Should Google rankings be a KPIs for an SEO campaign? How to measure increase in traffic? Should there be more conversions on your website? What are the key performance indicators that should be set for an SEO campaign?
Before hiring an SEO consultant or agency, it’s recommended you ask your consultant on how to measure SEO success. There are the potential damage that an irresponsible SEOs can do to your site.
So, how can you quantify SEO performance?
Now, let’s take a look at the metrics I use. Feel free to comment in the discussion box and add more of your own.
Keyword rankings are the most common form of SEO KPI. This is mostly agreed between SEOs and the client before the start of an SEO campaign. Keyword rankings for post and pages can be tracked using free applications.
- Is SEO Rankings a Good KPI?
Some times, it’s not SEO rankings that is the problem. It may be the lack of a sales copy or poor site layout that caused you poor sales and marketing. Keyword rankings can’t be the sole metric of success/failure of an SEO campaign.
Higher rankings do not mean higher conversions. I outranked all my competitors on another project, however, I had poor conversions on my site.
MOZ, an SEO authority has mentioned that rankings aren’t the end all of SEO campaigns.You’re may have high Google rankings, but poor conversion. Just ranking for keywords may get you targeted traffic, however, it won’t get you conversions in your sales funnels, email lists etc.
There’re so many other factors that convinced the user to enquire about your services. It could be the user experience, it could be design, it could be what you write on your articles.
User Acquisition Data
The increase in search visibility can be checked through a powerful and free tool such as Google analytics.
Through Google analytics, it’ll show you the quality of the traffic that’s coming into website through Google searches. Google analytics also allows you to track user behaviour, set up goals and lots of other cool stuff. Google analytics can help you filter out popular post or pages, and help with the decision making on which post or page to further optimize/delete/ rewrite.
If SEO is executed correctly, user acquisition from the search engines should be more targetted according to the desired niche or industry.
The above data can be seen in Google analytics. Direct means how many people are typing your domain name into your web browser directly. Social means how many are going to your website from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and etc.
Both number and quality of users from Google/ search engines can be tracked using Google analytics.
The Types of Landing Page Queries
The type of search queries that people are landing on your page should be tracked. This is tracked before and after of the SEO campaign. This done by looking at Google’s analytics and making a comparison from the previous user acquisition data from search engines to the “after SEO is implemented” data.
Your website might have a ton of traffic, but it might be un-targetted traffic. Upon executing an SEO campaign, your search traffic may decreases by 50%. That’s a huge drop. However, your user acquisition and traffic are from users that are actually looking for services/ products that you are offering. This is actually an improvement, instead of a de-provement.
Branding and Content Metrics
How can one measure the ROI in a quantitative form of the content you put out there then?
I don’t really think that one should be worried about measuring ROI on content put out all the time. That’s because content can come in the form of infographics, blog post or even video. It’s a qualitative subject. However, I having a good sense of metrics would be beneficial as well.
There are metrics that you can’t measure in terms of branding. What’s the price tag of a brand such as Coke and Nike? Yes, you can value how much their factories, systems, infrastructure and etc are worth in numeric terms. However can you measure the brand they’ve built over the years?
- Unique Page Views
Page views are one the most basic metrics for website traffic. Every time someone loads your page, that page gets a pageview. The problem with that is that there might be double counting for someone that hits the ‘back button’.
The solution: Unique page views.
Only one unique pageview is counted for each user, no matter how many times they view that page, so long as the views happen in a single 30-minute period (called a “session”) and from the same device.
- Average Time on Page – Tracking User Intent
This is a no brainer. Longer time spent on a blog post/ page, the more popular it is.
- The Percentage of Returning Users
New visitors means that you’re acquiring new visitors. Returning visitors can mean that the content you put out is informative and authoritative.
Time Spent & Bounce Rate
Time spent on a post or page measures how long it takes for someone to return to a SERP after clicking on a result. The higher someone spends on a single page or the website, the higher the page or website would be deemed as an authority by Google. (That’s common sense right?)
Secondly, bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) as opposed to than continuing on to view other pages within the same site.
Generally, a low bounce rate is a positive metric. One way to look at it is, a high time spent on a page, means that the page is delivery the content that the user wants. A good bounce rate is around 50%.
It can be taken in one or two ways.
- The page fulfilled his needs, hence he left the website.
- The page didn’t fulfill his needs, hence he left the website
Having a high bounce rate would suggest that you’re not delivering on the content beneath your titles. Hence, people might click through and leave immediately, leading to a low bounce rate. Google may deem your website low quality, and you won’t end up with strong search rankings.
Having relevant and quality content is good for user experience, and thus leading to a low bounce rate, and stronger search rankings.
A properly executed SEO campaign paired with a content marketing strategy can decrease the bounce rates.
Quantity and Quality of Backlinks
The quantity and the relevancy of backlinks matter. If you’re running a dog training website but you’re getting links from travel websites, and you’re not ranking, that may be your problem.
Social Media Engagement Metrics
- Social Shares
The number of social shares can be a metric of how popular your content is. Or how shareable it is.
- Comments and Engagement
Comment and engagement can show how personalized your brand is. The more personalized your brand is, the most comfortable people are willing to comment on your writings and blog post. (Read: Do comment away, I read everything, and I write everything here)
- Links to Your Post
Writing a useful blog post or a piece of information will attract links to your post or page in the long run. This one the metric that you can use to see if the post or page is relevant/ useful.
Lastly, technical metrics can make or break your site.
- Page Load Speed
Lower load times equals better user experience equals better SEO. That’s the general rule.
- The Number of Crawl Errors
- Mobile Friendliness – Yes or No?
This is a make or break. There was once I tested out another project with a non mobile theme. It resulted in a 33% lost in traffic overnight.
- Number of Broken Links
Broken links disrupt internal page rank and it’s bad for SEO. Redirects and fixing internal links will help with SEO performance.
How Often Should You Check For SEO KPIs and Performance Metrics?
Checking twice a month for SEO KPIs can be a good guideline. Google takes time to index and rankings don’t drop or increase overnight etc. These are all dependent on the domain authority website. Websites that are higher in authority and relevance in Google’s eyes do get indexed and crawled faster.
Offline Factors and Business Metrics
There are different metrics from SEO KPIs to business KPIs such as sales and conversions. You shouldn’t confuse them. Google rankings is an SEO KPI, whilst conversion into an email newsletter subscription, a sale, a lead is a business KPI.
This is why SEO rankings aren’t everything. Your website might be ranked higher but you can be converting two times lesser than your competitor. This can be due to various factors such as the marketing offer, the lack of a sales copy, the quality of images, the site layout, user experience, the content you put out on your website and etc.
Furthermore, your offline business practices can also affect your online results, for eg. the quality of your offline customer service.
Lastly, in the information economy, it’s going to be more about brand and trust, as opposed to an obsession with conversion rates. There are tons of guides out there, millions of websites, hundreds of services, why should the consumer choose you, over others?
Is it going to be high SEO rankings? I highly doubt so.