17 essential SEO metrics to track your site’s performance | Katherine Times

Site performance monitoring is an essential SEO task and must be included in regular site audits. Pictures ShutterstockHere’s a mind-boggling statistic site owners must know; only around 17% of the two billion websites remain active online. The rest have been buried into oblivion by others with robust online marketing strategies, including search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO focuses on making your sites more visible to search engines and, consequently, your audience-making it easier for your business to get found online. But it’s complex and dynamic, demanding owners like you to continuously track your website’s performance. Without this crucial task, you will not be able to determine whether you have an effective strategy or need to change your tactics. Constant monitoring lets you see how you’re stacking up against the competition, enabling you to outrank your competitors in the SEO game. But with so many SEO metrics accessible, it can be challenging to know whether you’re looking at the right ones. This guide shows the key indicators for measuring site performance according to certain SEO factors.Core SEO metrics to look at Before proceeding, it’s important to note that the SEO metrics you need to measure will depend on your specific optimisation and site goals. The right approach is to identify and analyse the core metrics alongside other datasets for a more comprehensive performance assessment. It would be best to get concrete SEO results from Pursuit Digital and other reputable agencies, especially if you don’t have the resources to measure and track your current optimisation efforts. Whether conducting site performance audits in-house or through outsourcing, here are the essential optimisation elements and the metrics you can use to gauge them. SEO factor: search visibility and ranking This SEO element refers to how visible your page is to users, as seen on the search engine results pages (SERPs). While analysing your keyword ranking may give you an idea of how your pages will fare regarding search visibility, there are other metrics you should focus on. 1. SERP feature visibilityLooking at the entire SERP and not just the organic results pages lets you understand how to make your pages more visible to users. For instance, search engine results also show a featured snippet, which appears even higher than the organic search result. Gaining this spot increases your chances of getting higher traffic. So are other SERP features like product listing and knowledge panel, which highlights commonly searched places, people, things, and organisations. Study how search engines choose featured snippets, knowledge panels, and product listings to increase your chances of being found in the digital realm. Search engines regularly crawl a site, but as a site owner, it’s crucial to know how often and which pages are crawled. A fast crawl rate means your site is indexed well, improving your chances of a higher SERP ranking and page visibility. Crawl activity is measured using two metrics: crawl requests and response time. The first element represents the total number of crawl requests a search engine makes within a specific period. Response time shows the average time it takes for the search engine to act on a crawl request. Longer response times could mean the page needs to be optimised to increase your chances of ranking.This metric shows how many of your site’s uniform resource locators (URLs) are indexed. Unless you don’t want a few pages crawled for data security and other concerns, your site must have a reasonable number of indexed pages under its belt, mainly because unindexed pages will not appear on a SERP. You can check Google Search Console to get your site’s crawl stats and indexed pages at a given time. Doing so is highly beneficial when you’ve recently updated a page or when migrating or launching a new website. Essential SEO metrics to track site performanceSEO factor: keyword performance Effective keyword search and the proper use of search terms are the pillars of any successful SEO strategy. Search engines match a user’s search terms to the keywords used on specific pages and rank them according to authoritativeness, usefulness, relevance, context, and other relevant factors. 4. Top keywords ranked/keyword ranking Optimising site pages requires businesses to target keywords they wish to be known for and monitor their ranking performance based on the strategic use of such search terms. Note that billions of searches are processed daily, and your page’s keyword ranking changes dramatically over time. Monitoring your keyword ranking performance regularly is a good idea to see whether you’re getting your desired results or need to optimise keyword use further. Tracking your search term performance also provides insights into other high-value and high-volume keywords you should be targeting but currently aren’t ranking for. Google Search Console (GSC) and other proprietary SEO tools are available to help you monitor your keyword ranking. GSC is a free tool, while the latter platforms offer more features and functionalities, like keyword ranking difficulty and keyword explorer, typically for a fee. A landing page is a strategically designed webpage that directs users to either your homepage or a specific page on your site, aiming to increase conversions. The top landing page(s) is a metric that pinpoints the page users often see first after searching.An optimised landing page should strategically use your targeted or best-performing keywords to rank well in the SERPs. Identifying your top landing page lets you assess the effectiveness of your SEO and marketing efforts. SEO factor: traffic sourcesThese provide information as to how users arrived at your site. You’d want to focus on organic search traffic to track site performance and visibility. 6. Organic search trafficIncreasing organic search traffic is the core purpose of SEO, and getting considerable and increasing traffic from these types of searches means your efforts are working. You must also look at page performance and analyse why traffic drops in initially well-performing pages. In such cases, you may need to update, revise or repurpose the affected resources to optimise them further.Comparing how your pages stack up against the competition and studying your competitors’ top-performing pages also provide valuable insights on improving your digital assets. These metrics give you an idea of whether you’re targeting and hitting the right audience and if you need to revise your targeting criteria. User demographics data shows your page or site visitors segregated according to age, gender, interests, and location. Location is perhaps one of the most important data to look at in terms of measuring site performance. This way, you’ll understand how to customise your SEO and marketing campaigns based on the language, interests, and culture prevalent in a specific area you want to target. If you’re paying for ads, looking at this metric justifies your campaign or determines whether you’re spending on the wrong segment. SEO factor: engagement metricsThese datasets tell you how visitors use and interact with your site. Understanding visitor behaviour and site usage lets you identify which SEO elements are working or need tweaking. 8. Most popular pages/top pagesThis metric shows the most visited pages on your site. Analyse how your audience arrives at these pages and why they love them. Generally, using the right keywords, matching users’ intent and publishing high-quality and helpful content are the main ingredients for a great page response. 9. Average engagement timeAverage engagement time measures a visitor’s time on your website and includes their actions while browsing. No one-size-fits-all figure indicates a good average time on page, as it hinges on multiple factors like your niche and the content consumed. Research has shown that the average session duration across all industries is 54 seconds. A good rule of thumb is to improve user experience and keep your audience on your site as long as possible to increase the chances of conversion and reduce bounce rates. Note that this metric is contextual, as a higher engagement time might mean users have difficulty using your site or getting the information they want. Viewing this metric alongside other data to improve your strategies is best. This essential user engagement metric indicates the number of pages visitors consume before leaving your website. Multiple page visits mean your site resources are generally helpful and engaging to users who want to learn more about your brand. 11. New and returning visitorsNew visitors from organic searches indicate that your SEO efforts are paying off. But you must not stop at the said metric to evaluate site performance. If you’re wondering whether your site is optimised or provides a good user experience, check the number of returning visitors for a more comprehensive assessment. Recommendations vary per industry, but a return visitor rate of above 30% is a good figure for most. SEO factor: user experience Faster-loading websites are paramount to providing a better user experience and are more likely to retain visitors. Studies have shown that 60% of eCommerce users abandon the site due to poor user experience, and slow loading speed and poor navigation are two of the primary reasons for site abandonment for sites across all industries.Check your Core Web Vitals (CWV) or page experience signals to measure page load and interactivity times, as well as site stability. These are measured by looking at three primary aspects: a. First Input Delay (FID) measures responsiveness and assesses user experience as they initially interact with the page.b. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the visible page content’s unexpected layout shifts.c. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how quickly the web page’s main content is loaded.These tools provide insights into specific areas that may be causing delays and offer suggestions to optimise your website’s performance.Websites with faster load times and good CWV metrics are more likely to rank high in search engine results, making them crucial to site performance audits.An essential site performance metric, bounce rate measures the percentage of site visitors who don’t initiate any action after arriving at your site. A bounce rate of 46% and up is considered high based on industry standards, while it isn’t uncommon for sites to get anywhere from 26-70%. Google Analytics lets you monitor your site’s bounce rate. Alongside other engagement metrics, you can determine how users behave on your site and identify page errors and elements that need optimisation. SEO factor: content optimisation Like keyword research, publishing high-quality and helpful content is a foundation for a solid SEO strategy. Besides studying user engagement, you can look at these SEO metrics to determine site and content performance. A backlink profile represents the collection of external websites linking to your site. Backlinks act as ‘votes’ from other websites, indicating that your content is valuable and authoritative. Search engines consider their quality and referring domains when evaluating a website’s authority and relevance.Monitoring your backlink profile allows you to identify potential opportunities for building new backlinks. Also, it allows you to detect and disavow harmful or spammy links that could jeopardise your site’s reputation.Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of users who click on your website’s link after seeing it in search engine results. It’s a crucial metric for understanding the effectiveness of your title tags and meta descriptions. A higher CTR indicates that your page’s content is relevant to the user’s search queries and intent, and that the title and description are compelling. A well-optimised CTR can increase organic traffic and improve search engine rankings.Google Search Console provides data on your website’s CTR. Access the ‘Performance’ section to view the CTR for your website’s pages or by query or device.This metric shows the last page your readers visited before leaving your website. While users leave a site for multiple reasons, the weakest pages could indicate areas for improvement, including content optimisation. Reducing exit rates may require improving page layout, content quality and structure, site navigation and clear call-to-action appeals. 17. Organic conversion rate This is another essential SEO metric measuring the percentage of readers who performed positive actions after landing on your site. These could include signing up for your newsletter, clicking another page on your site, or filling out a form. Websites exist mainly to turn users into customers, and measuring organic conversion is one of the best ways to determine whether it’s working as intended. From an SEO perspective, a high conversion rate validates keyword relevance, an effective content strategy, and site responsiveness. By focusing on these essential SEO metrics, website owners can gain valuable insights into their site’s performance and implement data-driven strategies for improvement. Regularly monitoring these metrics allows businesses to stay competitive online, attract more relevant users, and enhance their website’s overall search engine visibility and user experience. However, note that SEO is an ongoing process, and using these metrics as benchmarks will help you adapt and refine your strategies to achieve continuous online success.


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