11th November 2019
7 essential SEO metrics to truly track a campaign
SEO can be a very long process, with so many techniques that work at a different level of effectiveness when it comes to increasing your search engine rankings.
While it can take a while for search engine indexing algorithms to take note of the SEO-based changes you’ve made to a website, there are other metrics you can analyse to see how things are coming along.
It’s not as simple as just tracking where your target keywords appear on Google search results – a good SEO campaign will monitor and aim to improve several other metrics. We’ve compiled a list of the most important SEO metrics you should be tracking, to help you put together a more thorough and precise campaign.
Domain authority is one of several figures to track that uses a number to effectively score, rate or rank your website. It’s not as obvious a thing to track as rankings or traffic, but it does have an important function in SEO.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is a score from 1 to 100, developed by Moz, a marketing company that offers a whole range of useful SEO tools and resources. Domain authority has become a globally used industry metric, scored on a logarithmic scale that means it’s easier to improve your score in the lower numbers than the higher regions (eg. it’s easier to move up from 10 to 20 than it is 60 to 70).
Why should I track domain authority?
The score that domain authority gives predicts how well your website will rank on a search engine results page – the highest scored pages are more likely to get the higher search positions for their relevant keywords.
As such, this is a very important score to keep note of and improve. While you can just check your specific rankings for a web page, it’s good to view this as more of a progress score – as it continues to increase, it shows you’re doing something right, while if there’s a sudden drop, it could suggest that there’s something wrong that could end up damaging your rankings.
How do I improve domain authority?
Domain authority is calculated using a large range of factors and data, but some of the most important areas are highlighted by Moz.
Link building is a central part of SEO, and this is one of the primary things reflected in your score. The more high-quality backlinks your site receives from external domains, the higher your score is going to end up.
It’s also key to remember that you shouldn’t be judging your website solely on how high its domain authority is. You’re never going to end up breaking the barriers of 90+ with your score – only some of the world’s largest, most visited sites such as Google and Facebook find themselves with scores that high.
What you should do instead is keep track of your competitor’s scores too, and aim to get a higher domain authority than them – once you have, it’s indicative that you’re likely to surpass them for the search terms you compete on.
Similar to domain authority, Alexa rank is another metric that isn’t an obvious one to track, but can be a good indicator of how well things are going.
What is Alexa rank?
As the name suggests, Alexa rank is a ranking-based system rather than a scoring method. Specifically, it ranks millions of websites against each other, eventually ordering them by popularity. Similar to a music chart, number one is the best attainable position, currently occupied by Google.
Alexa rank is determined by analysing a site’s traffic and engagement over the past three months.
Why should I track Alexa rank?
Although this isn’t one of the most important things to keep track off, it’s still a valuable score that can show you how things are progressing.
While you won’t get much knowledge from a single score, you’ll get a sense of progression when you track it over time – watching your site continue to climb up through the ranking positions should show that your site is performing better than before.
How do I improve Alexa rank?
Alexa themselves have produced a guide to improving Alexa rank, that suggests building backlinks and creating engaging content amongst other things.
Improving Alexa rank isn’t something you should be aiming to do specifically though – it’s something that will improve collaterally as your SEO efforts start to take effect.
It’s all well and good knowing that you’re driving a huge amount of traffic to your website, but how many of those people did you manage to keep truly interested in your content? How many of them stuck around? This is where bounce rate comes in.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is a calculation which can be found in Google Analytics, displayed as a percentage and measures the percentage of people who only conducted a single-page session on your site. So, each time a user enters your site on a page and exits on that same page, without exploring your site and navigating to any other pages first, that counts as a bounce.
Generally speaking, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible. However, that’s not completely conclusive to all sites. Single-page websites which offer all information in one place can expect to have a high bounce rate, as there is really nowhere else for the user to navigate to.
Why should I track bounce rate?
Tracking bounce rate is essential to analysing the performance of your website and the content you’re putting out there. Naturally, we want to attract visitors to our websites and keep them interested in the hope that it might lead to a conversion, whatever that end goal might be.
If you’re noticing a particularly high bounce rate, then it’s likely that you are not offering people what they want to see, or there may be a problem with your landing page which is causing people to make a quick exit, so that’s worth investigating.
Similarly, keeping an eye on what your bounce rate generally looks like means that you can identify any sudden fluctuations in it. A huge increase in this metric could flag up a problem on your website which you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.
Although, it’s important to not get too bogged down with the status of your bounce rate, as we mentioned earlier. Cross-reference it with your average session duration, and if it turns out that people are spending a good chunk of time reading your content albeit exiting afterwards, chances are you’re doing something right.
How do I improve bounce rate?
First things first, it’s a good idea to inspect further and assess the bounce rate on each individual landing page. This way, you can see exactly whereabouts on your site people are dropping off, and which pages have acquired a lower, more positive bounce rate.
From that, you can look into if there are any particular on-page issues, or you might notice that the content itself isn’t relevant to the search terms you have been targeting in your marketing efforts. Generally speaking though, there are a few top tips for improving your bounce rate, and your website overall:
- Optimise your website’s loading speed
- Analyse the relevance of your content
- Make it easy to navigate
- Ensure your site is optimised for mobile
- Assess the format and general layout of your website and its pages
Average Session Duration
Similar to bounce rate, while average session duration is a great metric to be tracking, it’s one of them that can be quite difficult to gauge and work out exactly why you’re getting the results that you are. Having said that, there are definitely some ways which you can work on to improve it, which we will touch on below.
What is Average Session Duration?
Another metric measured by and displayed in Google Analytics, average session duration indicates how long people are spending on your website, on average. This is calculated by dividing the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) by the number of sessions.
A session is simply a single visit to your website which starts when a user clicks on to your website and is recorded right up until they leave. To improve the accuracy of results, the session timer will stop recording after 30 minutes of inactivity from the user.
Keeping track of average session duration helps to identify how long people are sticking around for. A worryingly low average session duration would indicate that visitors aren’t interested in your content, or you have had nothing to offer them. Alternatively, a high number shows that you’re on the right track.
So, what is a good Average Session Duration?
Research by Databox reports that a nice benchmark to look for here is around 2-3 minutes. Anything over that and you shouldn’t have any cause for concern, but anything less than a couple of minutes might be worth looking at.
Having said that, your results will also depend on the type of content you are offering, and how long you expect users to be spending on your website – so this should be factored into your analysis, too.
How do I increase Average Session Duration?
Increasing average session duration is all about trying to keep your visitors interested, and not having any on-site issues which may turn them away.
It’s all about focusing on the user experience and quality of your content, and here are a few tips which you might look to implement as part of this:
- Create engaging content that’s unique, relevant and interesting.
- Embed videos where necessary to increase interactivity, provide the user with additional information and boost session time.
- Insert high-quality images and infographics to break up text and deliver easy-to-read information that captures the user’s attention.
- Add internal links to direct users to relevant pages around your website.
- Regularly update content to keep things fresh and interesting, giving users a reason to come back for more.
- Improve readability with easy-to-read fonts and well formatted text with headings and short paragraphs.
- Assess the layout and overall design of your website ensuring it’s clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
Organic traffic is one of the most major indicators of SEO success, and this is one of the most important metrics to be tracking in order to measure how your website is performing online.
What is Organic Traffic?
Organic traffic shows the number of sessions on your website which have solely come from people directly searching for your company, products, services or content. These are the searches that are performed in search engines such as Google or Bing, and people click on your organic listings as opposed to any paid ads or referral links.
Why should I be tracking Organic Traffic?
No matter how much time and effort you dedicate to working on your SEO, that means nothing unless it’s actually pulling in real, quality traffic and people are able to easily find your website.
By tracking organic sessions month on month, you can easily see if your SEO work is taking effect. If the number of organic sessions is increasing over time, this means that you are successfully improving your rankings and things are going in the right direction.
Providing that you have been focusing on improving your rankings for quality keywords that are relevant and beneficial to your website, an increase in organic sessions should be reflected in your performance and conversion rate overall, providing that your website is fully optimised for a flawless user experience.
How do I increase Organic Traffic?
Increasing organic traffic is all about improving your SEO, and in turn, search engine rankings. The great thing about focusing on SEO is that you are working towards permanent results for your website, unlike the short-lived boost that paid advertising may provide. Plus, it’s free.
If you’re serious about pushing your website to its full potential, driving high quality traffic and generating real results (you should be), read our in-depth blog on how to increase Google rankings here.
Once you understand that SEO is the process of optimising your website to improve your search engine performance, you’ll want to know how you can track the impact of that optimisation work.
Tracking keyword performance in the SERPs (search engine results pages) is the recognised and thorough way of achieving this.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the search terms you want to rank for, so when people search for your product or service you are displayed prominently in the organic search results.
Don’t be fooled by the phrase, keywords doesn’t necessarily mean you have to track individual words.
Short-tail keywords are three words or less. Examples include “summer clothes” and “digital marketing.” While search volume is usually higher for these broad phrases, you’ll often find that the competition increases dramatically. That means any SEO work you do to target short-tail keywords will put you at the back of a massive queue.
Long-tail keywords are more than three words in length. Examples include “vintage summer clothes store” or “help with my digital marketing.” These aren’t as broad and the search volume is lower as a consequence, but they are more targeted to exact search queries and work great if you’re looking to drive super-specific traffic to your website.
Why is keyword tracking important?
Keyword tracking is important because any SEO strategy should be tailored to improving rankings for specific search terms. The most accurate way of determining your progress is by generating clear and conclusive data on how your website is performing on Google.
How will I know which keywords to track?
The first step should always be to think like your customer, and that goes for pretty much any digital marketing planning process. Human first.
Before looking at any data, think about what your potential customers will likely search for when reaching your site. Write everything down, including what the search query will look like. Do you have a really specific niche that requires a long-tail search?
Group these ideas into clusters around your services and products, and you have what we call a seed list. An initial idea of what you want to track.
From here you can compare and contrast your list with real data from Google Search Console. In the Performance area of this valuable free tool, users can export a breakdown of the search queries that are driving traffic to their site through Google, as well as where you are currently ranking for them.
Tip: be sure to include alternate spellings, phrases and common modifiers in your keyword list. For example if your company is called Orange 71, you’ll want to track: Orange 71, Orange71, orange seven one and so on.
…and how do I actually track the keywords?
You’ve made the list and checked it twice, now you want to start generating some data on those keywords. To do this you will need to add your list to a rank or position tracker.
The good news is there are plenty of web based platforms out there that can help you track your progress, and we use SEMRush for everything that we do.
When tracking your keywords, you’re also going to want to think about the location of the search and the device that it is being carried out on. These variables can have a big impact on your SERP performance.
Generate reports on a monthly basis in accordance with the SEO work that you are carrying out.
Page Speed & Site Speed
The understanding of page and site speed varies, especially with regards to the impact that it can have on both your SEO and your website conversion rate. Quick definitions:
Page speed: the length of time it takes to display all of the content on a specific page
Site speed: an average calculated from page speed readings taken across the site
These metrics can have a significant impact on your SEO. Google is on record as ‘wanting to make the internet as fast as possible’ so rest assured that they will look to prioritise faster websites where they can. Don’t take our word for it, Google announced a major change to its mobile ranking algorithm back in the summer of 2018, whereby page speed became a primary ranking factor for mobile searches.
Why is that? Well, Google want to ensure that the sites they are displaying the top positions of the search results are giving users a good experience. One of the fundamentals of UX is site speed and slow browsing is a surefire way to kill your conversions by frustrating the user.
79% of online shoppers say they won’t revisit an ecommerce website if it loaded slowly on their first visit, while 47% of users expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds.
How do I find out more about my Page and Site Speed?
You can learn more about your site performance by running a Google Pagespeed Insights test or by using Google Analytics > Behaviour > Site Speed.
The free Google test compares your site data to other pages in the Chrome User Experience Report. It also crawls your site to determine areas of improvement, some of the usual suspects include:
- Eliminate render-blocking resources. This means there are improvements to be made in your site’s CSS to help it load faster.
- Properly size images. This means you are serving users that aren’t appropriately-sized and they will, naturally, take longer to load.
All of this can be found in the report and relayed to your developer. We would, of course, be more than happy to take a look at this for you.
Finally, we can’t talk about site speed without mentioning hosting. Who you are hosted with, and the package they are giving you, will have a monumental impact on your site’s ability to load quickly. Web hosts have the ability to offer you bandwidth, additional storage space and dedicated resources to ensure you are giving your users the online experience they expect.
Feel free to learn more about our hosting and support packages here at Pixel Kicks.
Enjoyed reading this article? There’s plenty more where that came from. Here are some more insightful pieces on SEO:
- How to Increase Google Rankings by Creating Content, Building Links & Auditing Your Site for SEO
- How to perform an SEO Website Audit (Expert Tips)
- 9 Useful SEO Tools to Improve your Google Rankings
For a more in-depth analysis into how your website’s SEO is performing, check out our Digital Audit service.
Hopefully you can use this article to help you with your SEO tracking. If you have any questions about any of the metrics, or would like to discuss how we can help you with your digital marketing, then you are more than welcome to get in touch with us.
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