22 Mar AiroAV Stated: Metrics that Matter: How to Measure SEO Performance
Measuring the performance of your SEO strategies should not be confined to how well you rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Ranking on page one might bring you traffic, but it doesn’t mean those people are exploring the rest of your site or even enquiring about your products or services.
Whilst rankings are an extremely important indicator of success, a fixation on them is a common mistake in SEO and often what we might refer to as a ‘vanity metric’. They mean nothing without conversions and sales ultimately.
There are several many metrics to accurately track your traffic, the quality of leads you bring in, and ultimately, how well your site is converting them to buying customers. In this guide I want to look in depth at metrics in SEO and what to measure and when. I’ll end the article with a list of powerful tools you should be using to keep a track of website performance.
Metrics to Measure
When looking at which metrics to measure, it’s not a case of focusing on one or the other but rather understanding the context in which to read a whole range of them. So whilst organic traffic is important, you need to be asking yourself ‘is it the right kind of traffic?’ Similarly whilst conversions are ultimately what you want to be seeing, you should also be asking yourself, are these coming from my organic traffic or are they the result of some other marketing activity or just a seasonal spike in demand?’
Understanding how your data fits together is crucial in establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) which will ultimately give you a health check on your campaign.
Let’s look at some important metrics in turn now.
1. Organic traffic
Your organic traffic comes from people who found you on the SERPs but not from paid ads. Unless your site has very little competition, ranking well in Google comes from organic SEO, which seeks to create the signals that Google looks for in order to rank your site for a given search term.
It’s important to go beyond site-wide traffic and look at other metrics that can give you a clearer picture of the quality of the traffic you’re generating.
To track the following, go to your Google Analytics (GA) dashboard and find them under the Audience or the Acquisitions tabs:
- Landing page — Looking at landing page traffic will tell you which pages are performing and underperforming, so you can divert efforts towards optimising low-traffic pages, change strategy or just stop altogether to focus on other easier wins.
- Location — This is especially helpful if you’re looking to optimise for local search, but you can also use this information to discover new locations that are showing interest in your products or services.
- Traffic to your site over time — Look at total sessions, page views, and users and compare the results between two different date ranges, so you’ll know how well your strategy worked over time.
2. Keyword Rankings
To check for keyword rankings, you can use GA and partner it with third-party keyword checking tools like SEMRush (check out the Essential SEO Toolbox section below for the tools you should be using in your SEO arsenal).
Assuming that you’ve already set up Search Console on your site, go to the Acquisition tab on Google Analytics and then navigate to Search Console > Queries. Track the clicks, average click-through rate (CTR), and your position in the SERPs.
Once you know the keywords your site is currently ranking for, you can begin to get a picture of your high-converting keywords and create more content around these, be it on your blog page or your transactional landing pages. If you’re not ranking for your target keywords yet, divert your resources to optimising for these keywords as a matter of priority.
Impressions will tell you how many times your website appeared on the SERPs. Both Google Ads and Google Search use impressions.
For Google Ads, this refers to how often your ad is shown on the SERPs or Google Network. For Google Search, you can see how many times any of your URLs appeared on the SERPs and viewed by a user (this doesn’t include any paid ads).
Note that Google tracks organic impressions regardless of which results page your URLs show up. This can then give you data on keyword volumes. Once you find out your high-volume keywords, you’ll know which areas you should focus on and improve.
4. Click-through Rate
The formula to calculate for click-through rate (CTR) is as follows:
Number of clicks your URL receives / Impressions = CTR
5 URL clicks from the SERPs / 100 Impressions = 5% CTR
The CTR can quickly highlight how rankings are not the end goal for SEO as it’s not uncommon to rank high with very few clicks at all. Good rankings is pointless if people don’t even end up visiting your site, let alone do any business with you.
Improving CTR usually comes down to two things, the relevancy of your website for the keywords you’re optimising for and the quality of your meta titles and descriptions and sometimes your Schema markup. Both meta titles and descriptions will appear in the SERPs so if your pages get a high CTR, that means users are finding your titles or meta descriptions relevant and interesting enough to click on. Pages with low CTR, meanwhile, can mean users don’t find them relevant so you need to optimise your titles and descriptions better.
Pro tip: If you see several keywords giving you high CTRs, make sure that those pages have content that users will find valuable. Otherwise, they will leave your page. It’s one thing to get website traffic, but it’s another keeping it engaged.
Although Google Search Console can give you this data, you can also use Google Tag Manager to create pixels for your site without modifying your code, so you can track whenever certain activities are triggered on your site.
5. Bounce rate
Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors who left your site without going to another page. It’s always a good idea to lower your bounce rate, as it can indicate poor user…