When considering the right KPIs for measuring organic growth, it’s important to step back and remember the fundamental difference between SEO compared to other inbound marketing channels. For example, paid search is fast-paced. You can create an AdWords account, build a campaign, set your bids and start bringing traffic to your site in a matter of minutes. SEO takes time, more like steering a big ship. Because of this, it’s important to analyze SEO KPIs over larger time intervals, and always in context.
(Use your preferred analytics platform and Google Webmaster Tools to find this data.)
- Amplification – Organic traffic is free, so you’re spared the constant cost/benefit analysis required by your paid channels. This metric measures the rate of growth of your organic traffic. Use it to understand how organic traffic is growing or shrinking over time. Start with at least a three month comparison window.
- Click-thru-Rate (CTR) – Amount of clicks on your organic listing divided by impressions. A high CTR means users are finding your site relevant to the search queries they’re using. A low CTR means your site is not appearing prominently or indexed for the wrong types of searches.
- Average Position - The average position in which your listing appears on Google Search. The higher, the better.
- Bounce Rate - The rate at which visitors reach your site and leave without viewing more than one page.
- Share of Search - The percentage of time that your website appeared on the first page of organic results.
You may notice that keyword KPIs are not included here. Google recently made organic keyword data invisible, lumping the vast majority of terms into a blanket category called “Not Provided”. However, there are still a few ways to get sense of which terms are working best for you.
- Organic Landing Pages Report – Segment for organic traffic only and look at the page titles of the landing pages with highest conversion rates, lowest bounce rate, average time on site, etc. Assuming you have a good title structure, this can give you a good idea of the kinds of organic searches that are delivering results.
- Site Search Report - If you have an internal site search bar, you can still see the keywords used to find what they were looking for on your site. This report was a goldmine even before Google’s dreaded switch to “Not Provided” because users are literally telling you what they’re looking for. Use this keyword report to optimize your content, but go a step further and use the report’s drill down metrics such as % search refinements, time after search, and search depth to gain larger insights about your site’s usability.
- Paid Search Keyword Report – Organic terms reporting may now be unavailable, but not paid search. It’s likely your high performing paid terms will also be effective on the organic side. Use the keyword-level performance of your paid search campaigns for SEO.
- Search Term CTR - You can still view CTR by search term in Google Webmaster Tools. Use it to better understand the relevance of specific terms to your SERP listings.
As with any channel, identifying the right KPIs for growth measurement will come down to your unique business and goals. While the metrics included here are all great indicators for organic performance, they are only indicators, and don’t necessarily correspond to your ultimate sales goals. Don’t forget to measure the ultimate success of all your marketing channels in the larger context of your site engagement and conversion performance.
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