SEO can be a slow game. On-page website changes and off-page backlinking efforts often take weeks or even months to be reflected in search engine result pages. While waiting for Google to re-crawl and index your web pages, SEO professionals should keep an eye on several key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress.
While some timeless SEO metrics will always be relevant, like keyword rankings and organic traffic, others are just emerging as SEO best practices and search engine algorithms continue to evolve. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s essential to regularly evaluate which SEO KPIs are most important for your business and to make sure you are measuring them accurately. Here are 10 key SEO KPIs that are especially significant in today’s SEO landscape:
10 SEO KPIs Worth Tracking
1) Keyword Rankings
Ranking for keywords is the first step in any SEO strategy. SEO professionals should monitor the total number of ranking keywords, the average position, and the rankings of your main competitors. Additionally, keep an eye on the keyword difficulty of your ranked keywords, as this will give you insight into how long it will take to improve your rankings.
You can use a SERP tracking tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to find keyword difficulty and research future blog post topics. These SEO tools can also show you if you’ve earned any featured snippets. Featured snippets are special search results that appear at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) and can give your website a boost in traffic.
While maximizing the number of ranking keywords isn’t the goal of most SEO campaigns, keyword rankings do represent the first level of progress. Before we can drive valuable organic traffic to a website, we must create content that Google deems worthwhile in their SERPs.
2) Organic Impressions
Organic impressions tell you the number of times a user was shown a result from your website in a non-paid position in the search results. This metric is important because it represents your organic visibility as a business. Organic impressions are the second level of traction in an SEO campaign because it indicates that keywords are ranked highly enough to at least be seen.
Growth in organic impressions can be a leading indicator for growth in organic traffic. SEO professionals should aim to increase the total number of organic impressions for their website, as well as the average position of their website in SERPs. This effort will create a higher click-through rate and ultimately drive more organic traffic.
3) Organic Traffic
Organic traffic, representing 53% of total website traffic, is the number of visitors that come to your website from a non-paid search engine result. This is one of the most critical SEO KPIs because it represents how effectively your website is ranking in SERPs and generating clicks.
When analyzing organic traffic, there are a number of ways to analyze the data for insights. Consider the location of visitors, the desktop versus mobile mix, and the number of unique pages that are driving organic traffic. By answering these questions, SEO professionals can get a better understanding of how their website traffic is growing and what content is resonating with users.
Generally, the best way to push further growth is to double down on what search engines are rewarding. To the extent possible, cater your article topics, web design, and voice to the audience that is already engaging with your website.
4) Organic CTR
From organic impressions and organic traffic, we can impute organic click-through rate (CTR). Organic CTR is the percentage of organic impressions that result in a click on your website. This SEO KPI measures how often users are choosing your website over competing websites in the SERPs, and is highly correlated with keyword rankings.
A higher organic CTR indicates that your headline and snippet preview are positioned well and effective at garnering clicks. A lower organic CTR is a signal that your content, or at least your headline, should be tweaked to better address the true intent of a given keyword.
To improve organic CTR, look at the headlines of top-ranked results for inspiration and make sure that your title is the appropriate length. The Moz title tag preview tool is a great way to confirm that your desired meta title will display correctly.
Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. They act as a vote of confidence and indicate to search engines that your site is authoritative and trustworthy. Because of this, backlinks are an incredibly important SEO KPI.
The overall number of backlinks is a good starting point for measuring link authority. However, the quantity of backlinks is not as meaningful as the quality of links. A small number of high-quality backlinks is often much more valuable than a large number of low-quality backlinks.
Backlink quality is largely determined by relevance, domain rating, and link placement. The ideal backlink comes from a prominent website in the same niche and links directly to a resource on your website from the content of the post. After this initial high-quality link, however, there is a dropoff in link juice from each additional link from the same domain.
For this reason, the number of unique referring domains is also a worthwhile backlink metric to measure. As you organically attract backlinks and conduct manual outreach campaigns, keep a close eye on both new and lost backlinks with a backlink checker tool. These SEO KPIs will give you a good indication of the progress you’re making in terms of link building.
6) Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is an SEO KPI that predicts how well a website will rank on SERPs. It’s a scale from 0-100, with higher numbers indicating a greater ability to rank. DA is calculated by taking into account dozens of SEO factors, including the number and quality of backlinks, link-building velocity, and on-page SEO signals.
DA is a valuable metric to track because it’s directly correlated with SEO progress. However, keep in mind that DA is a reflection of SEO success– it does not directly impact SEO. The one exception to this rule is your website’s perception. DA is so widely used by SEO professionals that a low DA can make your website seem illegitimate. On the other hand, a high DA will likely drive greater interest in partnerships and link-building opportunities.
7) Average Time on Page
After building a strong DA and earning organic traffic, average time on page is a signal that Google uses to gauge the quality of your website’s content and its ability to end the user’s search journey. A high average time on page indicates that visitors find your content valuable and are engaged with it. Search engines will reward you for this by ranking your pages higher in SERPs.
In turn, a low average time on page is a sign that your content is not meeting the needs of your audience. To determine the root issue, examine additional SEO KPIs like bounce rate, scroll depth, and content length. Are users immediately bouncing from your website, or are they becoming dissatisfied at some point in the article? Alternatively, is the content too short to provide sufficient value? Each of these problems necessitates a different strategy to better engage with users.
To measure average time on page, log into Google Analytics. From there navigate to Behavior, Site Content, and then All Pages. This report will highlight unique pageviews, bounce rate, and average time on page. Review these metrics over different time periods to ensure that your content strategy is resonating with users.
8) On-Site Performance
Beyond the quality of content, it is also important to monitor the performance of your website itself. Track SEO KPIs like page speed, crawl errors, and coverage issues to ensure your visitors are able to interact with your website as intended.
To measure website speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool will analyze your website and offer recommendations for improving page speed. In general, you should aim for a score of 95 or above on desktop and 85 or above on mobile devices. Another popular option for measuring website load time is GTmetrix, which also offers a free evaluation and optimization suggestions.
Crawl errors can be found in Google Search Console under Crawl, and then Crawl Errors. If there are any errors, Google will provide suggestions for how to fix them. To measure your website’s coverage, log into Google Search Console and navigate to Index, then Coverage. Here you can see which pages on your website are being indexed and which ones are throwing errors.
While SEO does not always have an immediate return on investment (ROI), it is important to track the conversions that your efforts are producing. Whether your goal is sales or SEO lead generation, use SEO KPIs like conversion rate and revenue per visitor to ensure that your strategy has a pathway toward profitability.
To calculate your website’s conversion rate, take the number of conversions (purchases or leads) and divide it by the number of total visitors. For revenue per visitor, calculate your website’s total revenue and divide it by the number of total visitors.
Both of these SEO KPIs should be tracked over time to ensure that your SEO strategy is effective. To drive a greater ROI, optimize your posts with A/B testing software. This will allow you to slowly improve the conversion rate of individual pages and ultimately increase your revenue per visitor. This is a crucial SEO KPI because it directly determines how much money you can invest into developing your website while remaining profitable.
Last but not least, SEO success should also be measured by growth. This SEO KPI encompasses a number of different metrics, including organic search traffic, conversion rate, and revenue. By tracking the progress in these SEO KPIs over time, you can determine whether your SEO strategy is having a positive impact on your business.
To measure SEO growth, consider monitoring two different groups of users: new and returning. To attract new users, focus on developing a deeper backlink profile, creating additional content, and perfecting the on-site experience. These improvements will strengthen your DA, drive traffic, and generate sales.
However, it is also worth tracking your website’s user retention. Analyze the number of returning visitors as well as the amount of branded traffic you earn over time to ensure that your website fosters loyalty. Leveraging social media accounts, an email newsletter, and push notifications can help bring users back to your website more frequently and support further growth.
SEO KPIs are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating an SEO strategy. Each metric produces a signal, either positive or negative, that can inform your next steps or indicate where to focus your attention. By monitoring these KPIs and making changes along the way, you can improve the factors that directly impact your business goals.
So hold yourself and your team accountable, and start tracking these 10 important SEO KPIs! Doing so will put you on the path to SEO success in 2023 and beyond.
Daniel Anderson is a marketing expert who writes about finding opportunities and making money online. Daniel teaches readers how to start a side hustle, scale through digital marketing, and plan for financial freedom with step-by-step guides at TheMoneyManiac.com.