No marketing effort is worthwhile if you can’t prove its value. The best way to prove value is through tangible results. However, with search engine optimization (SEO), there is a plethora of metrics you can use to track and report those results. However, how can you choose the most impactful results to report back to your leadership team or client? Which metrics matter most?
We know that, at its most basic level, SEO entails optimizing your web pages and content to boost rankings in the search results. But knowing how and where you’re ranking for relevant keywords is just one metric for measuring success for your SEO campaigns.
Having a firm understanding of all the most pertinent SEO metrics helps you better convey results and how you’re reaching the ultimate goal: increasing search visibility.
For example, your site may be ranking well in Google Search for a given keyword term. However, if searchers aren’t clicking through to your website, your meta description and title tags aren’t resonating. This is why it’s critical to have a comprehensive understanding of all the SEO metrics that impact search performance. Take a look at this web page.
When analyzing the results in Google Search Console, it shows it is getting a decent amount of impressions, but only 0.8% of people are clicking through to view the site. It’s also on page 5 of the search results, which may also be adding to the reason why people aren’t clicking through.
Having access and visibility to multiple SEO metrics helps us better discern why this web page in particular isn’t performing to the best of its ability.
In this guide, we will discuss how to effectively measure SEO performance, establish the metrics that matter most, and introduce some paid and free SEO measurement tools to leverage.
When a potential customer is seeking your product or service, they’ll likely turn to a search engine to conduct a query. The search engine will deliver a list of results that most closely match the user’s search intent. This is why it’s crucial to compile a list of target keywords that match user intent.
These target keywords may be a single word or a longer phrase, such as a question someone may ask when seeking your business. Tools, like AnswerThePublic, can help you see what people are asking about a particular brand, product, or topic and help you refine your keyword strategy.
Knowing how each of your target keywords are ranking in the search results is the best way to measure your keyword strategy’s success – an integral component of assessing SEO performance.
If you’re looking at keyword rankings for a single business location, you can track your keyword performance by conducting a simple Google search for that phrase. If you see your site on the first page of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), then you know your keyword optimization strategy is working.
As we mentioned, getting your site as close as possible to the top of the search results will help you drive the most organic traffic for that keyword term or phrase. A study found over a quarter (28.5%) of Google mobile users click the first organic result. This number shrinks the further down you appear on the SERPs, with only 2.5% of mobile users clicking on the tenth blue link they see in the search results.
If you’re operating hundreds of locations and assessing keyword rank tracking for each, conducting searches one by one for each keyword term won’t be feasible. Instead you’ll want to use a keyword ranking tool or a marketing agency partner to help you assess your performance at scale.
SEMrush is a great tool for measuring your keyword ranking position and offers both free and paid options. It can also help you conduct a keyword gap analysis and see how your competitors rank for respective keywords.
Any time a user types a keyword phrase into the search bar they’ll get a list of results. These results come in the form of text, pictures, ads, and video.
Organic traffic consists of website visitors that click through to a web page from an unpaid source. Knowing the amount of organic search traffic your site receives can better inform your overall SEO performance. After all, the number one goal of SEO is to get more quality traffic to your website.
Organic search traffic is ideal because it’s targeted – and it’s also free. This type of traffic is usually from a qualified lead, meaning the searcher is seeking exactly what your brand offers. Quality traffic, in turn, leads to more conversions. Driving qualified search traffic is essential not only for sales but improving your website’s bounce rate and your user experience.
Google Analytics is a great free tool to analyze your organic traffic performance. With this tool, you can view the percentage of users that come from organic traffic, search volume, conversion tracking, and other user engagement metrics. Having this level of insight is not only important for your SEO efforts but for measuring your content marketing performance as well.
Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of visitors who clicked on your web page from the SERPs. Your CTR is likely to be higher if your site appears at the top of the SERPs. CTR can also tell you if your meta description and title tags are capturing searcher’s attention.
It’s closely tied to keyword ranking as well. You’re more likely to appear higher in search if you’re optimizing your content for specific keywords or phrases, which will lead to a higher CTR.
Use Google Search Console to determine your web page’s CTR and see which pages have the highest (and lowest) CTR from Google search results.
To see a page’s CTR in Search Console, click “Search results” under Performance on the left-hand side. From there, click “Pages”. Then select the page you’d like to analyze. You’ll then have a transparent view into the page’s performance in terms of its total clicks and impressions, average CTR, and average position in the SERPs.
The following metrics are also available in Google Search Console:
- Clicks from a Google search result that landed the user on your website.
- How many links to your site a user saw on Google search results.
- The average position of the topmost result from your site.
- The average position in search results for the URL.
Search engine visibility
If you’re site isn’t appearing when potential customers are searching for your business, that indicates your optimization efforts aren’t working. Search engine visibility measures how many searchers see your site in the search results.
The issue with this metric is it’s not the most effective indicator of SEO success as it doesn’t take into consideration whether the searcher actually clicked on your website. However, it’s still a key performance indicator of if your site is showing up in the SERPs at all.
For example, if your search engine visibility is increasing over time this is a good sign that your site’s position in SERPs may be rising too. It may not be the first metric to focus on, but search engine visibility still holds importance when looking at SEO performance as a whole.
To measure your search engine visibility, we recommend using Moz Pro. The search visibility score is the percentage of clicks Moz estimates you receive based on your organic rankings positions, across all of the keywords you’re tracking in your campaign.
At the end of the day, every marketer and SEO professional wants to convert potential customers into lifelong customers. You can boost your average position in SERPs for competitive keywords, the average time visitors spend on your web page, and impressions your site receives but if users aren’t converting all of these other metrics don’t matter.
First, you need to determine what the most meaningful conversion metrics are for your brand. Do you want more people to subscribe to your email list? Do you want to know how many people book an appointment from your Google Business Profile? Do you want to know how many people click for driving directions on your local listings?
You can track user behavior in a number of ways. For example, with Google Analytics you can set up conversion tracking for:
- Website purchases
- Newsletter signups
- Button clicks
- Phone calls
- Other website actions
With Google Business Profile insights data, you can measure the following conversions:
- Visits to your website
- Requests for directions
- When a customer calls you
- Total actions
There are plenty of SEO metrics that can be measured to determine the success of your SEO campaign. Some of these, such as organic traffic and conversion goals, are more important than others. Yet, to get a comprehensive look at your campaign’s performance, it’s important to look at the additional metrics mentioned in this article as well.
Leverage the aforementioned tools, such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics, to your advantage. Many of these tools are free and are crucial for building a successful SEO strategy. If your budget allows for paid tools, like Moz Pro, it’s beneficial to add those to your campaign.
SEO isn’t a quick fix. It requires ongoing effort and analysis. Knowing what metrics deserve your attention is a good place to start and puts you on the path towards making meaningful change for your business.