20 of The Top SEO Metrics to Optimize (And What They Mean)

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Optimizing SEO Metrics

Optimizing SEO Metrics

When you want to drive more traffic to your site and create more opportunities for visitors to convert into customers, you can use data points and indicators known as SEO metrics to help you measure the performance of your website.

With more than one hundred different metrics available to track on Google Analytics alone, you might be wondering which SEO metrics you should optimize for the best results. After all, getting caught up in the massive amount of data available about your site can end up overwhelming your SEO efforts and potentially leave you hyper-focusing on trying to improve obscure indicators that aren’t particularly useful.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of twenty of the top SEO metrics to optimize, along with detailed descriptions of what they mean and why they matter.

1. Backlinks

Backlinks are considered one of the top three Google ranking factors. You don’t just want any old backlinks to your site– the focus should be on creating high-quality, relevant links that are organically earned through the production of great content. If you engage in link schemes (called “link spam” by Google) like excessive link exchange, paid links, or using automatic services to create links, you’re in violation of Google’s guidelines.

How many links you have isn’t as important as the quality of those links. In order to track your backlinks, you’ll want to use a combination of tools.

Building Backlinks

Some of the most widely used backlink tracking tools include:

  • Google Search Console
  • Majestic
  • SEMRush Backlink Audit and SEM Rush Backlink Analytics
  • Moz’s Link Explorer

Google views backlinks as “editorial votes given by choice,” meaning that people are vying for the quality and usefulness of your content when they link to your pages.

2. Organic Search Traffic

Of course, organic traffic is one of the most important SEO metrics you’ll want to track in order to find out how many visitors you’re bringing in and how this number is changing over time.

Tracking Organic Search Traffic

There are a lot of SEO metrics you can use to find trends, but tracking your organic search traffic offers quantifiable info that relates to how successfully your efforts are turning into more visitors and leads.

You can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to identify your organic search traffic on Google, and Bing Webmaster Tools to do the same on Bing.

3. Position/Rankings

Considering that 28.5% of people click on the very first Google search result when they enter a query (and the tenth position, by comparison, only receives a 2.5% click-through rate), it goes without saying that your search engine rankings are essential for driving more organic traffic to your site.

Analyzing Search Engine Rankings

That being said, you don’t want to hyper-focus on your position on search results pages at the expense of other metrics. It’s usually best to combine your ranking tracking with metrics like impressions, click-through rate (CTR), and organic traffic.

4. Organic Conversion Rate

Whether you’re looking for hard conversions or soft conversions, most SEO campaigns aim to create a conversion of one form or another from users. For this reason, the organic conversion rate metric is important to help you understand what percentage of your visitors are taking a specific action once they get to your site.

Analyzing Organic Conversion Rate

It’s easy to focus only on organic traffic, but this won’t get you very far if people aren’t converting when they show up. This metric helps you understand how well you’re appealing to the people that are showing up to your site from search engines and identify what is working for you and what isn’t in the effort to drive conversions.

5. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

When someone sees your site on a page of search results, how often do they click? The average percentage of people that do actually click and go to your site is known as the click-through rate (CTR).

Click Through Rate

This is an incredibly useful metric that lets you know whether your content is appealing to individuals that are entering relevant search terms.

6. Mobile Rankings

Optimizing your site and content for mobile search is more important now than ever before because of Google’s shift to a mobile-first index. This means that you will want to break down your metrics by the type of device when tracking them.

Analyzing Mobile Rankings

There are a number of paid tools out there you can use to do this, but you can also use the Google Search Console to this end.

7. Organic Visibility

Also known as SEO visibility, organic market share, and search visibility, organic visibility compares the amount of organic search traffic you’re receiving to the total number of available clicks.

Optimizing SEO Visibility

By tracking this metric, you can understand how likely it is that people will see your site’s pages in search engine results.

8. Mobile Search Traffic

It’s not enough to understand how much traffic you’re receiving organically when people are sitting at home or at work on their computers– you also need to track your mobile search traffic.

This is important for all sites and businesses but particularly important for local companies with physical locations that customers can visit. After all, it’s increasingly common for people to pull out their phones and search “pizza near me” or “pet store near me” when they’re out and about and in need of something.

Tracking Mobile Search Traffic

You can use Google Analytics to track the traffic you receive from mobile devices. By understanding how much traffic you’re receiving through smartphones and mobile devices, you can learn about any mobile-friendliness issues you need to deal with, which search terms you’re ranking for on mobile devices, and what type of device your target audience tends to use when making searches that pertain to your business.

9. Crawl Errors

A crawl error occurs when a search engine bot tries to crawl your site but can’t. Unfortunately, this means that there are issues that need to be resolved on your site.

Google breaks these errors down into the categories of URL errors or site errors. URL errors occur when specific URLs can’t be crawled, while site errors refer to an entire site that can’t be crawled.

Website Crawl Errors

The former usually has to do with 404 errors. The latter, on the other hand, typically has to do with DNS or server errors.

You’ll want to monitor this metric frequently using both Bing Webmaster and Google Search Console. When bots can’t crawl your site or some of your pages, it means that they can’t read your content and index the pages on your site.

10. Page Speed

User experience is one of the primary focuses of Google, and it measures this in a number of different ways. One metric it uses is page speed, meaning it looks at how quickly your page loads after someone clicks on a link to it.

Page Speed Metrics

People are busy these days, and they don’t have time to wait around for your site to load slowly. A number of studies have found that conversion rates drop with longer page load times while they increase with accelerating page speed.

11. Domain Authority

Most of the big SEO tools use a score known as Domain Authority/Domain Rating to help understand how strong a site is when it comes to SEO. Looking at a variety of factors, this 0 to 100 score is logarithmic rather than linear.

Domain Authority

Even though this isn’t officially known to be a Google ranking factor, it incorporates a number of elements that are. Increasing your domain authority should help you climb your way up the search results pages.

12. Duplicate Titles and Descriptions

It’s pretty much never a good idea to have duplicate content on your site. Luckily, you can easily find out how many duplicate titles and descriptions there are on your site using Google Search Console.

Auditing Website Content

The reason it’s a bad idea to have duplicate content is that it tells search engines that these multiple pages are all focused on the same topic. This can make it more difficult for you to rank well for the specific search terms and dilute your authority on the subject.

13. Organic Landing Page Metrics

It’s also important to look at the metrics for specific landing pages in addition to the metrics for your entire site. This can help you uncover your most valuable pages, improve the content on pages, and work to generate more backlinks to specific pages.

Organic Landing Page Metrics

You might find that there is one page on your site that is more likely to convert visitors even though it doesn’t rank very high on search results pages. In this instance, for example, you could choose to focus your efforts on gaining a higher spot in the search results.

14. Engagement Metrics

There are a number of different engagement metrics that can help you improve your search result rankings, including bounce rate, time on site, and pages per visit.

Bounce Rate Engagement Metric

You can use Google Analytics to track your engagement metrics right on the dashboard.

15. Pages Indexed

If a page isn’t indexed, how is anyone going to find it? The answer is: they won’t. For this reason, it’s crucial to track how many of your site’s pages have been indexed.

Google Page Index Request

There’s even a way to submit your pages manually in Google Search Console if you find that it seems to be taking longer than it should for your pages to get indexed.

16. Keyword Rankings

You can use several different keyword tracking tools to find out how many keywords your site is ranking for on search engines, one of the most popular of which is SEMrush. This is invaluable data– your SEO strategy can be usefully informed once you understand the keywords that your site is ranking for.

Searching For Keywords

When looking at this information, you’ll want to capitalize on your existing success by optimizing the landing pages associated with those keywords. By making sure that visitors will hang out on your site after showing up, you can keep your bounce rate low and ensure your SEO ranking continues to grow.

17. Impressions

An early indicator of the performance of your SEO campaign, impressions occur whenever your page appears in Google search results. This is the case even if the visitor doesn’t see your listing because they don’t scroll down far enough.

Analyzing Page Impressions

While impressions aren’t nearly as good as clicks as they don’t drive traffic or conversions, they can help you see your progress as you work toward the top of the search results page.

18. Local Visibility

If you operate a local business with one or more physical locations, one of the most important SEO metrics you’ll want to track is your local visibility. This is particularly important if customers can directly visit your storefront or office.

Optimizing Local Visibility

You’ll want to look into where your site ranks in relation to local keywords and, specifically, whether you’re popping up in the local 3-pack slots for keywords relevant to your business.

Ideally, people should be able to find your business when they search the name of your city in addition to your specific industry. For example, if you operate a number of chiropractic offices, one of which is in the city of Springfield, your page for your Springfield location should show up as one of the top results when someone searches for “Springfield chiropractor.”

19. Top Exit Pages

It’s good to know which pages are most frequently bringing people to your site, but it’s just as important to know when people are choosing to leave and go elsewhere. Tracking your exit pages means you can keep an eye on the pages that are the last spot on your site visitors are before they leave your site.

Top Exit Pages

If you find that there are certain pages that are ranking consistently as your top exit pages, it means they probably need some work. This is where people are losing interest in your site or are otherwise no longer engaged. By identifying which pages are driving people to leave, you can make changes and tweaks to encourage people to spend a little more time looking around and potentially converting.

20. Competitor SEO Metrics

Finally, it’s also a good idea to track your competition’s SEO metrics. This can help you find new opportunities for keywords that might have previously been looked over, compare the total number of backlinks you have versus your competitors, and more.

Analyzing Competitor SEO Metrics

Generally, you can also see what has been working for your competition while identifying weak points you can capitalize on.

Optimizing Your SEO Metrics: Final Thoughts

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by what it really means to usefully track your SEO metrics, you aren’t alone. When you’re running a business, optimizing the site to increase traffic, visibility, leads, and conversions can feel like having a second full-time job.

Optimized SEO Metrics

At Blue Pig Media, we offer a full suite of digital marketing and SEO services to help you focus on what you do best. Whether you’re looking to optimize your site for search engines, build a content strategy, engage in PPC and social media marketing, or revamp your whole site, we’ve got you covered.

If you want to stay one step ahead of your competition when it comes to all things SEO and digital marketing, contact us today and tell us a little about your business to get started.

David Curtis
David Curtis
David Curtis is the founder and CEO of Blue Pig Media. With twenty years of successful execution in sales, marketing and operations, for both clients and vendors, he has a bottom line ROI driven mentality rooted in metrics driven performance across highly competitive global corporate initiatives.

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