Aah Google Analytics! It is a wonderous place full of magic and smiles. Or at least it is for nerds like me. It is the place we go to when we are looking at our SEO KPIs and want to come up with a strategy that is going to blow the competition out of the water and make our clients love us.
Setting SEO KPIs comes in two parts: What is optimal, and what is achievable. Our goal is always the former but what is achievable is usually determined by budget.
You aren’t going to beat Amazon or Wikipedia, for example, if you have a budget of £200 a month.
Nonetheless, tracking these 7 SEO KPIs will give you a really good insight into how well your site is performing and where your strategy should focus.
This blog is, as ever, a jargon-free zone (guaranteed).
Here is a gratuitous photo of a dog to keep you going. It’s winking!
The 7 SEO KPIs You Should Be Tracking
The seven SEO KPIs you definitely want to track are:
- User signals
- Acquisition (where the traffic comes from)
- Keyword rankings
- Domain Trust or Authority (arbitrary score. I will explain below)
- Crawl errors
- Exit pages
- Search queries
Remember, the crux of ranking on Google is to put up informative websites that people love (back off SEO nerds, I know there is more to it than that-I said the crux. The Crux! )
User signals are just indicators of how people are using your website. Google tracks these through a tracking code on your site that whoever built it will have put on.
Google wants to return websites in the results pages that are useful, trusted, helpful, popular etc. It figures if lots of people use a website, keep coming back to it and spend a while on there browsing it must be a good site. A reasonable assumption.
Find these stats in Google Analytics under ‘Audience> Overview’. Here is what you are looking for.
Average Session Duration:
How long do your visitors spend on your site? The longer the better. Aim for over 2 minutes.
You improve this by adding plenty of great content in easy to read blocks. Make it interesting.
Also, link to other pages on your site so you are gently guiding traffic around your website, thus keeping them on there for longer.
Pages per session
Similar to the previous point, Google figures if visitors look at a few pages on your site you must have something good there.
Aim for at least 2.5 pages per visit. 3 is better. But beware! Low time spent on site with lots of pages looked at may indicate visitors can’t find what they are looking for and randomly clicking around.
Make sure your internal links make sense. Think of your website as a journey. Take your visitors by the hand and show them the many wonders on your lovely website.
Bounce rate is the % of people that come onto your website and don’t look at another page.
It isn’t a ranking factor (Google don’t consider it when deciding who to rank) but there is a correlation between low bounce rate and high rankings.
The reason for this is sites with a low bounce rate tend to be showing good user signals elsewhere.
HOWEVER! Big caveat here.
Don’t get hung up on your bounce rate. Put it into context. If your main goal of the website is to get people downloading a brochure, for example, and that is all over all your landing pages, your bounce rate may be high but justifiably so.
You can still rank with a high bounce rate. It is just an important metric because if it is high without reason, it means you need to take action.
Improve your calls to action on your landing pages and add more internal links. Check the design is appealing, too.
Aim for less than 50-60% on your bounce rate.
New vs returning
You wouldn’t keep going back to a restaurant that served awful food, right? (Although at this point in the pandemic I would literally eat soil if it was served to me by a waiter with a side of fries and 45 gin and tonics.)
It is the same with websites.
Google wants to see people keep going back to your website because it suggests there is something worth seeing. Some good information.
A good SEO KPI to look for is a 50/50 split but that is not often achievable quickly and it depends on your sector so set a benchmark and aim to improve it.
It is similar to the Number Of Sessions Per User metric in Google Analytics. Aim for 1.6 session per user. Anything higher puts you in a really strong position. Lower than 1.2 is a danger zone, according to this interesting article on metrics.
You can improve this by adding interesting, well written content regularly and promoting it on social media.
Another SEO KPI on Google analytics is the acquisition, or where your traffic is coming from.
Your goals here will depend on your marketing strategy and your sector but ideally you would have a fairly even split.
If you have been ploughing money into social media marketing and you are only receiving 10% of your traffic from there, you might not be very please, especially if the user signals above are rubbish for it.
The one to watch here is organic traffic. That will give you an idea of how well your site is performing in Google. If the majority of your traffic is coming organically and your user signals are good for that channel, it’s a good indicator your site is performing well.
Everyone gets hung up on ranking as an SEO KPI, and rightly so. They are an important metric.
But it is worth remembering that rankings can take a while to come through and they can vary wildly until you get established.
Don’t get hung up on them. Try to check them monthly so you can spot trends. It is normal to see big swings in rankings.
Your competitors, algorithm updates, onsite optimisation and content creation can all affect your rankings. Some you can control, some you can’t.
Monthly checks will allow you to tweak your approach and investigate without constantly fiddling.
Here at GrowTraffic, we check rankings quarterly, usually.
Use free ranking software like SE Ranking, Moz, or SEMrush to check.
I can feel the SEO nerds waiting to take me down on this one.
Domain authority or domain trust is an arbitrary score given to websites to suggest how trusted they are.
Remember the importance of backlinks? Well, there is correlation between high quality backlinks and a higher domain authority.
And there is a correlation between sites with a high domain authority and sites that consistently rank well. However, in SEO, correlation is certainly not the same as causation.
Confused? Yep. This is why our catchphrase is ‘it depends’.
Just make sure this metric is ticking up. It is out of 100. You can check your DA on Moz.com.
A crawl is only as good as the person interpreting it. Some things on a crawl are worth prioritising over others. Some metrics look better than they are. Some look worse.
It depends on your site and the software you use to crawl your website.
But it is a good idea to be keeping on eye on some things that show up in a crawl as they are important.
- 4xx (pages that can’t be returned/found)
- Duplicate content
- Duplicated H1 tags
- Empty tags
- Missing sitemaps, missing HTTPS
- Page load speed
Don’t change your site too often. Make some changes and let them percolate for a while.
Like the user signals, exit pages can give you an insight into how your site is being used. Tracking which pages are losing the most traffic is an important SEO KPI because it allows you to spot a potential leak in the boat and plug it.
Of course, some pages are going to have a high exit rate. Contact or submission pages are naturally high. But if a particular page is losing loads of traffic without a reason, it suggests there is something wrong with the page. Maybe it isn’t loading fast enough, is not great to look at, or doesn’t have an onward point.
You can find your exit pages in Google Analytics.
Set up Google Search Console for your website so you can see the queries people are using to find your website.
This is important because it gives you ideas for which keywords are working for you. It shows you if your site is optimised for the right keywords.
It also gives you an idea about all those weird little keywords you are being found for.
But Search Console is so much more than that. It shows you key metrics, like core web vital stats, ranking reports, links, site maps and more. It also allows for communication between you and the Google overlords. Submit removal requests, see warnings and take action.
It is your website hub. Whilst it isn’t strictly an SEO KPI to measure it is a very important resource.
Can We Help Improve Your SEO KPIs?
So there are your 7 SEO KPIs you should be tracking.
If you have read all that and thought ‘huh?’ drop me an email. I would be happy to help you get clarity around your SEO metrics. Or book yourself onto our Google Analytics course or SEO for beginners. Both are only £50 each for zoom training with Rachel in small groups.
If you have read all that and realised your site needs some love and attention, I’d love to speak to you.
We conduct audits, write strategies, and carry out onsite and offsite SEO to improve these metrics, and ultimately your conversions.
If I can help with anything else, please get in touch. You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing 0161 706 0012.
See you next time.