SEO KPI: What You Should Be Monitoring
Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are metrics that marketing professionals use to evaluate the strategies they implement. By using these KPIs, you gain a direct, objective understanding of how your latest marketing campaign or overall marketing efforts are impacting your business.
To help you make sense of these metrics and understand exactly how effective you or your partner marketing agency has been, the Elevation Marketing team has put together a series of blog posts covering the main KPIs you should be monitoring. So far, we’ve covered paid media KPIs. Next up is SEO! Each SEO KPI below will help you better understand your efforts to appeal to Google’s SERPs, or search engine results pages. Let’s dive in!
The first SEO KPI we’re covering is organic sessions. Organic sessions answer a pretty important question: how many users were driven to your website via the organic traffic channel? In other words, how many visits to your site came via search engines like Google and Bing? An increase in organic sessions is a good sign that your business’s website is appearing more often in SERPs and your business is therefore being serviced to a larger pool of potential customers.
The keywords that each page on your site is ranking for matter a great deal when it comes to planning your marketing strategy. This makes keyword positioning a critical SEO KPI that you should be keeping a close eye on. Keyword positioning refers to how many keywords you’re ranking for and where you rank for those keywords. Page 1 matters most, as the vast majority of users will never look to page 2 and beyond for an answer to their search.
Still, identifying keywords you rank for on page 2 can be helpful as well for planning ahead in your SEO efforts. For instance, if your website is ranking on page 2 for a core keyword with higher buyer intent, it may be a keyword worth targeting in a future blog post or page. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your current keyword positioning, ask your marketing agency for a report. If you’re managing your SEO in-house, consider investing in a tool such as ahrefs to monitor your positioning.
SEO is a long-term strategy. That’s because rankings on search engine results pages are constantly shifting—otherwise, there’d never be any point in trying to rank for keywords at all!
While keyword positioning tells you how you’re doing at a given moment, keyword movement shows your trajectory in terms of SEO. Monitor whether you’re making progress on the keywords you want to rank for. If you’re falling short, it may be a sign that you should refocus your efforts dedicated to particular keywords.
Branded vs. Non-Branded Searches
Taking note of branded and non-branded searches leading to your site is important for understanding how your marketing efforts are performing. Branded searches occur when a user enters a keyword that includes part or all of your business’s name. Non-branded searches, then, refer to searches using a term that doesn’t reference your business.
When it comes to your SEO optimization efforts, the goal, generally, is to improve your ranking in non-branded searches. This is because SEO aims to put your business in front of more users who may not have heard of your business otherwise. If a user searches using a branded term, they were already aware of your company and were almost certainly intending to visit your website anyway.
In other words, ranking for more non-branded searches is a great sign that your SEO strategy is paying off. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to rank for anything other than branded terms, it may be time to take another look at what keywords you’re targeting for your website.
Ultimately, the main goal of SEO is to drive leads that will convert to sales for your business. To that end, leads and conversions are one of the most important SEO KPIs to monitor for your business.
This metric refers to actions taken by potential customers that are visiting your website. This can include filling out a contact form, subscribing to your email list, connecting with your chatbot, or even making a purchase.
While having visitors read through your content is always nice, leads and conversions indicate that a visitor has a particular interest in your services or products. More leads and conversions from organic visitors is a great sign that your SEO efforts are paying off. On that note, we would be remiss to not encourage you to contact us today!
Bounce rate describes how often a user visits a page on your site and immediately leaves without performing any action (“bounces” from your site). A high bounce rate indicates that users who visit a page aren’t getting the information or result they wanted, and this hurts the page’s standing in the eyes of Google’s algorithm.
Bounces can happen for many reasons. Maybe the page wasn’t relevant to that visitor, or the site seemed spammy or untrustworthy. Maybe they were frustrated by the navigation or a slow load time (more on that later on).
Whatever the reason, around half of sessions will end with a user bouncing away from the page. If some of your pages are seeing particularly high bounce rates, it’s a good idea to audit those pages and determine why visitors aren’t sticking around.
Pages Per Session
This SEO KPI tells you how many pages a typical visitor will navigate to on your site in a single session. Similar to bounce rate, pages per session gives you an idea of the perceived quality and value of your website in the eyes of visitors.
Keep in mind that a “high” or “low” amount of pages per session can vary greatly between businesses and websites. If your website only has a couple of pages, a lower amount isn’t a bad thing. However, if you expect visitors to browse products and make purchases, a lower amount of pages per session is more of a concern.
Page Load Time
Nobody likes a slow website. And when we say nobody, we really mean nobody—humans and bots alike. Page load time is an important SEO KPI because it impacts many other KPIs in some way or another. For instance, poor loading times will cause your website to lose favor in the eyes of search engine algorithms, impacting your keyword rankings.
Poor load times can also lead to an elevated bounce rate and reduced pages per session—because who wants to navigate to more pages on a website that took too long loading in the first place? Keep a close watch on your websites loading times, as a move in the wrong direction here can have a major impact on your SEO performance overall.
Top Exit Pages
While keyword positioning and page views are important for understanding which pages are drawing visitors to your site, it’s also important to monitor where they make their exit. Every user will ultimately leave your site, of course—and knowing where they leave from is very important. For instance, if your contact us page is your top exit page, it indicates that users are finding what they want and that your site’s architecture is leading them to a page where they’re likely to become a lead or conversion.
If your home page is near the top of the list, however, you’re not doing a good job keeping visitors on your site. This can occur for a number of reasons, so be sure to constantly assess your top exit pages and identify the reasons why visitors may be leaving from pages that should be keeping them around.
A fairly straightforward metric, crawl errors occur when search engine crawlers are unable to fully access your website and its content. If Google or other search engine crawlers have difficulties reading your site, this will hurt your website’s SEO standing.
Any increase in crawl errors should be addressed immediately. Keep a close eye on crawl errors on your website and fix broken links as often as possible.
When someone else links to your website from an external site, a backlink is created. Earning backlinks can be a major boon to your website, as Google’s algorithm considers a higher number of backlinks to be a sign that the information on your website is valuable.
Backlinks can be difficult to earn, particularly if you’re just building your website or just starting to optimize it. But with an SEO team on your side, and by taking care to produce high-quality content, you should see a steady increase in backlinks to your website.
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SEO optimization can be just as much an art as it is a science. Still, by understanding these key metrics, you’ll be better able to analyze, evaluate, and improve your SEO strategy in order to put your business in front of more potential customers and clients.
For more digital marketing tips, be sure to follow our blog and catch up with us on our social accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. And don’t forget to stay tuned for our next post, when we conclude our series on marketing KPIs with a discussion of the content marketing statistics you’ll want to monitor!