A single metric like keyword rankings cannot wholesomely describe the results of your digital marketing strategy. In order to see the "big picture" the key is to test multiple metrics, generally referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs).
Metrics, or KPIs, represent the hard numbers extracted from your website data. The majority of this data can be obtained using tools like the basic Google Analytics or more advanced tools.
Today, we are going to highlight the six SEO metrics you should review to get a better understanding of the overall health and performance of your website.
1. Keyword Ranking: How are People Finding Me?
Once upon a time, Google was a kind and gentle search engine that provided SEOs with keyword ranking and traffic data. Simply log in to Google Analytics and you could see exactly what people were searching to find your site. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. If you connect Search Console and Analytics you will get some keyword data, but nothing like before. Tracking keywords is more important for that reason as it will enable us to determine:
Whether you're focusing on the right keywords
If none of your blog post rank for their target keywords, then you need to focus on less competitive keywords or building more authority.
Whether you're growing with time
All keywords should slowly improve their ranking as you acquire back links and the site gains more trust. If this is not the case, then something is definitely wrong with your SEO plan.
Whether you're moving "link juice" well
The easiest way to test this is by creating a new blog post and linking to it from other pages on your site. If you have a strong domain, you should see a quick boost in the initial positioning for your keywords and in the case of long-tail terms, you can even rank in the top three with only internal links if your site has enough juice flowing through it.
2. Linking Root Domains: You Have Da Juice?
It is obvious that search rankings have become more dependent upon the on-page SEO factors in addition to user interaction patterns but even so, one of the most important factors currently is back links. They play a major role in ranking and will continue to dominate in the near future. This means that your SEO strategy needs to include link building if you want to become an authority in your industry.
Regardless of how you decide to obtain new links, you need to make sure you have identified and are tracking key metrics life trust flow, domain authority, and topical relevance. Not only should you track these metrics but they should be instrumental in planning your link building strategy.
3. Organic Search Traffic: Will They Come?
Is your organic traffic increasing month over month? Are the above actions leading to more visitors to your website? A free tool like Google Analytics is all you need to track organic traffic so you have no excuse not to do so. Aside from looking at your organic growth, take some time to find out where else traffic is coming from. Did that last link you got placed to your site send a boat load of traffic? Make a note of it and look for similar link ops.
4. Average Time on Page: Do They Like It?
What do visitors actually do when they get to a page they don't like or are not interested in? They exit promptly. On the other hand, if the page is relevant and interesting to the visitor, they are likely to spend more time on it.
Your main goal should be to entice your visitors with quality content that keeps them engaged. The longer they spend on a page the more time you have to tell them a story, show them your value, or intrigue them to take an action resulting in a conversion.
It's important to note that even social networks are taking time on page into consideration within their algorithms (who sees your posts without paying for a boost), so it should be clear that relevant, high-quality content is something to strive for.
5. Pages per Visitor: Driving Them into Your Funnel?
Earlier we touched on internal linking and how it creates a flow of link juice, giving power to newly published pages on your site. The other benefit of internal linking is to help site visitors find information they want or need that supplements information found on the page they're on. If you notice that visitors are not visiting more than one page, you should reconsider how your internal links are being setup and how you can make them more valuable to your visitors.
Two effective ways to entice more internal pages views are:
Adding a related post section to the sidebar or bottom area of your blog post.
Adding more internal links to each article, specifically using terms or acronyms that may not be familiar to the reader as the anchor text.
6. Returning Users: Did You Make a Great First Impression?
A lot of businesses invest heavily into getting visitors to their content for the first time. Once you have them on your page, you need to follow through by providing content and resources that are exceptional.
While taking the extra time or dedicating resources to creating better quality content may seem counterproductive to some, it can actually save you money or at least increase your customer lifetime value when you keep them coming back for more. This is not a metric you hear discussed a lot but there is not a truer opinion of your content than rather or not they decide to come back for more. If your return traffic is low, you are either in an industry that is an exception to this rule or you need to take a long, hard, look at your content.
If you are not tracking these metrics and looking for ways to improve each of them, your SEO plan could use some work. It is easy to get caught up in rankings but at the end of the day, SEO is a go to marketing strategy because it delivers an ROI second to none. Is your campaign delivering? If not, start with the KPIs above to find the culprit.
Over to You
What is one metric that you track religiously for yourself or your clients?
I am fiercely competitive and passionate about SEO, which means working with myself and the Stellar SEO team will put you on the winning side. Nothing about SEO is guaranteed, but we make a habit of helping brands dominate, even in the most competitive of industries. Since 2012, my company, Stellar SEO, has become one of the most highly regarded names in Search Engine Optimization. Taking the unconventional route, my journey to becoming an SEO industry expert began after reading a magazine article with a "Best Business to Start" headline. Starting with no funding or prior business experience, I began researching everything I could about entrepreneurship and SEO. In the process, I personally tested every theory, piece of sales advice, and "proven" method to deliver effective link-building campaigns. I found that there is no one-size-fits-all method or magic guru tricks to link building.