SEO is a broad term, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization and describes the tweaks we make to our websites to increase its chances of ranking in the Search Engines, basically the Google search engine because of the share of the market controlled by Google.
But after you make the adjustments and continue to build on your SEO through content development, link building and other activities, how do you know that your efforts are yielding the right results? The natural answer will be that you watch to see how your efforts push your ranking upwards. But the best way is to monitor the SEO metrics overtime to determine where you are doing well and the areas you need to work to improve.
In this post, we discuss 11 SEO metrics you should monitor to boost your SEO. But before we delve into the specific metrics, we will need to touch on some key and important tools that should help you measure and understand SEO performance metrics.
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Tools for Monitoring Your Website Performance
A couple of tools will just be enough and really helpful to monitor your website performance. There are other very detailed and even more professional tools but most of them are not free. In this article, we will deal with the most popular free tools that we think provide enough information and can provide a reasonable guide to power your SEO strategy. Here we go.
Google Search Engine Console
Because website ranking is basically focused on how Google ranks your website, the right and best place to begin your evaluation is in Google Search Console. It’s easy to sign up with Google Search Console to start monitoring your website performance. Later in this post, we will look at the metrics you can measure with Search Console.
Google Analytics can be described as an extension of the Search Console we just talked about above. But analytics truly gives some insightful metrics which you will find useful in analyzing performance. If you have a Gmail account, then you can login and start using Google Analytics here.
Bing Webmaster Tools
The Bing Webmaster interface is a very powerful analytic tool though not widely talked about. It combines most of the features found in the Google Webmaster Tools and the Google Analytic to release very powerful and helpful analytic data for webmasters.
SEO Metrics to Monitor for Top Performance
You want your website to rank at the top of search engines, Google in particular, here are the top SEO metrics you should monitor and improve. If you observe any deterioration in any of these metrics, it signals something is not going well and you should take time to address it.
User Experience Metrics
1. Bounce Rate
Website bounce rate refers to the rate at which people leave a website without visiting any other page outside the landing page. So the bounce rate is a single page visit. If the bounce rate is high, it suggests that people do not find what they expected on the page, they dislike the page or they are able to find answers to their queries and do not need to explore further. In cases where they find their desired answers, the dwell time will be high despite the fact that they left without visiting another page.
A good bounce rate will be between 25 – 50 percent and that will be excellent. A bounce rate between 51 – 70 percent is still average. Higher bounce rates are worrisome and calls for some action to bring it to be within the normal range.
Generally speaking, a high bounce rate is not suggestive of good user experience and you should take some actions to improve the score.
There are ways to improve bounce rate measures is to do better internal linking on your website. The other is to write long form content that deals with every subject being discussed to be able to satisfy the website users and visitors to the page.
2. Website Speed
Website speed is not only an important metric to measure user experience, Google has said it is now important ranking factor. So, when you have a website that has good speed performance, you also get a corresponding increase in page rank.
There are some measures you can take to improve your website speed. These include using an optimization plugin if you use a website built with a content management system like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal.
Generally, you need to implement caching on your website, ensure that you enable GZip compression, minify your codes and if you can afford the extra box, enable a CDN for your website. CDNs offer more benefits beyond speeding your website. They cache your website and serve visitors from the closest location to the visitors as websites are cached on a network of servers around the world. CDNs also protect websites from security vulnerabilities and other breaches.
3. Dwell Time
This is simply named Average Session Duration in Google Analytics. It measures the average amount of time visitors spend on your website. Usually, an average of 2 minutes is a good measure but if you can improve the performance beyond that, it will even be better. These metrics tell Google that people are enjoying their experience with your website and so it is of good quality that should be showcased and brought to the top of its search engines.
You can boost your website dwell time just about the same way you reduce bounce rate. Improve internal links on your website, write long form quality content that addresses the subject matter extensively, and avoid errors on your page. You can consider improving visitor interaction with the website by adding a livechat button, making a contact us form more visible, offering some things like gifts or useful downloadable content.
4. Website Errors
Although this item does not measure the percentage of errors on your website relative to the links without errors, it is an important indicator to watch because website errors can almost instantly affect your website ranking performance.
Once you find an error on your website within the search console, try and address it. Ensure that your websites have no errors. The presence of errors tells Google that users will be upset on your website when they visit because they are presented with web pages that give errors.
Website errors are sometimes linked to a server outage or the page have been deleted or moved to a new location within your website. That is commonly a 404 error. You will need to identify where these errors are located within your website and rightly ensure they are redirected to an active URL. A fine way to handle these errors after the pages are removed from within the content is to have a custom error 404 page that presents to users some options on what next they can do.
5. Mobile Friendliness
This is a very critical metric you should monitor constantly. All your pages should be mobile friendly or you are in trouble. Once you begin to see pages that are not mobile friendly and the number of such pages begin to increase, there is need to be worried.
Mobile friendliness issues commonly occur after your web host upgrades its hosting environment and your software has compatibility issues. So, when you begin to notice an increasing number of pages with mobile friendliness issues, the first thing will be to evaluate your current template’s capacity to present mobile friendly pages. In many cases, updating or completely changing your template can address the problem.
You may want to consider creating Accelerated Mobile Pages, AMP, if you have the time and capacity to do so. Generally, selecting a quality mobile friendly template build to be compatible with the latest version of your software and upgradable when new versions are released will be enough.ĵ
6, Average Number of Visited Pages /Session
This metric will tell you the nature of visitor engagement on your website. A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions. Having an average session of at least 2.0 sessions is good performance.
Generally, performance metrics measure your website’s total impressions, click through rates (CTR), total clicks and position in the search engine results pages for particular keywords.
This indicates your website position in the search engine result pages. A steady decrease in the position means your website is performing well and if your current strategy is sustained or improved could lead to a top ton position that drives traffic and sales.
One best way to improve the position of your content in the search engines is to write organized content that is thorough and deserving a top place in the search engines.
7. Click Through Rates
The click through rates suggest the performance of your content especially its title and meta description elements are good. To improve your click through rate, you need to improve your action links like “get started now” or buy now. You will need to write more persuasive content that compels action.
Another key aspect of click through rate boost is to write attractive titles and descriptions. The website title is the first content visitors get to see and they can glance through the description to understand what the page is all about. You need to write this content to be natural and persuasive.
8. Position in Search Engines
This metric is numerically displayed and also comes with a graphical illustration in Search Console. As the figure reduces, it tells you that your position is rising and you simply need to sustain or improve whatever you are doing.
9. Exit Rate
The exit rates will present the rate at which people exit your website after visiting a particular page. Exit rate focuses on a particular page. It suggests pages that were not able to keep visitors longer. There are cases where the visitor spends a long time on the page before exiting, in such a situation, it suggests that the article was interesting and most likely answered the visitor’s question so exiting from such pages tells Google of a satisfied customer.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust. Google wants to better rank websites that score high on expertise, authority and trust. These are key aspects of the current Google ranking factors. One way Google measures your authoritativeness is by the number of inbound links to your website. Google reasons that people link to you because your posts are authoritative, you are considered an expert and you can be trusted.
You can increase your chances of ranking high on these scores by sharing your content to increase its visibility. That way, people will like your content and link to them.
10. Domain Authority
Domain Authority is a metric developed by MOZ to measure the potential or probability of a website ranking high in the search engines. We have found a strong correlation between domain authority and search engine ranks – the higher your domain authority, the more likely you can rank higher in the search engines.
11. Page Authority
Closely related to domain authority is page authority. Page authority measures the authority of individual pages. So some pages can have a high authority indicating a high ranking potential while others will have a lower rating signifying they have lower potential to rank high in the search engines.
A Note of Caution
Avoid Buying Links to Gain Domain Authority
We have noted above that ranking and domain authority correlates. So the higher your domain authority, the more likely your website ranking will rise. Some SEOs and webmasters have been tempted by this to take every means that can increase their domain authority with the aim of getting an increase in their website ranking. One wrong way to do this is to buy backlinks.
You will find these offers to increase your domain authority everywhere. Please do not be tempted to accept them because they will rather kill your rank. Google has become smarter and since the introduction of RankBrain, Google has found a way to detect these spammy practices and will certainly penalize you.
Avoid All Attempts to Game the System
This is another warning you should take very seriously. Do not try to force Google to do anything or try to get Google to favor your website. Google has become very smart and frowns at every attempt to game the system. If Google gives you a warning like a 404 link error, check the link and correct the problem but do not go further than that. We advise you not to bother to submit for revalidation as Google will certainly crawl and see that the problem is resolved and the error will be no more.
Our big advice is that you do what is right and do not try to force Google to see that you have done the right thing.
There are several metrics that count in Search Engine Optimization. The metrics you can measure will depend on the tool you deploy. We have recommended three tools namely the Google Search Console, Google Analytic and the Bing Webmaster tools.
They can be enough to give you good insights into the metrics you need to monitor particularly your website bounce rate, errors, position and exit rate. You may want to combine some other advanced tools with the ones we have recommended to gain more insights into your website performance and also improve your SEO.