In the world of online marketing, it's important to know your website's SEO metrics -- what they are, how they're calculated, and what you can do to improve them. Since there are so many possible metrics, however, knowing which ones to track can be difficult.
What is KPI?
A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is a single number that allows you to quantify an important result. A good KPI should help you understand how your business is doing and whether or not things are going according to plan.
The best KPIs can be directly linked to a key performance objective (KPO) – a metric that tells you what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign. At its most basic level, a KPI measures where your efforts are making the biggest impact on your bottom line.
When choosing which metrics matter most, it’s always a good idea for businesses of all sizes in all industries to ensure they focus on metrics related to top sales volume and profit margins to avoid spending time tracking irrelevant data points when optimizing their online marketing strategies.
Tracking KPIs is an essential part of your online marketing strategy. But before you can track them, you need to know what exactly they are.
For marketers, KPIs can be expressed in terms of sales, leads, or any other business metric that helps you understand how well your efforts are performing and where there may be opportunities for improvement.
A KPI is a single number that tells you whether or not your strategies are working. If it’s not moving towards your KPO, then there’s something wrong with what you’re doing – or how much time and effort you’re dedicating towards getting there.
You don’t need us to tell you that what gets measured gets managed.
The more you know about how your website is performing, and where it can be improved, and on which key performance indicators (KPIs), the easier it is for you to make changes that will grow your traffic and conversion rate.
With websites becoming increasingly complex and important vehicles for delivering content and generating revenue, we thought we’d share a quick guide to some of our favorite KPIs along with a few tools that will help you measure them.
In order from the most basic metric to the most sophisticated measurement tool, here are six things that should be part of any smart business’s reporting system. It doesn't matter if you're tracking one KPI or hundreds—it pays to have reliable ways to measure all aspects of your website traffic.
The first thing every online marketer needs is something simple yet effective for tracking overall website activity so they can compare short-term results against long-term goals. Nothing does that better than Google Analytics. What makes Google Analytics so valuable is its comprehensiveness – you get all sorts of information related not only to visits but also events, demographics, referrals, and much more.
It gives you real insights into how your visitors are using your website, allowing you to deliver content in ways that meet their needs.
Simply put: Google Analytics tells you what people do on your website.
This alone should make it a key component of any comprehensive KPI monitoring strategy. This should be an obvious one—after all, everyone wants their website traffic to grow—but it’s easy for things like search engine optimization (SEO) efforts or paid advertising campaigns to crowd out important elements like content marketing.
It takes careful planning to ensure your approach focuses on high-quality content while still leaving time and resources for other types of marketing activities designed to drive traffic over time rather than getting a few quick clicks here and there.
What are SEO Metrics?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process in which search engines are manipulated to increase traffic. While there are plenty of metrics available for measuring success, most businesses care about three basic metrics: search volume, competition, and difficulty.
These three metrics are crucial in helping companies determine if their efforts are paying off, or if they need to alter their approach. Our goal today is to examine these components so that you’ll have an easier time judging your own website’s performance.
So what exactly are these three vital measures?
Let’s take a look at each of them individually!
Search Volume: One of the most critical elements in SEO is search volume. While high levels of competition might be discouraging, high levels of search demand can often make up for it; with great demand comes great opportunities.
By looking at Google Trends data as well as other sources such as Alexa Rank, we can begin to build a picture of how many people are actively searching for any given term monthly.
Note: For those who aren't familiar with Google Trends data, here's how it works; When viewing any keyword information through Google Trends (whether related to product searches or web searches), you'll see two charts—one that shows search interest over time and another one that gives geographical details broken down by country.
You want both graphs to be going upward at a steady rate. If you notice there was a spike in a particular area, but then a sharp drop-off, that indicates poor quality links pointing back to your site. That said, let's move on!
Determining Competition: This metric refers to how many other websites are attempting to rank for any given keyword phrase.
The easiest way of determining competitor link quantity is simply taking note of how many results show up when running your desired keywords through Google Keyword Planner - assuming all competitors use AdWords Advertising Platform, which generates exact numbers rather than estimates like some other platforms do.
However, keep in mind that Google makes its money from ads and is therefore likely to overestimate how much your competitors will bid on keywords – although still not enough to skew data too much.
Another thing worth mentioning – while we don’t encourage it —is using automated tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs (paid versions only) to get more accurate competitor statistics. Finally, we come down to our last metric – link difficulty.
Link Difficulty: Good quality links coming from trusted sources can often make up for low search volume or competitive situations; likewise, bad links can do just as much damage as a large number of terrible ones.
Fortunately, Google has developed a tool that allows us to quickly gauge just how difficult it’ll be to earn good quality links in any given niche. It's called the Google Search Console. With it, you can easily check your page’s number of no-followed outbound links, as well as any other data relating to crawl errors, duplicate content, or indexability issues.
What are KPIs in SEO?
Apart from being helpful metrics for gauging ROI, most experienced marketers understand that ROI is useless without proper conversion tracking in place.
When it comes to digital marketing efforts, there are two primary goals you’ll want to consider – number of conversions and customer lifetime value (LTV).
Number of Conversions: An extremely simple metric that’s easy to track.
The easier it is for visitors to complete your desired action (whether shopping cart clicks or contact form submission), the better!
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV): A much more complex metric with many interrelated factors; product/service pricing, average order value, re-purchase frequency, etc.
Many companies attempt to track LTV via an exit survey placed on their website upon checkout or signup. This isn’t a bad method by any means, but what happens if you miss a lead? Or what if they don’t purchase anything until six months later? What If I can’t figure out how many new customers signed up today?!
You might use counting numbers as your metric — days since registration — and make sure you update those at least once per week. That way, when someone finally does purchase down the road, you know exactly how long they waited before taking action and can calculate their LTV accordingly.
How to Perform an SEO Audit to measure your website's metrics?
Performing an SEO audit of your website can be daunting, but it is one of your most important tasks as a marketer. If you don't know how successful your current strategies are, you can't possibly move forward with new strategies.
Therefore, an SEO audit will give you insight into which efforts are working and which ones aren't so that you can tailor your strategy moving forward. Before starting any analysis of on-site elements, check Google Search Console for a more comprehensive analysis.
If available on Search Console, view organic search traffic at least 90 days back (use Custom date range in the top right) and see what kind of activity you have been getting from organic searches overall.
Don't forget to look at your most important keywords/phrases! A good place to start with keyword research is SEMrush.
Next, make sure you run some sort of internal link analysis using tools like Ahrefs or MajesticSEO. These tools can tell you what links point to each URL within your site, giving you insight into broken links on pages and potentially allowing for link reclamation opportunities.
You should also try performing on-page audits on individual pages via Screaming Frog depending on your technical capabilities.
Here are some things I recommend checking:
Internal links - Check out every single internal link on all pages of your site using Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, or similar software designed for analyzing links present on webpages. Make sure no single page has more than 100 links leading to other pages.
See if there are obvious white hat linking patterns already implemented on your sites, such as linked images or press releases.
Broken 404s - Double check if there are any noticeable 404 errors currently present on your site. They're usually not great to have since Google interprets them as bad user experience signals for searchers looking through related results via its Did you mean? function. It's also possible these could be leading people trying to visit external sites directly into confusing dead ends by mistake!
Speed/Performance - Look at both load times and resource sizes for all files hosted under subdomains under your root domain name. The recommended PageSpeed Insights tool will measure performance on mobile devices too.
HTTPS - Most modern browsers are showing warnings when accessing websites over HTTP instead of HTTPS nowadays. Most hosting services support it relatively painlessly, making implementing HTTPS essentially effortless.
Even if you do encounter issues, many hosting vendors offer free SSL certificates just to encourage their usage!
Schema markup - Take some time to analyze whether your site is equipped with schema markup where applicable for various purposes, including reviews, events, and products/services offered on your website. Implement AMP properly on mobile versions of sites or entire domains where applicable too, especially if you are tech-focused.
If you are unfamiliar with some of these terms, it's fine! You can learn more about what they are on Google Developers. It's especially helpful to keep an eye on your analytics to ensure Googlebot is crawling your site at a reasonable pace.
My preference is to go off of Google Search Console's historical data for total pages crawled/viewed per day rather than using Webmaster Tools' Historical Index Coverage which tends to be misleading due to crawling budget limitations set by GSC itself.
Compare against any known major changes, though they may have changed since last year.
Note that crawlers may or may not cover certain sections of your website if you have login forms or otherwise require authentication before seeing certain portions of your site.
Common SEO Metrics to Measure
To measure your website’s organic search presence, check out these common SEO metrics. These are also great for getting a bird’s-eye view of what aspects of your website are working well, and where you might want to do some improvement. Traffic data is usually made available monthly.
Here are some top metrics you can use to gauge how well your site is performing in search engines
- Pages indexed
- Page Authority
- Domain Authority
- Alexa Rank or Google PageRank
If your goals include increasing your brand’s search visibility, look into these other SEO metrics:
Top Keywords: This displays which keywords visitors used to find your site. It’s important to know which keywords lead people here so that you know what pages and content they most care about.
For more information on tracking trends with specific keywords or topics, try Ahrefs' competitor analysis tool or SEMrush – it does all that and more!
Pageviews per keyword: Another metric is page views per keyword. The higher these numbers are relative to competitors, the stronger your overall ranking will be for targeted terms.
Cost per click: Clicks from both paid search engines and organic searches each have their value depending on different factors such as conversion rates and visitor lifetime value.
Cost per click indicates how much money you're spending every time someone clicks one of your links and visits your website. If CPC is low, then potential customers must either be highly relevant or highly interested in making a purchase with minimal persuasion from ad copy.
Organic traffic refers to referrals from natural sources, such as web searches conducted by users rather than bots spamming links across cyberspace hoping to increase rank artificially with little value added for users. % new visitors, Calculating the percentage of new visitors tells you how many return versus first-time traffic.
So if 200 unique people visited your site over a month but 50 repeated visitors, then 25% of them came back after visiting before. You can segment data further by location and device to see where exactly new visitors come from and whether they favor certain devices to access your content via desktop/laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones.
However, note that only looking at % New Visitors may not give you an accurate picture because repeat visitors could stay longer or have an impact on sales - so keep track of repeat visit duration and conversions to get a complete understanding.
Visit Duration: How long do visitors stick around? A helpful metric to determine average visit duration is Time on Site.
Look at median duration for new vs. returning visitors using cohort analysis to understand how likely they are to become loyal customers; non-repeat sessions make up roughly 80% of overall sessions which means 20% of your audience will account for roughly 80% of visits alone.
Bounce Rate: The bounce rate shows you how many visitors to your site bounce away immediately. If half of your visitors are dropping off right away, or even worse never reading past your home page, there’s a huge opportunity for improvement.
Bounce or exit rates are crucial when determining how to improve your site's conversion funnel. If 10% of your website visitors are landing on a specific page but leaving shortly thereafter, you need to do something about that.
Maybe it's poorly optimized for mobile users, contains too many elements, or perhaps it doesn't align with expectations based on where they found your site (traffic quality can be measured through cohort analysis to gauge quality).
Whatever improvement is necessary, focus your efforts on increasing customer value and meeting specific needs related to whatever type of business you run (or products you sell). Tools like Google Analytics provide in-depth data regarding bounce and exit rate metrics by location and device
Consider focusing on usability issues for better user experience and to create content that fulfills immediate needs.
Lead Generation Form Conversion Rates: Not everyone who visits your site will fill out a form to download your content or sign up for an email list. If users are encountering error messages or have trouble finding where to sign up, they may leave without doing so. Use free tools like CrazyEgg to visually pinpoint what form your drop-off point is on your website so you can quickly optimize.
Conversion Funnel Analytics: A conversion funnel analyzes how many visitors convert at each step of a conversion process—for example, how many people who visit About Us end up purchasing something.
This lets you know what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to pinpoint specific areas for improvement in your marketing strategies. This goes hand-in-hand with landing page optimization.
Why Should You Measure your website's metrics?
Because these metrics indicate how well your website performs, it’s important to track them. For example, if you see your bounce rate is increasing, you might take action by adjusting your page content or adding more appealing calls-to-action.
If you notice traffic has dropped off recently, looking at trends in time on site and bounce rate can help you figure out what’s changed since your previous peaks.
The same goes for your conversion rates. Tracking these metrics will help give you insights into how effective changes are that increase or decrease certain metrics.
These could be web design or functionality tweaks, copy revisions, advertising campaigns—anything!
Changes should be focused on a defined goal for a determined period. Measurements should also consider which metrics to focus on.
What works best will depend largely on your unique business goals and objectives—for instance, some businesses may wish to prioritize conversions while others might place more importance on the average session duration.
This gives you greater insight into what matters to your bottom line, ultimately making decisions based upon hard data easier than ever before.
Tools to Measure SEO Metrics
There are a variety of tools that can be used to measure your site’s SEO metrics. Some tools have a monthly cost, while others are free. You must select a few different tools and use them regularly so you can monitor how your site performs over time.
Here are some examples of useful tools Google Search Console, Alexa, SEMrush, Moz, MajesticSEO, Screaming Frog, and Ahrefs. These aren't necessarily an exhaustive list, but these should give you a starting point. You should also consider using basic in-house analytics in addition to third-party tools to gain a more complete picture of what is going on with your search engine optimization efforts.
A combination of tools will enable you to gain insight into how search engines work and what they consider when ranking websites in their results pages.
By monitoring trends and analyzing data, you can better optimize your website to rank higher in search engine results. Once your analytics program is set up and running smoothly, you'll want to start tracking SEO traffic volume and changes in keyword rankings.
And so, no matter how your website ranks and what it ranks for, there are two things you can always measure: traffic and conversion. If one is high, so is typically the other. But even if both are low, there are steps you can take to improve them.
When you build your business model around visitors and conversions, rather than search rankings alone, you become more reliant on outside factors that aren't as easily controlled.
What's important isn't where you rank for certain keywords or how much traffic comes from Google—it's whether those people who visit turn into paying customers.
Most importantly, don't focus on any single metric too much.