SEO campaigns generate an overwhelming amount of data. With a targeted plan, you can leverage this information to see how your SEO strategy affects everything from rankings to conversions and how your efforts drive business growth. But first, you have to make sure you’re tracking the right SEO metrics for your goals.
This guide explains how to track SEO, why you should monitor your site’s performance, and important website metrics you should track.
How to Measure SEO
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What Is SEO Tracking?
SEO tracking is an in-depth, data-driven process that monitors the performance of an SEO campaign over time. Using a variety of analytics and measurement tools, the SEO tracking process can help you validate or adjust your search engine optimization strategy so you’re always making progress towards your larger goals.
Monitoring SEO Performance: Why It Matters
As more users continue to use Google as their source for shopping, services and information, understanding where you business ranks in a search engine is becoming increasingly important. SEO metrics are the means to understanding where you’re at in this confusing online world. These metrics will allow you to make adjustments that can help improve your company’s overall performance.
When you regularly monitor performance, you ensure you’re on the right SEO track to meet your goals. Tracking SEO metrics helps you:
- Adjust tactics to improve performance
- Identify new SEO opportunities (if a page is performing better than expected)
- Stay on top of search algorithm changes to maintain search visibility
- Monitor return on investment (ROI)
- Decide if you should invest more time and resources in your current strategy or if you need to make adjustments to it
How to Track SEO
SEO metrics let you measure different aspects of search engine optimization performance so you can track patterns and changes over time. There are thousands of data points you can look at, but they won’t all be relevant to your goals.
In fact, the challenge most site owners face isn’t a lack of data. Tracking tools deliver impressive amounts of information. The issue is deciding which metrics you should pay the most attention to.
Choose the Right SEO Metrics For Your Business
Effectively tracking your SEO efforts starts with clear goals. What are you trying to achieve with your campaign?
I won’t go into the details here, but your SEO campaign goals should be SMART : specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
The SEO metrics you track should relate directly to the objectives you’ve set.
For example, if the goal is to attract qualified leads to your site and make sales, be sure you’ve got conversion metrics in the mix.
Once you establish your campaign goals, you can pick the SEO metrics that’ll help you measure progress towards your objectives.
Monitor Your Results Regularly
How frequently you review metrics will depend on the metric itself. You can see our general guidelines for monitoring SEO metrics here.
If you’re new to SEO, it’s not unusual to check your data frequently early on, only to have your attention wane and check in less often as time passes. A sustainable search engine optimization strategy takes time to implement and produce results, and it’s good practice to regularly monitor your tools and reports to identify patterns and opportunities. This helps you stay focused on the strategy, not just the results. You can also chart and compare progress over time.
Before jumping into the most important SEO metrics to track, let’s talk about how you can capture that crucial data.
The Best SEO Measurement Tools
You can’t manage what you can’t measure.Peter Drucker
If you want to get more people to your website, more email signups, or more purchases, you need to have a system in place to measure what’s already happening on your website.
The following tools will give you insight into how people are interacting with your website, how you’re performing in SERPs, who’s linking to your site, and more. Use as many of these SEO tools as you need to capture the data that aligns to your goals.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console helps you understand how users find your site and which pages drive the most website traffic. It also gives insight into:
- Performance in search results
- Click-through rate
- Page indexing
We recommend that all website owners set up Google Search Console.
Google Analytics is a free and powerful tool for measuring visitors’ actions after landing on your website and is great for tracking your conversion metrics. Google Analytics has over 100 unique reports in addition to extensive options for customization.
You can use Google Analytics to isolate organic traffic for analysis or track SEO campaign activity using Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes. Month-over-month and year-over-year reports can show your progress over the long term.
With a paid SEMrush account, you can analyze your site and competitors’ sites. You’ll also be able to:
- Audit your webpages
- Check your on-page optimization
- Run a backlink audit
Keyword Rank Checker is a free Ahrefs tool that shows where you appear in SERPs for any keyword.
You can see essential SEO metrics right from the dashboard with a paid account, including organic search traffic, organic keywords, referring domains, and backlinks. You’ll also have access to keyword research tools and Site Explorer, which lets you see every keyword a site or page ranks for.
Important Website Metrics You Should Track
Visibility metrics give you insight into how well your pages are ranking for your desired keywords. The more keywords your website is ranking for, the higher your visibility in search results.
A comprehensive SEO strategy will include keyword targeting and content creation. To monitor your SEO success, you’ll want to track your keyword rankings so you can see how well your content is performing for your targeted keywords.
A single web page can rank for hundreds of keywords. Monitoring your success with a tool like Ahrefs simplifies the process. Their keyword ranking report shows all of the keywords your pages are ranking for and where the pages rank. Check the report to identify high-performing content and pages that need improvement. (For content to rank well, it will need to be indexed by search engines and generate backlinks. This can take a few weeks, so don’t expect your latest content to rank immediately.)
In addition to checking how well your keywords are performing, you’ll want to see how each of your pages is ranking. This is especially important for your homepage and select target pages, like your location pages or service pages.
SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Analytics all provide info on your top-ranking pages so you can see how much traffic they’re generating, which keywords they’re ranking for, and more. Monitor your most important pages regularly to identify any traffic changes that could impact your business quickly.
As you begin ranking higher, you should notice changes in other metrics such as traffic, click-through rates, and conversions. If those metrics don’t change — for example, if you’re getting a lot of new traffic but not many conversions — you may need to identify why your new search visibility isn’t increasing your other metrics.
Learn more about SEO visibility and how to measure it here.
Are people going to your website? What do they do when they get there? Engagement metrics help you pinpoint whether your SEO strategy is drawing qualified traffic to your website.
Organic traffic is web traffic derived from organic search results. Qualified organic traffic is extremely valuable because individuals who clicked through from the SERPs are interested in what you’re offering. These site visitors ran a search for a particular word or phrase and chose to visit your site based on your search snippet.
This metric doesn’t include other sources of traffic such as paid ads, social referrals, or email marketing campaigns. In addition to total organic traffic, you’ll also want to track new visitors and returning visitors.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Click-through rate (CTR)is an engagement metric that represents the number of people who visit your site from SERPs compared to the total times your site appears in search results (impressions).
For example, a page that has 8,000 impressions in a week in SERP and 200 click-throughs has a CTR of 2.5%. A different page with 1,400 impressions and 60 clicks has a CTR of 4.3%. Even though the second page was viewed by fewer people, more users were compelled to click through.
CTR can help you gauge the performance of your SEO page title and meta description and whether they’re persuasive enough to entice users to visit your page. It can also help you determine whether your page is aligned with the keyword’s search intent.
Pages per Session
Pages per session gives you an estimate of how many different pages visitors go to on your site on average. To get your pages per session, divide your total page views by the total number of sessions. A higher pages per session means that people click around on your website and explore more than just the initial page they land on.
These metrics are just the tip of the iceberg. You can pinpoint which engagement metrics you should add to your reports here.
Organic traffic and CTR can be considered conversion metrics as well as engagement metrics since they measure people who took a particular action (clicking on a link from SERPS). Knowing which pages are driving traffic or which have low CTRs can help you identify what’s working and where to make changes. Make sure you’re also tracking the following metrics.
Organic Conversion Rate
Conversions indicate if and how visitors are engaging with your site or taking action. This is one of the most important SEO metrics for ecommerce sites.
Now, a conversion doesn’t have to be a sale. It can be any action that moves a website visitor along the buyer’s journey, such as email signups, account creations, and form submissions.
To track conversions, decide which consumer actions are important to your business. Add your goals to Google Analytics and then monitor the numbers for a better understanding of how SEO is impacting revenue generation.
Sales Conversion Rate
Your sales conversion rate is the number of sales from a product or service page divided by the total number of organic visitors to that page. It helps you better understand which of your pages, products, or services are driving the most sales and which can be improved. You can measure this metric in Google Analytics by creating a goal and monitoring goal completions.
This article does a great job explaining additional conversion metrics to track and shares how to get started.
Technical SEO Metrics
To show up in search engine results pages, web pages must first be indexed. Google regularly crawls sites, but it may take a few days for a newly published page to be indexed.
You can create an Index Coverage Report through Google Search Console to see:
- Which pages Google has found on your site
- Which pages are indexed
- Indexing problems
As you add content, your indexed pages should increase on your Index Coverage Report. If they don’t, check your Google’s Crawl Stats report to see if Googlebot has encountered any issues.
Page Speed & Core Web Vitals
Web pages that contain videos and images create a great user experience, but they can also make pages load slowly. Unfortunately, according to Google , 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. That means you need to balance great content with fast load speeds for optimal user experience.
- Loading time
- The time it takes before a visitor can interact with a site page
- The time it takes for visual elements to stay stable on the screen
When you check your page speed regularly, you can tie page optimizations to changes in page speed and solve issues before they become problems.
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