When it comes to SEO success, there are fewer better ways that help you prove your success (or failures!) than key performance indicators.
KPIs are metrics that give clarity to what you’ve been doing. They help you measure, assess and move forward.
The big question is this: What SEO KPIs should you be tracking in 2019? In this article, we’ve got the answers.
Let’s dive straight in.
1. Organic sessions
Important for: Attracting visitors
Organic sessions is a KPI that measures how many earned visits there have been to your website from Google and other search engines.
A session comprises a user landing on your page, taking action and then exiting.
Sometimes a user will be idle for 30 minutes or more. If so, their session is timed out. Moreover, the same user might be responsible for numerous sessions.
Organic sessions is a key metric to track because it shows how successful or unsuccessful you have been at
- getting people to your website
- getting them to take a certain action
You can track this session in Google Analytics. If it isn’t as high as you’d like it to be despite your page being on page 1 of the SERPs, take a look at your meta description. Key to a higher click-through rate is a compelling meta description that includes your targeted keyword and a juicy call to action.
You should also take a look at your title tag, too, as this is also super important for better click-through rates.
2. Keyword rankings
Important for: Attracting visitors
Some keywords will be easy to rank for, such as your brand name or ultra-specific long tail keywords.
Relevant short tail keywords, on the other hand, are usually much harder to rank for because they often have a big search volume which makes them interesting to all of your competitors too.
It’s important that you track your keyword rankings as often as possible because they are key to your position in the SERPs. Moreover, they tell you a lot about how closely aligned your content strategy is with your audience’s user intent.
I would say that you should check your keyword rankings each week and look for any significant drop-offs. If you spot any, you need to take a closer look as soon as possible at what’s caused this dip. You can check them with tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs.
Other than that, both your on-page SEO and off-page optimization strategies will help you boost your keyword rankings.
Important for: Boosting sales
To properly track this metric, you will have to have to go into your Google Analytics account and set up goals and events.
You can then track your conversions across different dimensions like:
- men vs women
- is your conversion rate better on desktop or mobile?
- which pages drive more conversions?
- what is the source of traffic that generates conversions?
If your conversion rate isn’t too great, there are issues that will need to be addressed. For example, it might be that your website isn’t easy to navigate or that your call to action is poorly displayed or surrounded by distractions. It also might be that your content just isn’t engaging enough.
4. Bounce rate
Important for: Satisfying the user
Imagine if a user who is interested in your product or service arrives on your page… but then bails out immediately because they don’t like what they see?
Bounce rate is a key SEO KPI because it tells you how compelling your website is to the target user. If your bounce rate is high, something is wrong. Worse still, your position in the SERPs will drop because Google uses it as a ranking factor.
Make sure that the page is relevant to the meta description. Make sure, too, that if you’re directing people to a page from elsewhere that you’re making good on your promise. For example, if they’re coming from a Facebook ad, make sure that your page delivers on the promises made in that ad.
Other than that, your page needs to be easy to navigate, well-presented, and it needs to establish trust with your images and copy as soon as possible. This is what Uber has done. The benefit is clearly outlined in the headline and the image is designed to make the end user feel good about the product.
5. Pages per session
Important for: Getting users to complete the customer journey
The more pages a user visits, the more interested they are in your product or service. Moreover, it’s also highly likely that they’re going to enter your funnel.
It’s hard to define a satisfactory pages per session metric, as it will differ according to each website’s conversion funnel. For example, if you have a one-page website, you don’t even need to check this metric.
On the other hand, if you run a content-rich eCommerce store that requires a prospect to complete numerous steps before making a purchase, you need to check this metric.
To get your pages per session rate as high as possible, make sure that your customers know where everything is on your website. Make it easy to use, and make it clear where they need to go. Your buttons need to be prominently displayed, each page needs to be clearly labelled, and your call to action must be strong, clear and prominent.
If a customer gets lost on your site, they will bail out.
Important for: Keeping users on your page
Page load time is actually a KPI that affects many of the other KPIs we’ve explored so far. If your website takes too long to load, your bounce rate will soar.
Let’s say the first 2 pages load just fine, but the third page a user visits takes an eternity to show. They will bail out even if they wanted to continue, and as a result, your pages per session metric will be skewed. The page speed is absolutely crucial, even more so if you have a long sales funnel.
You need your pages to load as quickly as possible – ideally in under 3 seconds. Besides image sizes, hosting issues are a very common factor for poor website performance. Make sure you properly review host performance if you are experiencing similar issues.
7. Average session duration
Important for: Keeping people engaged
Average session duration can be found, among other metrics, under the “Audience overview” in Google Analytics.
If you’ve got in-depth, valuable, long-form content that is at the heart of your content marketing strategy, you can expect this session to be quite high.
The overall quality of your site will go a long way to determining your average session duration rate, too. The more prospects are able to interact and engage with your site, the longer they will stick around.
Essentially, you need to understand your target audience if you want to improve this metric. The more you understand them, the better your content will be. If this metric is down, it means you haven’t quite understood what they want to see on your website.
If you are sure that you have been targeting the right pain points but your average session duration is low, you can look into:
- improving your site navigation and loading speed
- adding more rich content (custom graphics, videos, quizzes…)
- making sure your longer content is structured properly and easy to follow
- having clear call-to-actions
As you can see, many of these metrics are closely intertwined and tinkering with one will often affect multiple metrics.
Google Analytics and other SEO tools will help you to stay on top of your site performance by letting you monitor mentioned KPI any time you can – preferably once a week. This way, you can quickly react to potential problems and avoid SEO disasters that can cause huge dips in traffic.
A Gantt Chart Online is another great tool to organize your editorial calendar for your SEO strategy. Platforms like these can also help you allocate different resources and then keep track of everything.
Kas Szatylowicz is a social media manager and outreach coordinator at Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @KasSzatylowicz