Setting KPIs and agreeing on how to measure success is a vital step when developing an SEO strategy. It’s important that everyone involved, client and agency, are on board and on the same page when it comes to tracking performance and managing expectations. Even if you manage your strategy internally, the team should be aware of what the final goal is and how they are going to measure performance.
To be able to judge success properly you need to set clear goals and KPIs. It’s important to understand the difference between goals and KPIs as they are not the same. A goal is a more broad company or business objective whereas the KPI is more exact and specific to the task or strategy and helps to measure progress towards the strategic goal. For instance, the business goal can be to increase online sales by 10% by the end of the year, while one of the KPIs to achieve it could be to improve average rankings on a specific category of your website by X positions (Improve average position for the sofas category by 4 positions), or alternatively, it could measure it at page level too (Google Search Console is a great tool to track this).
An SEO strategy, and hence the KPIs around it, need to be in line with the overall business strategy and work towards reaching the main goals.
There are several factors or metrics that influence the SEO process and performance and what you pick will depend on your type of business and website and, of course, the main goals you set. There are different ways in which we can track the performance of the SEO strategy. Below we explain the ones we use:
Organic traffic refers to the visitors that come to your website naturally rather than via paid traffic (PPC). They find you based on the keywords you are ranking for. Traffic is a very common metric as every website can measure this. The logic is that if you increase traffic, this will increase sales and ultimately revenue. Although it’s not as simple as that and there are many other factors involved. If the strategy is working and the balance between content, technical and off-site is right this will lead into getting good rankings, increase impressions, then make users click on your pages on SERPs results bringing you more traffic.
Note: Don’t confuse organic traffic with direct traffic which are the visitors that come straight to your website because they’ve typed the URL on their browsers, without using search engines.
Keyword rankings refer to your web page’s position on SERPs for a specific keyword search query. As part of every strategy it’s crucial to know what terms or keywords you want to position your website for. That’s why the keyword research is one of the main components of an SEO strategy. A keyword strategy will let you know what keywords you are currently performing at, the gaps or where you are missing an opportunity in comparison to your competitors, plus potential new areas you can target.
Number of rankings
This refers to the total number of keywords your website appears on SERPs for. This metric can be misleading sometimes as it’s important to rank for relevant keywords. Ranking for more keywords than your competitor doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing better than them or that your website is performing better, as you can be ranking for random terms that are not related to your products or services. That’s why, as mentioned before, knowing what your strategy is and what keywords you’ll be targeting is one of the main things within your SEO strategy.
Conversions are the number of users that have completed a specific action on your website. This action can be several things dependant on what your website is dedicated to and what your KPIs are. All type of websites, and not only e-commerce ones, can (and should) set up their conversions to measure success. To do so, you’ll need to set up your conversions on Google Analytics which will give you the conversion rate (%) for each of the goals you set up.
There are several types of potential conversions that you can measure dependant on the type of website:
- Buying a product
- A specific action like calling your business or submitting a form
- Subscribe to a newsletter
- Download an asset
- Using a particular area of your site (click a specific button)
In summary, engaging with your website, which leads us to the last metric we use.
Here we are referring to the way a user interacts with a website. There are different aspects you should take into consideration when it comes to measuring engagement: time spent on the website, the user journey through your website, the bounce rate, page views by user… This will help you find out if your website is effective and working the way you want it to. The same way it will allow you to spot any issues with it (design, layout, speed, etc.).
In summary, metrics are tools you’ll use to be able to measure success and ultimately the ROI of your actions. Although SEO can seem like a long run game when it comes to bringing results back, it’s important to know you are following the right strategy and that you are on the right path. You can only know this by tracking your performance using the metrics you think are best for your type of action and strategy.