How to Tell if Your SEO is Working
SEO is the art of optimizing websites to rank higher in search engine results, making it easier for users to discover your content when they search for relevant keywords. Understanding whether your SEO strategies are effective is crucial, as it ensures your site appears prominently whenever someone searches for topics you’ve covered.
So, how do you know if your SEO is working? Which metric should you be looking at to measure your SEO performance?
SEO is a long-term strategy, often requiring at least three months to start showing noticeable results. In some cases, it may take up to a year to observe more significant outcomes. To gauge the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, let’s explore the key indicators you should look for after running your campaigns for approximately three months.
Key Metrics to Measure SEO Performance
Measuring your SEO performance is about knowing the efficiency of your strategies and how well your website ranks in Google. Some of the valuable metrics to know you’re heading in the right direction include:
1. Your Organic Traffic
Organic traffic refers to the visits your site receives directly from search engine results, as opposed to paid sources like ads or pay-per-click campaigns.
For instance, when someone searches for ‘dog beds for small dogs’ and finds your category page about small dog breed beds in the search engine results page (SERP), their visit is considered organic. This type of traffic is crucial as it indicates your site’s relevance and visibility in natural search queries.
Your organic traffic shows how well your web pages rank on search engines for relevant keywords. It also shows how much quality traffic you can get from those keywords.
To check this metric, log into Google Search Console and head to Performance to see your organic ranking for the duration of your choosing.
You can also use paid tools like SEMRush, Moz, or Ahrefs to track this.
Monitoring your organic traffic is essential for assessing the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. A steady increase in organic visits suggests your efforts are yielding results, while stagnant or declining traffic may indicate the need for refining your SEO approach
2. Your Conversion Rate
Your conversion rate reflects the percentage of visitors who take a desired action on your site, such as making a purchase, becoming a lead, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading a resource.
If your SEO strategies are not effectively generating leads or sales, it may be time to reevaluate and adjust your approach. By closely monitoring your conversion rates, you can gain insights into whether your content is successfully driving the desired actions from your audience.
3. Keyword Rankings & Positioning
Keyword ranking refers to the position of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords.
Generally, a higher ranking increases your site’s visibility, potentially leading to more traffic. However, a high rank doesn’t guarantee clicks; it primarily ensures your site is visible to users searching for those terms. Regularly tracking your keyword rankings is crucial as it helps identify the most effective keywords for driving organic traffic and ultimately, achieving your SEO goals, including increased sales.
If your targeted keywords are not ranking as expected, this insight can guide you to analyze your competitors’ strategies and refine your own for better performance in search engine rankings.
Visit this page to find some tools to monitor or check your rankings in Google.
4. Build Domain & Page Authority
Domain authority is a metric that serves as a reputation score for websites, designed to estimate their likelihood of ranking high in search engine results. This score reflects the perceived authority and credibility of a website in its niche.
A website with high domain authority is like a well-respected expert in a town— people are more likely to come to you for industry advice because many other reputable sources have recommended (or linked to) you.
Your domain authority and page authority are determined by the quality of the backlinks you’ve received.
While domain authority means the quality of your website, page authority refers to the quality of links to a single webpage on your website.
Tracking these two predicts your performance on search engines because the higher the domain authority, the easier it is for your website to rank on SERPs.
Use tools like Moz’s Free Domain Authority Checker to check your domain authority.
These tools will rank your website on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more authoritative your website is perceived.
If your score is low, what do you do?
- Create High-Quality Content: Publish well-researched, original, and valuable content that meets the needs of your audience. This includes in-depth articles, engaging videos, infographics, and more. High-quality content can attract backlinks naturally.
- Build High-Quality Backlinks: Focus on acquiring backlinks from reputable, authoritative websites. This can be achieved through guest blogging, collaborations, and creating content that’s worth linking to, like original research or comprehensive guides.
5. Consider Page speed & Mobile Optimization
Page speed indicates how fast your web pages load, regardless of the browsers or devices a user uses.
According to Google, your website’s bounce rate increases by 32% when the loading time exceeds two seconds. The average human attention span is getting shorter, and your page should load faster.
You can improve your page speed by:
- Using a content delivery network (CDN) as part of the features of your cloud services;
- Compressing your images.
Read about other technical SEO fixes you can make on your website here.
Aside from page speed, optimize your website for mobile. Over 92.3% of internet users access the internet via mobile, and over 55% of web traffic comes via mobile.
Your bounce rate will increase, and you could lose valuable customers if your web isn’t navigable via mobile.
To ensure your website is optimized for mobile, go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test—type in your website’s URL, and test for mobile optimization.
6. Bounce Rate & Average Time on Site
Your site’s bounce rate is the number of users who visit your site and leave without interacting or navigating to any other page.
This could mean that they only read one blog post, they didn’t click on a link to another page, fill out a form, or perform any other action. They came and left.
The bounce rate metric helps you know if visitors find your web pages helpful or not.
Some of the factors that lead to a high bounce rate include
- Slow page speed
- Lack of quality content
- Hard to navigate website
- Ineffective call to action
However, a high bounce rate isn’t always a red flag. If you’re creating content for visitors to absorb and exit, a high bounce rate can be expected.
But if you want them to take action, then watch out for the metrics to readjust where necessary.
Note: bounce rates are influenced by the type of website, the industry, the source of your traffic, and the expectations of your visitors when they click on your content.
Here’s the average bounce rate based on your industry:
7. Are Your Backlinks and Referral Traffic Increasing?
You already know what backlinks are: They are the links to your pages from other websites. Having quality backlinks from reputable websites can lead to good referral traffic.
You may find that your backlinks are high, but you’re not getting any traffic. That’s courtesy of quality and relavancy.
Buying cheap and low-quality backlinks from Fiverr or using pay-for-performance SEO methods won’t boost your SEO performance.
Instead, focus on creating quality content that’ll make people want to refer to your pages, and you’re good to go.
Best Practices for Measuring SEO Performance
Developing and executing an SEO strategy is a comprehensive process, not a just a set of actions. Effective SEO campaigns require patience, as significant results often take time to manifest. During this period, it’s important to employ best practices for monitoring your progress and identifying areas for improvement.
Use Google Analytics and Other Tracking Tools
Google Analytics is a go-to tool for monitoring your performance metrics.
It can be integrated with Google Search Console to uncover several trends and patterns in how web users interact with your web pages.
You can also use free and paid SEO tools like SEMRush, Moz, Ahrefs, SE Ranking, and Google Pagespeed Tools.
Monitor Organic Keyword Rankings Regularly
Monitoring your keyword rankings must be a consistent activity to track the success of your SEO efforts so you can adjust where necessary.
For example, monitoring your organic traffic lets you know which pages have declined or are no longer getting the clicks they should be getting. This usually happens after changes in Google’s algorithm or your competitors create content that fills more gaps.
Tracking keyword rankings lets you know whether to update your content, add relevant images, schema markup, or optimize for mobile.
To set up a recurring monitoring system, choose an SEO tool. This could be Google’s Search Console, Moz, or SEMRush, among others.
Then, you set up tracking. How?
Enter the keywords you want to track into the SEO tool you’ve chosen. Some tools, like Moz Pro and SEMRush, will let you add keywords to your project manually to track their rankings.
Once the keywords are in, schedule regular reports — daily, weekly, or monthly. You can then analyze the reports the SEO tool generates and adjust your strategy based on the results.
PS: Rankings can fluctuate frequently, so look at long-term trends rather than little daily changes.
Actionable Insights from SEO Data
Each metric, whether it’s organic traffic, the number and quality of backlinks, or other key performance indicators, is grounded in data. With this data readily available, the critical question is: How can you effectively analyze and utilize it to enhance your SEO performance?
Translate Data into SEO Strategy
- Identify Gaps and Opportunities: Analyze your SEO metrics to pinpoint areas needing improvement. For instance, a decrease in domain authority suggests a need to collaborate with authoritative websites through guest posts and secure backlinks to your pages.
- Boost Traffic: If your website traffic is lower than expected, investigate potential content gaps. Enhance your meta tags for better visibility and focus on technical SEO improvements to make your site more search engine friendly.
- Address High Bounce Rates: A high bounce rate might indicate that your content isn’t aligning with your audience’s needs or expectations. Empathize with your users and compare your content with that of your competitors to understand and rectify any shortcomings.
- Backlink Quality Assessment: Regularly review the quality of your backlinks. Look for patterns in the types of sites linking to you and strive to attract links from reputable sources.
- Intensify Outreach Efforts: Aim to secure backlinks from high-authority sites. This not only enhances the perceived value of your web pages but also improves their performance in search engine results pages (SERPs).
By strategically analyzing and applying your SEO data, you can refine your approach, target areas of weakness, and strengthen your overall SEO strategy.
Continuous Improvement Cycle for SEO
- Leverage Data for SEO Enhancement: Utilize data analytics to identify areas where your site may be underperforming. This insight is crucial in understanding why your current SEO efforts might not be yielding the desired results.
- Set Clear, Data-Driven Goals: Based on your analysis, establish specific, measurable goals. These should directly address the insights gained from your data.
- Implement Targeted Actions: Depending on your goals, these actions can vary. They might include updating your content to align with emerging trends, enhancing mobile-friendliness for better user experience, or optimizing your site for higher engagement and longer visit durations.
- Monitor Changes and Measure Impact: After implementing changes, it’s essential to track the relevant metrics. For example, monitor how updates to content with high commercial intent keywords affect your keyword rankings and conversion rates.
- Benchmark Against Competitors: Regularly compare your performance with that of your competitors. Analyze the types of content they publish, the topics they cover, and how they engage their audience. This comparison can provide valuable insights into potential areas for your own content strategy.
By adopting this cycle of continuous improvement, you can make data-informed decisions, refine your SEO strategies over time, and stay competitive in your industry.
Focusing on SEO can be a long-term commitment, but it’s one that can yield substantial results. By focusing on the right metrics, you can effectively track and enhance the aspects of your SEO strategy that directly contribute to your business’s revenue growth.
It’s important to remember that while black hat SEO tactics might offer quick gains, they are often fleeting and can damage your long-term online presence.
On the other hand, ethical SEO practices lay a strong foundation for your digital strategy, adding real value for your audience and upholding your website’s integrity.
Google recognizes and rewards such ethical practices with improved search performance.
Regularly monitoring these practices is key to understanding what is effective and what needs adjustment in your SEO strategy.