Top 10 SEO Metrics You Should Pay Attention To (And 4 That Are a Complete Waste)

SEO professionals often debate the importance of different SEO metrics. Some say Google rankings are the only important metric, while others argue that social media metrics like Facebook likes, shares and comments carry more weight than rankings do.

SEO metrics are indicators of how well your SEO is working. Some are essential while some are useful and some are just vanity metrics that won’t help you make better decisions.

But how do you know which are which? You’ll find the answers here.

We’ll go through the following 10 SEO metrics worth tracking:

  • Organic Traffic
  • Keyword Ranking
  • Search Visibility
  • Organic Traffic Conversions
  • Referring Domains
  • Indexed Pages
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Website Health
  • Traffic Value
  • Index Coverage Errors

Following are these 4 Metrics that are popular but actually don’t matter:

  • Bounce rate
  • Exit Rate
  • Avg. Session Duration
  • Pages per visit or session

10 SEO Metrics worth tracking

If you ask SEOs what data they look at the most, it’s likely organic traffic. Duh, that’s a no-brainer. However, it’s not an indicator of SEO success without more context in most cases.

In fact, you should never rely on a single number without knowing what’s behind it. So let’s tackle the intricacies of organic traffic first.

  1. Organic Traffic

Organic Traffic represents all the non-paid clicks coming from Search Engine.

Why it is Useful:

 Increase in Organic Traffic is a direct indication that your SEO efforts are paying off. However, keep in mind that more organic traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more sales unless you monetize the website traffic by displaying ads.

How to Track it:

The Performance tab in Google Search Console is going to give you the most accurate view of your organic traffic over time

If you don’t use Search Console (you should!), you can get a rough estimate for free using Site Explorer in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT).

2. Keyword Ranking

Keyword rankings refer to a website’s ranking in search engines for particular keywords.

Why it is useful

You care about ranking well for some keywords more than others. The most relevant the keyword is to your product and business, the more valuable it is for you to rank well for it. Tracking your keyword rankings allows you to monitor your SEO performance for those important keywords over time.

How to Track it

To get the most accurate results, you can use a third-party rank tracking tool like Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker or SEMRush keyword ranking tool. Create a project for your website and enter all the keywords you want to track your rankings for.

The Performance tab in Google Search Console is going to give you the most accurate view of your Keyword Ranking over time.

3. Search Visibility

Search visibility is the percentage of clicks for tracked keywords that land on your site. It’s essentially the SEO equivalent of share of voice (SOV), one of the most important marketing metrics that measures your brand’s visibility in the market.

Why is it Useful

There’s a strong relationship between SOV and market share. Organic traffic trends are difficult to interpret because they’re relative. A 10% growth rate in organic traffic is meaningless if your competitors also see an increase in their organic traffic—you’re both growing at the same pace.

Generally speaking, the higher your SOV, the bigger your share of the pie. And the fact that it’s a relative metric makes it a more suitable KPI than organic traffic growth.

How to Track it

Paste a sample of keywords that matter to you into Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker. These should be the main keywords your target audience is searching for (don’t bother with long-tails). This takes keyword tracking from the previous point to another level.

From there, head to the Competitors overview tab and check the Visibility column:

That’s all. SERP visibility is a great KPI for everyone because you always have direct business competitors regardless of your business model.

4. Organic Traffic Conversions

Conversions are important actions visitors make on your website, like signing up for your newsletter, buying something online, or checking out. Tracking these for all the traffic sources you receive is important to any business.

Why is it useful

Conversion tracking is the most straightforward way to tie marketing efforts to revenue growth. SEO KPI’s are essential, and this one is one that everyone agrees on its importance.

How to Track it

Conversion tracking is usually easy to set up even without any coding knowledge. You simply need to make sure that you are tracking the right conversions.

For Example:

If you have an ecommerce store, the number of conversions, their value, and your average order value are what is most important to you. To get that information in Google Analytics, you’ll have to set up Enhanced Ecommerce tracking.

5. Referring Domain

Referring domains are websites that link to your website.

Why is it Useful

Backlinks are one of the most important Google ranking factors, and there’s a clear positive correlation between referring domains and organic traffic. This graph shows that websites referring domains relation with organic traffic (across industries).

When analysing your link acquisition strategy, it’s important to pay attention to the number of referring domains you are acquiring. This is because referring domains are likely to lead to more organic traffic for your site; therefore, an upward trend in referring domains over time is good.

How to Track it

You can various tools such as Ahrefs Site Explorer or SEMRUSH Backlink Analysis section to check Referring Domains.

6. Indexed Pages

This tells you how many pages (more specifically URLs) a search engine has in its index.

Why is it Useful

Your pages need to be indexed before they can appear in SERPs and drive organic traffic. However, you’ll also want to keep some pages out of the index. Generally speaking, you want to see the number of indexed pages steadily increasing as you publish new content. Any sudden changes in the number are likely a sign of a technical SEO issue.

The larger and more complex your website is, the more important this metric becomes for you.

How to Track it

You can check approximately how many pages from a given domain Google has in its index by using the site search operator like this:

The above results show approximately 2080000000 URLs indexed for Youtube.com

But the best way to keep track of this number with more details is to check the Coverage report in your GSC account:

7. Core Web Vitals

The Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a set of three technical SEO metrics related to your website speed and user experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the single largest visible element loaded in the viewport.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – the time from when a user interacts with your page until the page can respond.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – how elements move around or how stable the page layout is.

Why is it Useful:

Google uses the concept of CWV to rank pages. The goal is to deliver a great user experience which includes good loading speed and smooth interactivity. If any or all of these three metrics are very bad, it’s likely a good idea to try and fix them.

How to Track it:

There are many ways to track CWV, but your best bet is to check it right in your GSC account under Core Web Vitals report:

8. Website Health Score/ Authority Score

Ahrefs’ Site Audit has a metric called Health Score or Semrush has a metric of Authority Score that reflects the proportion of internal URLs on your website that don’t have technical SEO errors.

Why is it Useful:

Again, having a project in Site Audit is all you need here.

Every time Ahref or SEMrush finishes crawling your website, it will update your Health Score and report accordingly.

9. Traffic Value

Traffic value is how much you’d pay for all your organic clicks if they were to come from PPC search ads.

Why is it Useful

Generally speaking, the higher your traffic value, the more valuable your organic traffic becomes for your business.

While you should use SEO to drive traffic throughout the customer journey, clicks from visitors who are likely to make a conversion soon are the most valuable ones. That’s why you see many search ads for “money keywords” like “best SEO agency london” and none for “what is SEO.”

The increase in traffic value is also a sign of SEO performance growth. Ranking well for “money keywords” and getting more traffic from them tends to be much harder than ranking for keywords that people look up with no intent to buy anything.

How to Track it

You can check the overall traffic value of any domain in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:

But you can also dive deeper into the traffic value of pages. To do that, open the Top Pages report in Site Explorer and sort your pages by their traffic value to see your most valuable pages:

10. Index Coverage Errors

Related to metric no.6, the number of pages with index coverage errors is equally important. These errors are anything that prevents your pages from being indexed when it’s not done intentionally using the noindex robots meta tags.

Why is it Useful:

There are a number of reasons why Google might deindex pages or refuse to index them at all. When a site shows up in search results, but not all the page shown in the results, it is an index coverage error. This happens when something is wrong with your website that likely has nothing to do with you, so it’s important to know about these


How to Track it

Again, these errors also appear in the GSC Coverage report:

4 popular SEO metrics that don’t matter

The problem is that a lot of metrics used in the industry are misinterpreted. For instance, I’ve seen a few companies using bounce rate as a metric to track conversion rates, which is not correct. In most cases, it doesn’t tell you much about your site traffic.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “less is more.” This same advice also applies to data analytics. As a result, there are four widely recommended metrics that you should avoid paying too much attention to.

  1. Bounce Rate:

A bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit a page on a website and then leave without taking further actions. A bounce can be caused by a number of factors, including being directed to the wrong page, not finding what they were looking for, or not liking how a site works.

2. Exit Rate:

Exit rate shows a percentage of sessions that ended on a particular page. Some people in SEO like to track top exit pages for organic traffic in a report like this:

3. Pages per Session

Similar to exit rate, you can encounter tips to improve your user experience based on a low pages per session number. In terms of SEO, that would be from your organic traffic source segment:

4. Avg Session Duration/ time on page

These metrics should also indicate how engaged your visitors are by providing time metrics.

The biggest problem is how these time-based metrics are calculated.

Google Analytics keeps track of user clicks on pages or events in order to calculate the time that they spend on your site, the number of times they visit your site, and how often they perform certain actions. It calculates this by taking the timestamp when a user first visits your site and when they leave. It also measures the amount of time it takes for them to load one

Conclusion:

In this article, we have explained the most important metrics that you should pay attention to while analyzing SEO. We hope that these tips will help you understand your website’s performance better and make the right decisions when creating a content marketing strategy for your business.

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