KPIs are an important part of SEO today. The reason is that a lot of agencies approach SEO differently. KPIs ensure that there is some degree of consistency to the results agencies can achieve through them.
But the problem is that not many agencies target the right KPIs. And also, the fact that not all KPIs have the same importance. Let’s look at the KPIs that are essential to track in an SEO engagement.
1. Identify Keyword Profile
Keywords are the foundation of any SEO campaign, and no agency will tell you otherwise. Building a keyword profile is one of the most important parts of an agency’s SEO process.
It depends on the type of customer and niche that you’re approaching. An agency must spend a lot of time and resources in this stage. It sets the tone for the rest of the process.
Highlight the most important keywords in the niche through research and testing. Further, maximize its advantages through selection. What you have now will be a list of keywords that have the best chances to perform.
Consistently doing this will ensure that your SEO processes have the best chance to succeed. It will also eliminate flat spots in your strategy.
2. Link Building
Another parameter for success is the type of links that you can build for your brand. Links are essential for today’s SEO engagements. Search engines tend to traverse through the links on your website to grade your website.
It is essential to have the best links possible on your website. These links should be from an authoritative source from your niche. It elevates your SEO metrics and improves your website authority as well.
Make it a point to audit your links on a regular basis. Some of the links might not be available as time goes on. Replace these with equivalent or better links from top websites.
You should also be mindful of dofollow links from your websites. They need to be as good as your website or better.
3. Page Load Time
Back in the day, load times were hardly a concern for ranking better. Improved internet coverage and other technological factors changed this. It has made loading speeds quicker across the board and hence a priority KPI.
Today, loading speeds are critical for websites to rank better on search results. The quicker your websites load, the better are chances for your website to rank higher. One reason why is that loading speed is directly equated to user experience today.
All search engines want their users to get the quickest results possible for themselves. And considering this aspect, loading speed is a top priority as KPIs. Just increasing your loading speed makes your overall website metrics significantly better.
4. Competitor Rankings
Another KPI that is critical for SEO engagements is competitor ranks. During the research phase, companies need to understand their competition. This includes details about their ranking profiles as well.
This is an important KPI because it can give you a lot of insights into the current market. Most brands can reverse engineer their rankings based on their competitor keywords.
A lot of agencies collectively take their competitor ranking keywords and break them down for their own use. This is accepted practice and is even encouraged. Fine-tuning this will elevate SEO metrics for the whole community.
The results are improved as a whole because users can get what they want on searches.
5. Keyword Ranking
While we saw how important keyword optimization is, something that is also critical is existing rankings. Before any engagement is started, preliminary recordings need to be made.
Agencies need to make a note of all the niche-related keywords on the website. It can give you insights into how the metrics are changing in response to the SEO process. Simply put, it ensures that you do not stray from your goal.
Also, you can periodically check if there needs to be a change in approach or SEO process. When some keywords do not improve as expected, you might need to make changes to your SEO strategy. As a KPI, this is invaluable for SEO agencies. It acts like a compass pointing in the right direction to take.
6. Crawl Rate
Crawl rate is how well the crawlers can establish a map of your website. This is what we call indexing. Indexing is important because it perfectly aligns with the function of search engine spiders.
Search engine results are directories that cater to different users. And indexing is a method search engines use to find the most relevant content to link to their users. Back in the day, indexing was slow and difficult.
Indexing a website could take months sometimes. But today, it is much quicker. For improved SEO metrics, you need to take responsibility for crawling as a KPI. The best course of action would be to ensure that regular crawl sessions are in place for your website, especially when you modify it.
7. Measure SEO ROI
ROI is perhaps the most important metric of all. This is a KPI that often separates mediocre companies from result-oriented ones. In simple terms, ROI is the return on your SEO investment.
This is a critical metric because it shows how much money your SEO process has brought you. Several agencies do not engage with this KPI. The reason is that producing positive ROI through SEO is difficult and not for everyone.
Ideally, if you’re looking to hire an agency, this should be part of your starting pitch. Make sure that they can give you a timeline of when they can be ROI-positive. Because if they can’t promise you that, it means they are not the right fit for you.
8. Estimate Goal Related Performance
There are many different ways through which an agency can estimate the performance of its SEO process. The question is – are they aligned to your goals? This is important because improved metrics that are not effective to you are wasted effort.
An agency might give you a picture that they’ve improved at several KPIs. But ultimately, if they are not going to help your company, then you can call them out on it. Here too, you need to outline the kind of goals that your company is looking at for the long-term.
Your SEO agency will select the appropriate metrics to implement in your engagement. This is, of course, with your consent. Periodically ensure that they are able to adhere to this set of KPIs. Giving you improved traffic when it has worse conversion ratios doesn’t do anything for your business.
9. Track Organic Traffic
As far as KPIs go, organic traffic is a sign of SEO process health. Organic traffic is the people who are interested in your brand without interacting with other paid content. This means they’re here exclusively through your website’s brand value and reach.
This is important because it sends you signals about how well your SEO process is delivering. It is also something that can help highlight flaws in your SEO metrics. Suppose you notice that a specific demographic is not clicking on your website organically. In that case, you might need to make it more appealing for them.
Organic traffic also forms a basis for calculating other important KPIs like SEO ROI and goal-related performance. You can get a bird’s eye view of your SEO processes from just analyzing your organic traffic.
10. Estimated Traffic
Before starting on an engagement, it is always good to have a traffic estimate for your website. A good agency will tell you based on percentage metrics how much your traffic will improve.
This is based on several factors – your niche, current traffic trends, global market trends, and goals. Estimated traffic is an important goal-setting KPI. It is useful long-term, especially when traffic is an important part of your goals.
Auditing your current traffic numbers keeps you on the right track for your SEO process. And this is exactly where estimated traffic can help your website. The closer your current traffic numbers get to your estimated traffic metric, the better it is.
11. Traffic Value
A KPI that needs to be established right at the start of the SEO process is traffic value. This can vary depending on the niche of the brand and other market factors. But this largely remains the same over a short period, so it’s a dependable metric.
Any professional digital marketing agency that you engage with will give you this right at the start. It denoted how valuable a single user is to your business. Several calculations are carried out based on this metric, and so it becomes critical to get this right.
You should note that fixing this metric is difficult, especially if you have a wide range of services. For example, if you have an HVAC company, installing a full-house system is more expensive than cleaning and maintenance.
12. Conversion Rates
While most metrics on this list are important, conversion rates reflect the state of your SEO process. Conversions are the number of people who turn from visitors to buyers on your website. Ideally, this needs to be as high as possible. A high conversion rate is a sign of health.
Some companies do not offer direct conversion rates as their KPIs. This could be because it is difficult to ensure consistently high conversion rates over time. Regardless, the onus should be on the customer to ask for this metric to be included.
Like ROI, this is a tough metric to deliver on. You can directly inference your data from this, which makes this very effective as well. And that is the reason why conversion metrics are critical and need to be part of every SEO engagement.
13. Cost Per Conversion
An important part of the conversion metric is determining the costs involved per count. This is as important as the conversion metric because it shows you how much you spent. And in long-term engagements, costs are more important.
Cost per conversion adds more data to the conversion statistic. You also get to see how much you’ve invested in your conversions. And this answers an important question about the SEO process that simple conversion rates do not.
High conversion rates are good, but it might not be as desirable if it comes at a high cost. The cost might not be a problem for larger companies, and they are used to spending huge amounts. But for companies that are growing, costs are definitely a factor. And this cost per conversion definitely helps.
14. Get Mobile Traffic Metrics
Mobile traffic has been gaining considerable momentum over the past few years. There are more powerful devices today coupled with high bandwidth internet making it easier for people.
Mobile traffic has beaten all the other sources of traffic today. It accounts for more than 50% of all intent traffic. This means that separate mobile traffic metrics are required to get the most out of your SEO process. Optimizing these could lead to more cost-effective solutions comparatively.
Specialized metrics can give you valuable insights into user behavior and choices. It helps align your website better to your demographic and get better results both short and long-term.
15. Average Session Duration
This number denotes how long an average user stays on your website. This is important to find because it helps you understand what your audience wants. It can be a helpful metric, especially when considering A/B testing of different pages and their response.
If a webpage or a website has a low session duration, it has a lack of compelling content. Or it could be because it is not aligned with your user interests at all. Regardless of the problem, it can show you where you need to put in more to get the most out of your webpage.
Generally, the existing session duration needs to be recorded before you start the SEO process. This will give you a good idea of how changes to your process are helping your website.
16. Bounce Rate
An important KPI of all website SEO is bounce rate. It happens when users leave the website in a short time and only after one page. It is usually measured as a percentage, and lower numbers are desirable.
The reasons why bounce happens are many. It could be because your website does not have the right keyword profile to get relevant users. Another reason could be usability issues where people are not able to navigate properly.
Regardless of the reasons, you need to ensure lower scores for better rankings. The lower your bounce rate is, the better your website metrics and quality are.
17. User Dwell Time
This is an SEO metric that measures a specific user interaction with your website. As a KPI, dwell time is often confused with on-page time.
On-page time measures how long a user is active on a page. But dwell time takes into account the on-page time and clicking back to search results. So, while there are similarities, they are not exactly the same.
Dwell time is an evolution of the on-page time KPI and it gives marketers a unique aspect of user interaction. Ideally, there should be a dwell time of more than 1 minute for each user.
18. Average Time On Page
Time on page has been one of the more long-standing SEO metrics for some time now. It is defined as the time a user spends on a particular web page. The reason is that it is dependable and gives you actionable metrics that you can use.
This has been a valid mechanic since the start of the SEO process. It is simple and gives you a good measure of how much a user interacts with a particular web page.
All SEO tools have this KPI, and even though it has been several years, you cannot leave this behind.
19. Pages Per Session
Pages per session is the number of pages that the user accessed in a session. This KPI is also pretty simple and straightforward. It gives you data about which are the pages most visited by your users.
As a metric, this is an indispensable part of your toolkit. The more pages a user navigates, the better it is for your website. A high page per session count indicates your website is relevant and easy to use.
On the other hand, low scores mean that you need to put in work for the pages users don’t visit.
20. Exit Pages
Exit pages are part of a newer SEO KPI strategy. It is defined as the number of user exits divided by the number of views for a page. The development of this KPI is quite recent, but it is useful as an SEO metric.
While older metrics only used bounce rate as a KPI, exit pages can reveal even more issues with your website.
For example, if a particular page has a high exit, there are chances that the page is not optimal. It might be due to bad design or irrelevant content. Any page should have an exit rate of less than 50%. The only exception to this rule is if that page is a checkout page.
21. Sales Qualified Lead
Leads are people who are interested in your product or service. Qualified leads are people who are ready to invest in your brand through time or money. Sales qualified leads are people looking to buy your product.
This is one of the more important metrics for a website’s SEO. This is also a KPI that is evolutionary and gives businesses a good idea about their sales funnel.
They are also worthy follow-ups for your marketing team for new products and other marketing campaigns. These leads are the most important part of your business, and you need to do everything possible to retain them.
22. Marketing Qualified Lead
Like sales, marketing qualified leads are another important KPI to your SEO profile. Marketing qualified numbers are when people are interested enough to look through your website.
The difference between this KPI and sales qualified is that marketing qualified leads are not ready to buy yet. In fact, marketing qualified leads are much more common than sales leads.
As a business, you need to nurture marketing qualified leads till they eventually turn to your sales page. Care should be taken not to market aggressively with them, or they might lose their interest.
Comments are an offshoot of the social media-centric strategy of SEO metrics. People interact with a social media post through several methods; comments are one of them. Of all types of engagements, comments are the most important.
Comments are a desirable type of engagement on social media posts. A comment exists because the user took time to type out a response. The reason is that it opens the possibilities for a discussion for further engagement.
And as part of your SEO strategy, top brands look to gain more comments than other types of interaction. A lot of brands are also able to address problems through user comments which makes this even more important.
24. Likes, Share, And Mentions
These are social media interactions other than comments. While these are not as important as comments, it signals intent, and so these KPIs become critical.
Like is an interaction that people use to signal their approval for a particular post. A share happens when the post is forwarded to the user’s own feed. And mentions happen when the user mentions their friends or the brand on a post.
These are varied methods of interacting with branded posts, and they are all critical to SEO metrics. The more engagement a brand has on social media, the better chances it has of being featured at the top. These KPIs can significantly improve brand reach and traction.
25. Link Clicks
Any website is going to have links that can take users to specific pages. Link click is a KPI that evaluates how many of these links are clicked. This is a critical KPI as it is able to weed out low-value links from your website.
You can then replace these low utility links with links that offer better value to your users. Clicking links signals user intent, and you can use this in several ways. It also gives you the ability to form a user behavior analysis for better retargeting.
For SEO metrics, the number of links clicked is important for the website. It indicates total link utilization, and it needs to be high. The better quality link a website has, the more chances it has of ranking higher.
26. Click-Through Rate
One SEO metric that has stood the test of time is click-through rate. It is defined as the number of times a user clicked an ad in relation to how many times it was shown. CTR as a KPI shows you how many times the ad has been clicked.
It is easy to understand why it has been relevant all this time. Being a primary metric that is used for determining the effectiveness of ads, it is useful and simple to understand. It also denotes the clickability of an ad and helps determine ad spending.
The simple way to calculate it is the percentage of the number of clicks per number of viewers. The higher the percentage is, the better this KPI is for your website.
27. Meta Title Length
A lot of people tend to forget the importance of metadata to the SEO process. Metadata like meta titles and descriptions are still critical to website performance. And this KPI is simply the length of the meta title.
The meta title shouldn’t be too long as it can get truncated on search results. It also shouldn’t be too short as it will not be as effective. It can be cumbersome to check this if you have a large website with many pages.
Several tools can help you calculate the ideal meta title length. And because the optimal length can vary in time, regular audits are essential to optimize your website’s SEO metrics.
28. Number Of Backlinks
Yet another KPI that has been around for a long time is backlink number. This is a simple metric that denotes the number of backlinks on your website. This is an important SEO KPI and forms one of the foundational metrics.
Here too, the number of backlinks should not be too high or too low. Ensure that all your backlinks are live and relevant to your users. Just getting high numbers with low-quality backlinks can land your website in trouble.
Make sure that your backlink profile is up to date. This means no broken or dead links on your website. Bad link profiles can be detrimental to your ranking potential.
29. Link Velocity
A relatively new SEO metric that is based on the backlink profile of a website is link velocity. This KPI indicates how many new backlinks are acquired per month for a website. Naturally, the higher the link velocity is, the better it is for your website.
Link velocity has a telling effect on website ranking numbers. The higher your velocity is, the more authority you gain.
Several tools can help you calculate link velocity. The best part is that some tools offer insights into competitor backlink profiles as well. You can use this as a part of your backlink-building profile for better metrics.
30. Backlinks To Money Pages
Another type of metric based on backlinks is links to your sales page. For all websites, sales pages are the most important of all pages. A new KPI pushes the importance of having more backlinks to sales pages.
Keeping track of the backlinks to and from your sales pages is critical. A sales page funnels a majority of the visitors to your website from searches. So it must rank well on results.
Analyzing and categorizing backlinks to specific pages helps you understand SEO metrics better.
31. Backlinks Lost And Gained
Throughout a website’s life, backlinks are lost and gained. While we have talked about the KPI that indicates the gain of backlinks, it is also important to include the backlink attrition.
If your website is losing more backlinks than it is gaining, it is a sign of weak website optimization.
You need to ensure that your website always gains more backlinks than it loses. If a website is able to continually gain backlinks, it is a sign of health. Likewise, losing backlinks need to be studied, and a solution needs to be found.
32. Crawl Errors
A critical SEO KPI that a lot of people fail to mention is crawling errors. Crawl errors occur when a search engine crawler is not able to crawl through your website completely. This could be because of an outdated robots.txt or pages that do not exist anymore.
When It comes to rankings on organic search, crawling is a powerful mechanic. You need to ensure a proper crawling experience for your website to rank high.
Regular audits of your website ensure there are no lapses during this process. Some tools help with traversing your website and reporting errors.
33. Traffic Through Backlinks
Traffic through backlinks is a KPI that is essential today as part of the SEO metrics package. It indicates how much traffic flows through the backlinks on your website.
This is important because just having a high number of backlinks does not help a website profile. It needs to be links that are useful to the users rather than just focusing on the number.
This too can be analyzed by the most popular SEO metrics tools on the market. Optimizing low traffic links can help with total website metrics.
34. Domain Authority
This is another metric that is part of the days of the first SEO metrics. It basically gives a website a numerical value between 1 -100 based on its strength relative to other websites.
The higher DA your website is, the more chances you will be able to grow your website. This KPI can change over a month. The best way to ensure good numbers is to audit it every month or two.
MOZ created this as a consistent metric to keep track of all websites. It is effective, and several tools use it as part of their calculations of website SEO strength.
35. Revenue Per Visitor
The average revenue that a website accrues per visitor is referred to as revenue per visitor. Unlike most SEO metrics, this is something that depends on the website niche. Nevertheless, it is important to keep track of.
A good example of varying revenues between niches is perhaps comparing law firms to HVAC contractors. Here, law firms have clientele that are worth more and hence need different strategies.
HVAC contractors have a lot of variable services in the same brand. This means lower average revenue comparatively. The higher the revenue per visitor is, the more different your SEO strategy needs to be.
If you want to measure your SEO success then you need to measure these crucial metrics from time to time.
Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna. He is passionate about writing content related to search engine optimization, social media marketing, and influencer marketing with the hope to make a difference and contribute to their business growth