How to Measure SEO Performance

How to Measure Your SEO Performance Like a Pro? (7 KPIs to Track)

SEO is an un-ignorable segment of digital marketing for businesses; most marketers will agree to it. However, it’s only considered effective when it can present results that are valuable to the business.

No matter if you’ve hired a digital agency, a freelancer, or an in-house SEO, you’re wasting your resources if you’re not tracking results if you’re not keeping them accountable, and most important if you don’t know how to measure SEO performance, nothing will impact much.

But exactly why is it such a deal to track your SEO results?

Let’s have a systematic look at why measuring your SEO performance is not only important but is the basis of your entire marketing efforts.

Why SEO Measurement Matters for Your Business?

 

Investing in SEO doesn’t mean the following vanity metrics that you don’t even understand. It means investing in a medium that has high business driving potential and possesses incredible scalability.

Basically, by measuring your SEO performance you’re getting the answers to 3 questions that are extremely valuable for your business.

SEO Measurement tracks business performance

Is your business growing with SEO?

Irrespective of what digital marketing segment you’re targeting, the goal at the end is always the growth of your business.

Let it be short term or long term, direct or indirect, the final aim is to grow strong roots for the business in the market. Thus by measuring the SEO KPI’s you’re directly measuring how much of an impact SEO has to help you achieve your business goals.

Is SEO cost-effective for you?

It’s always good to see some pages ranking better and your website providing a better user experience, however, what matters, in the end, is if your SEO is cost-effective for you?

The SEO KPI’s, with little understanding, will help an average business owner recognize if SEO is generating an outcome for their business.

Is SEO the right marketing approach for you?

Depending on the results you’re getting for your business and the progress you’re seeing in terms of SEO KPIs you can answer for yourself if SEO was the right approach for your business. The major variable factor here would be the industries.

Also if you look at it in comparison with the other marketing channels (SEO, social media, emails, etc.) you’ll know exactly what area do you need to scale in the future for the most growth.

What KPIs to Track for Effective SEO Measurement?

We’ve looked at the value SEO result’s measurement brings.

However, the question is, how does an average non-technical business owner know what “results” mean when it comes to SEO?

What exact key-performance indicators (KPI’s) should you track if you’ve invested your time & energy in SEO?

KPIs to Track for Effective SEO Measurement

1. Keyword’s Rankings

Nothing comes more obvious than Keyword rankings. Still for those who aren’t aware; Keyword’s rankings are the position your webpages are showing up on for respective targeted queries.

For example, if your target keyword was Paleo Diet and let’s says your website was ranking on the 8th page when you started investing your time and resources into SEO, after a few months you should see it in a better position.

Of course, everyone would want their website ranking on the 1st result for all their targeted keyword. However, it won’t be the case. Some of your keywords will be ranked higher and some might not even make it to the 1st page at all.

However if collectively your keywords are ranking good overall (or are improving progressively), you’re moving in the right direction.

How to track keywords rankings?

Other than simply noting down the position of your website every month for particular keywords in a Google sheet, you’d have to use some kind of a keyword tracking tool as well. For this purpose, the Google search console is a good option.

Google Search Console UI

However, Google search console has its own limitations like not being able to track your competitor’s keywords positioning. Also, it doesn’t have a magnificently attractive user-interface either.

Thus you can also rely on some premium tools like Moz, SEMRush, and Ahrefs which let you keep a regular check on your keywords in a more convenient manner. Other than a better UI these tools (Ahref’s Keyword Explorer for example) give you a lot more insights and metrics like Keyword Difficulty which helps you contextualize a keyword’s ability to rank and generate business once ranked.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer UIWhy the keyword rankings are important?

The position your website ranks on for a particular keyword will determine how visitors will it acquire from the search results.

In fact, the click-through rate gap between the 1st result and the 10th result on Google is remarkably high. Several studies have mentioned that the website ranking on the 1st position on Google gets around 32.5% of the entire clicks while the last one gets only 1.5%.

CTR Distribution in Google RankingsHow not to think about Keyword’s Rankings?

Now it’s very important to understand that SEO can be highly unpredictable. So expecting that your website will rank on a particular position after certain days isn’t the right way of thinking about this.

2. Organic Search Traffic

We all know that both SEOs and a business owner, who have invested in SEO services, crave for organic traffic on their website. In fact, higher keyword rankings are nothing but an indicator of your website potentially receiving more organic traffic.

Note: Organic traffic is the traffic coming from search engines like Google as a result of efforts put into SEO.

How to Track Organic Traffic?

Organic traffic can be tracked if your website has a tracking code embedded in it of whatever the tool you want to track it with.

The best one is Google Analytics in this regard. Embedding the tracking code in your website’s header or footer, you can track every visitor coming to any of your web-pages and know the source of its visitors as well.

Organic Traffic in Google AnalyticsGoogle analytics has some tremendous sections which can give you useful insights about your organic traffic leading you to better SEO performance over time.

Why Organic Traffic is important?

One can argue that organic traffic is one of the topmost important metrics to track when it comes to SEO.

The reason?

Because all these visitors are actual people visiting your webpages with a particular intent. Either they’re interested in your product/service or the information you’ve provided relevant to your product/service.

In simple words, they’re your potential customers. Or at least some proportion of them is.

Secondly, since this traffic is dedicatedly the users clicking on your website from search engine result pages (not social media, email, or any other channel) you’ll get an exact idea of where your SEO is moving overall.

How NOT to think about Organic Traffic?

Not all traffic coming from search engines would be beneficial to your business. When it comes to organic traffic, it’s highly dependent on the keywords you’ve targeted. And what matters the most is the search intent of the user behind those keywords.

For example, if your business is about furniture, and the traffic on your website is coming from a blog post you wrote expressing your political views in the furniture industry, it won’t benefit at all. Since all those visitors are visiting with different search intent.

It’s not that all this traffic would be hazardous; it’s just that it will hardly move the needle for your business.

3. Backlinks

Backlinks have been nominated as the most important and sometimes the top 3 most important ranking factor when it comes to SEO.

Backlinks are simply the links pointed toward your website from other platforms or other websites.

What is a backlinkGoogle bot crawls the web on the basis of links primarily. Having more quality backlinks will directly correlate to higher search engine rankings and thus more traffic.

How to Track Backlinks?

For knowing about the backlinks your website already has, Google search console can be helpful. Just click on the ‘Links’ button in the sidebar and in the ‘External Links’ section you’ll find the backlinks your website has.

Backlinks tracking in Google Search ConsoleAlthough Google search console does a fine job of listing the links our website has, there are still some better options, solely for this purpose.

For example, if you’re running an active link building campaign for your website, then the Google Search Console would have limited data. The reason is your lack of competitor’s data and the lack of links tracking with respect to time. In such cases, tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush are the best options.

Backlinks tracking in Ahrefs Site ExplorerWhy are Backlinks Important?

The links pointing to your website from other websites work just like endorsements for Google. That’s exactly it’s pointed our various times that not all links are created equal.

Backlinks coming from authoritative websites will have a higher impact than those coming from a newly developed website.

The primary reason for this distinction is that backlinks coming from a site is as strong as the own link profile of that website.

Thus when you receive a link from a website/web-page that itself has many links, your website takes a prominent jump in the search results. Link Juice is a term used by SEOs to define the value of a link passed on. This is how it works;

Link Juice Explanation

Here the webpage A has higher ranking capabilities than webpage B and it’s because of the fact that it’s receiving inbound links from more external websites compared to webpage B.

In simple words, how Google sees it is that if a well-established credible website links to another website, then the other one must be a credible resource as well.

How NOT to Think About Backlinks?

We’ve already established the fact that not all links are created equal. Neither should your approach towards link building be binary.

For example, if your website is about gardening and you get a link from an immigration company somewhere in the footer, it won’t help as much.

The reason is that all the factors that contribute to the strength of a backlink have been neglected. Some of those factors are;

  • Relevancy
  • Anchor text
  • Surrounding text
  • Links Location on page
  • Link attribute used

Backlinks RelevancyThese are just some of the factors that contribute to the strength of the backlinks you’re acquiring and the impact you’ll be able to see as a result of them.

4. Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is a user-metric that can potentially lead to higher or lower search engine rankings. A higher bounce rate means the users visit your website and then immediately bounces back to the search results.

The bounce rate is usually evaluated for the whole website as an average of the bounce rate per lading page on the site.

If users visit your website and navigate through different pages and then close the browser, it’d mean that they never bounced back. It represents that they came to your website, got their query answered, and left.

The same would be the case if the visitors bounce back to the search engine but type a totally different query this time.

How to Measure the Bounce Rate?

Your website’s bounce rate can be measured by looking at Google analytics. From the sidebar, click; Audience > Overview and the following page will open up. At the pointed positions you can see the site-wide bounce rate of the website;

Bounce rate in Google Search ConsoleOne can also look at the bounce rate for the individual pages from the Google analytics report. Simply go to the; Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages to sort the data with respect to the landing pages on the website.

Bounce rate in Google Analytics by Landing PagesNote: You’ll have to connect Google Analytics with Google Search Console in order to get this data.

Why Measuring Bounce Rate is Important?

Google’s ultimate goal is to please and satisfy its users. And one metric of measuring searcher’s satisfaction with the result they’ve landed on is the bounce rate. A higher bounce rate would indicate that the searchers couldn’t find the answer they were looking for on your web-page.

If the searcher bounced back and clicked on some other result on Google search results, that’d indicate that the second website seemed like a better option for this query.

The result? The other website will outrank yours.

This phenomenon is called Pogo-Sticking.

Thus keeping a measure on your website’s bounce rate would give you an understanding of how pleased is your visitor with your website and if your website is solving the searcher’s query perfectly.

How NOT to Think About the Bounce Rate?

While the bounce rate is a highly important metric, it can also be misleading if you’ve not done your industrial research. A higher bounce rate is not always bad. The industry is a variable in this regard.

For example, if I am trying to find some digital marketing services then I’ll land on the website and navigate through the pages representing SEO, Social media, Design & Development services.

That means a lower bounce rate. However if I am searching for a very specific problem; such as “How to access iCloud photos” I’ll land on the website, scan the page, find and read the specific paragraph that solves my problem, and will leave the website (bounce back).

I’ve got my answer, and I am a happy visitor even though I’ve raised the bounce rate. This isn’t problematic since I am not searching with the same query over and over again now.

So it’s more about the industry you’re playing in. Although there’s no certain answer with respect to industries, still we’ve gathered the bounce rate ranges data with respect to the industry a website is a part of.

Bounce rate ranges by Industries5. Click-Through Rate

Click-through-rate is one of the primary metrics visible in the search console or Google analytics. In simple words, it’s the percentage of the users who click your Google search result out of all those who see it.

In a slightly more technical (and mathematical) definition, it’s the ratio between clicks and the impressions on your website receives from Google.

CTR Formula

How to Measure Click-Through-Rate?

You don’t need any third-party tool or product in order to measure click-through-rate (CTR). You can access data from Google search console and Google analytics provided that you have the search console connected to Google analytics.

Here’s how it looks in the Google Search Console;

CTR in Google Search ConsoleAnd here’s how CTR can be noted from Google Analytics;

CTR in Google Analytics

Just like all other metrics you can note the change in CTR for your whole website or any individual web-pages.

Why Measuring CTR is Important?

Measuring CTR is important for your overall SEO efforts in two ways.

First of all, you can see how effectively you have written your page’s Meta title that is displayed in the Google search results. In case the CTR is high, it means more people, who see your website on Google click it.

In case it’s low, it means people go through it in the search results but ignore clicking it like many mediocre websites.

Other than that, a higher CTR indirectly gives Google a signal that your website is satisfying the users that are searching for a particular query. And when you achieve a CTR higher than your competitors, your website will most likely be able to outrank them easily and get that more chunk of traffic.

Backlinko did highly useful research in regards to this. Here’s the relation they discovered between CTR and Google search rankings;

CTR Study by BacklinkoHow NOT to Think About Increasing CTR?

The problem most noob SEOs get themselves into is that in order to achieve a higher CTR for their website, they write click-bait Meta titles and descriptions. That does sound like a “smart” tactic if you believe Google is a dumb platform. They’re not!

Google’s advanced search algorithm tracks not only user metrics but also user behaviors. And when your visitor clicks in your click-bait titles, what do you think is going to happen? They’ll not find what they were looking for and will bounce back immediately indicating that your web page was nowhere closes to satisfying them with the result.

So what do we do instead? Satisfy searcher’s intent honestly and add click boosters in your Meta title and descriptions. Here’ are some examples of boosters to increase your CTR;

  • Add numbers for credibility
  • Add dates for content freshness
  • Ask a Question to develop curiosity

For example, instead of just writing; “Exercising tips for men” write something like; “10 Incredibly Effective Exercising Tips for Men Look Fit in 2020”.

6. Traffic Value

Measuring the website’s traffic is binary and can be done with one tracking code of Google analytics. But how do you know that the traffic your website is receiving every day is valuable to your business and the results are profitable for you overall?

One way of it is by looking at the keywords you’re targeting on your website. If they resonate with your product/service and business, you’re on the right track.

But how do we give a quantitative value to our website’s traffic?

One good metric for this is traffic value.

Traffic value for any website is the amount in dollars the same traffic would have cost to be acquired from paid search mediums instead of organic.

In simple words, it let you imagine the amount of money you’d have spent to get the traffic you’re getting right now if it wasn’t from SEO.

How to Measure Traffic Value?

Just to be clear, traffic value isn’t a metric provided or followed by Google. It’s a third-party metric like many other metrics like Domain Authority, Links velocity, etc.

Tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, MorningScore, and many others give a unique traffic value to each website depending on the keyword your website ranks for.

Traffic value is found by multiplying the monthly paid traffic of each keyword with its CPC value.

Traffic value in Ahrefs

Traffic value in SEMRush

Why Measuring Traffic Value is Important?

For people who aren’t as technical as a senior and experienced SEO, measuring the SEO efforts, even in terms of the website traffic, can be a little problematic.

Let’s say if I have chosen SEO over PPC and I am investing 3000$ per month on my website’s SEO. How do I know if my decision of choosing SEO was right? E

Even if I am getting good website traffic and sales how do I know if PPC would not have brought the same traffic under the same monetary value?

That’s where metrics like Traffic value come in. By giving an estimate of the amount you’d have to pay if you were to get those results via PPC, traffic value ensures that you picked the right thing for your business; SEO.

How NOT to Think About Traffic Value?

First of all, none of these third party tools are actually 100% when it comes to measuring traffic value for your website. The primary reason for this is that they’re not sure of the exact monthly or daily traffic your website is getting.

Thus you can’t bet all your measurements just on traffic value since its overall quantitative value would always be an estimation. It can be a close estimation but it will never be the perfect one.

7. Goals Completions

A goal is a specific action you want your visitor to take on your website. For example, it can be to fill a form, signup to your newsletter, buy products from your eCommerce store, or inquire about your services via the contact form.

Whenever a visitor on your website performs the action that you’ve specified to track, Google analytics tracking code can track it. The biggest benefit of it is precise data and better future tracking.

How to Measure Goals Conversions?

One of the best things about internet marketing as a whole is that tracking is really easy. Irrespective of the type of business you’re running online; an eCommerce store, a personal blog selling Ebooks, a local business website, etc. you can easily track every lead coming your way specifically from organic traffic.

You can create Goals in Google analytics and track any action that could be distinguished as a conversion. For example, a universal yet simple practice is putting a call to action or a contact form on the landing page that is receiving traffic from search engines.

Goals in Google Analytics

As soon as any visitor performs the specified action, it’ll be tracked as one goal completion.

Why Measuring Goals Completion is Important?

Every wise SEO believes that SEO is more about revenue than it is about rankings. In fact, rankings become kind of a vanity metric when it comes to measuring revenue and sales as a result of your SEO efforts.

The reason? Well, all marketing efforts are directed primarily to the following two goals;

  • Sales
  • Brand awareness

And SEO is nothing more than a digital marketing channel pursuing the accomplishment of the exact same goals as above.

Even the KPIs we mentioned earlier in the post is directly related to leads/business generation at the very end.

User journey from visitor to customer

How NOT to Look at Goals Conversions?

The goal conversion in Google’s analytics means a different thing for every business owner. Thus first of all it’s important to understand the data in context to your business in specific and secondly you have to build systems to take the data to the next phase.

For example, let’s take our example. We’re a digital marketing agency and we get a lot of inbound leads (goal conversions) as a result of our overall marketing efforts; SEO, PPC, Email, Social, etc.

Now we have the data in Google analytics. But to keep it real, our sales team engages in, and apart from handling all the leads and converting them to clients, we also organize the data in a humane way. For example, if someone on our website fills a form twice, our team will count it one. It helps to avoid data irregularities overall.

In the same way, it’s important that you keep a record of your conversions, let it be eCommerce sales, clients, or sign-ups.

Conclusion

Measuring SEO does seem like rocket science but it’s not. All you need to do is demand the following;

  • A clear goal and an action plan
  • Monthly performance reports

Measuring the KPI’s we shared will make you enough of a pro to discuss and debate your SEO campaign with the agency you’ve hired.

Want help with your SEO? We’re a results-driven digital marketing agency that believes in SEO that pushes your business forward, not just some keywords in search results.