Let’s first address the elephant in the room:
SEO is a long-term game, period.
However, due to the long-term nature of the channel, it’s a very common concern of marketing executives and managers to doubt the progress of their SEO campaign—or to think that their SEO simply doesn’t bring anything at all.
So, how can we know that our SEO efforts (or those of our SEO agency / partner) are working?
Below are a few pointers on how we can measure SEO results and progress, and how we should evaluate them properly.
Signs Your SEO Agency is Helping You
Below are some of the important metrics to monitor the performance of your SEO campaign.
Whether you are working with an SEO company, or implementing SEO on your own, these metrics will be integral in knowing whether your SEO is working according to plan.
The most obvious—and everyone’s favorite— SEO metric: keyword ranking. In general, there are two main principles in monitoring keyword rankings:
- Find out which keywords you already rank for. There might be keywords that are already in your target keyword list, but your site is nowhere to be found. On the other hand, there might be keywords you didn’t target but you rank for them anyway. You can adjust your strategy based on these findings.
- Whether your site is rising in rankings. For keywords that already rank, you should climb steadily. If the ranking stalls for several months, or worse, declines, then there’s something wrong with your SEO efforts.
2. Organic Traffic
For most of us, the main objective of SEO is to improve organic search traffic. By monitoring our organic search traffic over time, we can have clearer insights into how effective the SEO campaign is.
You can use Google Analytics to keep track of organic traffic, and as with your keyword rankings, the organic traffic should increase steadily.
If your organic traffic isn’t improving—especially if your ranking is improving— then you need to evaluate your SEO and content marketing strategy.
3. Link Profile
One of the most important factors affecting your website’s ranking on the SERP is link profile, especially the backlinks profile.
In general, however, we should monitor all three aspects of the link profile:
- Internal linking structure, that is how you link between different pages in your site
- Outbound links, how you link to third-party sites. This metric can give your website some context and can indirectly help with ranking
- Inbound links, or backlinks. Links pointing at your site from third-party sites.
We should monitor the quantity of these links, how they grow over time, the quality of third-party sites, and more. If they are getting better both in quantity and quality, then your SEO should naturally be performing well.
If, on the other hand, you get a lot of incoming links from low-quality sites (or too few links from high-quality sites), then you need to adjust your strategy. In general, aim for a minimum of 5-6 high-quality links every month.
4. Page Indexing Metrics
If your site isn’t indexed by Google and the other search engines, it won’t rank at all, period.
Check whether all of your pages are properly crawled and indexed, and be sure to check whether or not there’s any penalty assigned to your domain.
Various SEO tools (i.e. SEMRush or Ahrefs) can help you check for crawl and indexation errors. Find these errors, and fix them accordingly.
Some of the more common issues related to crawling and indexation errors are:
- Errors in your robots.txt file
- Duplicate content and broken redirects
- Un-optimized XML sitemap
- Broken links (inbound and outbound)
- 500 and 404 errors
5. User Experience Metrics
On the other hand, these UX-related metrics will also affect whether you can achieve the end goal of SEO: increased conversion rates and volumes.
We should at the very least monitor the click-through rate of our organic search results (especially when they already ranking fairly high), bounce rate, and dwell time.
Factors that might impact UX metrics include:
- Page load speed: If your page is slow to load, you will get an inflated bounce rate.
- Mobile-responsiveness: A majority of searches today come from mobile devices.
- User interface: fairly self-explanatory, this relates to whether your site is designed well according to the current trends, whether your content is structured properly, etc.
6. Conversion Rate
While the first objective of improving rankings is to get more organic traffic, the end goal of SEO should always be to generate actual sales revenue.
Different websites can have different business and revenue models. As a result, organic search traffic can contribute differently to revenue.
First, define this contribution, and then track the conversion rate.
You can use various tools such as Google Analytics to track conversions. In Analytics, you do this by setting up goals.
In general, here are some common benchmarks for conversion rates:
- If the conversion rate from organic search is between 0 percent and 1 percent, you need a major overhaul to your SEO strategy.
- If you are not an eCommerce site and your website functions mainly as lead generation device, then a conversion rate between 1-and-3 percent is considered reasonable, but with upside remaining.
- Conversion rates above 3.5% are considered very good
Due to the nature of SEO as a long-term game, it’s very important to continuously monitor your progress, evaluate the different metrics, and make adjustments according to these insights.
Consistency is the key to success in SEO, be patient, know what to expect, but continuously keep track of your progress.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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