Measuring SEO metrics for performance is an important part of maintaining and growing your small business. We can even go as far as to say it is essential to your success.
Analyzing SEO metrics can help you better understand why your website is performing the way it is and allows you to fix any problems or weak points you notice. Not to mention, the effectiveness of your website directly affects your business now that everything’s gone digital.
This guide shares top metrics for SEO that business owners should monitor to consistently improve their website and grow their business. Read on to learn more about what SEO metrics are, why you should care about them, and what SEO monitoring tools are available to help you with your SEO campaigns.
What Are SEO Metrics?
Before we get started, let’s first begin with defining SEO metrics. Simply put, SEO metrics include data points and key performance indicators that measure the performance of your website. These metrics are quantitative methods of looking at how search engines view your site.
An optimized website will have healthy scores for most SEO metrics. So, why should you care about tracking these metrics for SEO? Read on to learn about the benefits of monitoring your site’s performance.
Why Should You Monitor SEO Metrics?
There are a number of reasons to track SEO KPIs including:
- To see progress. Tracking SEO metrics is one of the best ways to see your business’s growth and progress. Impressions and organic traffic analytics show an increase or decrease in the number of visitors to your website.
- To find errors. Running an SEO site audit can show you any mistakes or technical errors that are impacting your website’s health. If you never measured any SEO metrics or never ran site audits, you’d never know what needed fixing and, therefore, would never improve.
- To strengthen your website. Along with finding errors comes fixing those errors to strengthen your website. A strong website produces good results and more conversions.
- To generate traffic. Traffic is a huge tell of whether your website’s SEO is working. Generating more traffic means more leads and sales. Keeping track of your organic traffic allows you to strategically bring more visitors to your website.
- To see what’s working. If you don’t track SEO KPIs, you won’t truly know what tactics are working well for your small business. What types of content are ranking well? Are you reaching your target audience? If you don’t know if your organic search visibility is improving, how will you ever feel confident lowering your PPC spending?
The Most Important SEO Performance Metrics
There are many SEO metrics you can track but here are the 11 that we think are most important. To make things simple, we’ve split them up into four categories: Overall SEO Metrics, On-Page SEO Metrics, Off-Page SEO Metrics, and ROI of SEO Metrics.
- Website Health Score
- Keyword Rankings
- Organic Search Traffic
- Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Bounce Rate
- Backlinks & Referring Domains
- Domain Authority
- Anchor Text Ratio
- Social Shares
Let’s get started with the overall SEO metrics you should be tracking!
Overall SEO Metrics
This SEO metric measures your website’s SEO as a whole. It includes both on-page and off-page SEO strategies.
1. Website Health Score
A website health score is based on the number of errors and warnings on your site after it is crawled. There are different ways to find your website health score including Semrush’s Site Audit and Ahrefs Site Audit tool. Both of these tools take an exhaustive look at your website and analyze it for mistakes using over 100 pre-defined SEO issues.
After the audit is complete, you will be shown a plethora of data, including the website health score. It is measured as a percentage out of 100%. A website rated under 50% needs some serious work, whereas if a site scores 75% or above it has a solid foundation.
Here is an example of an Ahrefs site audit with a 98% website health score. A site score near the full 100% indicates your website is close to error-free and in great shape. After you run a site audit, take a look at the errors and warnings that come up and see if they are things you can easily correct.
Checking your website health score on a regular basis is a good idea to stay on top of your site’s overall SEO health.
Next, we will move on to on-page SEO KPIs such as keyword rankings and click-through rates.
On-Page SEO Metrics
When we say on-page SEO, we are referring to optimization that directly affects on-page content. On-Page SEO services relate to changes that you make on your website that impact SEO. We’re focusing on KPIs most associated with those changes to ensure that what you’re currently doing for SEO is working.
2. Keyword Rankings
Target keyword rankings are one of the primary indicators of a successful SEO content marketing campaign. When your website or page ranks on the first page of Google, you have a higher chance of users visiting and converting into customers.
When someone performs a search, Google hunts through its index for the most relevant websites to the search query and displays them at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). We won’t talk about how to use keywords for SEO here since we have another full blog about that already, but how do you track keyword rankings?
Keyword rankings can be tracked in a few different ways. The first way isn’t the most practical, but it still works. You can manually search for keywords you targeted on your pages and see if your pages rank on the first SERP. If they don’t, it means you should up your keyword game!
Another less manual way to see average keyword position is to use Google Search Console or another third-party tool like Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush. By using one of these SEO monitoring tools, you can see how your pages are performing in organic search. Here’s an example of Markitors’ keyword ranking using Ahrefs Site Explorer.
As you can see, the position of each keyword on SERPs is listed clearly. Positions from one to around 10 are usually on the first results page which is optimal for visibility.
In this scenario, we highly recommend that you identify your target keywords, supporting keywords, and any other keywords you deem important to your business. Track them so you always have a north star when it comes to your SEO growth plan.
And keep in mind that every keyword is different and has a different search volume, keyword difficulty score, and traffic value estimation.
3. Organic Search Traffic
Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. The oh-so-important measure of SEO success. Did you know it usually takes 4-6 months to see organic search traffic increase from SEO efforts? The amount of traffic directly affects conversions and sales for your small business.
We’ll use Google Analytics as an example. On Google Analytics, select your web property, then click acquisition > overview > organic search to see your site’s organic traffic. Take a look at the 30-day, 90-day, and 12-month views to see movement in organic traffic.
Here’s an example of a 30-day view of organic traffic on Google Analytics.
This gives you insight into the traffic trends of your website at the click of a button!
4. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Click-through rate (CTR) is another key SEO metric to monitor. A page’s CTR is the percentage of visitors who click through to your website when they see it on a SERP. If you are ranking near the top of SERPs but have low click-through rates, you may want to update your meta titles and meta descriptions to increase visitors. You want to write meta descriptions and meta title tags that are optimized and the appropriate length.
To calculate the CTR percentage, you can use this handy formula:
CTR = (page views / impressions) x 100
Your website’s CTR helps you know which methods are effective for your customers and which aren’t.
To view a page’s click-through rate, you can use Google Search Console. First, choose your web property, then click “Search Results” on the left navigation bar, and toggle on the “Average CTR” button.
Here’s a sample of how it will look on Google Search Console!
It shows here that in the last three months, the average CTR of this example website is 2.6%. As a benchmark, the average CTR for paid search ads through AdWords is 2%.
5. Bounce Rate
Ah, the infamous bounce rate. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who come to your website and only visit a single page. Google Analytics tracks the bounce rate when a visitor doesn’t view any other pages on your site before leaving. The SEO impact of bounce rate has been debated, but the bottom line is that Google doesn’t use it as a ranking factor.
However, keeping tabs on bounce rate is still a good idea because it allows you to see if your site funnel is functioning well. Depending on the industry, the average bounce rate will vary from 10-90%.
On Google Analytics, you can see your bounce rate by going to behavior > overview.
You can see the bounce rate for this example site is 48.73%. Also, take a peek at the average session duration to see if your page is matching search intent. You can work on adding relevant internal links to lower your bounce rate.
Let’s continue on to off-page SEO KPIs like backlinks, social shares, and domain authority.
Off-Page SEO Metrics
Off-page SEO is optimization that occurs off of your website. Meaning, through links, shares, referring domains, etc. Off-page optimization is just as important to monitor as on-page, so don’t skip out!
6. Backlinks & Referring Domains
Backlinks and referring domains are some of the key metrics you should be tracking because they are vital for your website’s SEO health.
Any time another website links to a page on your website, it is considered a backlink. High-quality backlinks from sites that are credible help Google classify your website as relevant and reputable.
Plus, there have been infinite studies at this point showing the correlation between a site’s backlinks and high search rankings.
The websites that link to your pages are called referring domains. Referring domains have linked to your website and potentially pass along link equity with their backlinks.
To monitor your website’s backlinks and referring domains you can use Ahrefs. Ahrefs shares the top 100 backlinks to your website for free using their backlink checker. Here’s a screenshot example of what it will look like.
We recommend the full paid version of Ahrefs because it offers a full stock of amazing features for website owners.
However, this free version still shows you a decent amount of data. You can see the number of referring domains for each page that it is linked to as well as the average domain rating of the referring domains.
If you find that you have a lot of low-quality or spammy backlinks, read our guide to removing bad backlinks to take care of them.
7. Domain Authority
Domain authority is a search engine ranking score that shows a website’s strength and predicts its ability to rank on SERPs.
To see your domain rating, simply type your website’s URL into the authority checker search bar then click “Check Website Authority.” A pop-up window will appear that looks like this displaying a domain rating from 0-100.
A domain rating is calculated by a website’s backlink profile. The Ahrefs free domain authority checker shows your backlink profile when giving your domain rating. The better quality backlinks you accrue from other sites with high DR, the higher your DR will become!
8. Anchor Text Ratio
Anchor text ratio is an SEO metric many might not think of. Anchor text is the text used when hyperlinking. It’s the clickable text that’s usually underlined in a different color and sometimes bolded. Its purpose is to let readers know what page they will be directed to if they click a link.
There are different types of anchor text you can use when creating an internal and external linking strategy.
Nathan Gotch, an SEO expert on YouTube suggests following this anchor text ratio to set you up for success.
Branded = 70% +
Naked = 20% +
Generic = 5% +
LSI, Partial Match, Titles = 1-5%
Exact Match = less than 1%
Optimize your anchor texts for keywords but follow a balanced ratio like the one above when linking in content.
9. Social Shares
Is your content spreading like wildfire on social media? We hope so!
Social shares are an SEO metric worth tracking because they show engagement with your pages and drive traffic to your website. Many people fail to track social media shares and engagement because they don’t realize the benefits it has to boosting a marketing campaign.
User engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and retweets help you determine your gold-standard content that users deem valuable enough to share with their followers. This information is useful for future content strategy and for mimicking pieces of content that perform well.
Buzzsumo has some free social share metrics to utilize for your website. You can also manually use your social media accounts to track engagement and shares. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all have insight features to help you keep track of that information!
Ahrefs provides users with social media shares for their top pages. To get to this data, type your URL into the Site Explorer search bar then scroll down and click “Top Content” under the “Pages” subheading on the left side navigation bar. You should see something like this.
This shows the number of tweets and pins each page has gotten and which content is most popular.
Social Listening tools like Brand24, help you to monitor what people are saying about your business on social media. Even if they don’t tag you, Brand24 will still notify you if your company name is mentioned. Measure your Digital PR efforts and see reach and engagement data all in one place.
You can also find referral traffic in Google Analytics, breaking down which sources and mediums you get your traffic (email, referral websites, social media, etc.).
ROI of SEO Metrics
ROI or return on investment SEO metrics are where you see your efforts come to fruition. Once you gain more organic traffic, these two metrics should increase as well. Ultimately, these metrics are the ones you’re dying to see increase significantly as a small business.
Conversions and leads are the all-important metrics of success for small businesses. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to thrive as a business. Following best practices for on-page and off-page optimization should improve your conversion rate and number of leads.
So how do you measure leads and conversions?
Some quantitative ways to measure leads include:
- Inbound phone calls to your business
- Contact form submissions
- Email newsletter sign-ups
- Live chats
- Free trials
- Demo requests
Organic conversion tracking is a little more complicated. Google Analytics event tracking is one way to see how many people convert on a certain page feature. You can set an “event” to track how many people click a feature such as a “book now” button.
You can also make an “event” for when a user lands on a thank you page after filling out information to see the difference between how many came into the funnel and how many converted.
The goal of marketing is to drive business to increase revenue, right? So, comparing your SEO game with your revenue is crucial. Tracking revenue is an essential part of every small business, but are you looking at how your SEO affects it?
The easiest way to measure revenue in the context of SEO is to look at a specific marketing campaign you’ve run. What correlation do you see between your SEO campaign and the amount of revenue generated?
Using some of the SEO monitoring tools we’ve mentioned along with whatever platform you use to track revenue such as QuickBooks, can show you just how crucial search engine optimization is for your business.
Many businesses use this formula to calculate their ROI of SEO.
ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment x 100
This percentage of ROI from SEO will differ depending on if you are utilizing an SEO agency or doing optimization yourself. We suggest measuring the ROI of SEO monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
Now that we’ve discussed the top metrics for SEO, let’s look at the best SEO monitoring tools for businesses.
Top 5 SEO Monitoring Tools
There are many, many SEO monitoring tools out there, but here are the ones we consider to be the best for small businesses.
- Google Search Console. Google Search Console is an excellent tool for reporting because it analyzes your website’s performance on Google. You can set it up to alert you of things that need to be fixed and learn to understand how Google views your site.
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a bit simpler than Google Search Console and gives you free tools to measure things like traffic, impressions, bounce rates, and more. It’s easy to connect your site and start using this SEO monitoring tool.
- Ahrefs. Ahrefs offers a whole range of SEO monitoring tools to help you rank higher and get more customers. From keyword ranking tracking to competitor analysis to broken link monitoring to reports on social tags, it does it all.
- Semrush. Semrush is similar to Ahrefs in that it has a wide variety of tools business owners can utilize. Monitor backlinks and keyword rankings, run site audits, analyze competitors, and more with Semrush.
- Moz. Moz is another SEO software that gives you the tools you need to monitor important SEO metrics such as domain rating, backlinks, referring domains, and more. There’s even a 30-day free trial, so you can see if it’s the right tool for you.
So, What’s Next?
Congratulations! You’re now equipped with the knowledge and tools to monitor the most important SEO metrics.
Get yourself on Google Search Console, Google Analytics, or another third-party tool like Ahrefs, and stay up to date with how your website’s SEO is working!
If this all sounds like too much, consider working with an SEO agency to improve and maintain your small business’s website. Markitors connects small businesses with customers through the delivery of SEO Content, Technical SEO services, and Digital PR services.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business succeed!