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It’s estimated that at least half of businesses fail within five years of opening, and the competition is fierce – especially online. Many brands implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to boost organic traffic to their websites or online stores. While this improves the quality of content on a website, it must be regularly updated to account for search engine algorithm changes and industry trends.
Learning how to measure your SEO performance will simplify your digital marketing approach by helping you identify areas of opportunity faster. It also lets you know what’s already working and what you should continue to provide for users.
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How to measure SEO: 15 Key metrics
Tracking SEO metrics can be difficult because there are simply so many to analyze. And each only tells one part of a larger story. It can be hard to know the most important metrics to follow.
The good news is that many SEO metrics center around user experience. Whatever you track, you’re likely to uncover something that will tell you about your visitors. This makes it easier to come up with things that can truly improve your bottom line. If you’re wondering how to measure SEO without overwhelming yourself, consider tracking these 15 metrics.
1. SEO visibility
The percentage of views that your website receives across all target keywords is called “SEO visibility.” It gives a comprehensive insight into your performance. You can boost your SEO visibility in many ways, including:
- Earning featured snippets
- Publishing industry research
- Creating excellent titles and meta descriptions
- Establishing a unique selling point (USP) within your SERP listings
- Producing high-quality content
2. Keyword rankings
Your keyword rankings tell you where you stand within your industry. The more you prioritize SEO, the better you should rank for target keywords. If your positions don’t improve over time, your strategy needs adjustment.
Which specific keywords have the best rankings? Are there similar search terms that you can create content for? Maybe you need to try to rank for less competitive long-tail keywords. Researching your performance in search engine results pages (SERPs) will give you insight into the best formats, styles, keywords, etc. for your niche.
3. Page speed
The time it takes your web pages to load can have a major impact on your SEO success. Keep an eye on your page speed to address loading issues quickly. Page Speed Insights will analyze your URL for load time and tell you where to make adjustments.
Research has shown that load delays of three seconds can decrease users’ pages per session by nearly 8%. To appease impatient users, improve your page speed with things like image SEO, pop-up reduction, and data caching.
4. Mobile-friendliness score
More than half of all traffic comes from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. That’s why Google follows a mobile-first indexing process, which means that Google indexes the mobile version of your site no matter whether the search is conducted on mobile or desktop.
That means your mobile website needs to be user-friendly. If it isn’t, search engines won’t rank your page as highly.
Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see how well your site performs:
The analysis will show you where you can improve your mobile website design. It also gives recommendations for how to better optimize your content for mobile.
5. Organic traffic
The whole goal of an SEO campaign is to receive more organic search traffic. Analyzing the number of visitors you have over time shows you whether your SEO efforts are working.
If your website traffic is trending down, you may not be devoting enough time to optimization, or you may be optimizing for keywords that are too competitive. This is especially true if you’re publishing new content on a regular basis.
Use Google Analytics to view your traffic in many ways:
This tool will let you see organic traffic by location, device, or landing page. It can be a source of interesting data on your market. You may notice that certain content topics get a lot of traffic in a specific region or country. If so, you can explore that market more and decide whether or not you want to pursue users abroad.
6. Click-through rate (CTR)
Click-through rate is the ratio of people who see your website listing compared to the number of people who click on it. This is important because you need clicks in order to convert searchers into customers.
Your CTR will tell you if your meta descriptions and title tags are effective. It may also mean that your headlines or URLs need adjusting.
There are many CTR SEO techniques you can implement on your website. Getting more clicks increases the chances that you’ll make more sales, earn more subscribers, or reach more people with your content.
7. Pages crawled
As you publish new content, you want to make sure that it’s being crawled efficiently. Sometimes, it takes the search engine several months to index web pages. You want to monitor the number of pages crawled on your site, as this could help you identify a technical SEO issue.
If you notice that crawlers are taking too long to analyze your content, check to make sure that you’ve eliminated any nofollow tags, included internal links in your content, and that your XML sitemap is updated and submitted to Google. These small changes can lead to quick increases in the number of pages crawled and get your content into SERPs faster.
8. Bounce rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave a website after only one pageview and do not trigger an analytics request. This is an important user engagement metric because it shows whether or not people like what they see on your landing pages.
Typically, the lower your bounce rate, the more engaged your users. But you should only compare this metric to other websites in your industry. Ecommerce sites have bounce rates between 20 and 45% while blogs usually have bounce rates between 65 and 90%.
Having a higher bounce rate may mean that you need to adjust your content marketing strategy. Consider making changes to the page layout, organization, or content. This can lower your bounce rate without a major website overhaul.
Your backlink profile has a direct correlation with your rankings. As one of the top Google ranking factors, backlink quality and quantity are important to track. There are many tools you can use to analyze your backlinks, including: Monitor Backlinks, Semrush Backlinks Analytics, or the Ahrefs Backlink Checker.
If you aren’t getting referrals, or you’re only earning them from sites with low domain authority, you should adjust your link-building strategy. Try reaching out to influencers, replacing broken links on domains with high authority, or submitting guest posts to highly trafficked sites.
Sites on the first page have around 2.2 times more backlinks than those on the second page. If this research holds true, monitoring your backlink profile can help you find more ranking opportunities.
10. User dwell time
The amount of time that someone spends on a web page is known as the “dwell time.” This metric is important because it is related to how engaging your content is. If you have a low user dwell time, you may need to revisit the content itself.
- Is the layout confusing?
- Is the content lacking in depth or missing crucial details?
- Are there pop-ups or notifications in the way?
- Is there a navigation menu for people to use?
- Is the content optimized for mobile phones?
The average time a user spends on your website can point you in a better direction with your content creation and web design. Keeping users engaged and on the page can improve your performance with other SEO metrics that are essential to your overall SERP rankings.
11. Domain authority
Moz developed the domain authority score as an indicator of a website’s SEO ranking potential. It rates a site on how likely its pages are to show up in SERPs. Ratings are on a scale of 1-100. The higher the score, the more likely a site’s content is to rank.
You can check your domain authority score for free using the Moz SEO Analysis Tool:
It shows you your top-ranking keywords and the estimated number of clicks you receive for them. You can also view your average ranking positions, top competitors, and more.
12. Conversion rate
Your conversion rate represents the percentage of users who took an action that you wanted them to while they were on your web page. This could be:
- Signing up for an email list
- Buying a product
- Filling out a contact form
- Opting into notifications
- Making a donation
Conversion rates vary across industries, so it’s important to benchmark against the average within your niche.
Tracking your conversion rate is one of the best ways to measure SEO performance. After all, if no one is taking action on your site, your marketing campaign isn’t effective.
13. Exit pages
An exit page is the last web page that someone is on before they leave a website. Tracking your top exit pages over time shows you if a piece of content is hurting your user experience. If one page stands out as the top exit page, that may mean there is an issue with the content.
Take your time to examine the page. Is it poorly designed? Is it missing important information? Improving the content and/or page design can make a difference and potentially keep people on your site for a longer amount of time.
14. Local SEO visibility
If you have a local business, you should specifically be tracking your SEO performance with local competitors. When tracking your local SEO visibility, you should answer the following questions:
- How does your website perform for local industry keywords?
- Do you rank for your brand name?
- How much traffic does your contact page receive?
- Are customers finding your Google My Business (GMB) listing?
- How many NAP citations have you built?
If you find that your local search volume is underperforming competitors, try optimizing for long-tail keywords. They account for the majority of search traffic.
Make sure your business is listed in as much detail as possible. If customers leave reviews on your listings, respond to them. Have at least one active social media account where you can connect with current and future clients. By tracking your local SEO, you’ll know whether or not your in-store traffic is coming from your website.
15. Crawl errors
A crawl error is when the search engine goes to a web page and can’t access information. Crawl errors are a sign that your website isn’t set up correctly, and there are two types: site errors and URL errors. A site error means that your entire site is uncrawlable while URL errors are for specific pages.
You can use your Google Search Console dashboard to find crawl errors on your website. The information in Woorank’s crawl error guide tells you how to fix common issues.
These errors prevent your page from being indexed and displayed in SERPs. Having a high rate of errors can also negatively impact your entire site’s SEO performance.
The bottom line is that search engines want content that is reliable and helpful to users. If your content isn’t accessible, they will think you don’t provide a valuable user experience.
Tools and plugins for measuring SEO
Knowing how to measure SEO doesn’t necessarily make it easier. That’s what analytics tools are for. Many SEO companies have created proprietary tracking software, SEO plugins, and website integrations that help marketers monitor their performance. Search engines also have several analytics tools available. Here are some of the most popular metric-tracking SEO tools:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster
- Check My Links
- Ahrefs SEO Keyword Research Tool
As you come up with your system for monitoring metrics, make sure it is simple enough to track weekly. Search engines are constantly searching for newer, better content. If you don’t keep track of performance indicators (KPIs), you may fall behind quickly.
Get a complimentary SEO audit
No business can grow long-term if it doesn’t track its progress. Historical data can help you identify patterns and trends that help you get ahead of competitors.
It can also tell you what elements of your SEO strategy work and which don’t. The data you collect will allow you to keep up with industry trends and search engine updates, potentially allowing you to reach more users and gain more customers online.
Want to see how you’re doing with SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost search traffic revenue by 700%.