Semalt Advice On How To Track SEO Progress

All marketing activities should be tracked clearly and accurately. This will allow you to know what needs to be improved or changed to have more profitability in your business.

So, which metrics to study, how to monitor the work of an agency or a freelancer? In this article, you will find everything about key performance indicators for positioning. In addition, you will discover the right tool to use to best accomplish such a task.

Introduction to KPIs

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. They can be any metric that allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing activities - sessions, form fill, events, impressions, sales - the possibilities are endless and the choice of KPIs is ultimately up to you.

The subject is vast, touching on advanced analytics, the issue of attribution, i.e. the combination of cause and effect, and the technological aspects, because KPIs must above all be measurable.

The measurability of KPIs in SEO

Ultimately, the effectiveness index answers the question of what activities actually build the business. There is no more valuable information in e-commerce.

In SEO, we adjust the effectiveness indicators to two goals we need to pursue. They will be:
  • increasing traffic from organic sources;
  • increasing the quality of such traffic.
One without the other is meaningless. Neither a large amount of useless traffic nor a small amount of good traffic will allow us to grow our business. Therefore, we always pursue these goals together.

Of course, our overall goal can be very diverse and may involve building brand authority or changing the public opinion of the brand, or even wanting to sell the business at the highest possible price. We tailor SEO activities to this goal, but we will always be interested in the quantity and quality of traffic. With these goals in mind, we can look for KPIs for ourselves.

Also, you need to understand that the KPI is closely related to conversion. Indeed, conversion is a phenomenon that contributes to the achievement of a goal. That's why, in business, you always set a conversion rate. In fact, it could all be a conversion. It's up to you to decide how you organize your analysis.

What is the conversion rate?

The conversion rate can be your first KPI. Most often, it will be a sale in the form of a purchase of goods, an order for a service, or the creation of a paying account. It will be an event that will bring you a unit profit.

Keep in mind that even though SEO is focused on content activities, by generating traffic for example on a blog, by increasing brand awareness, you can increase sales in the store.

The problem, however, is that this clear success rate is an overall indicator. It tells us little about what triggered the transaction other than identifying the source. In SEO, we need more information and a bigger picture. You can have hundreds of metrics, and just a few KPIs.

If you open Google Analytics, you will immediately get dozens of different indicators that show trends, changes, events. This amount can overwhelm and, worse, disrupt our analysis.

KPIs are just selected indicators, the most important ones. Identify them and stick to them to keep track of your progress. It is very important.

What KPIs for SEO?

Since we are interested in the quantity of traffic and its quality in SEO, we need KPIs for both. Let's start with quality because we need to monitor it for all sources of traffic and activity.

How to measure the quality of SEO traffic?

When it comes to traffic quality, we can use the same metrics we use for other traffic channels. These can be:
  • the sale already mentioned;
  • filling out the application form;
  • registering for a training course;
  • the time of the visit to the site;
  • event implemented in GA for the item read;
  • or even a phone call.
In this aspect, each company can apply its own individual solutions. Monitoring KPIs on traffic quality is extremely important if you are just starting your SEO strategy or simply changing it, as traffic quantity alone will not always translate into success.

The quality of organic traffic depends on:
  • phrases from which users come to us;
  • where they search for us (both location and devices);
  • the appearance of snippets in the SERPs;
  • the appearance of our pages when users visit them;
  • and many other minor factors.
Also, remember that as the season and trends change, your key phrases will change, as will the quality of traffic. Keyword management is very important here.

How do you measure the amount of traffic in SEO?

Traffic quantity is influenced by many factors, but they all boil down to visits from organic sources, which is the basic KPI. You can find this information in your Google Analytics.

In SEO, however, you need to measure a little more, as your traffic is influenced by:
  • the number of phrases on which the page is displayed;
  • the potential of these phrases (in search volume);
  • the position of your site in the results (SERP);
  • the appearance of snippets in the results;
  • the appearance of the SERPs themselves (on which you have little influence);
  • context actions (from general recognition to special actions);
  • other external factors (there are many, for example, Google Ads).
What is important, in organic traffic, is the classic (web) results, various additional formats in the classic (e.g., Google News) and photo (image search) results, as well as Google Maps and YouTube. You may or may not have separate KPIs for each form of traffic.

Note that there are many factors beyond your control, including competition, changes in the look and feel of the search engine, new Google features, as well as cultural, social and economic phenomena such as pandemics or weather. It is worth monitoring these in relation to the KPIs in order to be able to quickly exclude extraneous phenomena in the event of a change in the trend of the metrics.

The impact of factors on SEO KPIs

That's a lot of factors, indicators and information. Which of them deserve to be treated as KPIs?

SEO tools help monitor all of this, and some of these tools such as the Dedicated SEO Dashboard even have their own visibility indicators that accumulate data on positions and search potential.

KPI: Organic Visibility

This could be your first KPI for this SEO objective, which is visibility using tools like the Dedicated SEO Dashboard. Visibility is an attempt to show on a graph how well our website is displayed on Google. The higher the visibility, the higher the traffic.

However, note that the DSD (Dedicated SEO Dashboard) collects, counts and displays the data differently. Before you accept such a KPI in your business, understand how it works!

The DSD, for example, creates a huge database of key phrases, for which each phrase has an estimated value based on its potential (mainly search volume), and then, based on the position in the results, each domain has a counted sum of the values of all phrases. In this way, we can compare the overall visibility between domains and observe trends over time. Such a metric is resistant to seasons, sudden changes in trends and clearly shows changes in the case of Google's algorithm updates. Learn more about the Dedicated SEO Dashboard features and tools at

KPI: Google Search Console

The Google tool provides a lot of information about traffic, phrases and pages in the organic results. There are several metrics in this tool that we can treat as KPIs.

Average rank in the SERPs

The best way to measure the effects of any optimization work and technical corrections is to use the average position. This is the strongest signal we can get from Google, and it will confirm the right direction of optimization changes or link building activities.

The high average position of phrases proves high authority in the eyes of Google.

It is important to note that a drop in average position does not always mean something bad. Sometimes the decline is due to the fact that our site has started to appear on new phrases that are not yet in a good position. In such a situation, the drop is the most positive sign.

With averaging measures, one should always be careful about the grouping of data, the time range and the situations in which the sentence goes off the scale (then GSC returns 0). This can seriously distort the results.

Impressions in SERPs

Search Console impressions are an excellent source of trend information. If the number of views is increasing and the average position of a phrase is not increasing, it means that we are dealing with a trend, a change of season or an event that affects the interest in the industry.

Remember, an increase in impressions, as well as a decrease in average position, means that your page is showing up for more phrases. If the number of clicks increases at the same time, all the better!

Search Console also allows you to monitor these metrics for image search. This is currently the best source of knowledge about how our domain is performing in this channel, which for many industries is even more important than the traditional results.

KPIs: for link building

There is another aspect that is very difficult to control in SEO link building. Here again, we need performance indicators. Of course, if we develop our main KPIs (traffic, visibility), we can attribute some of this success to off-site activities.

More direct measures are the number of links acquired, the authority and strength of the pages from which these links come, measured by an SEO tool such as the SEO Dashboard. Each signal proving the high value of the domain can be considered as a metric that helps to evaluate link building.

Note here: each of these metrics is an attempt to decipher how Google's power flow works, and they could all be wrong.

KPIs for link building activities are the most difficult to measure in SEO.

You can also monitor your activities in this area in one of the DSD features, which displays a list of domains with the most links, but this is only a confirmation that the links obtained have been noticed by Google.

How do you assign KPIs to SEO activities?

Start by reviewing your SEO strategy and grouping the most important activities - and the more resources an activity is dedicated to, the closer we need to monitor it.

Next, segment your keywords by category, season and business value. Look at the most important metrics across these divisions to react quickly when, for example, visibility drops affect an important section of the website. General data can mask the extent of declines or gains on pages that are critical to you.

If you run content activities, assign different objectives and KPIs to them. Articles may also not perform the primary conversion, but they can build brand awareness or increase the effectiveness of link building activities. Don't underestimate the value of phrases on intent to seek information.

Technical implementations can also implement KPIs, but we shouldn't force them together. In this case, the goal for the developer is to fix technical issues, speed up the page, better manage the crawl budget. The sum of these implementations can affect the performance of the KPIs, but there are too many indirect factors between code improvement and traffic increase for this relationship to be fully measurable.

KPI in SEO strategy

We can have a lot of performance metrics right from the beginning of the SEO strategy implementation. However, keep in mind that success in this industry takes months or even years. Key performance indicators may not flinch for a long time. Before that happens, you can monitor minor metrics such as page count or inbound backlinks in the GSC report.

Also remember that success also depends on creativity, intelligence and sometimes seizing the right opportunity, so first make sure your SEO strategy is well thought out and implemented, then measure it with selected business-specific KPIs.

Interested in SEO? Check out our other articles on the Semalt blog.