Every digital or online marketer knows that search engine optimization (SEO for brevity) is paramount to an online campaign’s success.
While this is true, however, the question remains: How do you measure the success of your work?
By itself, SEO is already a complicated process that requires committed effort, but tracking the progress your campaign has made is even more difficult. The fact of the matter is that you cannot always rely on search engine movements to track your online campaign’s progress. This is a hard fact to swallow about SEO. It takes a search engine anywhere between weeks to months to update search engine results pages (SERP for brevity). However, when they do, you would find that the ranking improvements are very rarely distributed across your target keywords in a uniform fashion.
All that considered, you need an easier, comprehensive, and more cohesive manner to track SEO metrics and the performance of your campaign.
Keep in mind that SEO tracking is vital to evaluate your website’s overall success. After all, if you have invested time, money, effort, and other resources on an SEO plan, you need a concrete way to measure whether your investment is worth the results you are getting.
In lieu of tracking individual metrics such as rankings or backlinks, you need to shift your focus onto a multi-metric tracking system to track how well your campaign is doing.
Read on to find out which crucial SEO metrics require your attention and how to track them.
1.) ORGANIC TRAFFIC
Your efforts in SEO will all be for naught unless it actually brings traffic back to your website. It is a known fact that one of the strongest indicators of your SEO’s performance is to track organic sessions over time. Your rankings are improving when you see a month-over-month increase in visitors through organic search. Other metrics tend to show you trends, but tracking organic traffic gives you not only gives you tangible proof but a quantifiable one as well that your campaign is actually working in bringing in more website visitors.
In other words, overall traffic numbers may give you an idea of your website’s general performance, but narrowing it down on organic traffic alone allows you to measure your strategy’s direct impact.
However, the quality of search traffic is dependent on which keywords you are trying to rank for and how you define conversions.
HOW TO TRACK ORGANIC TRAFFIC
Just simply head on to Google Analytics, go to your dashboard, and click on “Add Segment” in the default audience overview. From there, choose “Organic Traffic” on the next screen and hit “Apply,” and you are done. Now, you can readily see organic traffic as a percentage of total traffic.
2.ORGANIC CTR (Click-through Rate)
Your website’s click-through rate (CTR for brevity) is an indicator of the percentage of searchers who visit your website after seeing one of your pages in the search results. If ten various viewers saw your pages ranking in Google’s results for a particular keyword and only one of them clicked and visited your website, your CTR would only be 10% and would need work.
One of the reasons this metric works is because it is a good indicator of whether your pages effectively grab a user’s attention on the search results page. It also tells you a lot about the quality of your website’s title tags and meta descriptions. Keep in mind that how your web page looks like on the search results has a bearing on whether a user would quick through your website. That said, title tags and meta descriptions are crucial elements to take into consideration to ensure you get more visitors to your website.
If your CTR is low, then you might want to work on your title tags and meta descriptions. Keep in mind that rankings also play a pivotal role in CTR. After all, you get more click-throughs the higher up your pages rank. In fact, pages ranking first get an average of 31.52% of the clicks on a desktop results page and 24.05% of the clicks on a mobile results page.
As a result, you should endeavor to nab the top spots on the search results page, as the lower your site ranks in search, the lower your CTR will be. Keep an eye on this metric to monitor your performance over time. If it does not show a significant increase, then you know you need to do some adjustments and work.
HOW TO TRACK ORGANIC CTR
Finding your CTR is as easy as looking into the “Performance” report found within Google Search Console. You can view your website’s CTR by page, query, or device. However, the most helpful insights come from viewing CTR by page as it helps you understand which contents have poor performance on SERPs.
3.) Organic Conversions
After seeing organic traffic coming into your website, you need to ask yourself what kind of traffic quality you are getting. Organic sessions by themselves are not enough. As it is, you could be generating traffic from irrelevant terms that would unfortunately never turn into a lead or a sale.
That said, do not focus solely on organic traffic. Measure the quality of traffic you are getting as well, and track your organic conversions.
HOW TO TRACK ORGANIC CONVERSIONS
Tracking your website’s organic conversion requires you to set up your “Goal” or conversion events in Google Analytics. Some of the example goals you may wish to track are as follows.”
a.) Email Signups
b.) Phone Calls
c.) Form Submissions
After you have delineated what goals you wish to track on your site, you can monitor them in Google Analytics. Be sure to add the organic sessions segment again to see your organic metrics specifically as well.
4.) BOUNCE RATE
It is not enough that a user clicks through your website and visits it. They should stay as well.
If a visitor lands on a page on your site, then immediately leaves without seeing another page, we refer to this as a “bounce.” The percentage of visitors who do this is known as your website’s “bounce rate.”
This is a great metric to observe in order to check the quality of your content and if it is in line with what users typically expect when they choose your page from the list of search results. If your bounce rate is rather high, then this tells you that the page they are landing on does not contain the kind of information they are looking for. However, if you have kept your bounce rate down to a minimum, you can be assured that the pages you have ranking in search results deliver the kind of information searchers are looking for. These are the very pages that help you reach your SEO goals.
HOW TO TRACK BOUNCE RATE
You can see the bounce rate metric in reports that include a date table in Google Analytics. It is located in the left menu bar. As an example, you can see the bounce rate displayed in a data table in the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report.
If you wish to check the bounce rates for individual web pages, just search for the page name, or you can use the advanced search feature to narrow down the search results even further by adding dimensions and metrics, inclusions or exclusions to the search.
4.) New Backlinks and Referring Domains
Backlinks still determine strong and solid SEO performance. Although on-page factors are vital as well, between two pages with more or less the same on-page metrics, the page with more backlinks from better domains will undoubtedly rank better for SEO.
In fact, there has been a recent study that found that there is a correlation between rankings and the number of referring domains. As a result, it is recommended that you keep track of your backlinks and referring domains, as this is one of the best indicators for the effectiveness of your SEO campaign and efforts. While more backlinks might not immediately translate to better rankings (especially if they are coming from low-quality domains), they are indicative of the progress you are making.
HOW TO TRACK BACKLINKS
Tracking backlinks requires you to have an SEO analytics and backlink monitoring tool. The three things you should look out for in a backlink tracking tool are update frequency, accuracy, and trends. The update frequency tool helps you index new backlinks as they appear online. If it refreshes its index too slow, the new backlinks will not show up for weeks.
On the other hand, the accuracy tool should only show you the actual backlinks. Also, it should show follow/no-follow links separately. Lastly, the trends tool should be able to show you the general trend as to whether you have lost or gained backlinks over time.
While Google Search console has free backlink tracking, it is often inaccurate. So best rely on other tools to measure this metric.
5.) KEYWORD RANKING
While keyword rankings are, without question, an important metric to observe when it comes to tracking the success of a campaign, this cannot be overemphasized.
Keyword ranking is a metric that is relatively straightforward. One of the most vital elements of SEO is keywords. As you endeavor to improve your website’s rankings for keywords significant to your business, you would inevitably want to monitor how well you rank for those keywords. Similarly, you would want to routinely check how your rankings for those same keywords change over time. Some marketers may choose to do this manually for their important keywords as it is easy as doing a Google search for the same keywords and seeing whether they stand.
However, you need to have a more comprehensive look at your rankings and have an overview of all the keywords your website ranks for and the positions in which it ranks.
An essential part of SEO is to measure your results.
Your results are indicative of whether your campaign has succeeded or failed. Moreover, it helps you create goals for your next campaign and allows you to revisit areas in your campaigns that you fell short of and refine your techniques.
If you are not tracking SEO metrics, then you are not gauging whether your strategy is working. As a result, you are approaching your campaign blindly and do not have concrete expectations on what results you should be achieving and no plans on how to improve and move forward. That said, it is time to get started on tracking your SEO metrics such as organic traffic, CTR, keyword rankings, bounce rate, and the like.
Luckily tools like Google Analytics are available and are easy to use.
So, if you wish to have a more accurate idea of how your SEO efforts are affecting your business, dedicate time to identifying which metrics are most important to your business goals.
You may just be surprised with the results you get.