How do you measure the state of your SEO? What metrics are critical for monitoring progress and benchmarking change?
SEO, by nature, is constantly evolving. The trick to tracking that change is in data-driven analysis of site structure and search engine behavior.
Where do you begin with technical SEO analysis? Get started with the fundamental metrics of search optimization.
For any website, the most important KPI of all is the number of organic visits your site receives within a given time period. This is, of course, the most basic and fundamental metric in SEO.
Monitoring the evolution of organic traffic over time and in response to structural changes is the first step towards making strategic organic optimizations to boost traffic to your most important pages and segments.
Though strategic pages are unique to each site, you would expect to see the highest amount of visits to be generated by your core value-providing pages. For a publisher (like above), the most strategic pages are Articles and perhaps Categories. For retail or classifieds, the most strategic pages are category or ads pages, respectively.
While organic traffic volume is what matters in the end, that specific metric can’t tell you what proportion of your site is receiving that traffic – and whether you have the potential for more.
Active Pages Ratio is an insightful indicator providing a scale of reference for not just how much traffic you’re receiving, but where it’s being received. That is, the percentage of pages in your website structure that have generated organic traffic in a given time period (generally the last 30 days.)
This valuable metric can show you which areas of your site are driving organic visits, and which are not, providing clear opportunities for optimization and growth.
With only 38% of pages generating traffic, the example above suggests room for improvement. 45% of pages are indexable and yet still are not generating traffic, indicating a need to investigate what’s stopping these pages or segments from driving traffic. One possible cause? Depth: Active Pages decrease as Page Depth increases (see KPI #5!).
Speaking of ratios, there’s another important ratio that can be highly informative for technical SEO analysis: Crawl Ratio.
A page cannot generate organic traffic if it has not been crawled by Google. It’s critical to understand what percentage of your site has been seen by search engines (or not seen). For your most strategic pages that you expect to generate traffic, the Crawl Ratio should be 100% over 30 days. Is it? If your ratio is not up to expectations, this datapoint allows you to dig deeper into Segments to optimize strategic pages for crawl.
The Load Time of a page is the amount of time it takes for search engine robots to download the page’s HTML code. Since Google has a limited Crawl Budget, Load Times have a global impact on your website’s accessibility. The longer it takes to load, the slower Googlebot can move through your site, and the fewer pages bots will find and index.
To optimize Google’s crawl, the average Load Times should remain below 500ms for strategic pages. This useful indicator can be used to find structural issues or other problems impacting search engine crawl.
A slow loading site is bad for Googlebot and bad for users. Which pages are running slow? Dig deeper to identify what areas of your site are lagging and how to optimize site performance.
Depth is the number of clicks it takes to reach a page from the home page (Depth 0), using the shortest route. The deeper a page is located in your site structure, the more difficult it is for search engine bots to reach and crawl it. Strategic content should be found no deeper than a depth of 5 clicks from Home.
Keeping an eye on Page Depth of strategic pages and segments is critical for facilitating Google crawl of this content, and to ensure that no structural error occurs creating excessive depth.
Improving page depth is a key factor in improving content accessibility for search engine robots. This KPI is square one to uncover the causes of depth and optimize your site structure for the crawl.
Measuring the impact of optimizations and demonstrating results is a critical component of any SEO strategy. With the basics of site structure and search engine behavior indicators established, you can build upon this foundation with advanced, technical SEO metrics to gain a deeper understanding of where organic traffic potential is hidden in your site.
What KPIs are critical for monitoring and maximizing your SEO success?