If you've been working on your SEO for a while, you’ve probably wondered if it’s making a difference. You may have some anecdotal evidence like more calls or leads coming through, or you might have even seen an increase in organic traffic in your Google Analytics reports but what should you be checking? If you’ve ever wondered how to track your SEO performance than this post is for you.
There are three main metrics you should track to see how your SEO program is working.
The first metric to track is your Domain Authority. If you’re trying to build links to your website, then you want to see an increase in Domain Authority. You can track this by using Moz’s Link Explorer and measure your DA from one month to the next. You don’t need to monitor this more than once a month. Ideally, you want to see your DA increase as you build links to your website. The higher the DA, the easier it will be to rank for more competitive keywords. We generally start to see more traffic and rankings come as your website’s DA goes above 20. If you can get to the 40-50 range, it’s much easier to be competitive, but it’s going to take time to get there. You want to see steady progress on a monthly basis. A few points at a time can get you to your goals.
The next metric you want to track is your rankings for the keywords you’re targeting with your optimization. You can sign up for a paid tool such as Moz Pro or use a free tool like Small SEO tools or SERPS Keyword Rank Checker to get your rankings. Use a tool, do not check rankings yourself because your results will be skewed due to Google’s personalized results. Check your keyword rankings once a month to see movement.
Pro Tip: there can be a lot of fluctuation up and down with keyword rankings. Don’t panic if your rankings are down one month, watch them for the next 30 days and see what happens. If they’re down again, then revisit your optimization. It’s normal for them to move up and down regularly, which is why we say only to pull rankings once a month. If you do it more often, you can drive yourself batty.
The final metric you should track each month is your organic traffic. You’ll want to look at both the total number of visits from natural search (organic traffic) and the percent of traffic from natural search compared to overall traffic. You want to see both of these increase in time. A well-optimized e-commerce website sees typically about 30% of traffic from organic search. I’ve seen well optimized small business websites drive 50-60% of their traffic from organic search.
SEO usually works in the following way – when your Domain Authority increases, you rank higher for your targeted keywords, and you start to see an increase in website traffic from organic search. If your Domain Authority is already higher than your competition, then you may see an increase in traffic almost immediately after implementing page optimizations and targeting keywords because you already are an authoritative site. Once you’ve raised your Domain Authority, it’s much easier to rank well, and results are a bit quicker.
You’ll want to track all three metrics on a monthly basis. Create a master spreadsheet and add information on tabs so that you can track your SEO progress over time.
A full SEO and Content Strategy can take 12-24 months to show sizeable results. For more information on how long it takes, read this post. You’ll see incremental growth sooner than that, but the most significant gains will take a year or more. SEO is not a short-term strategy, it’s a long-term investment. Track your progress so that you can see if what you’re doing is working or not.
If it’s not working, then you need to look at the metrics and determine what’s not working and adjust your strategy.
If your DA isn’t rising, then you need to focus more on guest blogging to build your DA. If your rankings aren’t increasing, but your DA is, then your targeting is off. Finally, if your traffic isn’t growing but your rankings are then your Title Tags, and Meta Descriptions need to be rewritten because they’re not enticing click-throughs. Read the linked posts for more detail on each troubleshooting issue.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO check out our SEO Fundamentals course from Etched Marketing Academy. SEO Fundamentals teaches you everything you need to know to create an SEO strategy for your business or blog. You’ll learn what to do on your website, on other sites, which tools to use, how to use them, and how to report on your results. During the course, you’ll completely update and refresh your website or blog’s optimization so that it’s in alignment with SEO best practices as long as you do the homework each week. Join us in class today and start ranking better.