Six important KPIs you can use to measure SEO success
Just one in 10 B2B marketers would rate their organisation’s ability to measure the performance of campaigns as “excellent”, while many admit that they often struggle to determine the return on investment (ROI) for content plans.
Tracking metrics successfully and gleaning important insights from them goes hand in hand with SEO success. You can start mining more relevant data and linking it to your content marketing by setting a range of key performance indicators (KPIs).
These KPIs will enable you to demonstrate exactly how SEO is having an impact on the wider business, which is key to guiding and managing expectations from higher-ups. They will also support your own decision-making for SEO and content planning.
The number one goal for any marketing-related strategy is usually ROI, and it’s no different for SEO. Where companies often come unstuck is when they expect to drive a positive ROI rate during the first six to 12 months of a new strategy. It can take time to get more back than you are spending.
Being able to quantify the value of SEO differs for each company, but it generally comes from the monetisation of purchases through a website or offsite purchases in the form of lead generation. Google Analytics has all the tools you will need to effectively track ROI over time for your SEO investments and the revenue returned from channels you are using.
ROI is important, but for a more holistic view of SEO success, you need to track other KPIs, especially if you are in the formative stages of a new campaign. Tracking organic conversions is generally a very useful metric for demonstrating how well things are going. This is because an uptick on conversions will be felt almost immediately if you are on the right track.
As noted earlier, organic conversions come in the form of either sales or leads depending on the nature of your business. You can track conversions by heading into Google Analytics and navigating to the eCommerce report. Here, you will be able to see the number of sales by channel.
Keeping tabs on lead conversions requires a bit more effort. You need to set up a new ‘goal’ to measure. To do this, click on the ‘Admin’ tab in the left-hand corner and then select ‘Goals’, ‘New Goal’ and then ‘Template’. You will then be able to create a goal with a bespoke destination type.
Growth in organic visibility is another trend that you should spot fairly early on if your SEO strategies are on point. You will need Google Search Console for this one, but it is very easy to track as the tool will show a visual of ‘total impressions’ over a given time period in a graph.
An increase here, however modest, is a promising sign as more impressions means that your site is becoming more visible, even if there are not a great deal of click-throughs at the moment. Impressions here are defined as the amount of times that a URL from your site has been seen by someone in search results.
A rise in organic visibility should naturally lead into an uptick in organic sessions, which is a really good sign that things are working as intended and that you are getting closer to achieving the overarching aim of ROI from SEO.
‘Organic sessions’ is another simple KPI to track. It is available on Google Analytics, but you can go the extra mile for even more relevant data by firing up Google Search Console again and using its query filters.
Separating brand-related activities from your SEO efforts will provide a more accurate picture of your current success. This is because branded traffic is often driven by people who are already aware of your business. In contrast, non-branded traffic generally stems from the keywords that align with your product or service offering. This is where SEO has an impact.
To set up a more targeted loop of feedback, navigate to the ‘Performance Report’ and select the ‘+New’ button and proceed to type in your brand name. Now, you will have a decent snapshot of how non-branded traffic levels are performing. You can also adjust a ‘date range’ to gauge seasonal fluctuations in demand.
Bounce rate is closely aligned with the performance of your content and quality of your webpages. While it may not be a major SEO KPI, it can provide context to search queries by highlighting how relevant content is for those queries. A high bounce rate is not ideal and usually points to an issue with on-page elements that are not doing enough to capture visitors’ attention.
You can find out the bounce rate for your site as a whole and the pages within it by navigating to the ‘Behaviour’ section in Google Analytics. After clicking on ‘Site Content’ and then ‘All Pages’, you will be able to see the bounce rate alongside other metrics such as ‘pageviews’ and ‘avg. time on page’.
Being able to spot when bounce rates are edging higher will give an opportunity to update content in order to drive greater conversions when someone lands on a page. This is something you might miss without keeping an eye on it.
Keyword rankings used to be central to tracking the success of SEO campaigns, but things have changed in recent years. Google’s evolution and algorithmic updates have put semantic search and search intent on a pedestal. This means that target keywords are no longer as relevant as content can rank for hundreds or sometimes thousands of keywords.
However, keyword rankings can still inform SEO strategies, and you should run the rule over them on a semi-regular basis. You can use a simple organic research tool to view the keywords that a page ranks for. There will probably be quite a few variations here.
Other KPIs you can track for SEO include backlinks, pagespeed, organic click-through rate, and average time on page. These metrics will help to provide a regular overview of how SEO campaigns are progressing and, more importantly, empower you to make the changes that will help you achieve key goals and objectives.