Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often a long process where you may not see results for a couple of weeks or months. SEO is a lengthy development due to a large number of variables and factors involved in improving your website of which all require a careful implementation to succeed. During an SEO campaign, a change like altering hundreds of metadata or adding an alt tag to every image on the site may only make a slight improvement but you’ll want to know what metrics to use to find how successful. When there are often many elements involved at play this could be difficult, however, it is vital to identify what is working for your SEO and more importantly, what might not be functioning as expected.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be found in many industries but they have a great function in evaluating your SEO campaign. If you keep a consistent list of KPIs that you can evaluate over time, you can appraise your campaign to show your success but also find where you are operating under expected levels so you can invest more in those areas. Here we discuss our top SEO KPIs ranging from technical to user experience plus how to discover and improve them.
The list of key performance indicators we will be unpacking are:
Conversion or Leads are the most essential KPI as they relate to the core business objective of a company and apply to all forms of marketing. Ultimately any business’s goal will be to either sell a product, service, receive a sign-up or make a contact. These KPIs are easily monitored through setting up goals on Google Analytics (GA) or looking at the site’s sales, inventory or contact history. From here you can see how your leads are generated, on which page and by who.
To improve this KPI, target Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and User Experience (UX) on the underperforming pages. Adding clearer call to actions or funnelling your audience to a converting page will help generate your conversions.
Alongside conversions, organic traffic (which can be pulled from GA) is one of the central metrics that can be measured to discover how well your website is performing from an SEO standpoint. When your business goal is to create leads on a website, logically if you have more users visiting your converting pages, more users will click through to convert. Growth in organic traffic is an important metric to most SEOs because it represents the main goal of their campaign: driving more visitors to your website.
There are several reasons why organic traffic can increase such as improvement in keyword rankings or brand awareness. All go together to increase the number of people visiting your site. Importantly, if organic traffic drops there could be issues with the page or more returning users may be visiting the site via the URL so be sure to keep an eye on the direct traffic.
Looking at keywords (Found on premium tools) may be simple on the outset, if you rank first or even on page one for all your important terms you’ll take this as a win, however, this usually isn’t the case for most people. Keywords are potentially the trickiest KPI to manage as there are constant changes in rankings however they can also be the most rewarding. Keyword rankings may fluctuate several times in a month, not because of your actions but due to algorithms, competitors, trends or many other factors out of your control. Indeed, rankings might not reflect the true value of your terms so search volume should also be considered when reviewing your database. Ranking 1st for a term no one searches for is equally unhelpful as ranking 99th for one with thousands of requests.
The key for this KPI is to measure your keyword rankings alongside search volume and not to panic when they fluctuate. For your SEO campaign, use a well-rounded strategy to improve your site and the rankings will follow. Aiming for the first page for your important but also appropriate keywords for your goals can be realistic.
The bounce rate (found on GA) considers how a user interacts with your page and can show a lot about site quality and their experience. It shows how frequently a user will leave your page without another action such as navigating to a second page, clicking a call to action or submitting information. A low bounce rate (anywhere 60-40% or lower) is a good indication that users are finding your pages useful, informative and match their search intent. A high bounce rate (above 60%) on your main pages generally means users are not engaging well however it is key to understand your content first. A user looking for quick information (sports scores, weather, FAQ results) may still bounce from your site satisfied.
It might come as a surprise that SEOs consider over half of users disengaging with the site normal but it accounts for a lot of miss-steps including users who accidentally click on the wrong link or acquire their information within a few seconds. If you do have a high bounce rate on your key pages, look to improve the content by enriching the text and being more informative but not necessarily making it longer.
This metric (Found on GA) follows on from the bounce rate as it also evaluates the content of your website. This is an advantageous KPI to have as it reviews the behaviour of your users who view your pages. If you have a high average session duration (time dependent on your site and metrics), your users are engaging well with your content, navigation around your pages well, and actively researching your services or products. The opposite is true when users are spending a small amount of time on your site, it shows poor navigation, thin content or you are failing to interest users into stay on the site.
Similar to the high bounce rate, if you have a low average session duration, look to improve your page’s content as well as navigation and links so users will spend more time on the site.
It is often said that most mobile users will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and in a fast-paced age, that’s very understandable. There is nothing more frustrating to a potential user than waiting what feels like a lifetime to access your website, it’s often a deal-breaker which can lose you a sale or even a user altogether. Using Google’s Page Speed Insights is one of the most effective ways to evaluate your page loading times for technical issues otherwise use your best judgement! If it feels slow to you, maybe look to make some changes.
Crawl Errors can be both server-side and at the URL level where crawlers have trouble accessing or reading your site. These can be found on search console under the coverage section which offers details on all issues involved. Having a significant amount of errors on your site such as 404s or infinite redirects will discourage users from using the site because of continuous push back. It’s best to keep your number of crawl errors to a minimum.
Identifying your crawl errors is vital to keeping your website running smoothly and your SEO campaign will be negatively affected by errors. Having a dedicated 404 page and applying the correct methods for fixing you any errors will lead to positive indicators.
Over the last ten years, SEOs have seen a huge change in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with featured snippets, people also ask, local packs, and knowledge cards. This has changed the way users operate within Google with zero rank results and offering different approaches to gathering information. Checking how many of these features your site picks up is a great KPI as the search engine recognises your content as the most informative or as the best result.
Using premium tools, SEOs can discover how many and which SERP Features your site owns. Aiming to gain as many as you can reflect well on a site.
Hold off comparing your KPIs month to month because the majority of searches tend to be seasonal and can drastically change on a quick basis. For example, the keyword “Diamond Rings” will spike during the time before Christmas so you will find more valuable information on sales or traffic compared to the previous year than to the month before.
Also, researching the direction of searches on a tool like Google Trends is very important to understanding the changes in your performance. You may find that you’re selling more of a product because it was mentioned by a celebrity or perhaps your search traffic on a sports site has declined after the team has lost.
Overall there are many methods to measure you the performance of your SEO campaign but the 8 we’ve mentioned here are arguably the most reliable. Always aim to use a mix of these factors when evaluating your SEO on a whole because one might not tell the whole story.
If you’re looking to improve your SEO or digital campaign then contact one of our friendly marketing experts at HROC for advice today!