Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often considered difficult to track. But there are dozens of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) marketers can use to gauge the success of their SEO efforts. KPIs are objective metrics that help measure and give clarity to the success of a given marketing program or campaign.
However, the vast number of options of KPIs often adds to the challenge. That’s why we picked three essential KPIs to begin the process of tracking your SEO program. With them, you’ll gain insight into how effective you are at these key SEO performance metrics: keyword ranking, organic search and lead conversions.
“Make sure your keywords and landing page are all closely related to the terms that a customer might be searching for or that would appear on websites a customer would visit.” — Google
What It Is: The Keyword Ranking metric measures your search engine rankings for targeted keywords in the top 100 search results. When it comes to search engine marketing, this is the quintessential KPI, as it demonstrates the effectiveness of your website in getting ranked on Google for specific keywords and, as a result, attracting more organic traffic.
Why Track: Ranking well for important keywords is a critical part of an SEO campaign because high keyword rankings will help drive more organic traffic to your website. Keyword ranking improvements are the first entry point to achieving other primary objectives, including more traffic, leads and sales. The higher your website ranks for high volume keywords (terms that are frequently searched), the better.
How to Track: There are several tools for tracking your site’s rankings for keywords over time. You can start with the Google Search Console to see what keywords are driving traffic to your website. Then advance to SEMrush for more nuanced tracking. You should keep a close eye on keyword rankings in the top 100, 20 and 10 results at least weekly, if not daily, because a drop could signal an issue with your site. Fluctuations are normal and Google algorithm updates can cause significant volatility, but in the long view, you should see growth.
How to Improve: There are a number of strategies to improve keyword ranking, including several on-page and off-page optimization efforts including:
Pro Tip: The Keyword Ranking KPI is extremely helpful in pointing out the positive and negative impact of your SEO efforts, but it’s limited in telling you why. It is important to track this KPI alongside other SEO metrics and KPIs to get a full understanding of your keywords.
“61 percent of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.” — HubSpot
What It Is: Google Analytics separates traffic that arrives at your site into two categories: traffic that arrives through a search engine result, and traffic that arrives through other referring channels, such as paid advertisement or sites that link to yours. Organic search results is the former: They occur when users search for specific information and arrive at a page on your website based on the relevance of your content.
Why Track this KPI: Growth in organic traffic has always been an important KPI. For one thing, it aligns directly with the objective at the heart of SEO: Getting more viewers to your website.
How to Track: Organic traffic can be measured directly in your CMS or Google Analytics, or you can integrate the data with a reporting tool to cross-reference it with other data points.
How to Improve: Digital and traditional, on-page and off-page marketing efforts will help you continue to grow your organic results. Some examples of techniques you can use to improve organic search are:
Pro Tip: While organic traffic is still important, today most companies understand that it’s not just a numbers game; rather, it’s a quality numbers game. In other words, attracting 100 qualified people through organic search is more powerful than 1,000 people who aren’t interested in your company. When tracking your organic traffic aim for quality over quantity.
“90 percent of searchers haven’t made up their minds up about a brand before starting their search.” — Status Labs
What It Is: Lead and conversion tracking isn’t a KPI per se. But it is a great way to measure searcher intent as it compares to SEO. By tracking this measurement, you can discover what action users take when they land on your site.
Why Track: Even if you attract a lot of visitors, it won’t matter if they don’t convert. Organic conversion rate is expressed as a percentage. If five visitors out of 100 were to do what a business wants them to do, the conversion rate would be 5 percent.
How to Track: Be as specific as you can when setting your conversion goals. It helps to know your micro and macro goals. A micro goal could be when a visitor lands on a specifications page for a product. The macro goal would be going on further to purchase the product. If you set up goals and events in Google Analytics, you can track leads across a variety of dimensions meaningful to your business goals. You can also set up goal funnels to see where people drop off in the process, so you make improvements to your site and iterate from there.
How to Improve: To improve results for measuring leads and conversions, focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO) and user experience (UX), for example:
Pro Tip: Once you know your micro and macro goals, you can track them in Google Analytics’ Goal Completions. You’ll then have insight on whether your website’s functionality and design are effectively facilitating your visitors’ journey from the beginning and all the way up to goal completion.
SEO is all about constant improvement, and improvement is only possible when something is measured. While measuring SEO can be a challenge, it’s easier to execute when you start with these three essential KPIs. They will go a long way toward helping you better understand the true impact of your marketing efforts, so you can make changes that will improve your results. Once you master these three SEO-focused KPIs, you can widen your research into other KPIs. The addition to your marketing program will be well worth the effort.