTR as well as impressions, your SERP positions and total number of clicks and you can compare this data to previous months and years. Moreover, you can discover what users are actively searching for before they land on your site, meaning more keyword ideas!
3. Keyword rankings
Keyword rankings are still an essential SEO metric to monitor as they can indicate whether your rankings have improved for keywords that matter most to your business, whether the keywords you’re targeting are effective (perhaps they’re too competitive and you need to explore more long-tail keywords) and whether your SEO strategy seems to be working. As mentioned earlier, it can take a few months to see real positive movements so you’ll have to be patient when tracking new keywords.
By tracking your keywords on an SEO tool such as Semrush and looking into your keyword ranking report each month, you can get a better idea of how much your search visibility is improving.
4. Backlinks & domain authority
Backlinks…you either love them or you hate them - either way, they're still considered an important ranking factor in SEO. In fact, pages ranking in position 1 on Google’s SERP have an average of 3.8x more backlinks than pages ranking in positions 2-10. This demonstrates the importance of having a good number of backlinks from referring domains.
That said, it’s not just a numbers game, and any old backlink won’t do…in fact, it could even damage your E-A-T score. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness, these signals let search engines know whether your site’s pages are reliable and safe…and it’s especially important for “your money or your life” content (i.e. health & finance) as the content could influence a person’s safety and financial stability.
Essentially, sites which have poor E-A-T scores or engage in black hat SEO tactics could harm your site’s reputation in Google’s eyes. This is because they’re not perceived as trustworthy and sites running paid link schemes are definitely worth avoiding as you wouldn’t have earned that link.
However, you’ll be pleased to know that you can remove toxic backlinks so that any sites with low authority or ones that appear “spammy” don’t harm your SEO efforts. Google has shared information on combating these unwanted links.
Now, let’s look into domain authority - a score which will take into account your backlinks (where they’re coming from and the total number you have).
Having a positive level of authority is very important to Google (as it looks at E-A-T signals) and looking at your domain authority is a way of gauging the effectiveness of your link building strategy. You can track changes in your domain authority to measure whether your SEO efforts are improving your site’s credibility.
In terms of discovering your domain authority, backlinks and referring domains, the Semrush tool will be able to provide you with this information.
You can see your domain authority score, your total number of backlinks (where they’re coming from and which pages are being linked to), new and lost referring domains and the toxicity level of your links (indicating the health of your backlink profile). You’ll be able to uncover the categories of referring domains (to see if they’re relevant to your business), countries referencing your site and the pages being referred to.It is important to note that domain authority in itself is not a ranking factor, but rather a metric SEOs use to gauge site’s performance.
5. Page speed
These days the focus is on user experience - and so it should be considering these are the people you’re trying to convert! Google’s Page Experience Update looks out for signals measuring how users perceive their experiences on your site, including Core Web Vitals which looks at page load performance.
It makes sense that a page which loads quickly will result in a better experience for users - if they can’t see your images or there’s missing text, they won’t get the information they need very easily. Things that could impact your page speed include:
- Large files/images - it’s always worth optimising images and compressing files which have huge download sizes so the page loads quicker.
- Having too many CSS files which lead to a number of HTTP requests - minifying these will remove unnecessary characters, spaces and more in your content.
- Your web host - if your website shares a server with multiple people, it could lead to slower page load times. A way to resolve this issue is to look into other hosts which are optimised for speed.
These are just a few examples of what could be slowing your site down and it’s worth speaking to an SEO specialist to find a solution for your site.
A popular tool for measuring your page speed and other Core Web Vitals is Google’s Page Speed Insights.
This will provide you with a report on metrics that will help you to understand the experience you offer users and spot any red flags which need to be addressed.
Once a page speed audit has been completed and the recommendations have been carried out, it is important to signpost this date in Google Analytics and monitor whether conversion rate and time on site increases to better understand whether the changes have had an impact on your traffic.
6. Organic conversions
Now this is a VERY important metric indeed. It’s one thing getting people on your site and ranking well but it’s another thing actually converting users and making a profit - something which every business needs to survive and thrive off of.
Every business will be different in terms of what goals are important to them, but this is often phone calls, enquiries, newsletter sign ups and online purchases. Ecommerce businesses will be particularly interested in monitoring the number of transactions and the conversion rate of pages.
Before you look at metrics, you should ensure that you determine what’s valuable to your business, then you can look into setting these up as goals to track using a tool such as Google Analytics.
Below you can see a glimpse of the insights GA can give you into conversions and you’ll be able to get this information for all of your pages to determine best selling products and identify potential issues on pages that have poor goal completion and conversion rates.
7. Exit pages
Tracking your exit pages (the last page that a user visits before they leave your site) is worth monitoring because you may spot a theme in where users exit. For example, there could be an issue with thin content or broken links which mean users can’t easily navigate to the next page they wish to view. If a user can’t get what they need, they’ll just head back to the SERP to click on the next result that could fulfil their needs (which could leave you missing out to competitors).
8. SEO metrics for Local SEO
If you’re running local SEO campaigns, keeping track of your local SEO visibility will be very important. Metrics that will be of interest to you will include:
Google My Business insights - it’s a good idea to set up a Google My Business account and track metrics such as local conversions and how much your site appears on local search results.
Traffic to local pages - if you have created local landing pages, monitor their rankings, traffic and the keywords they are driving clicks and impressions for.
Rankings for local keywords - track local keywords and monitor whether you’re seeing any positive movements in rankings. The likelihood is that if you’re ranking well, you’ll be more likely to have a higher CTR and convert users.
Other important metrics mentioned in this article will also be important for local SEO, but you’ll be more interested in the location of where converting users are located and whether referring domains are relevant in terms of where your business is based.
9. Mobile performance
Google follows mobile-first indexing, meaning it will look at the mobile version of your content before indexing and ranking it. Therefore, monitoring your mobile performance is a pretty big deal - try to keep track of:
- Mobile visibility and how you fare in comparison to competitors. Your mobile rankings can differ compared to your desktop rankings. Tools like Semrush allow you to set up tracking for both devices so you will be able to monitor performance and spot any unexpected fluctuations.
- Mobile friendliness of your pages - declines in search may indicate that there’s issues with the functionality of your pages. For example, text could be too small on a mobile for users to read, therefore providing a poor experience.
- Consumer patterns - it’s certainly worth digging into the search patterns of your target audience, as they may search via desktop more often for the products and services you provide. However, don’t review mobile traffic in isolation, especially if you are running an ecommerce site. You should always look at what devices consumers are using to convert.
- Search terms - It is worth monitoring the difference between the keywords driving mobile and desktop traffic to your site. You can do this by looking at your Google Search Console data and filtering by device, however be mindful as the data you are seeing is not the full picture and Search Console does not provide a full list of the keywords your site is driving traffic for.
10. SEO Engagement metrics
Google Analytics is a popular place for businesses to measure their site performance. As you may already have heard, Google Analytics is sunsetting and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the future of measurement. Here at Adido, we’ve already been preparing for GA4, and it’s important for your business to understand how analytics metrics are changing.
Engagement metrics are going to be particularly important in GA4, and it will look at the following:
- Engagement rate - this is effectively taking the place of the bounce rate and it will indicate how often visitors to your site stay and interact with it, rather than telling you how often they leave.
- Engaged sessions - an engaged session is one which sees a user convert, interact with your site for more than 10 seconds or have two or more page views.
- Engaged sessions per user - this is the number of engaged sessions you see on site.
- Average engagement time - the total amount of ‘engagement’ time you receive on your site.
Don’t forget - Google Analytics isn’t the only place to track website traffic and performance, and other popular tools to use include Adobe Analytics and Matomo. That said, you need to opt for the best tracking tool for giving you the insights you need so it’s worth investigating your options.
Tracking the competition
It’s also important to measure your competitors’ metrics where possible too, so that you can see where you stand in comparison. There are a few ways to do this, including:
- Conducting a competitor analysis - this will enable you to discover new keyword opportunities that your competitors are ranking for but you may not have thought of. Don’t fall behind by keeping an eye on the SERPs and market trends.
- Checking out their backlink profile - uncovering how many backlinks your competitors have for certain keywords and for their webpages will shed light on what could be worth focusing on and what could be tricky to rank for.
So, there you have it, some of the most important SEO metrics that most businesses will need to be monitoring to move forward with focus. Don’t forget, search engine algorithms are always updating, and what matters most for ranking well organically can change. Google wants users to have the best possible experience, and so the metrics that you focus on could shift depending on what Google deems to be more important. Currently, Google’s MUM update is rolling out, and there is a big focus on search intent here. The key takeaway is to keep an open mind, monitor the metrics that will give your business the valuable insight it needs to continue growing and stay on top of organic updates and trends so that you can pay attention to fundamental metrics.
Here at Adido, our team of digital marketing experts stay in the loop and combine their expertise with the use of metric tools to equip you with the information you need to see your business evolve. From keeping a beady eye on competitors to developing a new organic strategy that will boost your position on the SERPs and convert more users, we can help.