Quantify Your Results: The 14 Most Important SEO Metrics

seo

Many SEOs, especially those new to the game, have a constant feeling of uncertainty.

They spend weeks or months working, but it’s really hard to see if the results are worth their time.

Eventually, they (possible you) realize that without some way of tracking results, there’s no way of evaluating whether all the work you’ve done was worth it or not.

So then, you start tracking a single metric such as keyword rankings diligently. You do that for a few months and see some improvement.

However, a new problem arises: a single metric can’t describe the results of your work.

Unless you’re tracking every single keyword ever searched in your niche, keyword rankings are just one indication of whether your domain’s search authority is increasing. Sometimes, search traffic can go up while rankings decrease or vice versa.

So, what’s the solution? 

The solution is to track multiple metrics. If you’re presenting these results to a team, you might hear them refer to these metrics as key performance indicators (KPIs).

Metrics, or KPIs, are hard numbers obtained from your website data. Most of this data will come from your analytics tool of choice, whether it’s your basic Google Analytics or a more advanced tool such as KISSmetrics.

In this post, I’m going to show you 14 of the most important SEO metrics. You can pick and choose which (if not all) metrics you incorporate in your regular reporting.

One last thing you need to keep in mind is that most of these metrics are just indications of your success—not exact measurements of it.

Download a printable version of the 14 most important SEO metrics.

For example, organic traffic usually grows exponentially. An extra 100 visitors in the first month after you do some specific work could really be worth thousands in the future. We’re typically using metrics as indicators of your site’s health and growth.

1. Keyword rankings: know where your traffic is coming from

There’s no perfect way to track your exact search engine authority as a whole, but some metrics are good estimates.

Keyword rankings can be used to measure specific terms you’re trying to rank for. They can also help you determine if you’re targeting appropriate keywords when trying to outrank your competition.

However, there are some pretty big limitations as well. For example, I once shared that 91% of Quick Sprout search traffic came from long-tail searches. Similarly, KISSmetrics gets 91% of its search traffic from long-tail keywords.

Then why do we want to track keywords?

Even though traffic from keywords only represents about 9% of your potential traffic, measuring rankings for keywords with significant search volumes (anything over a few hundred per month) tells us a few things:

  • whether you’re targeting the right keywords – if none of your blog posts rank for their target keywords, you need to target less competitive keywords for now.
  • whether you’re growing over time – all keywords should slowly improve in rank as you gain backlinks and your site becomes more trusted. If not, something is wrong with your SEO plan.
  • whether you’re transferring “link juice” well – when you get a new link to a page, most of its power goes to that page. However, some will also flow to other pages you link to. If most of your older pages never improve in their rankings, you can likely improve your internal linking.

Here’s how you track keywords

Identify anywhere from 1 to 5 keywords for each blog post or important page on your site that you’d like to rank for. If you don’t know how to, refer to my guide on keyword research first.

There’s no need to manually check rankings anymore because you have many tools you can use.

If you need a free option, try the free plan for Serpfox or Pro Rank Tracker.

Most keyword tracking tools work similarly.

In Serpfox, for example, start by adding a URL:

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Then, expand the URL you just added in your dashboard, and click on the “add keywords” option:

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Then, you just add the keywords you’ve identified before, one per line. You can also track a specific search engine or country if needed:

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Once you’ve done that, the tool will automatically check to see if you’re ranking in the top few hundred results and will do so every day. You can see the ranking on your dashboard:

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You can also click the graph icon to see changes over time.

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Obviously free tools are more limited than paid tools, but if you’re just getting started, they will do for now.

Each time you publish a post, you should add keywords to track.

At least once a month, you should export your rankings and see how they do in relation to the three items I mentioned above.

2. Backlinks and linking root domains: track your authority

There’s no doubt that search rankings are becoming more dependent on on-page SEO factors and user interaction patterns.

That being said, backlinks are still one of the factors, if not the most important factor, behind rankings right now. They will continue to play a major role in the future.

What that means is that a big part of any SEO plan should revolve around acquiring backlinks. If you’re not getting any (or many), there’s a problem that’s going to hold back your growth.

You can measure the results of your link-building campaigns by monitoring new backlinks you acquire, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Here’s how to track new backlinks.

The most popular backlink trackers are Ahrefs and MajesticSEO. You can start with a very limited free plan to try, but you’ll eventually need a paid plan.

Although Open Site Explorer is an option, it doesn’t have as large of a database as the other two options and updates slower as well.

For the purposes of this walk-through, I’ll be using Ahrefs.

Start by inputting your domain name into the search bar:

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On the main results page, scroll a bit to see a graph that shows the quantity of backlinks and linking root domains over a significant period of time. This should be trending upwards (more important for the linking root domains than the backlinks).

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Next, use the navigation menu at the top to select “Inbound links > New”:

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This brings up the new links to your domain in the selected time period:

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You can see who linked to you and even visit that specific URL. Note that on free plans, you will only be able to see a few results.

How do you track quality of links?

All link-tracking services are built on a few “scores” assigned to links. The higher the score, the better the quality of the link. Majestic uses trust flow and citation flow, while Ahrefs uses URL rating.

When you first search your domain name, you’ll see a URL rating and a domain rating.

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You should record these periodically along with the rest of your results. If you’re acquiring quality links, they will both go up. The URL score will take into account only links to the homepage itself, while the domain rating is more of an overall score.

Even if you get 10,000 links, if they’re low quality and from spammy sites, your scores won’t go up much.

If you’re using Majestic, focus on improving your “trust rank” over time.

Why you should track backlinks

Tracking the overall growth of your backlinks is important, but there are three other main reasons to check them regularly:

  1. To assign a cost per link — even if you acquire a few really high quality links, if it costs you $1,000 per link, it’s probably not profitable. Evaluate the cost of links from different link-building strategies and tactics.
  2. To see the success of your tactics — similarly to the cost per link, you can also monitor how many links you get from a single tactic. For example, you might see that you get seven links from 100 emails in an email outreach campaign (a 7% link rate).
  3. To find potential relationships — if someone links to you, they probably like your content. You can send them a quick email to begin a relationship that could lead to more links or other opportunities.

3. Organic search traffic: do search engines love you?

Why do you do SEO?

I’m going to guess that you do it to get organic—free—search traffic (that’s a good reason).

You should track how much search engine traffic you get per month and make sure it’s increasing. Note that you should look at it over a period of at least a few months because seasonal changes can affect traffic.

To start, go to your main dashboard (Audience Overview) in Google Analytics for your site. This initial graph shows you your overall traffic for the last 30 days. Feel free to adjust it for a longer period.

Click on the “Add segment” button to bring up a list of options:

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Then, scroll down until you find “Organic Traffic.” Check the box and click “Apply.”

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Once you do that, another line will be added to your graph that shows your organic traffic alongside your overall traffic.

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You can also break down your search traffic by specific search engine. Use the left sidebar menu to navigate to “Acquisition > Overview,” and then click on the “Organic Search” link:

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To see the traffic by day, and not just the overall traffic, click the checkboxes beside each search engine, and then click the “Plot Rows” button:

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4. Average time on-page: are you nailing user intent?  

What do visitors typically do when they land on a page they are not interested in? They leave.

Conversely, if the page is extremely relevant and interesting, they spend time on it.

In real life, your page exists somewhere in-between the two extremes. Obviously, your goal should be to satisfy your readers as much as possible so that your page ranks highly.

Although you can find out an overall average time on-page metric for your site in the Audience Overview section, that’s not very useful. Instead, you need to dig down and look at how much time visitors are spending on each page.

Start by going to the “Behavior > Overview” option on the left-hand menu:

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That will show you a few of your top pages. Look at the bottom right corner for the “view full report” link, and click it:

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This will bring up all your pages ordered by the traffic volume. Look at the “Avg. Time on Page” column for each page:

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If you only have a few pages, you can record the results in a spreadsheet manually. Otherwise, scroll back up and click the export option to download a spreadsheet of data you can work with:

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Typically, time on-page won’t change much once you have a few hundred visits. So you only need to record this value for most pages once.

Sometimes, you might see a really low average time on-page. Record your initial time and the dates over which that data was gathered. Then, work to improve your content, and then re-check the value after you’ve had enough visitors.

There’s no specific “good” or “bad” time on-page for all pages. If your content is really short because it addresses a very specific issue, the visitor shouldn’t spend much time on it (then you can look at other metrics such as bounce rate). If your content is very long, the average time on-page should be relatively high.

5. Pages per visitor: track your usability

For most content (not all), you want your visitors to continue to read other content on your site after they visit the initial landing page.

To test your internal linking practices (both in content and navigation), you should track pages per visitor.

You can find the average pages per visitor in your Audience Overview:

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If your site and/or blog is relatively new, it’s okay if the number is low. However, you should record it as well as the date when it was recorded. Ideally, you want to increase this number as much as possible over time.

In general, there are two ways you can improve this:

  • link more within your content
  • add more enticing links in your sidebar or after the post

You can also dig into the pages per visitor for each landing page, using the same report as was described in point #4 (average time on-page). Look for any values that are relatively low, and see whether you can add some appropriate links.

6. Returning users: are you making an impression?

The number of returning visitors your website gets is a measure of how engaging your content is.

If you’re just slapping together some mediocre content, visitors aren’t going to return. You won’t be able to add them to your email list either, which is another way to get them to keep coming back.

No matter how you’re monetizing the site, having visitors who don’t come back is a bad thing.

Within the main screen of Audience Overview, look in the bottom right corner for a graph that looks like this:

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Not only can you see the percentage of new and returning visitors individually but you can also hover your mouse over each section of the pie graph to see the actual numbers of visitors.

Record both the ratio and the absolute number of returning and new visitors at least once a month. The absolute numbers of both types of visitors should be going up. The specific ratio isn’t a big deal, but the returning traffic should make up a good chunk of your traffic (at least 20%).

Returning visitors already know who you are and like you, which makes them more likely to buy from you. They are the most valuable traffic you have.

7. Bounce rate: don’t scare off visitors

It’s debateable whether or not bounce rate is a direct factor in search rankings.

After all, for some pages, a high bounce rate could be good. It can mean that a user came to your page, found what they wanted, and then left.

However, it’s still our best indication of pogo sticking.

Pogo sticking refers to users’ behavior of continually hopping back and forth between search results because they can’t find what they’re looking for:

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Google wants to satisfy users, which is why it doesn’t want searchers to get frustrated by not being able to find an answer. If too many visitors to your page click the back button and then choose another result, your rank will get worse.

A “bounce” is when a user lands on your page but doesn’t interact with it. They either close it or click the back button. Closing the page might not be a bad thing, but clicking back is. Since we can’t measure this specific action—closing the page, we look at the closest thing—the bounce rate.

Since the bounce rate is important on a page-by-page basis, that’s how you need to look at it.

Start by revisiting the “Behavior > Overview” option on the left menu:

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Then, click the link in the bottom right corner to view a full report:

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This report will list all the pages on your site with traffic as well as their bounce rates:

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Keep in mind that unless you have a few hundred visits to a page, the bounce rate isn’t all that accurate. Have a big enough sample size before drawing any conclusions.

A “good” bounce rate will depend on the topic. If it’s a very straightforward answer you’re trying to provide, like “how many grams are in a pound,” then you will have a high bounce rate because visitors will see the answer and leave.

If it’s a more open-ended question or topic, like “how to reduce your bounce rate,” good content should have a bounce rate of under 50% in general.

If you are interested in learning how to reduce your bounce rate, read this post that offers you 13 ways.

8. Optimize page load speed: bounce rate and speed go hand in hand

Bounce rate mainly depends on two things: good content and its accessibility.

If your page takes too long to load, visitors will leave even before they have a chance to read it. A slow loading web page is a leading cause of a high bounce rate, which in turn will result in lower Google rankings.

Ideally, you want your web page to load under two seconds, but lower is even better.

To test the load speed of a page, you can use the Quick Sprout tool. If you don’t want to use that, you can use alternatives such as GTmetrix or Pingdom.

Enter a URL into the Quick Sprout tool, and submit it. You’ll get a report with an overall speed score at the top:

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To get more details, click on the “full speed report” button below. It’ll take you to the report, where you can pick from three tabs:

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Each tab will give you different insights about which parts of your page take the longest to load and in what order.

Next, scroll down to get speed recommendations in simpler terms:

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Addressing the “high” priority concerns should have the most effect on your page’s loading speed.

Technically, you should do this for every page on your website. In reality, though, that would be a waste of your time. Check all standalone pages such as your homepage and landing pages as well as 5-10 blog posts.

If all those blog posts load in under 2 seconds, the rest typically will as well. You can always check a specific post if you have reasons to believe it loads slowly (like a high bounce rate).

Warning: Optimizing a page’s load speed is not easy if you’ve never done it before. There’s a lot of technical terminology involved that will take a significant amount of time to understand. If it gets the best of you, consider hiring an expert to help you out.

For the DIY approach, here are some of the best guides when it comes to fixing page speed problems:

9. Monitor and address crawl errors: eliminate indexing problems

In order for Google (or any search engine) to understand what your pages are about and what you should rank for, it needs to be able to crawl it.

Putting it simply, it doesn’t matter how good your content is and how many backlinks you have if Google is having trouble reading your page.

To check crawl errors, log into your Webmaster Tools (now Search Console) dashboard.

Use the left-side menu to go to “Crawl > Crawl Errors”, which will bring up a report:

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Most sites have some crawl errors, and some even have thousands. Fixing these can have a significant impact on your overall search visibility.

You’ll also likely see multiple tabs across the top. Google categorizes the errors to make them easier to identify and fix.

Here’s a complete guide to fixing the most common crawl errors.

It’s important to keep an eye on crawl errors on a continual basis because issues can unexpectedly come up and pages that used to be accessible can become blocked. If you don’t catch it in time, those pages can become de-indexed.

10. Check traffic by device: SEO in 2015 doesn’t discriminate

Mobile traffic makes up a significant portion of most Internet audiences. It makes up about 50% of all online retail traffic.

Google recognizes the importance of mobile optimization. If your site isn’t responsive or optimized for mobile, it’s difficult for your readers to easily read your content, which leaves them less satisfied.

On April 21, 2015, Google’s “Mobilegeddon” update was released. It wasn’t quite as big as anticipated, but sites that were clearly mobile-unfriendly took a bit of a hit:

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Think of this as a warning shot. Google will likely continue to place more emphasis on having mobile-friendly content, which means that the consequences will only become more severe.

To check if your pages are mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s own checker:

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If you fail, refer to Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.

Having mobile-friendly content is important not only for SEO but for other reasons too. If your readers can’t easily read your content, you have less of a chance of moving them down your conversion funnel.

To get a general look at your performance on mobile, go to “Audience > Mobile > Overview” in Google Analytics:

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Look at the other metrics we’ve looked at (bounce rate, time on-page) for each type of device. While mobile stats are usually a bit worse than desktop, there shouldn’t be a huge amount of difference. If there is, you need to look into making your site more mobile friendly.

11. Pages crawled per day and time spent downloading: invite search engines

If Google likes a site, its bots will crawl it often.

What makes Google like a site? It’s a combination of many things, including good user metrics (bounce rate, time on-page, etc.), as well as having a good page speed (optimized page size) and a lack of crawl errors.

Ideally, you want your site crawled as much as often. That way, when you make a change or publish a new post, Google will notice quickly. A new Quick Sprout post is indexed in minutes usually.

Go to Webmaster Tools, and navigate to “Crawl > Crawl Stats”. You’ll see graphs for pages crawled per day as well as the amount of time spent downloading them:

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You want your numbers for pages crawled per day to be as high as possible while your numbers for time spent downloading to be as low as possible.

You need to check this report once every few weeks or once a month and look for any strange differences. If all of a sudden the time spent downloading pages goes through the roof, you likely have a loading speed problem that needs fixing.

Similarly, if the number of your pages crawled per day takes a dive, you could have some new crawl errors that are having a big negative impact.

12. Index status: monitor your site health

Don’t close Webmaster Tools just yet.

It’s time to check your site’s index status, which is a count of your indexed pages.

As you might expect, it’s a good thing if all your pages are indexed as only indexed pages show up in search results.

Under the “Google Index” category, click on “Index status”, and then on the “Advanced” tab:

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You’ll be able to see how many pages are indexed. On top of that, you’ll be able to see all the main errors that caused your pages to be de-indexed. So if your indexed pages started to drop at any point, you’ll be able to see why.

13. 404 pageviews: don’t lose your audience

Some website owners go through all the trouble of getting links and traffic and then send them to non-existent pages.

I don’t think I need to spell out how much of a waste this is. You aren’t getting maximum value from your traffic or your backlinks.

If you grow to a certain size, you’ll inevitably have 404 errors. Most of the time, it’s simply other websites linking to the wrong address.

If you have that problem, invest in a custom 404 page. When you get a 404 page on Quick Sprout, you see this:

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At the bottom, there are two links to popular parts of the site so that I don’t automatically lose the visitor.

When it comes to finding broken links, you have a few options.

Option 1: Quick and dirty method

This isn’t the best method, but it gives you a quick overview of the size of the problem.

Go into Google Analytics, and go to the Behavior Overview tab:

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Then, go to the full report (bottom right):

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Now, sort the pages by either bounce rate or time on page. But click twice so that it’s sorted from worst to best.

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If someone goes to a page that doesn’t exist, it’s going to have a near 100% bounce rate, or zero seconds spent on the page.

Alternatively, if you have a 404 error URL, you can just look at the number of visitors that came to that page.

Either way, this tells you how big the problem is—but not what’s causing it. Which is why either of the two other methods are best.

Option 2: Use Webmaster’s Tools (Search Console)

Go back into your Webmasters Tools, and navigate to “Crawl > Crawl Errors.”

This time, we’re specifically looking for “Not found” pages:

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When you click on one of these URLs, a pop-up will appear with error details. You can then click on the “linked from” tab to see which pages link to it.

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Fix the link on those pages and then mark the problem as fixed.

Option 3: Ahrefs broken links tool

To find out when someone else has linked to your pages incorrectly, search for your site in Ahrefs.

Then, under the “Inbound Links” dropdown menu, click on “Broken Backlinks.”

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This will bring up a list of sites that incorrectly linked to a page on your site. You can then contact someone from the site and nicely ask that they fix the link.

If you don’t hear back from them, you can 301 redirect the incorrect URL to the right one.

14. Conversions (goal completions): find out if you’re making the most of your traffic

Search traffic is great, but what you’re really after is traffic that converts.

Once you understand how well your search traffic converts, you can figure out how much you can afford to invest in content and link building.

A goal is a specific action or event that you can track in Google Analytics. For example, a goal can be a visitor visiting a specific page that is only available after making a purchase (like a thank-you or receipt page).

To create one, go to the “Goals > Overview” link at the very bottom of the left menu:

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Then, pick a template for your goal. Typically, it’s going to be something like making a payment or signing up for an email newsletter:

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After that, pick a type of goal, which is usually a destination (a specific URL they visit).

The final step is to input that destination’s URL as well as to assign a value to that event. For example, you might know that every email subscriber is worth $20 to you, so you can quantify the value of your search traffic.

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After some time, you can go to the “Goals > Overview” tab again, but this time you’ll see a graph of your goal completions:

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You can then click on the “Source/Medium” option in the bottom left to see how well your search traffic is converting.

If you need to sell your work to your boss in order to keep your job or get a bigger budget, this metric is great. Show them exactly how much money you are making them.

Additionally, you can also see if any particular pages are converting well by going back to the Behavior tab and clicking on the site content option and then landing pages:

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Conclusion

If you don’t track metrics, it’s impossible to know what is and isn’t working.

If you don’t know how effective your SEO work is, you could end up spending time and money on work that has a poor return. This could cost you your job or your business.

Metrics aren’t sexy, but they’re important.

You can’t leave them up to chance. Decide which metrics are most relevant and important for your website’s SEO (it probably won’t be all 14), and then decide how and when you will track them.

Follow a tracking schedule, and take conscious action to improve each of the metrics over time.

Let me know which metric(s) is most important or useful to you and your SEO work in a comment below.

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Comments

  1. Jamie Thomson :

    Another brilliant post Neil 🙂

    Something you said at the start of this post really hit home:

    ‘An extra 100 visitors in the first month after you do some specific work could really be worth thousands in the future. We’re typically using metrics as indicators of your site’s health and growth.’

    Bang on.

    I think it’s important for clients to know that metrics are indicators of current growth and that the value of good SEO can be seen several times over in the future, long after your work is done.

    Jamie

    • Jamie, I think it’s a very important thing to take note of. SEO is a process and takes time — sometimes the benefits you reap show up weeks or months down the road.

  2. Deepak Rana :

    Neil Bro‚ your articles are very indepth which provides every single info. About post title.
    Happy to know that I almost following every point that you have mentioned in this article.
    On-page optimation is the only key if you want to a part of this long-run organic traffic.
    In off-page guest posting is the golden key.It provide you night quality links.which is important for SEO.
    Focus on writing SEO optimized articles.here is a post I written on that -> http://shouterbuzz.com/9-proven-tips-write-seo-friendly-articles . loved your article.would bbe definely linkinglinking

    • Deepak, glad you found it helpful. It sounds like you already practice a lot of the things highlighted here. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  3. Rahul Sharma :

    Hi Niel,

    Great article, I have never used any tools for tracking specific keywords. Still I have great results but I want to use your listed SEO Tools for tracking about traffic.

    Good Evening,

    Have a Great Time !

    @AMRahulSharma

  4. abhishek jain :

    The role of On page is increasing and I am watching the results Of on page on my client website….

  5. Neil,

    Your every article is very helpful. Keep writing…

  6. I used Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools just to know how many visitors on my site and tell me if something gone wrong with my site. But from your explanation, I just know that these 2 tools are amazing for SEO metrics.

    Thank’s Neil, it’s a great post!

  7. Ahfaz Ahmed :

    These are the most important metrics. And most people avoid checking their webmaster tool. This is where the main loss happens. A great post which I needed these days for my website’s analysis.
    I must say your posts fall on me like fruits at the right time. 🙂

    Thanks for the great article.

    Have a great day!
    Ahfaz

  8. Thank you for the useful post. I found some useful tool for checking the keyword here

  9. Mind blowing, Neil.

    So useful and thorough… thaks a lot!

  10. Philip Polaski :

    Just what we were looking for to make sense of our monthly SEO projects. Great job Neil!

  11. Great stuff, Neil.

    You are so right about measuring metrics and spending money on things that will help the business in long-term.

    I am already using some of the metrics mentioned in the post, except the conversions (goal completions), which now that I read more about, looks more important then any other metric. So thanks for the tip, Neil.

    Keep up the awesome work.

  12. Great summary indeed.

    Regarding metric #2 (links and authority), problem is each link tool gives you a different link count. While that’s quite alright, when it comes to authority rating – you can’t trust even one link tool.

    • Amit, I agree — you have to use a number of tools to get the right picture. That goes for most things in life though.

  13. Great page again Neil.

    Track all of these on regular basis.
    Also using Alexa rank to see if overall traffic goes up (can also look at Google analytics pages trends but Alexa gives just 1 simple number).

    And as http://longboardsusa.com is an ecommerce site, revenue is the real metric, seo is a gauge to that.

    Go shred and have fun,
    Rene

  14. Viktor Grant :

    Hi Neil – great article but you left out the most important factor: TRAFFIC. Think about it: with Google Analytics installed even though you believe you have a ‘poker face’ you are actually showing your hand (‘how few visitors you actually have’).

    Google is in the business of selling clicks so if you have very few, they won’t give you many free ones until you buy ads and get some flow. That’s just what’s so.

    We’ve had amazing success in moving our clients out of the “sandbox” by simply purchasing traffic from Google, Facebook and Yahoo/Bing and driving that traffic to blog posts.

    Once there’s traffic and engagement on a post, everyone jumps on the bandwagon. One friend of mine said, if you want to rank high in Google, ignore them, focus on ranking on the ‘other’ search engine and Google will get jealous and put you in the top :). In other words, purchase traffic and send them to your blog posts and do so smartly.

    Yes – keyword research is the #1 activity you should be spending your time on (I wrote a keyword tool for that purpose) and with targeted TRAFFIC under blog posts that contain those keywords you’ll grow how many organic clicks you fall under with those keywords.

    Great article, Neil. Great seeing you in Vegas. Are you going again next week?

    Those other factors are very important AFTER you do your keyword research properly first. I coined the term ‘Search Engine Engagement’ (SEE) instead of (SEO) to illustrate this concept. Your Engagement rate is 100%-your ‘bounce rate’ + all the social media influencing you can muster.

    Neil, does social media sharing influence Search Engine Engagement? In other words, if you get a lot of likes and shares on Twitter and Facebook will it help you rank in Google? I don’t think so, but I know it will with Yahoo/Bing since they data share.

    Let’s compare notes.
    Vik

    • Vik, I wouldn’t classify it as “bought” traffic. You want to do things organically — with that being said focus on ads and social media to drive a lot of traffic to your site. At the end of the day conversions matter most. I think there are subtle signals sent between social and search rankings — the power of social is in CTR though.

      • Viktor Grant :

        Neil – I believe what you’re referring to as ‘conversions’ here are ‘clicks’ that originate from social media going back to your blog. In doing things organically, what advice do you have for established businesses who kick off a new blog, but it stays in the sandbox for a while because its is a ‘new’ domain name?

        I agree that the power of social is in CTR and we’ve seen multiple times more traffic originate from social than from search on most of our clients’ analytics. How do you take these conversions and increase their search rankings?

  15. Great article Neil. Detailed and useful. Thanks again Neil

  16. One of the most important metrics you can track for an SEO campaign is how many keyword phrases you’re getting traffic for. You can find these details in Google Webmaster Tools. If you’re adding content to a site on a regular basis, or even just editing your existing content on a regular basis, you should see a steady rise in this metric.

  17. Andrew Hall :

    A lot of great info in this article Neil. Thanks for such a comprehensive breakdown. One question, between ahrefs and majestic, if you could only afford one paid subscription, which would be the most advantageous?

    Thanks again for such a valuable resource.

    Andrew

  18. Nilantha Jayawardhana :

    Very informative post Neil. Thank for sharing.

  19. Jasper Oldersom :

    Crazy that almost all of your traffic comes from long-tail searches…

    You’re so on point with “metrics aren’t sexy, but they’re important”.

    There is so many valuable information about your visitors to find within them, yet we tend to ignore this stuff.

    Thanks again for the great insights to start implementing Neil 🙂

  20. One more Grest post Neil.

    I have a problem about 2nd point (links and authority). We got different link count in Moz(Open Site Explorer), Ahrefs and MajesticSEO. Which tools is perfect . I don’t know. And other metric is perfect

    Thanks
    Webleonz

  21. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    I love this post. I use now Traffic Travis (free version, max 3 websites, max 50 keyword/website). Is OK this tool?

  22. Shubham Dubey :

    Your blogs keep me motivated and remind me your next classic content. BIG Thanks, Neil…

  23. Thank you Neil this information i needed to improve my SEO Website

  24. Good Post all the SEO points mentioned in this article is must if you want to make a successful blog So I am going to follow all the above mentioned tips specially bounce rate because this is what I am struggling with

  25. Kamini Gupta :

    Another great post Neil. Love the way you write. Thanks and take care.

  26. Aarti Agarwal :

    Hello Neil
    What a outstanding Article Very Long and Heard Work Dear Such a Very Useful Information All Popular Metrics For SEO Important Keywords Tools Ahrefs I like it Thanks For Update Amazing Informative Post

  27. Hi neil,

    Nice article,

    I have one doubt google give preference to

    High quality content or content + banklinks.

    Some of the good websites going down with effect of high backlinks websites.

    How to overcome it …?

  28. Hi Neil,

    Recently I was searching about SEO Metrics to get more information abd deep knowledge about SEO Metrics. Unfortunately I didn’t get any useful article that could solve my problem. But after reading this article my most of the doubts are clear. And I have also learn many thing.

    Thank You So much

  29. Neil, supercool post as usual.

    We have most of the traffic coming from Google+ and on analytics it shows as Google organic. So it is very difficult for us to differentiate what is from search engine and what is from Google+. Any way to sort this problem?

  30. Great article Neil (as always). Good to see you are using the same metrics as we do in our client reports.

    I’m researching how we can connect content marketing to roi, but we find it hard to adress content to some conversions becasue of the many touchpoints from visitors on a website. For example they visit a blog, then download a whitepaper and then schedule a call.

    But I think your SEO tips are a great way to provide measurements around the content we produce for now. Like the engagement (time spend on page) and bouncerate, but also the conversions at the end.

    1 final question. I recently found serped (www.serped.com & http://www.serped.net) where al data is pulled together. Do you think it’s a great tool, or does the tools separately work bettter? Like Ahrefs.

    Anyways, keep up the good work!

  31. Neil thanks this is a great checklist of things to be recording.

    You mention it is not possible to track if a visitor pogo sticks back to search, surely this is possible with a little coding?

  32. I just discovered serpfox and LOVE it for tracking my affiliate sites. I also <3 longtail KWs. The info on google analytics is awesome. I'm still trying to utilize all of its features and am bookmarking this for reference. Thanks Neil!

  33. Rajeev Joshi :

    Nice post as usual I am getting ample amount of traffic by using these metrics I am getting traffic also from Google+ and also segmented as you described in a reply earlier. Thanks for your tips.

  34. Thank you for sharing, Neil.

    I’ve still got tons to learn about SEO and your post does help me with it.

    Tracking my pages using google analytic is something i’m going to try right now.

    Thanks

    Rayner

  35. Great post Neil!

    You mentioned some neat strategies which really form a strong foundation for any beginner SEO!

    Cheers,
    Alex

  36. Great information as usual and a pleasure to read

  37. Another Great Post Neil! I love how almost all of your posts have some nice tools we can test it out and most of them are free!! Something very useful for founders who are bootstrapping their startups.

    Neil, what about measuring CTR? Isn’t measuring the average CTR for your desired keywords an important SEO metric one should keep track of?

  38. Joginder Gujela :

    Hi Neil

    I recently noticed a sharp fall in my ranking (40-50 position) for particular keywords in just 2 days. I do purely white hat seo. I had not updated the content for my website for over a month. Im guessing its that. But i still wanna be sure. Am i missing something? Apart from usual steps of checking backlink profile or something?

    • Joginder, have you changed your content strategy at all?

      • Joginder Gujela :

        Coming next week i plan on publish one blog per week. I was just preparing. But no change has been made in website copy. Nor do i plan too (but im open to try).. Not sure though.

  39. Veera Ranganath :

    Great Post Neil,. worth to read, it has provided lots of insights on Keyword Rankings, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and how to reduce Bounce Rate and its influence on SEO, Page Speed, etc,. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Neil,

    Loved this, really explained what I should be tracking and why! Keep them coming, this is a hard game to crack, but you make it that bit easier. Again thanks.

  41. Connor Rickett :

    Neil,

    This might be the first time I’ve read an article on your site and walked away feeling pretty good about myself. I’d never heard of SerpFox before, but I’m actually already doing most of this already!

    I look forward to your next, where my head will no doubt either explode, or shrink back down to a manageable size.

    Connor

    • Connor, sounds like you set the bar and I am going to keep needing to reach it.

      Glad I could help 🙂 !

  42. Business Listings :

    Hi Neil,

    It is really great post Neil. You give such great tips in this article that will surely helpful for us thanks.

    Cheers!

  43. @Connor And I thought I am the only who feels that way.

    Niel, You are brilliant brother. You are a hero I aspire to regarding providing value to my customers.

    Thank you.

  44. Hi,

    Neil, your details guide helps everyone to grow their business. And thank you very much for your hard work.

    it would be great if you show us a details guide on google Adsense.

    it will help to guide new bloggers.

    thanks. keep up the awesome work. 🙂

  45. Very comprehensive as usual. Tracking “Goals > Overview” has been really helpful in checking that my sales funnel is working.

    Thank you and keep up the awesome work!

  46. This is an awesome guide

  47. Marm Simchock :

    re: bounce rate

    Isn’t there a setting with a GA Event that will determine how the interaction (i.e., event) will effect how GA counts a bounce? For example, if you tied a scroll to an event and setup the event to say “this event means no bounce” doesn’t that help?

  48. Thanks Neil. I’ve been searching and searching for a comprehensive way to report to my clients and mostly I find “tricks”. You’re the real deal and it helps those of us just getting our sea legs.

  49. Alejandro Jimenez :

    Hi Neil,

    I think I’ll use the metrics 4, 6 and 14… maybe also 1, 10, 7 and 3… and… hell, I’ll take every single one. I used Analytics just for a quick check of how many visitors went to my website and Ahrefs to… well I just had it sitting there. Now I’m going to take advantage of the free tools as I grow my blog to a few thousands of visitors per month.

    Thank you!

  50. David Briard :

    I wish more webmasters understood the significance of using webmaster tools to find issues with their websites. Most just don’t feel a sense of urgency to fix problems. Crawl errors? What’s that? Who cares?

    But it matters.

  51. Nice post about SEO basics, it is really focusing on important factors which remain neglected most of the time.

    SEO is time consuming and continuous process, and give you the results after some time.For only one website, we have to spend time a lot. How about handling SEO metrics for two or more websites? is multiple websites handling mostly Bad for SEO?

    Should we have one website? two or more? what is good strategy for professional career?

    • Kavita, I would focus on as many as you have the time and resources for — the same principles essentially apply.

  52. Hi Neil,

    I filled in your contact form regarding your consultancy about a week and a half ago and still haven’t had a response. Could you check your inbox pls?

    Thanks

  53. Hello Neil,

    You might want to remove “100% privacy, I will never spam you!” on your sign up form as it giving me the impression that you would.

    Just kidding, Neil. In fact, I have already signed up for your updates months ago.

    Another great post form you.

    It’s eye-opening that I was not tracking relevant metrics that would help me show my progress to my client – not only that, these metrics also show me room for improvements.

    Thanks again.

  54. Paul Anderson :

    Excellent stats Niel, Social Media is one of the biggest factor for branding.

  55. Sweta Sharma :

    Really very informative post it will help to rank my website .
    I m waiting for your next post
    thanks again.

  56. Simply awesome. Best column I’ve read today. OK, it was the only column I read today – but still…

    But then when I wanted to sign up for your mailing list I couldn’t find it. Oh, if it was the green box with the headline of getting $5000 worth of… I didn’t know if this was for your email or an ad for someone or something else. If it’s you, you should have your name in there.

    Damn, I hate to be critical, I guess I’m learning this from my wife. Or from my secretary, who reminds me of my wife. Every time I get a little too close to her, she reminds me of my wife.

  57. amit khatkar :

    Hi neil,
    Really useful tools you mentioned bro.

  58. Hello Neil,
    Really every time I visit your site, it feels me enthusiastic and gives a lot of new ideas to make my blog better. Every metrics you discussed here are worth to know. Normally, many of them are ignored by me but now I have to keep an eye on them too. Thanks for sharing such nice information.
    -Nitin

    • Nitin, glad I could help. Let me know how it all works out when you start implementing some of the strategies and start tracking more metrics.

  59. Hi Niel , Nice Article ,Thanks for Mentioning about the Crawl errors fixing , i have around 100 crawl errors in my Google Webmasters Tools ,and these i have ignored before , now i will fix this 🙂

  60. Sara Lincon :

    Hi Neil,
    You did a great job.
    I always love to read your posts 🙂
    I’ve just small doubt, Does Email market affect bounce rate?

  61. Great share from You sir… Quality and all..

  62. Vicky Choksi :

    You discovered very unique information. Thanks a lot, Neil

  63. Patric Thomas :

    Excellent work Neil, its like a daily university lecture when your email comes in, incredible how one can put together such informative info daily, well done.

  64. Hi Neil,

    Your article is really helpful for identifying SEO metrics that every SEO specialist should look at. Thanks for the great post!

    I’ve noticed that you didn’t talked about creating an SEO report with all those 14 metrics.

    In order to track your SEO performance on a regular basis, I think it helps tremendously to gather all these suggested metrics in one single place—even if they come from different tools.

    I also think that some of the metrics you suggest (e.g. index status) are a bit less useful in an effort-result perspective since they seem less directly linked to daily SEO efforts.

    To me, they should be used, but maybe not in a SEO performance report.

    I wrote an article, based on yours, to explain my thoughts: https://dashthis.com/blog/2015-08-04/14-seo-metrics-you-should-track-with-a-real-seo-reporting-tool/

    I would be glad (and honored) to find out your perspective on this.

    Have a good one!

    • Antoine, thanks for the feedback. I checked out your article and definitely think you provide a lot of value the insights. I would try to go a little more in-depth and make it read like a guide. You can use that as evergreen content moving forward.

  65. Tahir Marfani :

    Hi, Neil‚ your articles ar terribly in-depth that provides each single information. regarding post title.
    Happy to understand that I virtually following each purpose that you simply have mentioned during this article.
    On-page optimation is that the solely key if you wish to a region of this long organic traffic.
    In off-page guest posting is that the golden key.It offers you night quality links.which is very important for SEO.

  66. Martin L. Smith :

    I agree with Tahir, breathtaking depth in this article Neil. My company checks all of these metrics for clients, some in the initial audit and others through our monthly tracking, but it’s great to review everything in one place along with your insights.

    The real value for me was in the resources you linked out to, quite a few of which I wasn’t aware of beforehand. Thanks!

  67. Nice SEO Metrics Niel. Thanks for sharing

  68. I like the way you write in depth long articles. I am a new blogger, I am just learning. I haven’t implemented all the tactics you have mentioned, but I will start implementing them.

  69. Hi Neil

    I just new in all blogging and SEO. I am some how familiar with social media. but reading your blog post.I learn many things. Awesome tips on SEO .

    Regards
    Rachel

  70. Great article again Neil and thanks for some more thought provoking information to improve my website 🙂

  71. It was quit helpful. I’ll use these for my new websites SEO. I hope it will work for me.

  72. Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

  73. its a really great sharing guy, im newbie in SEO. thank you very much

  74. Great post Neil. I am a great fan of yours actually.
    I have a question for you. If my contents are great and gets enough social media shares (I am new to SEO), will it help my site to rank in Google?
    I will be very glad to have an answer from you.
    Thanks again Neil

    • If you’re getting a lot of social shares, it will definitely help your SEO, but it’s not the only factor. You want to build high quality links and post consistent high quality content.

      • Thanks Neil.
        So now I actually understand that only social media share is not enough. I have to post high quality contents consistently and think about the link building. 🙂
        I have already started and your suggestion will be one of my most valuable assets.

        • Excellent! Remember that it does take a little bit of time and will require persistence. Most people fail only because they quit, never because they kept going. Keep me posted!

  75. Neil, thank you for sharing these pieces of advice. The package of tools presented in this article are definitely to be taken into consideration if you want to monitor the progress of your SEO campaigns. I’ve been using Ahref and Woorank for a while now, I will try the other methods in the following days.

    • Those are both great tools Sam, I’ve been using Ahref for w awhile. Let me know how things work out for you or if there’s anything specific I can help you with.

  76. Hi Neil Patel 😉
    It’s such a brilliant post.

    I am working as SEO specialist and yes, we have many kinds of metrics to control.

    I am messing up of how to make a report for all of the data (actually as 14 metrics you said above).

    Do you have any “Plan and Report” Template for SEO?

    Thank you so much!

  77. Symond Wilson :

    You are awesome once again Neil! I am new to the search engine optimization.. But I regularly read your post and follow them too.. And there is no need to say that your tips and tricks always works.. This time I am going to to implement some more stuffs.. Lets monitor the results.. Thanks Bro!

    • Neil Patel :

      Welcome aboard Symond. If you have any questions or need clarification withy anything please don’t hesitate to ask

  78. Thanks Neil for sharing nice and practical SEO metrics/KPI’s.It’s really helpful for any website improvement. Looking forward for your next SEO article.

  79. Gayatri mantra :

    Although the article is very long I find that it’s very informative and interesting especially for advanced seo experts.

  80. This was some great information. I would like to learn more about ranking in Google and can only imagine the traffic you can get from just having 4 or 5 blog post hit the first page.

  81. Vishnu Sahasranamam :

    Thanks you so much for letting us know about this post…
    I found this one very effective for me ..

  82. Another great article Neil! Understanding the metrics that matter to your campaign and which one should be prioritized depending on your goal can help a lot not just in tracking your performance but also in ensuring your site won;t get lost in the web.

    • Once you know the metrics, you can make much more effective and calculated decisions, rather than guessing all the time

  83. Arbaz Shaikh :

    Hi Neil.,
    Great article.Do you have any guide on Guest Posting? And can we get backlinks from guest posting?

  84. Neil, I have read this post several times & also applied fully. Really it is a helpful post to us.
    Can you tell me please, what should be the No. of Visitors (approx.) per month to bag at least 2-3 SEO Projects per month for my company?

    • It’s difficult to say Sukanta. It really depends on the quality of the content you post. If you’re posting killer content, you can do a lot more with less. Look at backlinko.com

  85. Thanks neil ur real king in blogging feild

  86. thanks Neil patel ut are the inspirational blogger for all

  87. Awesome post and content that really help me to learn the new things

  88. thanks for the post man its really good to me to see this site.

  89. That’s nice. Awesome post.

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