Tracking SEO metrics is a key for successful organic presence. If you don’t check top SEO metrics, you won’t be able to identify potential issues and react soon enough.
In this blog post, I’ll explain 13 SEO KPIs that you should start tracking today.
Almost all of these metrics are available in Google Analytics and Google Search Console so you won’t need to spend a dollar on tracking and measuring.
When you carefully read this blog post, you’ll see that everything leads to two things - user experience and amazing content.
Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors but bear in mind that Google can split spammy links and high-quality links, so you can’t share spam and “build backlinks” that way.
Acquiring as many as possible natural and quality backlinks should be your main goal. As you can see from the research, pages with the highest total backlinks tend to get top ranks.
There are so many tools where you can track how many links you acquire over the time.
Most of them are paid, but there’s one free tool where you can check backlinks - Google Search Console.
Here, I’ll show you how to check how many backlinks you have. For example, open Google Search Console and in the Search Traffic section, click on Links to Your Site.
There, you’ll see how many backlinks your site has.
It actually tells you briefly:
Now, click on More in the Who links the most section because that’s what you’re looking for.
The next step is to click on Download latest links and you’ll have to choose between downloading it in a CSV file or seeing the list in Google Docs.
This way, you check the number of backlinks without any costs.
Furthermore, you can create graphs like the following one:
But, I won’t repeat myself because I’ve already explained it here.
These two metrics are invented at Moz, one of the best SEO software companies in the world.
Having a too high Domain Authority means that your website should rank high on search engines.
It’s not always 100% sure because sometimes domain with a lower DA might outrank those with a high DA.
Another metric called Page Authority predicts how well a specific page should rank on search engines.
Both these metrics are based on a logarithmic scale meaning that it’s easier to grow your DA and PA from 30 to 40 than from 60 to 70. A maximum number is 100.
Checking Moz metrics is available by opening Open Site Explorer. As example, I’ll enter hubspot.com since they have more than 24M visits every month, and a good portion of traffic is organic - almost 40% - so they must have a high DA and PA.
As you could expect, they have 89 Domain Authority and also their homepage has a Page Authority of 72.
A large number of backlinks and high DA is unquestionably great, but the only thing that matters is the number of organic visits.
This metric makes sure your SEO efforts works as you wish. Checking the number of organic visits is possible in two ways.
Firstly, click on Acquisition - All Traffic - Channels and look for the Organic row.
As you can see, the photo say the site from the example has a total of 10,000 visits.
Clicking on Organic will lead you to the list of specific pages.
Another way is preferable when you want to analyze your site a bit detailed. It’s actually segmenting your visits by displaying only the organic traffic.
For example, you can see demographics data about your visitors.
The photo above suggests that the most visitors are actually males between 25 - 34. Once you know that, you can adjust your site to that public.
We define bounce rate as the percentage of visitors who come to your site and leave without any further interactions. Bounce rate depends on the type of the website. Here’s what your average bounce rate should be:
Next, having a high bounce rate is an indicator that your content isn’t relevant to those who visit your site.
In Google’s eyes, the user experience is the most important, and having extremely high bounce means that there’s no UX. If you wish to check your bounce rates, here’s how.
In Google Analytics click on Landing Pages (Behaviour - Site Content).
There, you’ll see the list of landing pages and its bounce rates.
As you can see, the average bounce rate for this example is 79.86%.
Next, you can go in Acquisition - All Traffic - Channels and check the bounce rate for the organic channel.
The example above shows that organic bounce rate is 83.89% which means it’s a bit higher than the average.
Your next step could be checking which pages have higher bounce rate. You can see it by clicking on Organic.
As you can see, even three landing pages (in top 10 visited) have bounce rate above 90% while average bounce rate is 79.86%.
This means reducing bounce rate should be your top priority for these three pages (4th, 5th, 9th).
Having a fast website is also an indicator of great UX.
If you’re not a developer and you think that this topic isn’t for you - no worries, you’re wrong. There are so many tools that let you analyze your site.
Firstly, open Pingdom and enter your URL and click on START TEST.
For example, Jellymetrics is faster than 89% sites. However, that’s only a homepage so you maybe you should consider checking specific pages.
In Google Analytics, click on Site Speed - Overview (Behaviour).
There, you can see what GA says for your average page load time based on the sample.
Next, you can see the list of specific pages and its average page load time by clicking on Page Timings in the menu.
If you look carefully, you’ll see which pages are the slowest and which are not.
Anyway, Google has built a tool called Google PageSpeed Insights where you can easily see which suggestions you should make.
However, choose Speed Suggestions from the menu and you’ll see:
Simply said, start from top visited pages and pages who have the lowest score.
Business owners are so happy when search crawlers visit their site and index it. Checking how many pages are indexed is available in Google Search Console.
Firstly, click on Index Status in Google Index menu. Next, you’ll see something like this.
There, you can see how many pages is totally indexed, but also, you can see download chart data which lets you do custom calculations in Google Sheet.
Anyway, another way of checking how many indexed pages you got index is - Google. Open Google and search for the following:
For example, it says that Jellymetrics has a total of 270 indexed pages. Getting into Google’s Index is sometimes a nightmare for new bloggers.
They want to see their new blog in Google, but they don’t understand that a new site can’t rank so high at first.
However, there’s a way of sending a crawler manually, but still, you won’t see high rankings at first.
In an ideal world, a visitor should open dozens of pages before leaving, but the reality is completely different.
Pages per Visit tells Google that your site and UX are worth spending time. In Google Analytics, you only have to open a dashboard and there will be the average Pages per Visit.
Digging deeper is available by clicking on Behaviour - Landing pages where you can get the list of landing pages with highest Pages per Visit metric.
Pages per Session is closely related to Bounce Rate because when someone leaves you after loading.
In other words, it means he’s not interested in your content so your bounce rate will be higher, and obviously, Pages per Session will be lower.
Imagine that you currently rank on the #1 position for the specific query, but the #2 result is more attractive and people are actually clicking more on it. What would happen?
Your site would go down because CTR is very important. For example, Rand Fishkin ranked at the position #7 for the term IMEC LAB.
After that, he asked Twitter users to search for “IMTEC Lab” and click on his link.
His blog ranked at the position #1.
It appears that CTR is a strong Google ranking factor. In other words, you should write as much as possible attractive headline and description because that’s what influence the most.
Checking queries and CTRs is available in Google Search Console. You have to click on Search Traffic - Search Analytics and you’ll see your queries.
This also can a great source of new ideas because sometimes you’ll rank for some long-tail keyword well, but maybe it would be better to write a new article about it.
In the introduction, I said that everything about SEO leads to the user experience.
Simply said, the number of returning visitors will tell you how much visitors are satisfied with your content and also you’ll know if they memorize your site.
Google tends to reward sites with a great UX and the number of returning visitors is without any questions a great way of checking it.
You can see New Visitor vs Returning Visitor ratio in the Google Analytics dashboard.
Honestly, I don’t know what is an ideal ratio, but I’m pretty sure that if the percentage of returning visitors is too much it would mean that you’re not getting enough new visitors which isn’t good.
On the other side, having too low returning visitor percentage means that something is wrong with your content since people don’t return again on your site.
However, the stats in the dashboard is actually just an average, so for getting more details, you could click on Behaviour - Site Content - Landing Pages.
Just look at % New Sessions column and you’ll see how many people are actually new visitors. The same column is also available in Channels page.
Increasing number of organic search is surely a great thing. But, all SEO efforts and generally the Internet business is all about leads and conversions.
Here, I won’t talk about leads because I want to show you how to analyze conversions by people who come to your site from search engines.
Firstly, I think you should segment your customers and display only organic traffic. Next, go to Behaviour - Site Content - Landing Pages and see which landing pages are top converting.
Here, you can see that the third row has the highest conversion rate.
What does it mean? It means that you should focus on similar products and check if you can grow their rankings.
Maybe a very related product ranks too low in Google so it doesn’t get enough conversions.
Furthermore, the photo below shows that it’s possible to have almost zero conversions by visitors from Germany and France.
It looks that visitors from these two countries aren’t satisfied at all so maybe your business could grow if you optimize your site by adding new languages, implementing lower shipping costs, etc.
Visits from these two countries actually have a higher bounce rate so your SEO ranking may go down because of that.
Every business owner loves when Google crawlers visit his site. Did you know that you can check how many pages per day are crawled by Google. You can do it by opening Google Search Console, and click on Crawl - Crawl Stats.
There, you’ll see three sections:
The first section is actually what you’re looking for and it looks like the following.
Simply said, the highest number of pages that the site from the example was crawled is 368. The average number is 156.
Now, this number doesn’t mean so much for you if you don’t know how many pages does your site have indexed.
Check out the next image - site from the next example has 2,569 pages crawled per day.
In other words, if you have too much indexed pages and a very low number of crawled pages per day then you should check Crawl Errors link in GSC.
Total impressions actually tell you to have many times does your site appear in Google Search.
Obviously, you want to see the largest number of total impressions and here’s how to check the number.
In Google Search Console menu, click on Search Analytics - Search Traffic.
Next, you have to choose Impression and you’ll see how many times your site appeared in the past.
You can also display impressions by pages, so you can see the list of pages with the most impressions.
Also, you can display CTR, clicks, and positions.
Anyway, when you link Google Analytics and Google Search Console, checking the number of impressions is also available in Google Analytics.
In the menu, click on Acquisition - Search Console - Queries.
Here’s how it looks.
As you can see, trends are the same like in Google Search Console so it’s up to you where do you want to analyze.
Since mobile responsivity became a ranking factor you have no other choice than analyzing your mobile traffic and devices that visitors use.
Firstly, you should segment the traffic and display only organic.
After that, you can see how many visits do you have from the specific mobile device.
The photo above suggests that you should check how optimized your site is for iPhone devices because it’s obvious that almost half of the mobile visitors use it.
You can also analyze your site in Google Mobile-Friendly Test. There, you can see if there’s anything to improve.
Again, don’t forget that SEO is about UX and relevance.
As you could see, tracking all these metrics is free and so there’s no reason to avoid tracking.
Sometimes it might be boring, but without tracking you won’t be able to fix potential issues.
I don’t check all these metrics every day and I’m sure you won’t do it too, but checking every few days - yes.
I usually check the number of organic traffic, total backlinks, conversion rate, and total impressions. As for DA and PA, Moz updates it every 30 - 40 days, so it’s not necessary to check often.