“SEO” is one of those buzzwords that many claim to understand. The reality is that SEO isn’t a cut-and-dry formula; there are seemingly infinite factors at play that can influence your website’s ability to drive traffic.
The overarching goal of SEO is to make improvements to a website with the goal of boosting organic traffic and overall site performance. But how do you know whether or not your efforts are delivering results? By keeping tabs on a few SEO KPIs, you’ll have a better idea of how to track SEO progress and the impact your current SEO efforts are yielding.
KPIs for Tracking Efforts
One item to remember when viewing each of these KPIs is to understand that having a technically sound site will impact each of these. Use of canonical tags, indexation, pagination, broken links, etc. cannot be overlooked in terms of importance when it comes to SEO. Foundational pieces like these should be fixed before moving onto more strategic efforts.
Another piece of information that can’t be downplayed is that many tasks that are completed in SEO are done to prevent something damaging from happening to your site. You may not be able to see a direct positive effect, but the hit or penalty that you avoided by making the changes make it well worth the time.
One of the most obvious KPIs for SEO is organic traffic, or how much traffic is being driven to your site through search engines. Organic traffic can stem from a number of sources, including the SERPs, content marketing deliverables such as blogs or whitepapers, and social media.
To get an even more precise look at your traffic, you can use Google Analytics to drill down the data year-over-year or month-over-month. This gives you deeper insight into your data and allows you to correlate any changes made to your website, seasonality, Google updates, etc. with spikes in organic traffic.
With the ever-increasing popularity of mobile, it’s important to compare mobile vs desktop traffic to better understand how users interact with your site. If the majority of your visitors are now coming from mobile and your website isn’t fully functional in mobile or has a poor user experience, it’s time to work on improving this! It’s also important to start working on this because Google has recently announced their switch to a mobile first index.
Goals measure online conversions, or actions that you want users to take. Form fills, newsletter signups and phone calls are just a few goals you may want to track.
In order to track these actions, you’ll want to create goals in Google Analytics. There, you’ll set up your goals through a step-by step process and assign value to your goals to easily track your progress.
To correlate the impact of your SEO efforts on goal completions, you can access your Goal Flow report. This powerful feature lets you see which sources of organic traffic drive conversions, allowing you to better optimize your marketing and advertising strategies.
If phone calls are a goal of yours, you can use call tracking to gain even more in-depth data about incoming calls. Not only does call tracking make it easy to designate and track calls as conversions, but it also tells you where your calls are coming from. Call tracking enables you to swap out tracking numbers for each call source, allowing you to see which organic efforts drive phone calls and how they compare to other sources like paid and offline campaigns. Use this information to your advantage to prove and improve your SEO ROI.
Events track user interactions with your page. Unlike goals, events can be virtually anything. Button clicks, video plays and similar interactions are all worthy of event tracking. EX. If a site has a main goal of driving visitors to use a store locator, then you can set up an event to fire each time a user clicks and uses the store locator button (this is if they don’t get taken to a unique URL once the store locator tool is populated with nearby stores). You will able to see how many ‘Events’ were completed from organic traffic and see which landing pages lead to the event completion. This is helpful when you are creating content specifically to try and get users to complete a certain event.
Revenue / Transactions
The ultimate goal of any SEO efforts is to boost revenue (either in-store or online if you’re eCommerce). However, it can be tough to correlate SEO efforts with revenue unless you know where to look.
First, you’ll need to set up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics. Once that’s set up, you can see your sources of transactions and revenue by going to Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic in your Google Analytics dashboard. This gives you a clear picture of which traffic sources, including organic sources such as search engines and social media campaigns, are driving the most revenue.
Page Level Organic Statistics
Making changes to a page, like updating its title and meta description or adding more keywords to the on-page copy, can have a positive or negative impact on your organic traffic and conversions. To see the impact your SEO efforts have on your traffic, you can drill down by page in Google Analytics to see how well your page performs after making upgrades. You can view this specifically for organic traffic by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search > and choosing Landing Page as the Primary Dimension. You can use annotations to note which changes were made and when for accurate analysis and reporting.
Bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors who visit and then leave your website without browsing any other pages. There are several reasons why a page may have a high bounce rate:
- The page does not give the user information they were looking for. Try updating the title and meta description so that it gives a clearer picture of what users can expect to find on the page.
- The page may be confusing or unappealing. Consider changing the design of the page so it’s easier for the user to navigate.
Organic Keyword Footprint
Your keyword footprint paints a picture of the depth of your organic keyword reach. Strengthen your keyword footprint by incorporating keyword/content gaps that you don’t rank for into your content strategy. You can get a visual of your organic keyword footprint compared to your competitors by using the domain vs domain tool in SEMrush. There’s always an opportunity for growth!
Page Load Speed
The speed at which your page loads can have a significant impact on the user experience. A fast page load speed improves the experience, while a slow speed can scare away visitors and plays a big part in search engine algorithms. Pay attention to your page’s load speed (using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix) to see whether or not it’s impacting the performance of your site from both a technical, and user standpoint.
Everyone wants to rank on page 1 in Google, but that’s easier said than done. However, optimizing your title tags, meta descriptions and on-page content with keywords should help to improve your organic traffic. Don’t get too focused on your page’s ranking for a certain keyword, though, as over-optimization will hurt — rather than help — you in the long run. You may also miss out on noticing the other great keywords you are now ranking for, both long tail and short.
When reviewing the rankings, one helpful project is to look and see which key terms you are currently ranking for at the bottom of page 1 or top or page 2. Make some tweaks to those pages to optimize for the search terms in attempt to see a bump in rankings.
Building link equity is vital for boosting organic traffic. Having high-quality links pointing to your website shows that other websites find your site useful, which lets the the search engines know that your website is indeed valuable. A number of low-quality backlinks, including those from spam or porn sites, can significantly hurt your organic traffic and ranking in the SERPs.
This is especially true now that the Penguin update is part of Google’s core algorithm and updated in real time, it’s even more important to keep your backlink profile in good shape. This includes reviewing the links to your site and disavowing the worst links that could be harming your site, or performing outreach to get them removed.
SEO Tracking Tools
Again, while there’s no concrete formula for SEO, there are so many tools on the market that can help you track and improve your SEO efforts.
Google Analytics is essential for analyzing SEO and organic traffic. It gives you in-depth insight about goals, events, conversions, clicks and basically anything related to your website. The value of this data and the different ways it can be used will provide webmasters with insights that cannot be matched.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console shows which search terms drive clicks and impressions, making it extremely useful for keyword optimization and analysis. You access GSC data from your Analytics account by selecting Acquisition > Search Console from your dashboard. You can also login to the GSC account separately to gain access to even more information.
Other significant items that can be found in the platform are crawl errors, sitemap errors, mobile issues, manual actions, and many other helpful tools and reports you can use to improve your website.
SEMRush is a powerful tool that shows what your page is ranking for and how well you’re doing in the SERPs compared to your competitors, making it a great asset to have for keyword research and overall SEO optimization.
SEMRush also offers many other features to help your site including, but not limited to:
- Site Audits – Shows errors on your site like broken internal links, broken external links, duplicate title tags, duplicate content, etc.
- Domain comparisons – Shows your organic footprint compared to competitors and the keyword rankings for related keywords you’re all ranking for.
- Feature snippets – Shows the featured snippets a domain currently holds in the SERPs.
Other tools like Bing Webmaster Tools, Moz, Copyscape and Keyword Planner are all great for helping optimize and track your SEO efforts. Some other steps you can take to improve your site’s SEO include:
- Conducting keyword research. Use Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush or another keyword tool like Moz Explorer to research what users are searching for to better optimize your site.
- Content marketing. Writing blogs and white papers or developing infographics around popular keywords is a great way to boost organic traffic and enhance your credibility as a leader in your industry. You can also guest blog for respectable industry websites to build link equity.
- Checking for dupe content to prevent penalties from Google. Use Copyscape to scan your site for duplicate content, which can hurt your rankings in the SERPs and your organic traffic. If any duplicate content is found, adjust your content to make it unique and submit it for reindexation through Google Search Console. You can also use tools like Siteliner to check for internal duplicate content throughout your site.
There is no single concrete formula for SEO, or a single concrete way to track ALL SEO efforts and the impact they are having on the site. It’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly what caused something to increase or improve on a website, just know that all SEO efforts are being done with the intention to improve the website for both search engines and users.
By using a few powerful SEO tools and tracking tools to monitor some essential KPIs, you’ll be well on your way to a more powerful organic web presence.
Want to take your SEO game to the next level? Learn more about how call tracking can help with your optimization efforts.