There’s not a single professional athlete who’ll tell you that they don’t measure their progress. Athletes track minute details every day as they practice because they know that success doesn’t happen overnight; it can take months and even years to perfect their routines. And SEO success, which hopefully comes faster, calls for a similar amount of tracking.
To rank higher in search engine results, brands have to create consistent, high-quality SEO content that keeps customers coming back, and that means measuring their progress and adjusting their strategy if necessary. The stakes with SEO might be different — there’s no gold medal — but you’re competing against other businesses for leads, so the stakes are still very high.
Here are seven metrics you can use to track your SEO strategy’s progress.
1. Keyword Rankings
When you designed your SEO strategy, you did keyword research and chose the best keywords to focus on for your target audience. Now, measure how your site ranks by doing a Google search of those keywords. The search engine results will determine how your site ranks among your competitors.
The goal is to appear on the first page, where you will have the most opportunity to earn more organic traffic to your site. And, if you’re using SEO tools, like SEMRush, for example, you should take note of where you rank for certain keywords so you can determine if your rank is climbing over time.
2. Organic Traffic
Organic traffic refers to the number of visitors you drive to your website after you show up in their online search.
If you’re working with an athlete who wants to appear on the first page of a search for “best basketball player 2021,” then ideally, your content should be optimized for those keywords. The person who searches those keywords wants that exact information, and if your site provides that for them, it will increase traffic to your site.
Google Analytics will segment the sources of your organic traffic — what search engines people use to find you, their geographic location, and the time of the day they searched. This information can show you where your unique and returning visitors are coming from, so you can target those sources for more traffic later.
3. Time Spent on Page
Getting users to your site is only the first step — you also want them to stick around a while. Create educational content that they want to consume. When users search for keywords in a search engine and your site pops up, do they find the information they want? If your content strategy attracts people and maintains them for more time, your strategy is effective.
To grow this metric, experiment with both short and long-form content to see what keeps people on your site longer. Use visuals and video, if possible, as those two forms of content are notorious for increased engagement.
If your site appears on the first page of search results, how many people click through to your site? The percentage of users who see your site pop up on their results and click to your site is your click-through rate (CTR). If your site provides users with the information they are seeking out, your CTR will increase consistently.
SEO metrics are interconnected; the higher your keyword ranking is, the more potential your CTR has to increase.
5. Bounce Rate
You know what it’s like when you go into a shop and you don’t find any products that interest you? You don’t purchase or pick up an item to take a closer look at; you just survey the room and then turn around and leave.
Bounce rate is similar in that it measures how many people visit your site and don’t interact with any of your content. They come; they go. They don’t click on any of your links. A high bounce rate may mean you need to make your site more user-friendly, and you need to be better at correlating your content to the keywords you want it to rank for.
Use free tools like CWVIQ that can alert you when your site has a high loading time or is down for visitors since this can also contribute to a high bounce rate.
6. Returning Visitors
Everyone has a go-to order at their favorite restaurant. You know that every time you order it, it’s going to be good. The same is true for returning visitors to your website. If people come back regularly, it means you’re doing something right — you’re providing a service or content that attracts new visitors and retains previous ones too.
If your SEO is effective, all someone has to do is search a term and find your content one time. If they click through and actually check out your content and find that it feeds a particular need of theirs, they’ll be more inclined to return again and again.
7. Domain Authority
How often does your domain appear in search results for users compared to your competitors? Domain authority predicts how often your site will pop up for the keywords that users search — the better your keyword ranking, the better your domain authority.
Google doesn’t rely on domain authority when it ranks your site, but it’s a good metric to keep track of because it shows you how you’re doing in relation to your competition.
People only spend about nine seconds looking at search engine results before they click on a link. You want users to find you, not your competitors, on the first page of their search results.
These seven metrics — keyword rankings, organic traffic, time spent on page, CTR, bounce rate, returning visitors, and domain authority — can help you measure and grow your SEO strategy to make sure people come to your site first and stay there.