In every aspect of work and life, when you want to achieve something, you devise a plan that includes: what you need to do, when you need to do it and how to check that you completed that task. The same thing applies for the SEO strategy for your website. You set goals and deadlines and – most importantly – you check various factors that tell you whether your strategy is working or not. These factors are SEO performance KPIs (key performance indicators).
What Exactly Are Key Performance Indicators?
First of all, let us give a clear and simple definition of key performance indicators (KPIs). They are critical items that indicate progress towards an intended result. For example, if your intended result is to obtain revenue in amount of AUD 1000 in one month, the value of weekly sales represents a KPI. Also, the income/expenditure ratio is another KPI you should measure for this purpose.
The issue many business owners have is selecting the right KPIs to monitor. The value of a KPI is given by several factors, such as:
- Proving unbiased, objective evidence of progress
- Measuring exactly the aspect intended to be measured
- Offering the possibility of comparison against benchmarks and historical data
- Being relevant to the task, i.e. the intended result.
What Are SEO Performance KPIs?
Now let us translate the definition and explanation of general KPIs into our particular case: your SEO strategy. In this case, SEO performance KPIs indicate whether you are reaching your goals of:
- Getting more organic traffic
- Providing visitors with the information they want in a simple and direct manner
- Converting website visitors into clients
- Ranking for your main keywords
- Growing the page rank of your website
- Getting a higher domain authority score
- Increasing brand awareness.
These goals, in turn, work towards achieving the biggest goal of your business: growing your sales.
Why Should You Monitor SEO Performance KPIs?
Now, let us explain why you need to perform the extra task of monitoring these KPIs. They are, basically, list of data. Google Analytics collects them and prepares them for you into downloadable reports.
But it is your job to look at the data, compare it with your intended goals, with milestones and with benchmark data in order to get a clear answer to the question: does my SEO strategy work? Am I getting anywhere near to the traffic and sales numbers I need?
What Are the Most Relevant SEO Performance KPIs You Should Monitor?
As we explained above, one of the main characteristics of a good key performance indicator is its relevance to the purpose of the measurement. When it comes to the SEO strategy for your website, these are the KPIs you should monitor. You will find all of them in the Google Analytics console for your website, thus you have just one platform to access for this purpose.
1. Organic Sessions
This is one of the most important SEO performance KPIs you should monitor. It shows you how much organic (unpaid, earned) traffic your website had over a specific period of time: a day, a week, a month, etc. However, please note that the number of sessions does not mean unique visitors, as one visitor can generate several sessions.
When you see a decrease in organic sessions, something is wrong with your website and it may be unreachable from searches and you need to investigate the matter. However, if you note an increase in organic sessions, especially after completing you on-page SEO, then you’ve done things right.
To monitor organic sessions, follow this path in Google Analytics: Acquisitions -> All Traffic -> Channels.
2. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is one of the negative SEO performance KPIs. Therefore, its value should be as small as possible. Bounce rate represents every instance when a visitor left your site without taking any action. By action we mean:
- Navigating to other pages
- Submitting a form
- Leaving a comment.
The bounce rate is an indicator that the visitors did not find what they were looking for on your web page and moved on. To access this KPI in the Google Analytics console, go to Behaviour -> Site content -> Landing pages.
This is a simple and often overlooked KPI in SEO analysis. It shows the number of pages a visitor uses during a browsing session. Why is this on our list of SEO performance KPIs?
The more pages a visitor goes to, the more they are interested in what your website has to offer. For instance, they start by reading a blog post, then they click on an anchor link to visit a product page, next they read a bit on the About Us page and lastly they may decide to submit a form to receive your newsletter. This means that the content of the blog post made them interested to know more about your business and its products. Thus, your blogging and keyword strategy reached their goals.
The Pages/Session KPI is listed right next to Bounce Rate in the Landing pages panel of Google Analytics.
4. Average Session Duration
This KPI should be analysed together with Pages per session. It shows you how much time visitors spend on your website in one browsing session. Thus, you may have a high Pages/Session rate, but low Average Session Duration. This means that people click through pages, looking for something, but they don’t find it so they leave the site quickly.
To find the Average Session Duration KPI, go to Lading page in Google Analytics, and you will find it right next to Pages/Session. Thus, you can easily make correlations between the two SEO performance KPIs.
5. Top Exit Pages
This KPI shows the last web page most of your visitors are browsing when they decide to leave the website. Why is it important? Ideally, the exit page should be the Thank You page after a making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter.
If the top exit page is your home page or a landing page with a CTA – then something is wrong with the design and/or content of the page. What people find there does not determine them to follow through, but abandon the site instead.
To find this KPI in Google Analytics, go to Behaviour -> Site Content -> Top Exit Pages.
Now we are getting to some really serious SEO performance KPIs. The Leads/Conversions show you whether your active SEO strategy works. This KPI records the number of visitors who followed through with a CTA, such as:
- Making a purchase
- Subscribing to a newsletter
- Booking an appointment
- Calling a tracked number.
Leads/Conversions is a KPI you should track even if you do not have an ecommerce website. You will find it in Google Analytics on the Landing page panel. However, you have to manually set goals and events in the Settings so that Google Analytics can track and record them.
7. Branded Traffic
Last but not least, this is one of the SEO performance KPIs that shows you how popular your brand is with consumers. To access this specific KPI you will need to use the Google Search Console instead of Google Analytics by adding your business name in the keyword filter of the Performance report.
So, what does this KPI do? It shows you how many times people searched for your business name. This is very important to know, because it indicates you have qualified leads who are looking specifically for your products. A high branded traffic means that your business has a good reputation and high brand awareness.