How do you monitor your SEO performance?
With the right SEO metrics.
SEO metrics are values used by SEOs to measure the performance of websites for organic search results. In order to determine search engine marketing performance, it’s important to measure SEO metrics every month.
Tracking the right SEO metrics is important for evaluating your site’s success.
If you’ve decided to invest in the development and implementation and SEO strategies, you need to make sure your investment is worth it. In this blog post, I’ll show you which are the most important SEO metrics you need to monitor and the tools where these metrics are found.
Measuring SEO performance will help you stay motivated and continuously optimize your site for better performance.
So, let’s get started.
10 SEO Metrics That You Should Monitor
- Organic Search Traffic
- Keyword Rankings
- CTR (Click Through Rate)
- Organic Conversion
- User Behavior
- Page Speed
- Crawl Errors
- Core Web Vitals
- Domain Authority
- New Backlinks and Referring Domains
Organic Search Traffic
The main objective of SEO is to get more people to visit your website from search engines. All your SEO efforts are useless if you’re unable to bring traffic from search engines. Monitoring your organic search traffic is one of the strongest metrics of your overall SEO performance.
Moreover, a month-to-month increase in organic search traffic also indicates that your site’s rankings are improving (sometimes for keywords you weren’t targeting).
Other SEO metrics determine whether your site is on the right track whereas organic search traffic is a quantifiable metric that shows whether your SEO efforts are actually bringing the right visitors to your website.
However, the quality of traffic from the search engine depends on the keyword you chose to optimize your site for. There are other metrics that we will discuss in this post that will determine the quality of organic traffic.
How to check Organic Traffic?
1. Google Analytics is the best tool to check your organic search traffic. I assume that you’ve integrated your site with Google Analytics.
2. Log into your Google Analytics account associated with the website you’re tracking. Click on Acquisition —> All traffic —> Channels.
3. Click on the date range and choose the one that is appropriate. You can choose to check monthly organic search traffic or yearly search traffic.
4. To check the improvements in organic traffic you can compare using the previous period. This will be an easy-to-use benchmark to determine the effectiveness of your SEO campaign.
With the consistent update in Google Algorithm, Google is moving towards providing its users with the best search result for their queries. So, should you track your keyword rankings?
According to recent studies, 20% of searches are entirely new. When you monitor keyword rankings, you will find out two important things:
- Determine whether your SEO efforts are working: When your website ranks high for one particular keyword, it indicates that your site is in the right direction to improve rankings for other keywords. Monitoring keywords shows how well your SEO strategy is working.
- Selecting keywords: Sometimes you might see improvement on other metrics (increase in organic search traffic or increase in the authority of backlink profile) but you don’t see significant improvement for the chosen keywords. Most of the time it’s due to poor keyword selection. In such a scenario, you should focus on long-tail keywords that are less competitive and rank for them because it’s relatively easier than competitive keywords.
How to check keyword rankings?
You can use many keywords rank tracking tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, SE Ranking, and many more. I would suggest allocating your budget for the keywords rank tracking tool as it can help you stay informed with your SEO performance. Most SEO tools do more than tracking keywords, so it’s a good investment for the long run.
For this article, I’ll be using SEMRush and how to check keyword rankings.
Log in to SEMRush, and enter your domain once you click on the Domain Overview. You can choose the country as well if you want to check how your site is ranking locally for the keywords you’re targeting.
2. You can see many tabs once you enter your domain URL. Scroll down to Organic Research tab where you can see some of the keywords with their position, volume, CPC, and Traffic %. Click on View Details.
3. You can see the full list of keywords that your site is ranking for. It will show the position, SERP Features, position, traffic %, volume, keyword difficulty, CPC, and the URL that is ranking.
CTR (Click Through Rate)
CTR is often used for PPC campaigns but it is a useful metric for SEO as well. CTR is defined as the number of clicks that the pages of your website that appear in search result pages divided by the number of times the page is viewed by users (impressions). The CTR helps you to monitor the success rate of your web pages in search. Usually the higher the ranking position, the better the CTR. Sometimes, it also depends on the Title and meta description.
According to the research conducted by Backlinko, the #1 result in Google has a CTR of 31.7%. For example, if your targeted keyword has a monthly search volume of 10,000, then you will be getting approximately 3,170 clicks.
How to Check CTR?
1. Log into your Google Search Console (GSC). I assume you’ve already integrated with your site.
2. In the dashboard, click on Performance. Just click on Total clicks, Total impressions, Average CTR and Average Position.
Note: Although you can check your site’s average position for keywords using Google Search Console, it only shows the average position over a period of time.
3. Once you get all the necessary elements highlighted, you can check the results individually by scrolling down. So, for this example, the average CTR for the website 4% but it’s different for specific keywords.
Organic Conversion rate
What is the main reason to attract organic search traffic to your website?
You want the visitors to take any action on your website. You don’t want your visitors to check out your site and leave without making any interaction or engagement.
Following are some of the actions you want your visitors to take:
- Email subscription
- Contact form submission
- Phone calls
The conversion rate will help you determine the quality of organic search traffic you’re getting. The conversion rate is the percentage of actions taken divided by the number of visits x 100%.
You need to set up and monitor the conversion rate to evaluate your sales funnel and determine whether your SEO strategy is attracting the right visitors from the search engine.
How to Setup and Check Organic Conversion?
We will start off with the setup of Goals with Google Analytics.
1. Go to Google Analytics.
2. Click on the Admin button at the bottom left of the page.
3. In the third column, you can see Goals, click on it.
4. Click on +New Goal
Types of Goals available in Google Analytics
There are four types of goals in Google Analytics. They are:
- Revenue: for sites selling products or services. i.e E-commerce sites
- Acquisition: for sites looking to gain more subscribers with email signup.
- Inquiry: for sites looking to get leads through contact forms and calls.
- Engagement: for sites that want to measure the effectiveness of their content like sharing and commenting.
There is a Custom option available if the above options do not fit your needs.
5. Select the Goal that makes sense to your business, for this example, will choose the Acquisition goal.
6. So you can see that I’ve set up a Goal for an email subscription at Navenpillai.com. I’ve added the URL that the subscribed visitor will land once complete subscribing to my email list.
If you want a detailed guide on how to set up Goals (conversion) in Google Analytics, check out the following guides:
Once you’re done with the setup, then you can start monitoring your organic conversion.
1. Log into your Google Analytics and navigate to Acquisitions —> All traffic —> Channels —> Organic search
2. Choose Source as your Primary Dimension
You can see that the e-commerce organic conversion is 1.68% with 11 transactions which resulted in RM2,022.70 in revenue. This shows only 11 transactions occurred out of 384 organic search visits. I won’t say it’s bad as I just started off with this site 2 months ago 🙂
Bounce rate is one of the most crucial aspects of user behavior that determines a website’s performance. According to Google, a bounce is a single session that triggers the servers which means a single page session to your site. This means that the visitor that lands on a specific page on your website decides not to visit any other pages and leave your site. So, the visit starts and ends with a single-page visit.
The bounce rate is calculated by dividing total single-page sessions by a complete session to your site. Other user behavioral metrics are pages/session and average session duration.
The metrics revolving around users’ behavior are still regarded as important indicators for SEO. You need to improve on your optimization strategies if the bounce rate is high with low pages per session and a shorter session duration.
How to check user behavior?
1. Log into your Google Analytics account and go to Acquisitions —> All traffic —> Channels —> Organic search.
2. Choose Landing page as your primary dimension as you can monitor how is the user behavior on particular pages on your website.
As you can see, the user behavior of Navenpillai.com for organic search for August 2020 shows that the average bounce rate at 45.15% with pages per session of 2.1 and avg session duration of 1 minute and 38 seconds.
You can also see them individually by landing pages that show user behavior of particular pages.
6. Page Loading Speed
Don’t confuse yourself with “page speed” and “site speed”. Page speed only looks at the speed of a particular page on a website. It’s basically the time taken to completely display the content of a specific page or technically “time to first byte” (time taken to receive the first by of information from the hosting server)
Google has mentioned that page speed is one of the ranking signals used by their ferocious algorithm to rank pages on search result pages. If your page takes longer to load, people might close your site and move on to the next result on the search result page.
So, a fast loading page improves the user experience. So you don’t want to miss out on this important SEO metric as it will become a catalyst to your effective SEO strategy.
How to check page speed?
There are few tools you can use to check your page speed:
You just need to enter the URL of your web pages.
Google’s Pagespeed Insights Tool
It’s good to have the scoring more than 90 for both Google Pagespeed and GTMetrix. However, for content sites, 80% is good enough as there are many visuals. As for e-commerce sites, it’s better to have 90 and above.
What happens when search engine crawlers are unable to crawl your site?
It will have a great impact on how your website ranks on search engines especially Google. You don’t want to ignore crawling errors which can damage your search engine performance.
Crawl errors are errors or issues encountered by search engine bots when they try to access your pages. These errors can prevent your pages from being crawled and indexed.
It’s important to keep an eye on crawl errors and fix them to quickly get your site crawled and indexed. You don’t have to constantly monitor crawling errors as you will get an email if there are any crawling errors with your site. But, it’s good to check your Google Search Console from time to time.
How to check Crawling Errors?
1. Log into your Google Search Console account and click on Coverage.
2. There are 4 boxes; Error, Valid with warning, Valid, and Excluded. You need to check Error if there are any crawling errors with your site.
Core Web Vitals
Google recently introduced Core Web vitals in Google Search Console. There are 3 important elements of Core Web Vitals which are:
- Loading: Largest Contentful Pain (LCP)
- Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)
- Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
You can learn more about Core Web Vitals with the following resources:
Google has hinted that they will be adding more important UX metrics to Core Web vitals in the future to help website owners technically make their website more user-friendly.
Despite other technical SEO elements, I strongly believe that Fore Web Vitals might become mandatory in the near future for technical optimization.
How to check Core Web Vitals?
1. Log into your Google Search Console Account. Click on Core Web Vitals under Enhancements.
2. You can either click on Desktop or Mobile and look at the reports and check whether there are issues with your web pages. Page loading speed is one of the most common issues encountered.
I’m not a fan of domain authority because it is not something used by Google or other search engines to rank websites. I’ve seen a lot of sites with high domain authority (DA), has bad domain rating metrics (DR) by Ahrefs.
And there are sites with low DA which looks good in Ahrefs and Majestic. You can use domain authority or other metrics around the authority of the website only as a benchmark.
I have to agree that most authority sites will have high DA as they have quality backlinks. But, not always because sometimes with high DA tend to rank only on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google.
However, many articles on top SEO sites have indicated that an increase in DA shows that your SEO efforts are bearing fruit. But, you need to check them along with your keyword position and organic search traffic.
It’s up to you whether you want to monitor your site’s DA as I would not force you to monitor this SEO metric. In most cases, the DA of a website only matters for link building purposes.
How to check domain authority (DA)?
I don’t actually use any paid tools to check domain authority as there are free tools available on the Internet. Unless you’ve already subscribed to Moz, then you can check it on Moz itself.
2. Enter your domain URL and click on Check Authority
3. You will get the result like the following screenshot.
New Backlinks and Referring Domains
While on-page SEO factors are important, the SEO performance of competitive niches still dependent on backlinks.
Building high-quality links to your website can improve your site’s performance on search engines. A study conducted by Backlinko which analyzed 1 million Google search results found that there is a strong correlation between rankings and the number of referring domains.
You want to keep an eye on your backlink profile for new backlinks and referring domains. Sometimes, there are possibilities for competitors to build spammy links to your site which can affect your organic search traffic and rankings.
How to check new backlinks and referring domains?
You can track your backlinks with a variety of tools like:
- Majestic SEO
- Rank Signals
- Monitor Backlinks
- And many more…
I’ll be using SEMRush to check backlink profile.
1. Log into SEMRush account.
2. Click on Domain Analytics followed by Backlinks.
3. Type your URL
4. You will see the number of tabs like overview, backlinks, anchors, referring domains, referring IPs, Indexed pages, competitors, and more.
5. We will be using backlinks and referring domains only to monitor your backlink profile.
6. When you click on backlinks, you can see a complete list of backlinks. To see new backlinks, tick on New.
7. You can use the Disavow list by selecting spammy links to your site.
8. Click on referring domain to see the complete list of domains linked to your site. You can check new referring domains by ticking on New.
SEO is becoming more and more complicated. You need to stay updated with the rapid changes in search engine algorithms. Apart from that, you need to monitor the most significant SEO metrics to improve your SEO performance.
You need to develop data-oriented SEO strategies to stay relevant to search engines. The SEO metrics mentioned above will definitely help you in getting SEO insights that will take your site to the next level on search engines.
What are your thoughts about these SEO metrics?
Did I miss any of your favorite SEO metrics?
Please share it with me by commenting below.