The 9 Most Important SEO KPIs You Should Be Tracking
It’s impossible to accomplish any task or meet any objective without a list of goals to achieve. We create goals every day without realizing it. Sometimes they come in the form of instructions, like in a recipe or construction manual. Step 1 must be completed before Step 2 can begin, and no step in between can be skipped. We also see them as lists-a simple grocery list, the classes we need to take before we can graduate, or a to-do list when planning a wedding. Checking off these items is how we determine how much progress we have made, and how we gauge the amount of work left to do.
These goals act both as milestones and the metric for measuring success – doing something, and also doing it right. They tell us how much time we have to complete whatever tasks remain. They give us perspective on our needs versus our wants, and how to prioritize them. Most importantly, they keep us focused on one final objective.
When measuring performance the unit of measure is called a key performance indicator, or KPI for short. KPIs present your performance as quantified data which must then be examined through a qualifying lense. Just as there’s a difference between doing something and doing it right, there’s a difference between a lot and doing enough.
Here’s a simple, real world example to further highlight the difference. A student organization wants to raise money so they can go on a field trip. By the time they reach their deadline they have raised $3,500. That’s an impressive looking number, isn’t it? If their goal was below $3,500 that would be a huge success. What if their goal had been $8,000 instead? They didn’t even make half of the amount that they needed.
Either their goal was unrealistic or they weren’t tracking their performance properly. Sure, they counted the money, but what did they do with those numbers? Here is where the KPIs enter the picture.
- What is their daily average? Is it increasing, decreasing, or not fluctuating significantly?
- Are they receiving a lot of smaller donations, or a few larger donations?
- Where do the majority of their donations come from?
- On which days do they generally receive the highest amount of donations?
Calculating those numbers and leveraging that data may have been the difference between failure and success. Now it’s time to apply this information to your SEO strategy. Here is a list of the nine most important KPIs that will help you make informed decisions and have a better understanding of your business’ performance.
1. Keyword Ranking Increases
We’ve explained in other blog posts that keywords are not the be all, end all in SEO. This doesn’t mean that they don’t still play an important role. Keywords help you connect with your audience via searches to improve your traffic, leads, and sales.
Keyword ranking should be monitored daily, or at the very least every other day, because a drop in performance now will be harder to recover from in the future. And remember, Google rewards successful engagement with your audience. Speaking of engagement…
2. Organic Sessions
A session is the amount of time that a visitor spends on your site and what they do while they explore it. Organic sessions specifically refer to sessions generated from organic traffic brought to you by search engines. Tools such as Google Analytics come with a feature for tracking organic sessions. Keywords are tied directly to organic sessions because they reflect how often your site is visited, as well as how many people engage with it. The latter is more important because it tells you that you are connecting with your target audience; you aren’t just being seen on the SERP, you’re being seen by the right people.
3. Average Session Duration
First they see you, then they visit you. How long do they stick around? That’s what the average session duration is for. The important thing to remember about organic traffic is that, more often than not, there’s intention on the inquirer’s part. A handful of your visitors may stumble on your site at random or out of curiosity, but the majority of your visitors know what they want. The question is whether or not they think you can give it to them.
4. Lead Conversion Rate
If they think you do then they’re going to interact. This is where your traffic converts to a sale. It starts with a lead, which refers to anyone who interacts with your site in any way. A sale is a lead, but so is doing nothing more than signing up for a newsletter. One thing you should pay extra attention to is which pages on your site are generating the most leads, and how you can leverage that information to improve sales.
The majority of your attention needs to go towards the conversion rate itself. If you are generating a lot of leads but they aren’t translating to conversions then there’s something in your sales funnel that is interfering with a visitor’s interest.
5. Bounce Rate
That interference may result in a high bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately. The ideal rate can vary greatly depending on your industry, but the general rule of thumb is roughly half of your traffic. The bounce rate is calculated by dividing the total number of non-interactive sessions by the total number of interactive sessions.
6. Page Load Time
One of the most common reasons for a high bounce rate is a slow load time. Websites that are not optimized for mobile users or are bloated with graphics and unnecessary ‘decorations’ are likely to have a high bounce rate. A high page load time harms the user experience greatly. Earlier we mentioned that visitors often have something in mind when they make their search. There is a sense of urgency and aren’t going to bother with a site that takes too long to load, even if it might have what they need. If it takes longer than three seconds then they’re moving on.
7. Pages Per Session
When they stick around you need to pay attention to how much exploring they do. Pages per session is the average number of pages that your traffic views in one session. And yes, repeated views do count!
This depends less on your industry and more on the site itself. Is it easy to navigate? Can visitors find what they need? Are specific links and features, such as your Contact Us page, intuitively located? How content-heavy are you, and is the content worth looking at?
A concise funnel is necessary to reach the ideal rate of pages per session. Without it, your visitors won’t know where to go or how to get there.
8. Top Exit Pages
All good things must come to an end. However, knowing where it ends is valuable information that can help you improve your site, your messaging, and your funnel. A high exit page percentage is not necessarily a bad thing. A confirmation of sale or confirmation of submitting a message are common places for people to leave a site.
If your visitors are leaving before they reach that point then the issue is likely interfering with the user experience. To find out which pages are suffering, take the number of exits and divide it by the number of pageviews for a specific page. This will help you identify a problematic area, or confirm that the majority of exits happen on a page
9. Crawl Errors
This leaves us with crawl errors. Crawlers are bots used online that measure your site’s content so they know how to index it properly in a search engine. They also look at your site’s content to determine how valuable it is to the search engine and how relevant it is to a user’s search. Crawlers need full accessibility to your site in order to find this information. Google uses Googlebot, which you can test from the Google Search Console.
There are numerous things that can cause crawl errors, like if your site is down, but no matter the cause a crawl error is an issue that you want to address right away.
That was a lot of information to take in. The upside to that is many of these KPIs build off of each other and plenty can be found on your dashboard on Google Analytics. That data is easily integrated into plenty of reporting software, making it easier to track your numbers and perhaps find new, more helpful KPIs.
Don’t let these lists, acronyms, and terminology scare you away. It’s best used in tandem to form a comprehensive collection of data. Failure to track KPIs, improper tracking, or tracking the wrong ones can make or break your site’s performance – and ultimately your business’ success. The easiest way to prevent this is by partnering up with a results based growth marketing company that specializes in helping business owners and entrepreneurs just like you.