Everyone who aims to make their brand visible in the digital world is well aware of how important SEO is. However, many are unaware that measuring and tracking SEO metrics are critical for its success. Only those who establish a primary goal along with additional metrics will be able to take the necessary steps and support their website in reaching the goal.
In our previous guide, we focused on what SEO is and how it works and we introduced the related terminology. Now we will talk about the measuring of our SEO activities.
*SEO is closely related to content marketing in almost every practice so, before you read about our SEO Performance Tracking guide, you might first want to check out our Growth-Driven Marketing Planning Guides: Content Marketing Planning in order to learn about content marketing and where it is connected with SEO with the overall terminology. Moreover, here’s our tool for Content Marketing Planning for you to exercise and practice how to create a content marketing plan easily.
In order to measure SEO performance, it is necessary to first determine which metrics are important for you (according to your business goal), create a roadmap, and set up a tracking system for the SEO metrics to monitor. Analyzing which activities worked better will help you optimize for more efficient marketing.
There are 2 main objectives for SEO activities:
1- Organic Traffic: Getting visitors (driving traffic) to your website from search engines
2- Referral Traffic: Getting your target audience to visit your site from other websites
A successful SEO strategy doesn’t only lead to an increase in your ranking in search results. You need to determine tangible and measurable metrics which affect your organic and referral traffic and make your visitors take the actions you want (i.e. the goals you set) on your website.
In order to fully evaluate your performance, you must primarily know which metrics to measure and then learn how to use them correctly. Let’s go through all the metrics that will help you to measure your SEO performance:
Users’ attention is first drawn to the top results. According to studies, 90% of people do not even visit the second search results page, while 94% of them click only on the first ten results. For this reason, it is necessary to check regularly how many of the keywords that you have determined show up in the top 10 results.
In order to increase your site’s visibility, you need to determine the focus keywords and include them in the content of your website. If you keep creating content focusing on certain keywords, eventually you’ll see that Google will rank your page as being highly relevant for related search queries.
Visibility in search engines is the metric used to measure how many people come across your site in the search results. In order for this metric to be high, it is not enough simply to be included high up in the rankings. The search volume of keywords is also very important. Keywords must have both high volume words and high rankings.
Keyword Planner in Google AdWords is a very powerful tool for checking search volumes, as well as giving insights on related search queries and developing new ones. In the Search Console, you can browse the “Search Console Ultimate Guide” to learn how to analyze Google’s impression data.
There are over 200 different factors that contribute to your ranking, and backlinks are among the most important ones. To improve your Google search ranks, it is necessary to increase the number of backlinks from relevant and top-ranked sites. Backlinks also have an impact on referral traffic. You can check SEO tools such as SEMrush to evaluate the quality of your backlinks.
When receiving backlinks from a site, there are some concepts about the quality you should know. The names of these quality concepts differ depending on the SEO tool used, such as:
Domain Score: It shows the overall quality of the website you receive backlinks from and is used by SEMrush. It is calculated in accordance with the Google PageRank value.
Authority Score: It is the quality score of the domain, as used by Moz.
Trust Score: It’s another backlink quality indicator used by SEMrush. It expresses how reliable the website is.
A quick note: higher scores mean better backlink quality, which in turn increase your site ranking.
In addition, the sites where you get backlinks can use different follow tags while linking to you. These follow tags are also an indicator of the quality of the backlink. There are 2 main tag types:
Nofollow Link: Nofollow is used to inform search engines that the link given within the site should not affect the ranking of the link target in the search engine index. When a link is given to a website of unknown quality, it is better to use a no-follow link.
DoFollow Link: It is a tag that informs search engines that the given link is trusted by the site and will hence affect the link target’s ranking in search engines. If the link has a good page authority and is related to the page content, it can be defined as DoFollow.
One of the most important metrics is the traffic from unpaid results from search engines, also called organic traffic. It is important to include device-based analysis in your organic traffic optimizations. For example, mobile organic traffic will increase on a website with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) technology. Organic traffic can be tracked from the Google Analytics tool and from search engines.
When your click rate is higher in organic results, search engines will move you to the top. The reason for this is simple – if a user is interested in your content in the search results, the algorithm of the search engine assumes that your content is also relevant for another user who also makes a similar search.
You can access this data from the search console tools of search engines. You can check out the “Search Console Ultimate Guide” to learn how to analyze click and CTR (clickthrough rate) data on Google via Search Console.
What actions do your visitors take on your site? This is where engagement metrics come into play. Some of the most popular metrics to measure how visitors interact with your content are Conversion Rate, Average Time Per Session, Bounce Rate, and Pages Per Session.
Conversion rate is the value acquired by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visits. A conversion rate can be applied to everything from email registration to purchasing and account creation. Knowing your conversion rate can help you measure the return on investment (ROI) from your website traffic.
Needless to say, it’s also important for SEO. Companies targeting higher sales need to measure conversion rates from organic traffic. “Conversion” occurs when a website visitor is converted to a lead or a purchase. “Conversion rate” is the number of visitors who completed the action or goal you targeted (such as having visitors make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter or a mailing list).
In terms of SEO performance, the amount of revenue generated by users who visit the site organically is very important. And the fact that visitors are related to your product or service will increase this rate. Accordingly, this metric allows you to measure the efficiency of organic traffic on your site.
You can track your conversions through Google Analytics by adding the desired ones to the Goal section.
Average Time Per Session measures the average length of a visit to your website.
Session time is an important KPI because it shows the quality of your site content, as well as the number of time visitors, spend on your site (by reading and navigating through pages).
If you experience a sudden drop in this metric, you have to check your site for technical problems that may affect the user experience. You can follow this metric from the Google Analytics tool.
It’s a metric that search engines take into consideration in order to show your content at the top of organic results. This data basically indicates that a visitor left your website without browsing it. Users who cannot find related content usually return to the search results page.
Considering that the purpose of search engines is to provide a satisfying user experience, a visitor not spending time on the site and leaving immediately will result in dropping from the top ranks. Overall, this suggests that the content of the site is weak by search engine criteria. However, a high bounce rate doesn’t always mean bad news. This value may also be high when users receive the information they need quickly and leave the site.
The bounce rate is usually between 40-60% (on average), meaning about half of all visitors leave the site without any action. However, this data varies depending on your industry.
To reduce the bounce rate, you should take actions that will allow users to navigate your site and provide them with powerful and relevant content by taking into account the keywords you target.
In order to make an accurate analysis, you should follow the page-based bounce rates from the Google Analytics tool.
The goal of your website/page should be to engage users and make them take the actions you want on the site. Therefore, the number of pages browsed per visit can be a valuable interaction metric.
According to Google’s algorithms, the more pages a visitor views after coming to your site, the more interesting your site is. Google aims to provide the most useful and relevant websites which offer valuable information that cannot be found elsewhere.
It is also important to analyze how many pages you have on your site and how many of them are indexed by search engines.
You can see if your page or website is indexed by Google by writing: “site:” at the beginning of the site name in Google search box. E.g: site: yoursite.com or site: yoursite.com/specific-page.
If you find that some of your pages or the homepage are missing, make sure that there is no meta robots/no-index tag on your page.
Many SEO experts might skip shortening page load times. However, the slow loading of pages has a very negative effect on user experience and has become an important factor in the ranking by search engines. If you have active ad campaigns and want to increase website traffic and conversion rates, it is worth keeping in mind that fast-loading sites generally yield better results. You can contact your website developer about making your site faster, or directly applying these improvements below:
You can understand whether your site is SEO-friendly by checking the site audit crawl data of the SEO tools. You need to check this data periodically to be able to detect and solve errors timely.
SEO tools follow the updates of search engines and update themselves accordingly, while also monitoring your site for errors. You should frequently correct these errors as your site needs to be up-to-date for the best SEO results.
You need to use an advanced SEO tool such as SEMrush to perform a site audit (crawling your site) periodically.
SEMrush not only provides you with a list of errors and warnings that you need to solve on your site but also gives you tips on how to do it.
Some of the most common Errors and Warnings resulting from site crawls are:
In the simplest sense, an anchor text is a text on a link that is carried in a backlink.
In order to be on the top of search results, you need to make sure that anchor texts are shown with the keywords you set, on the sites you give backlinks to.
These anchor texts should be included in the keywords you follow and target. At the same time, the high amount of these texts will help to improve the quality of your site.
You should consider not just having your brand name in anchor texts, but also including important keywords in the anchor text of the link leading to your site.
Here’s a wide range of SEO tactics we have prepared for you to implement to your growth marketing activities. You can choose the tactics according to your main goals (Brand awareness + traffic generation, conversion, and retention) as well as the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
If you want to have more information about SEO, you can take a look at our other SEO guides:
Also, you can take a look at our content marketing planning guide and tool to understand the relationship between SEO and content marketing and create a successful plan:
Growth-Driven Marketing Planning Guides – Content Marketing Planning: Learn how to create a content marketing plan step-by-step
Growth-Driven Marketing Planning Tools – Content Marketing Planning: Practice and exercise how to create a content marketing plan with our user-friendly tool.