9 Measurable Metrics for Evaluating Your SEO’s Effectiveness
SEO, or search engine optimization, strategy helps you to increase the quality and quantity of traffic that arrives at your site through organic search engine results (SER). If you’re new to SEO strategy, this beginner’s guide from Moz provides a detailed tutorial on how search engines work.
Once you’ve gotten your website up and running, it’s important to use the tools available to track its success at attracting new customers and converting those searches to revenue. A variety of metrics allow you to track data about referrals, links, and rankings which help you determine which adjustments to make to your SEO strategy.
When you want to measure your SEO campaigns’ success, you should consider these universal metrics:
1. Keyword ranking. A variety of tools, like Serps and Google Search Console (easy and free to use), enable you to conduct keyword research and track your site’s rankings over time. Why track them?
You can chart the effectiveness of SEO efforts; better rankings for one keyword tend to mean better overall rankings, especially for long-tail keywords. Note that when your domain ratings or organic traffic metrics improve but not the target keyword rankings—you may have a problem with your keyword selection. Aim for long tail keywords and/or less competitive keywords.
2. Search engine referrals. Google and the Yahoo!-Bing partnership comprise of 95%+ of search traffic in the U.S. When you compare traffic from each search engine, you can:
a. Compare each search engine’s volume contributions with its market share.
b. Quickly identify and troubleshoot significant decreases in search traffic.
c. Sleuth out strategic value by identifying the tactics that work successfully for one (or more) search engines and apply those tactics to other engines.
3. Organic traffic. Organic searches cost nothing, so the more traffic you’re driving to your site from organic searches, the better. Also, rankings don’t mean much unless they generate traffic. The organic traffic is the purest trackable SEO metric available because it gives a good picture of SEO performance. Other metrics show trends, whereas organic traffic metrics offer quantitative proof that your strategies are generating traffic.
Collect and evaluate data over three time periods. Weekly data show the short-term changes in traffic. Monthly data identify longer-term results and successes of SEO campaigns. Annual data provide an apples-to-apples comparison that allows you to see trends over time and from year to year—which is important if you’re selling one product in spring and a different product in fall, for example.
4. Organic bounce rate. Bounce rate, which Google Analytics defines as “the percentage of single-page sessions” is a great way to measure user engagement on your site. If the bounce rate is high, it’s possible that many people are leaving your site’s landing page without clicking through or otherwise interacting with the page. Some pages, however, may elicit higher bounce rates, like a blog page, for example, if the information for which a user is searching is found there. A landing page with a high bounce rate is cause for concern, however, and should be analyzed further.
5. Pages per session. For this engagement metric, higher numbers are better, because visitors are going to multiple pages within your site. A low page per session count may indicate that your page’s navigation needs work or that the content doesn’t provide enough of a hook to keep people on your site.
6. Organic conversion rate. Organic traffic’s great—but once people find your site, you haven’t made the sale, yet, so it’s good to track that aggregate conversion rate if it’s relevant for the services or products you provide.
7. Click-through rate (CTR). A better CTR tends to improve keyword rankings. When Google sees that more people are clicking through your website, over time it will rank your site higher. How does CTR work? If you have 100 impressions and 10 clicks, you’ll have a CTR of 10%.
8. Pages indexed & crawled per day. When Google finds a site it likes, its bots crawl it frequently. The more frequently Google crawls your site, the better—when you make changes or publish new blog posts, it’s noticed fairly quickly and often indexed in minutes.
Want Google to like your site? Boasting good user metrics for bounce rate, time on page, etc., a good page speed, and few crawl errors helps.
Knowing and tracking your site’s index status is helpful for knowing how many of your site’s pages are indexed and which errors are causing pages to be de-indexed.
9. Crawl errors. Broken links, 404 errors, and missing pages makes it very difficult for Google to crawl your site. If it can’t find your pages, it can’t rank them. No need to check it daily, or weekly, but make a note to check the index’s status monthly and fix any crawl errors you find. Google Search Console makes it easier to track errors sitewide (by default) or by segment (with a filter).
For an even more comprehensive look at the key performance indicators (KPI) that are most critical, check out the article: Six Web Metrics/KPI to Die For. Another recently published article detailed the most important SEO metrics to track for 2018. In addition to the items listed above, you may want to also track:
- Mobile usability
- Lifetime value for users
- Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)
- Quality inbound link count
Metrics provide an invaluable tool to learn what’s working—and what isn’t. The data are important to identifying your SEO effectiveness. When you’ve invested significant capital into developing strong SEO, it’s just good business sense to check its metrics regularly, with a weekly, monthly, and annual tracking schedule, and make adjustments as needed. Metrics aren’t glamorous—but they do save time and money on investments that have a poor return.