How to measure the success of your SEO effort

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Measuring the success of your SEO effort is not all about tracing a single metric. Using a single SEO metric won't give you the entire picture, and you might end up feeling certain about your success if you do so, which is not the case. 

So, before you exhale and sigh of relief, because you see a few keywords or your rank improve, know that it is impossible to measure your SEO effort by just tracking a single metric. It is just like calling a puzzle finished when you have just put one piece on the board. The solution is to track multiple metrics. And that is what you are about to learn. Keep reading to learn more.

Metrics you need to track

Keyword rankings

keyword ranking on siteguru

I don't remember an SEO who doesn't brag about keyword ranking. I'm sure you also brag, right? Tracking your keywords can reveal two crucial things:

  • Whether or not you are targeting the right keywords: If your target keywords are nowhere to be seen, then you need to change your strategy and shift to less competitive keywords (at least for the time being).
  • Your position: is your site growing? You should see your ranking improve as well as the total number of keywords your website is ranking for.

Basically, when it comes to keyword ranking, what is more vital is seeing an increase in how many keywords you are ranking for and the ranking position improve. For example, from ranking #40 to ranking #4.

Mobile traffic

More people today use their mobile devices to search than desktops. Not to mention that mobile is king to Google. This means if you are getting more mobile traffic, you are doing the right thing in Google's eyes. This further means you adhere to mobile standards. More traffic can mean you are also ranking for particular mobile-specific keywords, which is a good thing. 

To view your mobile traffic stats, go to the dashboard of Google Analytics, navigate to Audience > Mobile > Overview. 

google analytics mobile

A screen will pop up, showing the percentage of traffic you get from mobile and how your mobile website performance stacks up. Note that how much traffic you expect from mobile will largely depend on your niche. Here are some niches (if you are in any) you can expect over 60% of your traffic to come from mobile users.

  • Home and Garden
  • Beauty and Fitness
  • Pets and Animals
  • Health
  • People and Society

Backlinks quality and quantity

Google loves backlinks, and if you focus on improving the quality and quantity of your backlinks, Google will certainly reward you. So if your backlinks are low quality or not getting new ones, then it is time to work on your strategy. Note that more low-quality links won't boost your ranking. 

But a few from high-quality sources will definitely do. But how can you know if your backlinks are high-quality? Monitor Backlinks still come in handy here and will help you monitor two things: quality and quantity. To see if the websites linking to you are high quality, you will want to look for different things, including:

  • MozRank/Domain Authority (DA) & Page Authority (PA): The higher the MozRank and DA, the higher quality of the site. 
  • Citation flow:  Citation flow is similar to trust flow and tells you the quality of a website based on the number and quality of links it has. Use these two metrics to determine the overall quality of a website linking to you. The higher, the better.
  • Trust flow: A higher Trust Flow is an indicator that the website linking to you is highly trusted by Google and has many backlinks pointed towards the domain.

Tracking your backlinks will give you very reliable information like:

  • Potential sources for future link building: Chances are that not every link pointing towards your website is one you have built yourself. By tracking your links, you will be able to identify potential opportunities for future links.
  • How effective your link-building strategies are: For instant, if you are doing broken link building and you get 20 links from 100 emails sent, then you are getting a good response rate.
  • How cost-effective your strategy is. If you drop $450 to acquire a single link, and that link didn't improve your rankings, then it is time to adjust your strategy towards cheaper link acquisition options.

Monitor your backlinks, you can easily monitor your backlinks with a simple Google spreadsheet and adding in each column. Our example here shows:

  • Domain URL
  • Link of the URL
  • Keyword/anchor text that was use
  • Domain Authority
  • Page Authority
  • Citation Flow
  • Trust Flow

link monitoring

Time spent on a page

More time spend on your website means you satisfy user intent.  It is like this. Any time a searcher googles for anything, lands on your site, and spends more time there is a sign your website satisfies this intent. When it comes to measuring the average time spent on a page, consider the page's goal. Is it to drive email signups? Is it purely informational? The purpose of the page will impact the amount of time people spend on it. 


For example, for in-depth content, consider how long it takes to read the entire content. An average time spent on a page that revolves around that same number would mean users are truly reading and enjoying your content.

Organic traffic

Every SEO knows how crucial it is to improve organic search traffic, and if not doing anything to bulge it, know you are significantly hurting your SEO efforts. By tracking your organic traffic levels over time, it becomes easier to get a clear picture of how effective your SEO strategy is. With the growth in organic search rankings having a direct tie to SEO efforts, it is often one of the most accurate metrics you can count on. 

Google Analytics does an outstanding job in helping track changes in organic search traffic. Click on Acquisition>>Overview

organic traffic in google analytics

You should see another line that sits next to your existing traffic. This shows you how your organic traffic levels are shaping up. Note that your precise organic traffic levels aren't crucial, except for one thing—they display an upward trend. Now, if your organic traffic is improving, then your strategy is working well. If organic traffic is decreasing, then you need to change your strategy.

However, if you click on the "Organic traffic" to see which keyword is bringing in traffic, you will most likely see "not provided" or "not set":

organic traffic ga

This is why we've created the Insight>>Keywords section to help you see what keywords are bringing in traffic:

keyword organic traffic

However, if you have any conversion tracking, you can't see which keyword is converting into sales. You can try using Keyword Hero to replace "not provided" keywords with actual keywords on Google Analytics to be able to track which keyword are actually converting into sales.

Domain authority (DA)

DA tells you how authoritative your domain is, and the more authority you have, the easier it will be to rank. And the more trustworthy you are in Google's eye. Witnessing your DA gets better is a strong indicator that your SEO efforts are paying off. Fortunately, monitoring your DA is a breeze. To track it, open Monitor Backlinks, and on your dashboard, you will see your site's DA. The industry you are in has a huge impact on your DA. Below are some findings from Smart Insights you can use to see where your website stacks up.

  • Media and Publishing: 86.23
  • Higher Education: 78.67
  • Sports and Entertainment: 75.55
  • Accommodation and Food Services: 71.27
  • Software and Applications: 67.52
  • Healthcare: 67.51
  • Business Services: 67.04
  • Retail: 64.62
  • Consumer Goods: 64.07
  • Construction Products: 63.18
  • Real Estate: 61.52
  • Finance and Insurance: 60.09
  • Wellness: 58.35

Bounce rate

A high bounce rate means people are landing on your website and immediately tap the back button. That is not something you want to happen when seriously focused on growing your SEO. Note that the content on your site and your niche are some of the things that may bulge or lower bounce rate. 

bounce rates

To check your bounce rates on Google Analytics:

On Google Analytics, Landing Page report, look for a column labeled Bounce rate. This one will show how frequently visitors are landing on your website and instantly pressing the back button. 

google analytics

SiteGuru Insights and Improvement analysis:

You can also identify pages with the highest bounce rate in our reports:

Insights>>Improvements

bounce rate section

To see whether your bounce rate are high, let's see how you stack up against others in your niche.  CustomMediaLabs reveals the average bounce rates for these industries:

  • 65% – 90% for online portals, blogs, and information sites that revolve around news and events
  • 60% – 90% for landing pages
  • 35% – 60% for non-eCommerce content sites
  • 30% – 55% for lead-gen websites
  • 25% – 55% for B2B websites
  • 20% – 45% for e-commerce retail-based websites

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

By measuring your CTR, you get to know how good your listings are at generating clicks to your site. Are they generating any traffic? In fact, the higher your CTR, the more traffic your site will get. 

To see your CTR, you need to fire up Google Search Console, and on the left-hand side, hit on Search Result. You should see the color boxes labeled Clicks, Impressions. CTR, and Position. If the boxes are not colored, then the data won't show. You can see the screenshot below that the Position data is not colored and the graph does not show any data:

gsc report

Hit the CTR one, and you will get a report of the average click-through rate of your website and your top-performing keywords and pages. 

gsc ctr

Again, we also provide this data on our Insight>>Keywords section of our tool.

You can as well use the sorting options above to view your CTR on a country, page, and even device basis. A recent study by Ignite Visibility revealed the average click-through rate per Google position. Take a look at the ranking data below to determine if your CTR is low or high.

  • #1 – 20.5%
  • #2 – 13.32%
  • #3 – 13.14%
  • #4 – 8.98%
  • #5 – 9.21%
  • #6 – 6.73%
  • #7 – 7.61%
  • #8 – 6.92%
  • #9 – 5.52%
  • #10 – 7.95%

Returning visitor and direct visitors

It is also worth tracking returning visitors and direct visitors. A high number of returning visitors means people can't get enough of your content, which is a good indicator. The same goes for direct visits. While these two metrics aren't essential, having a good number of them suggests to Google that you have a unique website, and you offer the kind of quality indicators that will help you rank. 

To view these numbers within Google Analytics, on your dashboard, navigate to Audience > Overview. 

new vs returning visitors

You should see a percentage breakdown of visitors that are returning and those that are brand new. 

To see how many direct website visits you get, navigate to Acquisition > Overview. 

direct website visits

You should be able to see how your direct traffic stacks up against other traffic types. Note that there is no ideal ratio for direct and returning visitors to new traffic. It depends on the industry you are in and the type of website you own and run. 

For instance, if running an eCommerce site, you will likely have a much higher proportion of returning visitors than someone running an informational website that gets most of its traffic from search engines. However, if the number of returning visitors is less than 25%, you likely have an issue that needs to be addressed. Anything above 30% is a solid number and means you are retaining a third of people visiting your website.

Social shares

Social shares simply mean sharing of your content by social media users. Though some people say Googles doesn't take social signals and shares seriously when ranking SERP results, social shares are still crucial to your SEO success. Why then bother about social share if Google doesn't consider them? A good question. 

The more people share your content with their followers, the higher the chances that more people will view it. Ultimately, you might get more people visiting your website. And more visits to your site means a boost in organic search ranking. To measure social shares, fire up Google analytics, and open the Acquisition menu. Then choose traffic, which is sorted by channel. You should see sources of social direct, search, email, referral, paid search, etc.

social media

Crawl errors

Crawl errors can really hurt your website ranking ability. Luckily, Google provides a way to check for crawl errors in its Search Console, and it will tell you if Google is having difficulty crawling any of your pages. If you notice you have multiple errors showing up in Search Console, chances are there are other glaring SEO issues that need to be addressed.

google search console coverage

You can also use our SEO audit tool to help you identify these issues, to prevent any errors in the future.

Conversions

The ultimate goal for SEO is to boost conversion. That is why we recommend tracking everything we have so far outlined. More conversions may eventually lead to email list build-up, sale of more stuff, etc. 

Using Google Analytics, you can track, for example, the number of visitors that sign up to your email list. You can even zero on how well SEO is working by tracking how many conversions came from Google users: It is even possible to see how many new leads of clients came in from search engines such as Bing. 

Conversions can be flat even though your organic traffic increased significantly. It is also possible for your organic traffic to go up and conversions to go down. But why? It could be that you aren't targeting keywords with strong commercial intent. So, people are visiting your website, but they aren't attracted to what you sell. Other reasons include:

  • The conversion tracking isn't set up correctly.
  • You made changes to your website that hurt your user overall experience or conversion rate.

However, in most cases (95% of cases), your total conversions will increase along with organic search engine traffic.

Page speed

Your website speed plays a big role in your website's ability to rank and convert your visitors into loyal customers. Therefore, as you optimize your website, remember to keep an eye on changes that may impact your load times.

In Google Search Console, you can see the Core Web Vitals report to identify some of the issues:

gsc core web vitals

With Site Guru, we are able to track your speed performance on a weekly basis, to help you see any improvements:

pagespeed

And in the same section, we've provided full report for each of your pages to see specific pages that needs more work than others:

site guru performance

Why is measuring and tracking SEO results important?

SEO is quite tasking and a huge investment. That said, there is a need to measure progress often to know if you are still on the right track and whether there is a need to change the current approach. Remember, you can't improve what you haven't measured and tracked down for a significant period.

Conclusion

Now that you know what to measure and what tool to use, it is your turn to track your SEO results. And if you need support, we are available to help. All the best!