Ultimately, return on investment (ROI) looks different for every campaign and even every business. Whether you’re looking for sign-ups, brand awareness or product purchases, knowing what qualifies as a result for you is vital first and foremost.
However, the KPIs below are useful to determine the performance of your SEO agency whatever your objective – but bear in mind that your agency will be monitoring even more KPIs and can share them with you if you want them.
Rankings and position tracking
Once you’ve decided on the most suitable keywords, made optimisations and produced some kick-ass content, it’s not a great idea to just leave it and hope for the best.
Monitor each of your keywords every month and take note of any movements (note, they happen all the time) – there are lots of tools available for this. If you can see that your rankings are dropping for a particular keyword or keyword group you can then look into it and get some context. And remember that context is vital: if you’ve lost rankings across the board it may indicate a wider technical problem with your website, or if you’ve lost rankings for a particular product or service it may be the case that a competitor has been pushing their SEO and has wiped the floor with other ranks. Remember to monitor keywords for your blogs, too.
The search verticals you rank in
Don’t just worry about your rank, worry about where it is. If you’re an online shop, you’ll want to rank in the shopping search vertical if a keyword applies to one of your products but also in the all/text rankings if the particular keyword applies to one of your specialities as a shop. If your product or service relies on images or video to sell itself (like a wedding venue) it’s likely your target market will be using the image and video search verticals to search for suppliers. If your location impacts whether people will use your service, you’ll want to prioritise ranking on the map results above all else.
Search impressions vs CTR
As well as being aware of people coming into your website and what they’re doing, it’s also important to give yourself an idea of what they’re doing in search results.
Google Search Console allows you to see the keywords that people are using to find you, the number of impressions each page has had in search results, and the number of clicks for each page. If you can see that a large number of users are seeing you in search results but choosing not to click, it’s time to update your metadata.
Getting people to find you in search is one thing – getting them to click is another. Brand awareness, reputation and affinity impact CTRs.
Search Query Report
Google Search Console provides insight into the search queries your site has ranked for recently and the number of visitors you received from each keyword. It’s really useful to decide future keyword targets because it outlines which keywords are bringing traffic to your site and which ones aren’t. It allows you to drill down to know which page ranks for which keyword and to see CTR at a keyword level.
You should be monitoring the technical landscape of your website as much as how valuable and effective your content is.
Use an SEO auditing tool or get a free SEO audit which will reveal any critical errors to your website and warnings that you should be aware of. This will include things like sitemap errors, 404s and broken links, long or missing title tags, inconsistent URL structure, duplicate or missing metadata and lots more.
Backlinks gained and lost
Backlinks (links from external websites back to yours) are an important signal in SEO. It’s quite obvious to Google that a popular business will be spoken about and linked to online so as a general rule getting backlinks on a regular basis is a good thing. Be careful though, not all backlinks are going to be beneficial for your site and you’ll want to use Moz’s free domain analysis tool to analyse the domain you’re considering seeking a link from to decide if it’s going to be beneficial for your site.
Backlink health (sometimes referred to as toxicity score)
We said not all backlinks are good for business and even though you may be building great backlinks for your site, you can’t decide who does and doesn’t link. It may be the case that a competitor has just ordered a load of toxic backlinks to slow down your SEO efforts, or it could be those backlinks you earned three years ago with that business guest blog have aged and gone bad as the blogging site has aged and gone bad. There are many reasons why a site can have toxic backlinks so it’s a good idea to monitor and keep on top of those.
SEO is a competition for a market’s search engine share, and you can gain a lot from watching your competitors. The content they are publishing, the ranks they occupy, the backlinks they are gaining and their site authority vs yours. By understanding why your competitors rank for their keywords you’ll be able to develop a plan to do the same things with your site so you can successfully compete for the same ranks.
Using Google Analytics, you can and should split out your data to tell you how much traffic each of your channels is bringing in. They are usually split out into Organic Search (traffic from search engine results pages), Direct (somebody who knows your URL inputting it directly), Social (traffic from social media platforms) and Referral (clicks from another website).
To find out what proportion of your traffic is coming from organic search, choose Secondary Dimension -> Default Channel Grouping. Select Advanced, then choose Organic Search.
Organic Search should be bringing in the majority of your traffic consistently, with some fluctuation if you’re focusing on other channels as part of campaigns (if you’re running a major PPC campaign, for example).
Organic traffic growth is one of the largest indicators of successful SEO activity. It shows that more visitors are coming into your website, so if you’ve been working on your SEO for some time and see no increase or even a drop in organic sessions, it might be time to rethink your strategy.
Bounce rate is a key user signal for search engines. If Google ranks you highly it’s because it thinks you’re the most relevant or valuable result for the search term. High bounce rate indicates otherwise.
People coming onto a page or website and deciding that it wasn’t what they expected or didn’t find it helpful sends a signal back to Google that it might not be the most suitable result for that search term, thus impacting your rank.
This highlights the importance of ensuring that your optimisations are genuine and focused on relevancy – stuffing your keyword into irrelevant articles will always come back to bite you.
Setting up goals with Google Analytics is a good way of getting some understanding of how your website is performing. You can create goals for anything that is valuable to you: people reaching a ‘thank you for your order’ page, clicking a contact button or telephone number, or visiting three pages or more, for example.
You can use this data to further optimise user experience and it’ll tell you which channels and keywords are leading to your desired outcome.
To find out more about implementing or maximising your SEO strategy or to get your free SEO audit, get in touch for a chat.