Tracking your SEO progress is an essential step in measuring your website's success. Having quality SEO metrics to keep an eye on is a crucial tool in measuring the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. But measuring everything is overkill. Striking the right balance is important, straying away from vanity metrics will save you a lot of time.
Here's a list of some metrics that are in most cases important to track and which tools you can use to track them with.
This is an obvious metric to track but probably the most important one as well. It's the main reason you're spending time and money on: to increase your organic search traffic.
Every visitor from organic traffic is a potential customer you can convert. And more traffic means more potential customers. Add on top of that the fact that this traffic is highly targeted (if you've done your job right) and you see why this is metric number one to improve.
By also keeping an eye on your search query data, you'll have very powerful and actionable insights. You'll discover keywords that are already bringing in some traffic but for which you might not have optimized your content.
To track this metric, you will need Google Analytics and Google Search Console (for the search queries).
You won't be surprised to hear that content quality is the one metric we're completely obsessed with at Dashword. It's only recently that SEO's have been considering content quality as a metric at all. The reason is simple: there were no easy ways of measuring it. With Dashword there is now a very concrete way to measure it and there are no more excuses for publishing low-quality content. Dashword looks at things like word count (relative to the competition), subject coverage (how in-depth is the content) to provide a consistent score of content.
Our recommended tool for this metric is Dashword but we've also written an article that lists the main alternatives so you can make an informed choice.
Tracking indexed pages will be especially crucial at the beginning of your project's SEO journey. Search engines can initially have trouble indexing some of your pages for various reasons. Sometimes simply because you forgot to link to them. Keeping an eye on this will allow you to take timely action and correct where needed.
This is another metric you can track through the Google Search Console. You want the indexed pages graph to grow nicely along with your website. There's a lot of useful information in there, including things like URL's blocked by robots.txt or pages that no longer exist.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website that leave after viewing only one single page. These visitors don't click on anything and don't convert further in your funnel either.
A high bounce rate isn't always a bad thing. For example: if visitors arrive on one of your blog posts, spend several minutes reading and then leave, that's not unusual. It can be a problem though if your website is set up in such a way where you want users to discover more of your content, go further down your funnel and convert for whatever it is you're selling.
It's also a good idea to compare your bounce rate between different acquisition channels. If it's particularly high for one channel, it could simply be a bad channel for your niche.
Google Analytics offers thorough insights into the bounce rate. And in case you wonder what's considered a reasonable bounce rate: 40%-50% is average but as often in SEO: it depends on your niche.
How much time do users spend on your website on average? It's important to note that session duration measures how long the user stays between all pages they visit, not a single page duration.
A long session duration means users are spending a lot of time and are getting value out of your content. A low one might mean that users aren't finding the content they were hoping to find. This is useful information that can help you improve your funnel and customer journey.
You can track session duration using Google Analytics. The only issue with this metric is that it doesn't tell you what users are doing on your website. To get a better understanding of how users are spending their time, you can use a tool like Smartlook to record screen usage.
Crawl errors are issues search engines run into when they try to index your website. These errors prevent Google and other search engines from correctly indexing your pages.
They can occur for different reasons: wrong server configurations, URL typos, redirect loops, or duplicate pages. Using Google Search Console, you can quickly identify them, and fixing is usually not a lot of work.
Referring domains is the number of unique domains linking to your website. Along with content quality, it's one of the most important factors in search engine optimization. Acquiring quality backlinks and correctly tracking them will be an essential part of your SEO efforts. Not all backlinks are equally important though. Backlinks from trusted high-profile domains are much more valuable and will have significantly more impact on your rankings.
This is the only metric on this list that you won't be able to track using a free tool. Here at Dashword, we use ahrefs to keep track of this, but if you look around there are cheaper alternatives as well.
Your page speed will impact both your bounce rate and session duration. In 2020 users have little patience for slow-loading websites, and you will lose customers if your website is slow. Especially on mobile, where connections are typically slower, it's critical for your website to feel fast and snappy and not test your users' patience.
But more importantly, page speed is also a ranking factor for search engines. ou don't want to be penalized on your rankings for something so easy to fix.
There are several tools out there that can help you identify what's slowing down your websites. One of our favorites at Dashword is tools.pingdom.com. It shows actionable advice, and there's always some low hanging fruit you can get fixed quickly.