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What are the 8 most important KPIs for SEO?

Welcome to our guide on KPIs for SEO.

SEO is a complex beast and we’re going to break it down and make it easy to not only understand what SEO is and how it works but what KPIs for SEO you should be checking and monitoring to ensure you’re getting more traffic, but more importantly, more conversions from that traffic.

So, let’s dive into some SEO fun…

Please note, since the production of this video and blog post, Google has since updated from Universal Analytics to GA4. This has altered some of the applicable key metrics and, where possible, we have referenced that.

What is SEO?

SEO literally stands for Search – Engine – Optimisation

It means optimising your website both on-page and off-page to help Google (and other search engines, of course) rank your website accurately for the products/services/content that you supply.

Website traffic through Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) is called ‘organic traffic’ and it’s one of the most efficient, highly targeted and cheapest traffic sources available in digital marketing.

But how does SEO work and what are the main KPIs for SEO? Let’s dive right in…

 

Here’s a video summary of what we are going to talk about.

Please note, since the creation of this video, Google has updated Google Data Studio to Looker Studio and Universal Analytics to GA4. 

How does SEO work?

There are over 200 ranking factors for Google’s algorithms to take into consideration and it takes only a millisecond for it to do so.

It will crawl your website and your competitors’ websites and consider all those ranking factors to determine who ranks above whom.

Optimising your website requires 2 branches:

  • on-page SEO
  • off-page SEO

On page SEO breaks down into content (engaging, informative, shareable content) and technical (HTML, Schema, Header tags, Meta tags, speed etc)

The average length of posts in the first position is 2,416 words.

Off-page breaks down into external opportunities – social media, reputable websites creating backlinks, bloggers and influencers.

On average, the first result in Google SERP has 3.8 times more backlinks than the rest (2–10). (source)

So, there’s a lot involved to make sure you’re optimised for SERPs.

Is it worth it? Let’s find out…

seo graphic

The average loading time for a first-page result on Google is 1.65 seconds.

Why organic traffic matters

If there’s so much involved in optimising a website, can you leave it? Can you focus on your other marketing channels instead?

Did you know…

93% of web traffic is via a search engine and by September 2021 Google accounted for almost 90% of that traffic. That’s huge! Google basically is the internet now.

And 25% of that traffic goes to whomever is in the #1 position with succeeding results tailing off in numbers.

91% of content on the internet will never get traffic from Google SERPs.

graph source

More than two-thirds of all clicks on SERPs go to the top five results. (source)

So, you can choose to opt out of optimising your website for search engines, but why would you want to?

If you’re not on page 1, or in position 1, you’re losing organic traffic from the source that everyone is using.

And don’t forget – once the work is done, this traffic is FREE!

how SEO impacts sales

So, how much of your traffic should come from organic SERPs – what should you be aiming for? It’s an excellent question, so we’ll help make that easy for you…

How much of my traffic should come from organic traffic?

If you’ve put in time and effort to optimise your site and it’s now getting 90% of its traffic through organic listings, is that enough? Can you sit back and relax and watch the sales roll in?

In theory, yes, but why would you stop there?

Businesses need growth so whilst optimising your SEO is one digital marketing strategy you need to juggle various digital marketing channels alongside it to pull in conversions from all available opportunities, like paid marketing, emails and social media.

If you aim for roughly 50-60% of your website traffic to come from organic search engines, you’re hitting the mark.

But, what about KPIs for SEO? Well, here they are…

What KPIs for SEO should I track for success?

We know why you’re here. You’re here to find out which are the best KPIs to track for measuring the success of your SEO so let’s dive right in:

1. Organic traffic growth

Use your Google Analytics (other analytics dashboard softwares are available). Look at visitor numbers through the organic search channel and how it trends over the last 12 months. Have your visitor numbers gone in a positive (increased) direction?

organic search traffic

Compare it to your Search Console data:

Over time, is your website seeing more traffic come through from organic channels?

Bear in mind it’s a lot easier to see growth from organic channels when your website is new and you’re growing from 1-2 visits a day. If your website is established and already sees thousands of visitors a day growth of 5% requires a lot more work.

That’s when you can start to look at the following KPIs for SEO.

2. Engagement

Now you need to start inspecting stats like:

  • Engagement rate (previously we referenced Bounce Rate)
  • Time on page
  • Growing impressions but no growing clicks may mean you’re ranking off topic for themes.

These KPIs measure user engagement on your site and can help or hinder your SERP rankings. The longer users spend on your site, reading your content, watching your videos etc, these signals tell Google this content was relevant to the user and they’ll ‘note that down’ for other users that search the same keyword/s in the future.

In contrast, if your content is irrelevant to their search, it’s clunky to read, they can’t find what they need, or they’re not sure where to go and a user spends little to no time on the site, Google will be aware your site has poor, irrelevant content, and your rankings in their SERPs will drop down.

So, keep an eye on your engagement rates and time on page. Make sure you stay on topic.

3. Conversions

Like you did with organic traffic visibility over the last 12 months, you can use Google Analytics to see how conversions have tracked through search engine traffic over any period of time. You cannot use Search Engine Console for this data.

Navigate to Acquisition > Traffic > Channels – then select ‘organic search’. From the drop down above the graph, change ‘users’ to either ‘goal completions’ or use e-commerce KPIs.

conversions on GA4

It may be the case that your organic traffic hasn’t grown much in 12 months but check your conversions.

You can even compare search engine traffic against other channels so see if it’s a general trend or if there is something particularly different about your search engine traffic.

Typically search engine traffic should be one of your higher performing channels if you rank well for your topics and themes.

4. Organic visibility

Organic visibility is a useful stat to see how visible your site is in search engines. You can find this stat within your Google Search Console – handy and free:

Impressions (Search console > Performance)

You can also measure visibility from other sources, like SEMRush and AHREF. Here is an example from SEMRush:

Any significant changes in visibility should be investigated. Also, remember that Google algorithms can have significant impact on visibility.

5. Specific keyword ranks

Keywords, keywords, keywords – you can’t talk about SEO without the inevitable mention of keywords.

Keyword ranking is a great KPI for SEO performance.

“But how do I check my keyword ranking?”

Keyword ranking is another KPI that you can use different softwares to track.

In Google Search Console you’ll find it under Performance > Search results > Queries. If you change the date range, you can compare a keyword’s performance over any period of time. Below is an example of how some keywords from one of our clients has changed over time.

Here is an example using SEMRush:

When researching the performance of your keyword rankings ensure you monitor both ‘money’ keywords (the high-volume service-based keywords in your industry) but also check on long-tail keywords (niche, specific terms relevant to your industry).

Keep an eye on keywords related to a theme within your industry. Any growth or drops and it may indicate SEO issues, an algorithm change or general changes within that industry.

Warning:
Don’t fall into the trap of obsessing over your ranks on a small number of keywords. Instead, look for progression and trends across all keywords (this is where organic visibility comes in).

6. Trust/Authority scores

In general, trust/authority scores do not have quick changes, any growth you do see is usually slow. A Trust or authority score is a measure of the number of backlinks/third party websites linking to your pages.

There are various websites you can use for this figure – MOZ, SEMRush, AHREF – whichever software you use, stick with the same one, as each company analyses it differently so if you used MOZ previously and now use SEMRush, comparing the performance of their authority stats isn’t relevant.

Here’s what it looks like within SEMRush:

This number will increase the more outreach you do, as your backlinks grow (it’s always out of 100).

If you want to access this data for free all of these SEO companies typically have free option that at least provides authority information, even if you’re limited to the number of times you can check in a day.

Reminder:
Do not obsess over your domain authority. It is a number to keep an eye on as it indicates trends over time.

7. Page speed

Page speed is not an immediate indicator of SEO growth, but it’s an important stat to keep an eye on.

A fast page load won’t impact your rankings, but poor page loads just might. Google is increasing priority over time on faster sites. If you’re competing with others in your industry for rankings and your site is slow to load, this will negatively impact user experience and that will affect your SERPs as Google sees users bounce off your site.

Use Google’s site speed test (it’s free). Maintain your website speed as follows:


40+ for mobile 70+ for desktop

8. Mobile friendliness

Problems in mobile useability, much like speed, can affect user experience and that is what negatively impacts SERP rankings.

So, just like speed, improving your mobile functionality does not necessarily increase your rankings, but a poor experience will hinder them.

Ensure your website has the best chance to rank for your keywords by keep it fast and mobile-ready.

Measuring success – ROI on SEO

Organic traffic is a critical channel. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it should account for 50-60% of your traffic.

If your SEO campaign is effective and follows best practice your site should receive free and highly-targeted traffic that generates quality leads or sales.

The upfront investment in SEO can be heavy and it may take time to see the results, but those results can be incredible and long-term.

This list of the top 8 KPIs for SEO performance provides a solid framework to measure and monitor SEO results over time.

SEO is a complex beast and if you need help with your SEO campaign get in touch with our experts.

What is SEO?

SEO literally stands for Search – Engine – Optimisation

How does SEO work?

Optimising your website requires 2 branches:
– on-page SEO (engaging content, HTML, meta tags, speed etc)
– off-page SEO (Backlinks)

How much of my site’s traffic should come from SEO?

Around 50-60%, complimented by traffic from other online sources.

Do I have to do SEO for my site?

No, but 93% of web traffic is via a search engine. If you’re not on page 1, or in position 1, you’re losing organic traffic from the source that everyone is using.

What KPIs for SEO should I track?

– Organic traffic
– Engagement
– Conversions
– Visibility
– Keyword ranks
– Trust/Authority
– Page Speed
– Mobile Friendliness

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Download the Influencing Your Digital Marketing Metrics ebook

Growth in numbers translates to growth in business, learn about the digital marketing KPI’s that can dramatically boost your business trajectory.

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