It’s always nice to have an SEO strategy enacted on a website, but how do you know what needs improvement if you don’t know what you’re measuring? The way digital marketers adjust your SEO strategy is by examining the numbers and hard data on a monthly basis. They look to see how your website is improving using a variety of tools to see what’s happening.
To get the fullest picture, they probably use any combination of Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and an SEO tool like SEMRush or Long Tail Pro to conduct their analysis on your site. Without the data to back them up, figuring out where to make changes becomes a hassle and doesn’t make much sense for business either.
Some clients may use the data to present to their bosses when they ask how well the website has performed. They want to see concrete proof that the SEO marketing is working. Just telling them that a bunch of keywords has gone up isn’t going to be enough. Instead of measuring SEO vaguely, try looking at SEO as a tool you’re using to meet your business objectives.
If you don’t already know what those are, then it’s time to have an objective look at your business before making SEO part of your digital marketing strategy. In this article, we’re going to show you the ten most important SEO KPIs to look at to determine if the SEO campaigns are working or about to sink.
Why You Need to Always Start With Your Business Objectives First
Ask yourself what it is you want to gain from an SEO company working on your website. Saying you want to rank higher on Google is way too much of a generic statement and doesn’t get to the root of what you actually want.
You can rank highly for a bunch of keywords, but are these keywords relevant to what your business does? Are those keywords attracting people from the areas you service? The aim of any SEO strategy has to be tailored to what the company needs at that time.
Business owners may want SEO on their sites for many reasons. They may want to increase sales or improve their retention rates from existing website visitors. Whatever the case may be, SEO fills many essential needs for small businesses.
The reason many businesses fail in SEO is that the business owners don’t know what they want. SEO in 2018 is entirely different from how it was five years ago in that it’s not all about rankings anymore. It has become an integrative marketing tool that depends on many factors.
What Are These Factors?
In 2017, SEMRush published a study on SEO looking at the top ranking factors on websites. They looked at over 600,000 keyboards and hundreds of sites to come to these conclusions. Here are the most important takeaways from this study.
The top 10 ranking factors in the study are mostly related to how website visitors find your website and whether they are engaged with it or not.
Direct website visits, pages per session, bounce rate, and content length are some of those factors which stood out by far and are directly influenced by your website’s usability and content. Keyword density and similar on-page optimizations mattered much less in 2018 for SEO, as we’ve discussed in one of our previous articles. Now the question is what KPIs are used to measure these optimization factors more closely?
Let’s Take a Look at Google Search Console for SEO KPIs
One of the first places SEO professionals start out when they want to measure SEO progress is through Google Search Console. This tool allows them to see how many technical errors a website as and has much useful information on the search analytics. In the Search Analytics part of Google Search Console, SEO specialists look at the past 90 days worth of data to see what’s happening.
After they make this adjustment, they will see a graph like this:
From here, several SEO KPIs are found. Let’s take a look at some of these more in-depth.
In Google Search Console, you can see the average click-through-rate on a website. This tells you how many people clicked on your website URLs in Google compared to the number of times your pages showed up for specific search queries. Average CTRs are useful because they contribute to what’s called search satisfaction.
In SEO, you want your content and website to match the search engine user’s intent as closely as possible. Higher CTRs indicate you’ve done a good job with the on-page optimization of your website. Furthermore, your website is showing up high enough in search engines for search engine users to find.
SEO professionals also look at the average position of your website in Google and compare it to earlier points in time. It’s a positive sign when this number is declining because it means your average keyword positions are going up, allowing more people to find your business. This is also shown on the graph in Google Search Console where you can compare it to the CTR, the total number of clicks, and the total impressions received.
Queries are another name for keywords in SEO. Google Search Console allows you to see what keywords your website shows up for. It’s possible to reorder this list of queries by clicking on Clicks, Impressions, CTR, or Position. Don’t see any of the keywords you had in mind for your SEO strategy? This might be an indication that you may need to readjust your strategy and double check your on-page and off-page SEO optimizations. Maybe you need to work on promoting your content to social media. All of these questions can be answered here.
We’re not completely done delving into what you can do with Google Search Console. This tool also lets you see how many website pages have been crawled. You can diagnose problems in your SEO by examining which pages on your site haven’t been indexed. If there’s a problem, Google Search Console will tell you what’s preventing those pages from crawling correctly. It could be because there’s a wrong setting in your robots.txt file or there are 404 errors you need to go back and fix.
SEO KPIs in Google Analytics
We’ve covered the main KPIs to look for in Google Search Console. It’s an incredibly versatile search engine marketing tool we use, but it doesn’t tell us the full story about what’s happening. That’s why it’s also essential to look at the KPIs shown in Google Analytics.
Many business owners have no idea what’s possible in Google Analytics. Even some SEO professionals overlook the value of using Google Analytics in their SEO analyses. Here are some of the most important KPIs to look at in Google Analytics.
Go to Acquisition, then Channels and you’ll find a graph and a list of channels where you’re receiving traffic.
In each one, you’ll find the bounce rate for each type of user on your website. You can see whether they typed in your website URL directly or came from search engines or social media.
There’s also the bounce rate shown for your entire website. The bounce rate is how many pages a visitor saw on your website before leaving.
Lower bounce rates are a good indication that your website design and content are satisfying the search engine user intent.
Higher bounce rates mean that there’s something wrong with your website that’s causing people to leave, which could be for many reasons. You should look at your website content, website design, and layout to see if there’s anything there that’s taking away from the user experience.
There’s also a way to see which pages on your site are causing the most massive bounce rates. Go to Behavior, then click on Site Content. Under Exit Pages, you can see which pages have the highest exit rates and your average exit rate across the whole website. The bounce rate for each of those pages can be found under Landing Pages.
Google Analytics measures the page speed of every page on your website. Go to Behavior, then Speed Suggestions and you’ll see PageSpeed scores for each page along with a list of suggestions for how to improve each one. You want your website to load quickly to prevent driving your potential customers away out of disappointment and frustration. Faster websites also rank better on Google.
Other SEO KPIs to Consider
Below are three other SEO KPIs we suggest you look at to see if your SEO strategy is performing as well as expected. Two of these can be found in SEMRush if you’d like to follow along.
In SEMRush, you can type a website domain URL and find keyword positions. Go to Organic Research, then Positions to see a list of keyword rankings. Click on Traffic % to organize the keywords by how much traffic they’re generating for your website. We’ve found in many cases, the keywords bringing the most traffic aren’t always the ones you rank the highest.
Click Keywords to see a graph of your total keywords. It’s easier to see instantly whether your SEO strategy works by seeing if there’s a positive trend on the chart. Your number of keywords should be growing consistently every month. SEO takes several months to kick in for many business websites fully.
However, your hard work will pay off with a sharp increase several months in. We’ve seen websites go from 30-40 keywords to hundreds and even thousands in the long term. Don’t give up on SEO just because you don’t see immediate results.
Meta Title Optimizations
While this KPI doesn’t have a direct impact on your SEO, the way you write your meta titles, tags, and descriptions does affect your CTRs. Try to make full use of the character space to describe your business and each page accurately. Occasionally, Google updates their meta description lengths, and it’s good to go back now and then to add more copy as needed.
To make SEO a success for your business, you must have set criteria of what you’re looking to achieve. These SEO KPIs give us a lot of valuable information on what improvements your website needs to improve your SEO results.
Aligning your business strategy with your SEO is the best way to get the results you’re looking for. That’s why working with an Atlanta SEO company who can create a custom SEO strategy for your business is the key. Contact our SEO team at 470-440-3434 or email [email protected] to get started with a free consultation and SEO website audit today!