So, you’ve picked your keywords and launched a content marketing plan—now what?
Understanding your SEO ROI isn’t common sense, and even the most experienced marketers can find themselves creating content out of habit versus conviction over time.
To keep your business moving in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of the top SEO KPIs to keep your eye on. Note that there are several main types to consider: visibility, ranking, and conversion metrics. Here’s what each of them mean and how to keep track of them.
Visibility metrics give you a sense of how many eyeballs are viewing your content during any given time. They’re critical for understanding if your content is well-distributed and actually getting clicked on.
If these metrics fall short of expectations, then you’ll want to consider ways to proactively get your content in front of more visitors. Starting a newsletter, for example, could help you to regularly inform prospects and/or customers of new blogs that your team published. You could additionally leverage paid channels, like Google Search ads or retargeting ads, to draw more folks to your site.
As the saying goes, “Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.” Your content is no different; content distribution is 50% of the battle, and you’ll need a specific strategy for keeping your content top of mind.
1. Organic traffic
Organic traffic represents the number of visitors that land on your site through organic keywords. You can measure this using Google Analytics and isolate organic traffic (aka, traffic that isn’t influenced by ads) by going to Acquisition > All Traffics > Channels > Organic Search. You’ll also want to investigate your other traffic sources—like referrals, paid search, and social media—since these efforts collectively serve to increase engagement and positively affect your SERP rankings.
You can easily track impressions on your pages using the Search Results report in Google Search Console. The total number of impressions gives you an idea of how many people saw your pages and had the option of clicking on them, whether or not they actually did. Using Search Console, you can further analyze the search queries that drove the most impressions. You can then adjust your keyword strategy, ads, and other distribution tactics to expand your reach.
3. Top pages
Going one step further, it’s critical to know which of your pages get the most clicks and why. To find your most visited pages, go to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Alternatively, you can select “Content Drilldown” in Google Analytics for a more organized view of your top pages. Consider, do only a handful of your pages bring in 90% of your organic traffic? Which of your pages keep your visitors most engaged? Which pages could be refreshed to improve engagement and deliver better value?
Ranking metrics provide additional context for your visibility metrics. They indicate whether your on-page or off-page SEO tactics are paying off, and point out opportunities for improvement.
Many of these metrics require time, consistency, and experimentation to get right. In other words, they won’t change overnight.
However, each of these metrics are essential for understanding how Google views your site in relation to other domains in your space. They show whether or not Google thinks you’re worthy of a first-page status and what you need to do to give yourself an edge.
4. First-Page Keywords
A whopping 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of search results, which is why first-page status is often a north-star metric for many SEO practitioners. Check your rankings using a trustworthy keyword research tool. See which of your pages land within the first 10 positions and which are close to ranking. You may be surprised to see that one of your pages ranks high for a dozen unintended keywords, some of which could be worth expanding upon in your ads or blog copy.
5. Domain authority (DA)
Your DA score is a measurement provided by tools like SEMRush and ContentEdge that shows how you compare to other websites. It typically is a number between one and 100—the higher the score, the better. DA is often impacted by the number of backlinks your domain earns and the level of engagement that your content receives. A low score means that you’re less likely to rank above your competitors, but DA does not directly impact your rankings. In other words, a high DA should never be viewed as a primary goal in and of itself, but rather, a byproduct of good SEO practices.
Backlinks (aka, “inbound links”) are links from one site to another that essentially tell Google that other people find your content worthy enough to share. Backlinks can, once again, be measured using an SEO optimization software like ContentEdge. There are two types of links to look out for: toxic and non-toxic (or normal) backlinks. Toxic backlinks—links from non-credible or spammy sources—can reflect poorly on your site, so you’ll want to remove them ASAP.
7. Content relevancy score
Content relevance is a core pillar of SEO today. It accounts for the fact that just because your content includes a specific keyword, it doesn’t mean that your page is relevant to that search query. Case in point: someone who googles “email marketing” may be looking for a definition of email marketing and 101-level tips, not an email marketing software.
Your content relevancy score, which is a proprietary metric of ContentEdge, tells you two things: whether Google finds your page contextually relevant based on the other words you use, and how your content measures up against other top-ranking results.
Last but not least, conversion metrics are crucial for understanding how effective your content is in bringing in real leads. Let’s not forget that the ultimate purpose of your SEO strategy is to increase the number of quality prospects that engage with your brand.
Without measuring the below KPIs, it’s impossible to track how your SEO efforts are helping to move the needle. That said, you may not be tracking all of these metrics at once. You may, for example, start by tracking major goals like demo signups, newsletter signups, and other desired actions.
Later on, you may choose to dig a little deeper and see where people are dropping off (at which point tracking custom events would be helpful). Determine which KPIs are helpful while also protecting yourself from analysis paralysis.
Clicks can be found within the Search Results report in Google Search Console. This measurement shows how many impressions actually translated into a click. If clicks are low, you’ll want to check whether your meta description, meta title, and content relevance are fully optimized. At RankScience, we once found that a simple title tag edit could increase clicks by nearly 15%, which was a significant jump for our client.
9. Bounce rate
This is a basic metric found within Google Analytics that tells you how many people left your page without performing any sort of action or navigating to any other page. A high bounce rate could mean that your landing page is not engaging or relevant to visitors. However, it’s important to put bounce rate in context with other KPIs. There are many instances in which your bounce rate may not be accurate or may be misleading.
10. Average time on page
Average time on page is another Google Analytics metric that measures how long a non-exit, non-bounce user typically spends on your page. The average time on page across industries is reportedly 62 seconds, but there are times when this may be shorter (for example, you may have published a short landing page that shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to read). This metric is particularly helpful when you’re auditing blog content, which you’d expect visitors to take their time reading.
11. Goal completion
Google Analytics gives you the options of setting up custom goals so that you can track your conversion metrics all in one place. You could, for instance, use goals to keep a tally of demo requests. This will allow you to drill down into the specific pages that contributed to a demo request and evaluate each page’s value based on goal completion.
12. Event completion
Events are generally managed through Google Tag Manager but are funneled into your Google Analytics account. Events let you track actions like when a visitor scrolls past a certain point on your page, or when a visitor opens a form but doesn’t complete it. They are flexible and can help you measure a variety of actions, but you’ll need to make sure that you know how to set them up properly and understand how events affect other metrics, such as bounce rate (a visitor will not be considered a bounce if he/she completes an event).
Identity the right SEO KPIs for your business
At the end of the day, the exact KPIs you track will depend on the focus and/or problem areas of your content strategy. Nevertheless, you should always aim to connect the dots between a blog visit and a conversion so that you’re not implementing an SEO strategy in vain.