Top Metrics for SEO and How to Use Them

Metrics used should be key performance indicators. If they don’t help identify if performance is improving or not, they shouldn’t be included.

When creating reports we must identify what the report should show.

  • Is it a report of overall organic performance?
  • Are we reporting on the technical health of the website or the outcome of outreach work?

This should form the starting point from which we choose the report metrics.

Organic Performance Report Should Include:

  • Overall visits: The number of visits to the website gives something to compare the organic search visits to. We can tell if organic traffic is decreasing whereas overall traffic is increasing or if organic traffic is growing despite an overall drop in traffic. It is possible to use overall traffic visit data to discern if there is seasonality in the website’s popularity.
  • Traffic visits by channel: The number of visits coming from each marketing channel helps you identify if there is any impact from other channels on SEO performance. For instance, new PPC ads going online could mean cannibalization of organic search traffic.
  • All traffic and organic traffic goal completions: Have visitors been completing the goals set up in the website’s analytics software? Comparing organic and other traffic goal completions will again help identify if the organic traffic is completing above or below average goal completions compared to other channels. This could help determine if SEO activity is having as much of a positive effect as hoped.
  • Page level traffic: If there are certain pages that have been worked on recently, such as new content or keyword optimization, include organic traffic metrics for them. This means going granular in your reporting. Report on organic traffic over time, conversions on the pages (if appropriate) and actions carried out from that page. This can show if recent work has been successful in increasing organic traffic to those pages or not.
  • Organic landing page sessions: The pages that visitors arrived on from the organic SERPs. This identifies which pages are bringing the most organic traffic to the website. From here, pages that have not been optimized but show potential to drive traffic can be identified.

Technical Performance Report Should Include:

  • Server response codes: It can be prudent to keep track over time of the number and percentage of pages returning a non-200 response code. An audit of the site should determine exactly which pages are not returning a 200 response code. This information may not be useful to the recipient of the technical performance report so it may be better to include it as an appendix or not at all. If the volume of non-200 response codes reduces over time this can be a good indicator that technical issues on the site are being fixed. If it goes up then it can be summarized that further work needs to be carried out.
  • Page load speed times: It can be helpful to report on an average of page load speed times across the site over time. This can indicate if the site’s load speed is improving or not. What is perhaps even more useful to report on is the average load speed of the top five fastest and five slowest pages. This can help to show if there are certain templates that are very quick as well as the pages that might need further improvement.
  • Any data that shows a need to act: This is really important to include. If an error on a site is going to prevent it from being indexed then this needs to be highlighted in the report. This might be different from report to report. Metrics could be crawl data, site down-time, broken schema mark-up, etc.

Link Building Report Should Include:

  • URLs of links gained – which links have been gained in the reporting period.
  • Which links have been gained through link building activity – of the links gained which ones can be directly attributed to outreach efforts.
  • Links driving traffic – of the links gained during the period which ones have resulted in referral traffic and what is the volume of visits.

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