Here is a complete list of important SEO metrics (or KPIs), that will help to prove an efficiency of SEO effort or calculate your SEO ROI. I sorted these metrics by main areas, which they cover – traffic, backlinks, conversions, etc. Also, you can find what is the best tool to check each metric (at least what works for me).

Contents:

1. Traffic related metrics

2. Engagement metrics

3. Content metrics

4. Authority metrics

5. Backlink metrics

6. Keyword metrics

7. Local search metrics

8. Mobile search metrics

9. Two metrics that matter

 

Traffic

1. Organic Traffic

Tool: Google analytics

Traffic, which comes to your site from organic search. That’s an essential and one of the most important SEO metrics after all.

Tracking organic traffic is pretty easy with Google Analytics. From your dashboard go to Acquisition -> Overview.

Check organic traffic in Google analytics

If you want to see Organic traffic compared to all traffic, add a new segment.

Organic traffic as a percentage of all traffic

 

Also, I find quite useful to compare organic traffic with previous period. This way you can see if it’s growing or not.

To do that, in GA go to top right corner and select Compare to -> Previous period

Compare to previous period Google Analytics

There are many aspects how you can analyze your organic traffic – sort by page, by location (and dozens others – gender, search query).

Here are top ways to filter and analyze your organic traffic by specific aspects.

Audience
  • Demographics – see visitors of specific age or gender.
  • GEO – see location and language.
  • Behaviour – returning and new users.
  • Technology – browser and OS.
  • Devices – see breakdown of all devices.
  • Landing page – See how many users visited a specific landing page/blog post during selected period.
Acquisition

Sources – all main mediums and sources (Organic, Direct, Referral, Social, Email, Paid, etc)

Referrals – see from which sites you get some referral traffic.

Campaigns – see traffic from your campaigns.

Behaviour

See traffic to specific landing pages or blog posts.

Now, there are different ways to calculate traffic.

1. Number of sessions

2. Number of users

Number of users who visit your website every month.

3. Number of pageviews

Number of viewed pages on your site, during selected period. Very often, bloggers and publishers show this metric instead of sessions (to fake more traffic), as number of page views will always be higher than nr of sessions.

2. Conversion Rate for Organic Search

Tool: Google analytics

This is probably, the most important SEO metric. In overall, all other metrics doesn’t matter, if you can’t provide conversions (signups, sales, etc), coming from Google search.

Examples of your goals in Google analytics can look like this:

  • Making a purchase
  • Email signups
  • Phone calls
  • Form submissions

Go to Conversions -> Goals -> Overview

Goals from Google Organic

Check out this video about creating goals in Google Analytics.

3. Mobile Traffic

Tool: Google Analytics

For Google, mobile is king 🤴

More and more Google traffic comes from mobile.

Recently, I received message from Google Webmasters about mobile first indexing, which means that for this particular site, Google will first index content on mobile and than on desktop. It’s a massive shift.

Mobile first indexing

So, to check your mobile traffic in Google Analytics, go to Audience -> Mobile -> Overview.

Mobile traffic in Google

 

4. Top Exit Pages

Tool: Google analytics

Exit pages – are last pages, which users see on your site. You should investigate why it’s happening.

To check your top exit pages go to Behaviour -> Site Content -> Exit pages

Check exit pages in GA

5. CTR – click-through-rate

Tool: Search Console

Search Console offers unique insight into how many people click to your site, after seeing snippet in search results. You should pay your attention to this stat – it hints about how your content appeals to readers.

Sometimes, your page can rank really high, but have a low CTR – maybe title, meta description is weak or not appealing, etc.

You can look up CTR by a specific keyword or landing page.

CTR in Search Console

🙌SEO hack 🙌

Pay attention to pages with low CTR – you should optimize them – and you will get more traffic quite fast.

In order to do that, just sort your pages in Search console with high amount of impressions and low amount of clicks; or by low CTR and big number of impressions. There are your target pages. Think of putting more keywords in content, optimizing title, meta description, extending your content, etc.

In image below, I filtered some of pages with high number of impressions, but low CTR and low number of clicks – these pages need on-page SEO adjustments.

Pages with low CTR

6. Returning visitors

Tool: Google Analytics

If people like your site and content, they will return to it again and again.

On other hand, if your content sucks, it will be much harder to retain visitors.

Percentage of returning visitors shouldn’t be less than 25% – then it’s a proof that you have good content. Of course, it depends on your niche: e-commerce sites will have a higher return rate, than informational sites.

There are number of ways how to boost a number of returning visitors to your site:

 – Retargeting

 – Emails

 – Push notifications

You can check percentage of returning visitors in GA, on your dashboard navigate to Audience -> Overview. 

New with returning visitors

7. Traffic Value

Tool: Ahrefs

The value for your traffic, if you would start bidding for same keywords on Google Ads. This is an estimate number in Ahrefs.

So, if you would pay for keyword 1 $3 per click – Cost-per-Click (CPC) and you are getting 100 visits from that keyword per month – traffic value would be $300.

In this example, I’m checking traffic values for the whole website:

Overall traffic value in Ahrefs

or for specific pages on your blog.

Traffic value in Ahrefs

You can also check traffic estimate and value for other sites. Here is an overview of NeilPatel.com.

Its traffic value is cool 3M per month.

Neil Patel traffic value

 

Engagement metrics

8. Bounce Rate for Organic Search

Tool: Google analytics

Number of users who “bounced” from your site after viewing only one page or only one event. The lower it is – the better.

Official explanation of Bounce rate from Google:

A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

Of course, you can filter bounce rate for specific pages, campaigns, sources (Organic search), etc.

Bounce rate
Total bounce rate

9. Time on site

Tool: Google Analytics

Session time metrics

Also, called – session duration.

It’s one of the key metrics for search engines. 

By session time, Google, Bing and other search engines, identify if your content is worthy enough to rank high in search results.

If users are eager to stay on your page for a longer time – it’s good sign for Google, that there is some worthy content. On the other hand, if users immediately bounce, your page will rank lower.

10. Pages per visit

Tool: Google Analytics

The number of pages your users visit on average before leaving the site.

You check this metric in Google analytics by going to Audience tab -> Overview.

pages per session

 

Content

11. Indexed pages

Tool: Search console

Indexed pages in Google

You need to pay attention to number of pages, which are indexed by Google. Because, if page isn’t indexed – it just won’t appear in Google search.

Also, take a look at how many pages are indexed relative to how many were submitted in your sitemap. If there is a big discrepancy – you submitted 5K pages and only 1K is indexed, it means that quality of your pages is poor.

But, you can try to request manual indexing in Search Console.

12. Pages crawled per day

Tool: Search Console

You can see how many pages are being crawled per day. If your site has thousands of pages and only a small percentage of them is being crawled – that can be a problem.

13. Crawl errors

Crawl errors in Search console

If there is a crawl error on some page, there is a risk it won’t be indexed by Google -> therefore it won’t be visible in search results. So, you need to pay attention to that.

14. Duplicate titles and meta descriptions

In Search Console and many other tools (Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, etc) – you can see where you have duplicate content. It’s better to fix that.

15. Other errors in Search Console

There is a number of other errors in Search console you need to look at. Usually, if it’s something significant, you will be notified to your email (with which you signed up for Search Console). Some error examples can be: AMP errors, structured data errors, etc.

 

Authority Metrics

Domain/page-related metrics are one of the most important in SEO, as they reflect how strong is the backlink profile of some page or domain. What is one of the most important ranking factors for Google.

16. Domain Rating in Ahrefs (DR)

Tool: Ahrefs

Strength of your domain. You can measure it in Ahrefs – basically this metric reflects the power of your backlink profile.

How Ahrefs describes it: Domain Rating is a metric that shows the “link popularity” of your website compared to all other websites in the world on a scale from 0 to 100.

How they calculate it (from Ahrefs blog):

  1. Look at how many unique domains have at least 1 dofollow link to the target website;
  2. Take into account the DR values of those linking domains;
  3. Take into account how many unique domains each of those websites link to;
  4. Apply some math and coding magic to calculate “raw” DR scores;
  5. Plot these scores on a 0–100 scale (which is dynamic in nature and will “stretch” over time).

IMHO, this is one of the most important SEO metrics in Ahrefs.

Read more: https://ahrefs.com/blog/dr-score/

Just enter your site url in Ahrefs dashboard.

Domain rating Ahrefs

17. URL rating in Ahrefs (UR)

While Domain Rating is a metric for the whole domain, UR is a backlink strength of a specific url.

Domain rating combines link power of all referring domains, while UR is only powered by domains, which link to this specific page – that’s why UR almost always is lower than DR.

UR in Ahrefs

 

18. Overall Ahrefs Rank (AR)

Ahrefs orders all websites in their database by their DR. Hence, AR is same as DR, but it just reflects your site overall position in relation to other sites. As Ahrefs explains it:

Ahrefs Rank orders all websites in our database by their “raw” DR values. So you can think of AR as a much more granular DR. For example, imgur.comted.com and hp.com all have the same DR of 91. But, clearly, their backlink profiles are different and there should be the strongest one and the weakest one among them, right?

You can see that by looking at their Ahrefs Rank:

  • Ahrefs Rank 307 — imgur.com
  • AR 308 — ted.com
  • AR 309 — hp.com

Ahrefs rank in Ahrefs

19. Moz Domain Authority (DA)

Backlink strength of your site – according to Moz.com. Overall, it’s a similar to Ahrefs DR. It’s a very popular metrics among bloggers.

Check this metric here: https://analytics.moz.com/pro/link-explorer

Domain Authority in Moz

20. Moz Page Authority (PA)

Strength of a specific URL, according to Moz.

In Moz, go to Top Pages.

Page Authority in Moz

 

21. Trust Flow – Majestic

Tool: Majestic

Similar metric to Moz DA from Majestic. A higher score means more trust to your domain.

Summary

An upwards movement in all these metrics means, that your domain becomes stronger and you are moving in the right direction with your SEO efforts.

Three main metrics in this area are: referring domains, backlinks and referring pages.

To give some context, one referring domain can contain number of referring pages, which also can contain hundreds of backlinks linking to your site.

Ahrefs also divides these metrics into Live, Recent and Historical.

22. Referring Domains

Tools: Ahrefs, Moz, Search Console, etc

Number of domains, that point to your domain. This is most important metric from 3 (Domains, Backlinks, Pages).

Referring domains Ahrefs

23. Backlinks

Number of links pointing to your site. There can be hundreds of backlinks pointing to your site from one domain.

Backlinks

24. Referring Pages

Number of pages, that link to your site.

Referring pages
Referring pages for backlinko.com

 

Keywords

There are number of keyword-related metrics in SEO.

25. Number of organic keywords

Tool: Ahrefs

Number of organic keywords your site ranks for in top 100 Google search results. Note, that number of keywords will be checked from from Ahrefs database of ~605 million keywords, it’s a massive number, but it’s still fewer than number of actual keywords in Google. That’s why:

…the number of organic keywords that you see in Ahrefs will almost always be smaller than the actual number of keywords for which your target ranks.

This is how it looks like in Ahrefs (image below) – you can see total number of keywords, growth over period of time, groups (keywords, which are in top #1-3, #4-10 or #11-100 positions). There also other tools, which will help to track your ranking.

Organic keywords in Ahrefs

 

26. Keyword Difficulty

This metric causes a lot of confusion in the industry. As in other tools, it should reflect how difficult it would be to rank for a specific keyword or phrase. Explanation from Ahrefs:

We calculate the Ahrefs KD score by taking a weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top‐10 ranking pages and then plotting the result on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100. It doesn’t take into account any other variables whatsoever. The resulting number, therefore, provides a reasonable estimation as to how many referring domains are needed to rank somewhere in the top 10 for your chosen keyword.

Overall, this is a quite common metric in many tools, but in my experience it’s very often not a very precise estimate.

Keyword difficulty

27. Keyword Search Volume

Tool: Ahrefs, Keywordtool

This metric shows, how many times users in selected countries search for a specific keyword. This helps you to plan your SEO or Google Ads campaigns.

You can explore something like: how many people search for “things to do in Amsterdam” last month or “Christmas gifts” in December.

A lot of SEO tools offer this metric: Google Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io, Semrush, etc.

Keyword search volume

28. Return Rate for a keyword

Tool: Ahrefs

This metric shows how often a person searches for a specific keyword again.

Return rate for a keyword

29. Keyword Clicks

Tool: Ahrefs

Ahrefs also estimates not only how many searches a keyword has, but also how many clicks to your site you can get from a specific keyword. And sometimes, these two numbers can be very different.

Google is moving into direction of more search result snippets. For example, if you search for “Weather today” – you will immediately see Weather snippet.

Weather snippet in Google
You will see Google snippet for “weather today”

Therefore less people will click-through to your site. As we can see, search volume for phrase “Weather today” is around 657K (only in United States), but only 30% with clicks, which brings it down to 223K clicks.

For similar keywords, search volume can be high, but clicks to your site – very low. It’s a good thing to keep in mind, when you are doing keyword research.

Keyword clicks in ahrefs

 

30. Local visibility

This metric is incredibly important for local businesses. They give a hint, if you business is visible online for a right audience. Some key metrics for a local visibility are:

Google Maps rankings

With certain tools you can track your ranking in Google Maps results.

Session location

Track sessions from a specific location.

Google My Business Insights

Track how often your GMB page appears in search results, how many clicks and directions.

Google My Business

31. Mobile Usability

You can find mobile usability report in Search Console.

Mobile usability report

If your website, still is not optimized for mobile in 2018 – well, you risk being out of business.

Fix these mistakes and you will get more mobile traffic.

 

Two Metrics That Matter

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of SEO metrics, which are used in different companies, tools, etc. In my opinion, there are only two seo metrics, which matter.

One is how much traffic do you get and second – even more important – how much customers do you get.

That’s about it. Very often, with SEO you can get trapped in “get more traffic game” and constantly increase your traffic, while number of acquired customers remains the same. That’s why in SEO it’s always important to stay focused on high-intent, relevant content, which will bring revenue.

 

Further reading

Ultimate SEO guide

60+ ways to increase your traffic

Top SEO myths, which get me triggered

 

Back to you

So, here you go. This is an overview of most used SEO and digital marketing metrics and KPIs.

If you have any questions or suggestions – leave them in comments below, I’ll try to answer.

What are your favorite SEO/online marketing metrics?