Key SEO KPIs: SEO Performance Tracking & Top Metrics To Monitor

Matt Burns
LinkedIn

Matt is Marwick Marketing's Division Leader for SEO & Web Development and has over a decade of digital marketing experience in everything from local to national and international campaigns. He's led high impact strategies for major brands and currently oversees Marwick's global SEO and Web services.

When it comes to measuring organic search marketing success, setting clear SEO KPIs with your internal teams and SEO agency is vital.

Without the right SEO tracking in place, measuring your SEO performance becomes more difficult as your campaigns continue, and the chances of you being able to interpret a clear ROI from your SEO campaigns starts to fade.

So what should you be tracking? And how exactly do you measure ROI from SEO?

Our SEO Division Lead, Matt Burns, digs into the Key Performance Indicators that we use daily with our clients to help track and measure SEO performance.

 

Let’s get started…

 

Today, we’re going to talk about the 6 main metrics we track that help paint a clear picture of an SEO campaign’s success over time.

Some of these are short term SEO KPIs.

The ultimate end goal of any SEO strategy, of course, is to increase your sales or conversions.

And whilst that’s easy to track and measure, it’s also a long term goal.

As we know, SEO is a long term channel, and it takes time and consistent efforts in the right areas to compound results and get us to that ultimate goal.

So some of these SEO KPIs are stepping stones.

Ways to measure whether or not we’re heading in the right direction.

With that being said, here are the top metrics we recommend tracking in order to measure SEO success at every stage in your campaign.

 

1. Organic Search Impressions

What It Is:

This is the number of times a URL from your website has appeared in organic search results pages.

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

Google Search Console gives us powerful insights into a domain’s total impressions (as well as clicks, CTR and average position!) over time.

For more specific insights, you can also dig deeper.

Filtering by “Page – URLs Containing” is a favorite of ours, as it allows us to see detailed impression data and query data about different sections of a site.

 

For example, if we have a website selling cars with a URL structure like:

example.com/ford/mustangs-for-sale

example.com/ford/escorts-for-sale

example.com/ford/f150s-for-sale

 

… and we’ve invested a lot of time and energy focusing onpage and offpage optimization around Ford pages and terms, filtering by URL Containing “/ford/” would give us a full picture of how that’s affected impressions in organic search for that entire directory.

 

Why We Care:

Identifying and targeting the right headline keywords is great.

Good keyword research can get you that data and help you select the right keywords for your campaign.

But broad, high traffic headline keywords usually don’t represent the biggest organic search opportunities.

Often, the sum total of the search volume for the thousands of other smaller or more long tail keywords is far greater than the monthly search volume of the biggest term.

Going back to the above example, “used Ford cars” would be a great main term for us to track for example.com.

It has 1,900 searches per month in the US and 11,000 searches per month globally.

But let’s take a look at the current top ranking URLs for this keyword…

semrush keyword research

 

Whilst there might be 11,000 searches per month for the main “used Ford cars” term, there are also thousands of other terms that our target page will also be gaining traction for.

In fact, there are 11,000 different variations of that keyword and a further 3,800 very similarly related keywords, with monthly search volumes of 139,100 and 3,800,000 respectively:

 

keyword variations

 

And because topical relevancy and semantics are so important in SEO, anything you do to improve “used Ford cars” is almost certain to impact many of these keywords too.

So if we only track the performance of “used Ford cars”, we’re leaving hundreds of thousands of potential monthly visitors out of our attribution and reporting, and likely missing some key insights and action points for future campaigns.

 

2. Organic Keyword Coverage

What It Is:

This is the total number of unique organic keywords for which your site can be found in Google.

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

SEMRush.

organic keyword growth over time

Why We Care:

Adding new content to a site, building new pages or sections, improving a site’s technical SEO health, improving its structure and internal and external linking, are all things that allow us to create new opportunities for that site to rank for additional keywords that it wasn’t able to rank for before.

By expanding the number of keywords that the site has visibility for in organic search, we’re increasing the likelihood that an interested user will see and click on our target domain in the SERPs.

Our SEO campaigns always look to continually expand our clients’ reach in organic search and improve visibility across your niche and target audience.

 

3. Organic Traffic

What It Is:

This one is probably the most straightforward and easiest SEO metric to understand, out of this whole roundup.

Organic Traffic is the number of people who click onto your site from an organic search result.

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful data analytics tool that records and collects data about how many people visit your website and what they do when they get there.

There are many, many useful and insightful reports and sections inside Google Analytics, but to get an overview of your organic traffic, we recommend going to Acquisition – All Traffic – Channels – Organic Search.

 

organic search traffic

 

Why We Care:

Changes in the number of keywords your site can be found for, or changes in the number of times your site appears in organic search results are great.

But any SEO agency can get you 1,000,000 impressions in the #100 position, but no one is clicking on the 100th result.

Increases or decreases in organic search traffic over time can give us insights into the direct effect that these movements have had.

 

But be careful with this metric…

Don’t forget to account for seasonality and trends in search volume in your industry over time.

If you sell patio furniture, for example, your organic traffic will likely decrease in the winter regardless of how well your rankings and organic visibility continue to grow, as fewer people are searching for your products.

 

4. Goal Completions From Organic Traffic

What It Is:

Another great feature of Google Analytics is the ability to define actions that users take which you feel are of value to your business.

This could be something simple like buying a product or filling out a form, or viewing a key page or area of your site, or something more complex such as calling your phone number or signing up for your email list.

You can set these actions up as Goals in Google Analytics, and record each time a user completes these desirable actions.

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

Google Analytics.

Conversions – Goals – Overview 

Apply segment: “Organic Traffic”

tracking goal completions from organic search traffic

 

Why We Care:

These goals give us insight into the numbers of website users who are making a conversion or completing a desired action.

With the correct goals defined and thorough tracking setup, we can see how the value of our total website traffic changes over time.

When we filter down by channel and view the number of goal completions from organic search traffic, we should be able to see an increase in the number of people converting who originate from organic search.

 

5. Organic Traffic User Engagement

What It Is:

There are lots of possible ways to measure how engaged your organic website traffic is with your content.

Generally, high level metrics such as average time on site, pageviews per visit and bounce rate are great starting points.

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

Google Analytics.

Audience – Overview.

Apply segment: “Organic Traffic”.

measuring user engagement in google analytics

 

Why We Care:

The better these metrics are, the more engaged the traffic that you’re attracting from organic search is and the more likely they are to eventually convert or to remember your brand.

 

6. Assisted Conversions From Organic Traffic

What It Is:

An “assisted” conversion, is a conversion that may not have happened, were it not for a given channel or source.

By default, Google Analytics (and almost all website data tracking tools), will attribute a Conversion to the channel that brought the user to the site on the same session when they made the conversion action.

But what about high ticket price ecommerce purchases? Or long purchase/sign up cycles?

 

Let’s take an engagement ring for example…

 

What are the chances of you Googling “engagement rings” and then buying a $5,000 ring from one of the websites you find right there and then.

Unlikely, right?

Chances are, you’ll click on multiple results.

Maybe even some ads.

Then you’ll come back to a few of them again multiple times over the course of potentially months, before you decide and make a purchase.

Over that time, you might come back to the same site via numerous other channels.

Maybe they’ll hit you with display remarketing and you’ll click the banner ad because you remember the name.

Maybe you’ll click a PPC ad or two.

Maybe you’ll see the same brand on a social media platform and click back through to their website again.

But if it weren’t for that initial organic search visit, would any of the subsequent visits, or the conversion, actually have happened?

 

Probably not.

 

So that first interaction you had with the site through organic search has value.

Whilst it might be that you clicked on an ad on Facebook for the session where you made the conversion, you wouldn’t have seen the ad if you hadn’t first found the site in organic search.

So the Assisted Conversions view gives you an idea of the role a specific channel (in this case, Organic Search) played in conversions that didn’t happen on that users very first visit to the site.

Which, for some businesses, can be most conversions!

 

Where To Find It / How To Measure It:

Google Analytics.

Conversions – Multi-Channel Funnels – Assisted Conversions

google analytics assisted conversions view

 

Why We Care:

When we’re chasing conversions – whether that’s a purchase or a contact submission – knowing and understanding your customers purchase cycle is key to making informed decisions in your marketing allocation.

Going back to the above “engagement ring” example… if we didn’t know this data, then we might think that Organic Search isn’t as important in our marketing mix.

Maybe we’ll even be tempted to pull some of our organic search budget into social media if that’s where we’re seeing last click conversions.

But those social media conversions would swiftly decline if we turned down focus on organic search, as the organic search visit is an important first step that makes the eventual conversion possible.

 

Conclusion

There are many ways to evaluate and analyze the performance of your SEO campaigns.

The SEO metrics outlined above are just a handful of our favorite KPIs that we routinely use with client campaigns to give them clear and measurable data points to track organic search growth over time.

A good SEO agency will always work with you in the initial months of your campaign, to understand your business and your goals, and formulate KPIs and SEO strategy around them.

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