SEO is a changeable landscape. With a myriad of different ranking factors and constant updates to client sites, it can be difficult to prove the value of SEO.
Thankfully, you can use SEO Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to do just that.
SEO KPIs are quantifiable metrics used to measure the effectiveness of SEO strategies. They help you show clients their investment in SEO is paying off.
It’s not solely about showcasing your victories, though. These SEO metrics can also reveal areas you and your clients need to improve in.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What SEO KPIs are
- Why they are important
- The top 10 key performance indicators
What Is An SEO KPI?
An SEO KPI is a metric used to measure the effectiveness of an SEO strategy. It provides a tangible benchmark so that performance can be accurately measured.
Because SEO KPIs are situational, there is a huge range of metrics you can track.
For example, an ecommerce website will prioritize conversions-based metrics, while a content-driven site will focus more on traffic and user engagement.
Each KPI serves a specific purpose in evaluating the effectiveness of search engine optimization tactics.
Why Are SEO KPIs Needed?
For clients, SEO KPIs provide clarity and direction. Without clear KPIs, they would be unsure of the impact of SEO strategies and not sure that they are worth investing in.
For agencies, SEO KPIs are how you prove your worth and keep your clients happy.
Don’t sell SEO, sell the result:
– Brand Awareness
Every business wants those results, they don’t care about the technical aspects.
— Chris M. Walker 👨💻📩💸 (@cmwalker) April 28, 2022
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind the need for SEO KPIs:
SEO KPIs give a clear picture of how a website is performing in search results. They provide concrete data that can be used to measure whether SEO strategies are delivering desired outcomes.
Identify Performance Gaps
Monitoring KPIs can reveal areas that are underperforming or need improvement. This data-driven approach helps you fine-tune your tactics and maximize the impact of your strategy.
Every client wants to see a return and be confident their SEO investment is paying off.
The right SEO KPIs help you evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for SEO and justify budget allocation.
SEO KPIs serve as realistic and achievable goals. These measurable objectives provide direction and focus. They also hold you accountable for achieving what you set out to.
Benchmarking Against Competitors
You can use SEO KPIs to benchmark your performance against competitors. This gives you a better idea of what you can achieve with SEO and how to get a competitive advantage.
The Top 10 SEO KPIs
Each of the KPIs below can provide valuable insights for a range of business models.
It doesn’t matter if your client is an ecommerce store or an affiliate site, these are the most important SEO metrics you should be tracking.
1. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Customer lifetime value is a KPI that goes beyond immediate conversions. It measures the long-term value a customer brings to a business over their lifetime.
Here’s the formula to calculate CLV:
CLV = (Average Purchase Value) x (Number of Repeat Transactions) x (Average Customer Lifespan)
You can use CLV to identify the most profitable customer segments. This can help you optimize your SEO efforts.
For example, you might find that certain long-tail keywords attract high-value customers more than generic head terms. You can use those insights to optimize your keyword research strategy.
It’s completely up to your client what they want to optimize for, but CLV can help identify low-level customers that might cumulatively spend more than a customer that buys a single big-ticket item and leaves.
2. Average Engagement Time (AET)
This metric measures the average length of time users are engaged on your website.
You can see AET in your Google Analytics account:
A longer average engagement time indicates that users found your content relevant and valuable.
Monitoring AET over time lets you see if your SEO and content strategy resonates with users. You can measure this metric at a site or page level.
A low AET could signify that something needs to improve with your keyword selection, content, or user experience. Make sure your clients are meeting user search intent with their content to improve their
Conversions are the ultimate goal of any SEO strategy.
Tracking conversions helps you measure the performance of your SEO efforts in attracting visitors and convincing them to take action.
What counts as a conversion depends on the business. It could be making a purchase or submitting a lead form.
Effective SEO is about driving conversions, not traffic.
— Nathan Gotch (@nathangotch) December 22, 2022
Measuring organic conversions is the most effective way to demonstrate the value of your SEO services.
You can set up and track conversions in Google Analytics.
It’s important to track the total number of conversions and the conversion rate.
The conversion rate is the percentage of organic visitors that convert over a set period. This will help you get a more accurate view of conversion performance, as traffic can fluctuate over time.
4. Accurate Search Visibility KPIs
These KPIs assess a website’s visibility in search engine results.
The traditional way to do this would be to track impressions in Google Search Console:
But the search engine results pages (SERPs) have changed.
Let’s say you rank in the fourth position for one of your target keywords. But the SERP also has a featured snippet, a People Also Ask (PAA) section, and a selection of video results.
Three additional SERP features appear above you, and three regular search results. So your search visibility is much lower than a traditional fourth-placed search engine ranking.
To get a more accurate gauge of visibility in the SERP, you can use SEO tools like Ahrefs that provide a search visibility metric.
Ahrefs’ search visibility measures the clicks on search results for tracked keywords and shows the percentage of clicks your website attracts.
You could also measure “pixel position.”
Pixel position measures search visibility in pixels. It shows you the number of pixels from the top of the SERP to your result.
Both of these SEO metrics can provide a more accurate indication of search engine visibility.
5. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Cost per acquisition measures the cost of converting a new customer or lead through your SEO efforts.
You can use CPA to demonstrate the value of your services to clients.
It takes into account the total cost of SEO. If you use a retainer pricing model, it should be easy to calculate the SEO costs for a client.
Once you know the total cost of SEO, you can use the following formula to calculate CPA:
SEO Cost / Conversions = CPA
If the CPA is high, it may indicate that you’re focusing on the wrong keywords. You might be attracting an audience that is unlikely to convert on your offer.
You may also need to optimize your landing pages or adjust your content strategy.
6. Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is the most important metric for every client. They want to know what they are getting in return for the money they spend on SEO.
You can calculate SEO ROI by comparing the revenue generated by organic traffic compared to the SEO costs incurred.
Positive ROI shows that the SEO campaign has delivered results.
But accurately measuring ROI isn’t easy. It can take time to see results.
For example, a new piece of content might cost $500 to create and publish. You might spend another $500 on building links to the page.
If you measured ROI in the first month, it would be a net loss of $1,000.
But if you calculated ROI six months later, you may find that the content has generated over $4,000 worth of new leads for the business.
Getting to grips with ROI can be challenging. Check out our in-depth guide to learn how to accurately measure SEO ROI for ecommerce and lead-gen campaigns.
7. Keyword Rankings
Keyword rankings are the most popular way to measure SEO performance. You can track the rankings of targeted keywords to assess visibility in search engine results.
Generally, the higher you rank in search results, the more organic search traffic you will attract from Google.
Search engines are getting better at understanding the context behind a search. With semantic SEO, a web page can rank for hundreds of different keywords.
Tracking your keyword ranking can help you demonstrate improvement in search visibility.
It can also show you potential keyword opportunities. Comparing your keyword rankings to competitors can reveal content topics you have yet to cover.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors.
When high-authority, relevant websites link back to you, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. And Google rewards you with higher search rankings.
You need to measure backlinks to show clients how you are building their link profile and optimizing for off-page SEO.
The focus should be on building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. These links can boost domain authority and significantly impact visibility in search results.
Link building should be a key focus if you’re working on a new website or starting a contract with a new client.
🎯Pro SEO Tip: For the first 6 months of your SEO work, your #1 KPI should be your output.
The more content you publish and the more backlinks you build, the better you’ll rank down the line.
— Nick Zviadadze 🇺🇦 (@Nick_zv_) December 7, 2022
You can compare your backlinks to competitors to gain insights into the strength of your link profile. Competitor research can also reveal opportunities for new backlinks.
9. Organic CTR
Organic click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of users who click on a website after seeing it in search results.
You can use the performance report in Google Search Console to see the CTR of specific pages and search queries:
The higher your CTR, the more people you attract to your site from Google SERPs.
You can compare your organic CTR to overall averages to get a rough idea of how well your pages are performing.
Organic CTR can also show you how relevant and eye-catching your title tags and meta descriptions are. You can use this metric to measure the impact of your optimization efforts.
10. New And Returning Users
New and returning users help you understand the effectiveness of your SEO and retention strategies.
New users refers to the number of unique visitors who access your website for the first time over a specified period, usually a month. An increase in new users suggests that your SEO efforts are increasing visibility and attracting a larger target audience.
Returning users are the number of people who visited the website before and returned for another session within a specified period. A high number of returning users indicate your content is relevant and valuable enough to bring visitors back.
These metrics can reveal insights into your SEO and content strategy.
For example, you may have a high new user count but a low number of returning visitors. That could suggest that you need to pay more attention to users further down the sales funnel.
On the other hand, low new user counts with strong returning users could signal you need to expand your top-of-the-funnel efforts. You should create more content targeting users in the awareness stage.
Set Clear KPIs For Your Deliverables
Setting clear KPIs for your SEO deliverables is essential for attracting and retaining agency clients. It’s how you measure SEO success, demonstrate the value of your services, and showcase your agency’s expertise.
Clear deliverables are specific, actionable goals that align with business objectives.
Your clients will judge your agency’s performance through these KPIs, so make sure your deliverables are measurable and achievable.
Easier To Outsource And Scale
Having well-defined KPIs to track makes outsourcing SEO more streamlined and scalable.
Clear KPIs provide a shared understanding of expectations and outcomes when collaborating with external partners. You can make sure everyone is on the same page and understands what success looks like.
For example, let’s say you’re working on a client’s link profile. You can research competitors to determine how many DR 50 backlinks you need to rank for your target keyword.
Then, you can work with a link building partner like FATJOE to secure those links.
Your partner knows what they need to accomplish, and your client can see the measurable impact on their link profile.
Proving Your Value With SEO KPIs
Setting clear KPIs aligned with your client’s business goals demonstrates your commitment to delivering measurable results.
You can show how your SEO efforts directly impact your client’s visibility and bottom line. That’s how you build trust and confidence in your services.
Position your agency as a reliable and results-oriented partner.
Head of Content
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