Should you monitor your marketing efforts or report on them? We’re sharing 30+ pro tips on when you should prioritize marketing monitoring and when to focus on reporting.
Marketing | Aug 3
Elise Dopson on April 6, 2020 (last modified on March 4, 2021) • 24 minute read
SEO results compound over time. Keeping a close watch on your metrics can help you spot trends earlier–and jump on them.
But what metrics should you keep an eye on?
That’s a tricky question.
SEO is notorious for taking months to see any impact from, so checking-in every week might feel like a waste of time… If you’re tracking the wrong metrics.
We wanted to find out which SEO metrics change regularly; those marketers are tracking on a weekly basis. So, we asked 50+ experts. Their answers included:
*Editor’s note: The easiest way to track these SEO metrics on a weekly basis is to include them on one dashboard. Browse our range of premade SEO templates that sync with your favorite SEO tools, including Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush (show below):
“To boost our website search rankings we mostly rely on guest posting on high domain authority sites which not only increases our website traffic but also increases our own website’s authority,” says Citrusbug‘s Raaquib Citrusbug.
“Besides this, it gives more audience exposure transferring the trust and provides brand awareness. All of these advantages are really vital in search rankings which proves guest posting is the best strategy for us.”
Joseph Pineiro of 360training explains: “Domain Authority, a metric of overall SEO health by Moz and Ahrefs, fluctuates less and requires less monitoring. Still, it’s important to track it weekly to get a general record of your websites SEO growth.”
“I feel that traffic is the most important metric that you need to monitor,” Adam Collins of CurrantWeb writes. “The reason being, as this is a common goal for all businesses to get visibility and potential customers to see their business online.”
“If your traffic is going down then you are more inclined to see what might be causing these issues, such as checking your bounce rate, average time on the page and new/returning visitors etc. When things are going well and you see that traffic going up then you know you are heading in the right direction.”
According to Influence Agents‘ Matt Hodkinson, “this is a tight, powerful metric that’s provided by Google’s Search Console, and allows marketers to take a proactive approach in how they create new content.”
“With the combination of search intent and how it related to content you’re already getting found for, this metric can allow you to cement your discoverability around key topics, and take a more targeted approach to on-page conversion, too.”
“Tracking top conversion paths gives you insight into how each channel is working with one another,” Brooke Logan’s team at Sagefrog Marketing Group say.
“If you’re seeing that most of your conversions are coming from channels other than Organic Search, like Direct and Email, it may be time to strategize how to further boost your SEO efforts, like in-depth keyword research and implementing optimized on-page recommendations.”
“It’s important for you to know how long visitors are staying on certain pages,” Mailbird‘s Andrea Loubier explains.
“For example, if you have a long skyscraper post and visitors are only hanging around for 3 minutes, then that means that they’re not finding the content beneficial enough to read it all. This means that you’ll need to work on the content so that the piece begins to do its job!”
Compare your average session duration to the standard, which falls between 2 and 3 minutes:
Average session duration is the length of a session (which can be five pages.)
The time spent on page refers to a specific URL, as James McMinn of Matchbox Design Group explains: “This is an engagement metric that is very important these days. It shows that users are finding your page and think it’s important enough to stick around. This means you are satisfying the user intent.”
“Google seems to boost pages up in the rankings that satisfy user intent as it not only increases time spent on a page, but it also lowers your bounce rate,” McMinn adds.
Latana‘s Joy Corkery says the same answer for their team: “Average time spent on the website is one metric that we monitor carefully every week.”
“This is a very clear indicator of how your audience perceives your brand and what content drives them. To understand which content works best, helps improve customer retention and reshape your future content strategy and it’s the only way to help improve other KPIs.”
“When you keep your audience engaged and intrigued, it means you’re doing something right and that your original content spoke to the right audience,” Corkery says.
“Google considers natural that your website receives mentions and links regularly. It is better receiving 20 backlinks every week for 2 months, rather than 200 links in a single day,” says Hockerty‘s Salva Jovells.
“It is good to check the links received weekly and check the quality of them based on DR from the website linking, anchor texts, kind of link (follow, no-follow or sponsored) and landings receiving the links.”
Nikola Roza advises tracking this SEO metric daily “because backlinks are Google’s best way of clearing out the cesspool of endless mediocre content, and pulling out the best results to show in their SERPS.”
“As a marketer and a site owner, it is crucial to you to first get a steady number of new links hitting your site every week; and then as you build out your content to gradually increase that number. That way you have a chance to build a business based on content and based on providing value to the internet.”
“But links need to come first for you to gain enough visibility to start building a brand and following. So no matter how complicated SEO gets, the two crucial components will always be content and links. And both are equally important and they work in unison,” Roza continues.
Solidguides‘ Gintaras Steponkus adds: “If a website is not earning quality and relevant links, then it is an indication that either they are not marketing well or its content is not good enough. Instead of waiting for a month or quarter, SEOs should analyze this factor weekly and redesign or alter their content strategy accordingly.”
Elmer Taboada of DaVinci Tech agrees: “If you are investing time and money into link acquisition, it is wise to make a weekly total the dofollow backlinks you’ve gained. It will help you stay on top of your link building team and also give you enough of a window to pivot link strategies if needed.”
Finally, LetMeBank‘s Morgan Taylor recommends that you should look at new referring domains: “Landing backlinks is all well and good, but what is your net gain? And, are these all coming from the same web directory, or do you have a diverse portfolio of legitimate, authoritative websites linking back to your website?”
*Editor’s note: Struggling to keep track of your backlinks? Our Link Analysis Dashboard tracks your new links, and shares other metrics related to those backlinks–including the number of new users, total number of internal links, and the percentage of new sessions:
“Your inbound link profile is an ever-changing one,” says Luke Budka of TopLine Comms. “Small differences can have serious implications on your ability to rank for target keywords.”
“If you lose high authority links (for example, a newspaper removes a story containing a link to your site) then you need to quickly put a replacement plan in place. This will often involve PR-led SEO designed to secure traditional followed links and implied links (brand mentions) from authoritative editorial publications.”
“But great campaigns take time, so giving yourself as much breathing room as possible, with weekly lost link monitoring, is sensible,” Budka continues.
Cashcow‘s team also tracks this SEO metric on a weekly basis, according to Adam Lumb: “This is incredibly important as losing a backlink is often out of your hands and can happen at any time.”
“It’s not practical to manually check each and every backlink you get so you must track them using a tool instead. By doing this every week, you can see which backlinks you’ve lost and try to figure out why.”
“If you manage to get it reinstated then it’s unlikely to have caused much harm as the backlink will only have been lost for a few days. If you can’t get it reinstated then you can look to find a replacement if you deem it to be important.”
“Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most important SEO metrics that marketers should track on a weekly basis is bounce rate. It demonstrates the number of users and/or potential customers that landed on your site, but left pretty swiftly, without taking any action at all,” Hosting Data‘s Alex Williams says.
“Of course it depends on the purpose of this page, but for example, if the aim of the page is to make a purchase, or subscribe to a newsletter if people aren’t sticking around then it’s a clear sign that the marketer needs to make a tweak to try to change this.”
Lisamarie Monaco of InsuranceForBurial.com adds: “You want to monitor your site’s bounce rate because you want to get an idea of why people are leaving your page or your site and not taking any action. You want to tweak what your users are looking for, engage them and give them their need.”
Melanie Hartmann of Creo Home Buyers also advises to break this down by source: “Where is referral traffic to your website coming from? Depending on the source, this can increase the bounce rate of your website – which is less than desirable.”
“If a lot of the referral traffic has a high bounce rate, it may be worthwhile to put time and effort into creating referral traffic that has a low bounce rate, and thus is relevant to your website.”
Related: What’s a Good Bounce Rate?
According to Angela Ash, “knowing how many pages a user visits will help you in targeting the keywords for the pages that you hope to rank with search engines, as well as be helpful in developing your content marketing strategy.”
“The longer a user stays on your site, the greater the chances that they will find your products, services and content beneficial”–hence why Ash’s team at Flow SEO recommends tracking the number of pages in an average session.
“One of the most important metrics you should track on a weekly basis is organic traffic,” says Thumbprint‘s Morgan Lathaen. “This number represents all of the visitors your site is attracting solely from organic search.”
“After all, one of the main goals of any SEO strategy is to improve visibility in a search from keywords related to your business and industry. It stands to reason, if you’re succeeding, the number of visitors you attract from search results should steadily increase.”
Planet Content‘s Obaid Khan adds: “Measuring the weekly impact of your content campaigns, SEO efforts, and website optimization techniques show you what works for your brand, where to focus your future efforts, and how to distribute those efforts effectively for a high(er) ROI.”
Lucy Tesler’s team at Need A Skip Now track this SEO metric on a daily basis “because the basis of SEO is organic search ranking and the objective if any SEO strategy is for any given website to appear on page one of Google in 1-3 position below the ads.”
“Therefore the higher the website comes up during the organic search, the higher number of people will be seeing it, hence the probability of them clicking is higher and consequently traffic to the website will be higher.”
Kinsta‘s Tom Zsomborgi explains: “Checking organic sessions on a weekly basis makes sense. Every other metric fluctuates so much that you could spend your entire day in GA watching them and wasting your time. Google updates the algorithm several times a day and so keyword rankings change all the time.”
“If you see a bigger change (gain or drop) on a weekly basis worth checking the details otherwise it’s fine to just keep an eye on it and not be obsessed by daily fluctuations.”
In fact, Leadfeeder‘s Anna Crowe also breaks down organic traffic by landing page: “This is how I determine what content needs improvement. Or, I can track my improvements. For example, if I change the headers of the article one week, I can track the performance over time.”
Eden Chai of Generation Marketing agrees: “Marketers should track organic traffic by landing page daily. This is important because your various pages rank for different keywords, and tracking organic traffic by landing page will give you clarity on which improvements you made actually made an impact.”
“Google Search Console, a free tool to track your website on Google SERPs, updates with new data each day. The performance section of the platform shows you the number of clicks and impressions your site gets, along with average CTR and average position metrics,” Kiwi Creative‘s Dylan Zsigray explains.
“As you publish and promote new content on your website, check to see how your CTR (hopefully!) grows. Look to see how the CTR varies based on keyword, seeing if you have higher rates for branded or organic queries.”
Arbeit‘s Eleanor O’Connor explains: “For example, if your CTR for a target keyword/phrase has been less than your average CTR for the past few weeks you may need to consider targeting a more broad or narrow keyword/phrase depending on which part of the buyer’s journey the page caters to. It could also be as simple as making some adjustments to the wording of your title tag and meta description to better describe what the landing page is about and what action users can take on that page.”
So, what does a good click-through rate look like? Jon Torres says: “I consider a low click-through rate between 5-10%. If this is the case I’ll change the metadata to see if it improves.”
However, our research has found the average organic CTR falls between 3-5%:
Branko Kral adds that SanityCheck “track CTR closely since we have seen a strong correlation with a high CTR and improved rankings over time.”
“If we see a drop in our CTR that means we need to reevaluate our title tags and meta descriptions and then determine if we need to make adjustments in order to drive our CTR back up. New pages that rank or competitors updating their title tags all can have an impact on your own CTR so it is important to monitor for any changes.”
Kral continues: “After we update our tags we set up tests so that we can fully gauge the impact of the new copy. We look at CTR, average position, and total clicks per day as our main KPIs.”
Summarizing, Generation Marketing‘s Eden Chai says: “Many SEOs get caught up in keyword rankings and forget that the only thing that matters is how much traffic you got from your efforts.”
“Tracking the CTR of my pages for their individual keywords has helped me make decisions that lead to more traffic. When trying to understand which keyword to go after or tweak, keyword CTR has made this abundantly clear.”
“Without question, organic clicks provide agencies with the best insight into whether an SEO campaign is working and to what extent,” Steve Yanor of Sky Alphabet Social Media says.
“New campaigns that involve new pages and fresh on-page technical SEO often start with zero clicks but some impressions. Over time, as the page increases its visibility, the impressions will grow, but clicks usually do not start appearing until the page has reached at least page two, if not page one.”
“Of course, this is dependent on the search term. With some searches, people WILL go deep to find what they want, but for the vast majority of campaigns, organic clicks provide the best window into the myriad of adjustments and ongoing improvements that digital marketers undertake to improve the visibility and attractiveness of a web page.”
Alayna Okerlund of BestCompany.com explains: “By weekly tracking organic clicks, it’s easier to see site traffic patterns and catch falling site traffic early on. The earlier you can see a downturn in clicks, the more time you’ll have to create a game plan to fix the issue at hand, and, eventually, increase your clicks.”
Inchoo‘s Davorin Cernoga adds: “Of course, we can’t look at organic clicks in cases where we still don’t have any clicks from our pages/blog posts (or where we are just starting with our SEO campaigns). In that case, the one metric should be total impressions from Search Console or other tools like SemRush (something like keyword rankings).”
“One SEO metric marketers should track on a weekly basis is keyword rankings,” Pelicoin‘s Sam Olmsted says. “There are hundreds of factors that go into keyword rankings and checking this metric should be done relatively infrequently as compared to other metrics like leads or organic traffic.”
Olmsted explains: “Rankings fluctuate because of the time of day, search history, links, and other things that are out of your control. The key is to look for keyword rankings as they move over a longer period of time so you know that it is trending in the right direction.”
Darcy Odgon-Nolan of Living Entertainment North Coast explains: “Seeing improvements in your target keywords is confirmation from the SERP’s that they like your website, you’re producing good content and you are deserving of traffic and growth. Alternatively, if you’re seeing them slide this is a red flag that you need to review your strategy and make some improvements.
Rain‘s Anastasia Ilious adds: “If all of a sudden your top keyword takes a dramatic fall, you need to revise your strategy ASAP. If you notice one of your competitors is suddenly ranking for a new keyword, add it to your list ASAP.”
In fact, it’s the most popular SEO metric that marketers track weekly:
Yoreevo‘s James McGrath says: “I used to track our most important keywords on a daily basis but they would fluctuate and I would get carried away in both directions. Observing weekly observations and not drawing any conclusions until you see the rankings persist over a few data points is a much more helpful approach (that will also help preserve your sanity!).
Plus, Daniel Noakes of One SEO thinks: “A great SEO technique that delivers positive ranking improvements month on month is to make changes one week, check back the next for changes to keyword rankings that can be directly attributed to last week’s changes, make further changes based on the results (undoing changes that didn’t help), and repeat the process weekly.”
“This way, by the end of the month (client report time), ranking improvements can be consistently delivered, because you’re adapting your strategy several times a month, and correcting any ranking drops that may occur.”
Chintan Zalani of Elite Content Marketer adds that tracking your keyword rankings on a weekly basis helps with four situations:
“You should SLOWLY see your rankings increase for those keywords as your SEO plan is implemented. SEO is a marathon and not a sprint to the top. If you are at the top, you should hopefully maintain the top spots,” Jessica Rhoades of Create IT Web Designs summarizes.
David Hoos of The Good explains: “The reality is, if you are ranking on the second page of search results (or even the bottom of the first page) you’re not going to get as meaningful of a volume of traffic. You’re better off aiming for the top 3 spots if you’re hoping to see measurable results.”
Similarly, Rahul V J of ContentNinja recommends tracking “first Page Rankings [because it] is essentially what your businesses and clients would care about because it has a strong correlation to the ROI for SEO services they invest in.”
‘While everyone knows that traffic, bounce rate, session duration, and similar metrics should be tracked in real-time, something that most businesses with only a basic understanding of SEO do not track is their keyword volatility,” says Sure Oak‘s Zack Chambers.
“This can provide you with a lot of important heads-up. For instance, if you see a slow decrease in your organic keywords, you know that something is up and you need to audit your site.”
Chambers continues: “If you see a major drop off or increase, chances are you have been affected by an algorithm update. Whatever the case, keyword volatility is huge for any website.”
Ken Christensen of Christensen Recycling adds: “Analyzing the constant movement of your search rankings (and your competition) is important for many different reasons. The more you understand what is ranking and why, the better you will understand what changes and new methods can be used to continually improve your site rankings.”
“For a business that drives a lot of inquiries from SEO and organic traffic, it is vital for us to see how we are performing against our competitors for those high volume and high-value keywords,” says Tutorful‘s Adam Bell.
“This data then informs us where our efforts need to be directed in terms of link building campaigns, keyword optimization, and technical on-page SEO changes.”
Luana Spinetti explains: “While rankings normally undergo some fluctuation, if the weekly trend is that your keywords move back and back to SERPs after page 2, you might want to check the quality of your content and compare and contrast it with your competitors’ on SERPs 1 and 2.”
“Your competitor might do it better, there might be a change in the search intent behind your target keywords, and so on. Monitoring keyword rankings weekly can tell you exactly what to fix to improve your organic positions and get more leads from organic traffic.”
In fact, Graviteq‘s Rob Evans goes beyond looking at competitor keyword rankings: “As a local business owner (I run rope access training centers across multiple Australian cities), this also includes GMB listings of my competitors.”
“This includes the number of reviews they have received, what kind of new posts and offers get published from their GMB, and so on. All these have a significant impact on your traffic volumes.”
*Editor’s note: You don’t need magical spy goggles to keep an eye on your competitors’ SEO metrics. Plug your competitors’ URL into Moz or AccuRanker, then use our dashboards to view their data in one place:
“To have a successful SEO strategy, you don’t just want to increase your organic traffic. You want to make sure your visitors are targeted and qualified,” says GrowthHackers‘ Jonathan Aufray.
“What you want to do is convert your traffic into leads or sales. How many leads you generate per 100 organic sessions is what you want to track on a weekly basis.”
Similarly, Alejandro Rioja recommends tracking “the new leads that your marketing efforts generate from SEO. You can create a custom dashboard on Google Analytics, Google Data Studio or Databox to see your organic traffic and goal conversions.”
“Within the contemporary world, it is a well-known fact that individuals are placing more dependence on their mobile devices for a variety of tasks, including organic search,” says Sadia Ahmed of Frontier Blades.
“According to Statista, nearly 60% of Google’s organic search traffic is attributed to mobile platforms. Therefore, online search engines, including Google and Bing, are placing increasing importance on a website’s mobile-optimized pages. As a result, the number of mobile-optimized pages, including blog posts and product pages, directly correlates with increasing organic impressions and SERPS.”
“Thus, one important SEO metric to track on a weekly basis is the quantity of mobile-optimized pages affiliated with your website. This process is rather simple, and consists of logging into Google Search Console and viewing “Mobile Usability” under “Enhancements.”
Ahmed continues: “Google Search Console will display your website’s mobile-friendly pages, as well as any pages which may be characterized by mobile optimization errors. If you have any pages with mobile errors, fixing these is pertinent to increasing your SERPS.”
Keyword impressions show how many times your website has shown on a search engine results page. You can find them inside Google Search Console.
SH1FT‘s Dorian Reeves explains why their team track this SEO metric weekly: “Impressions allow you to see if your content marketing efforts are working. Once you see your impressions growing exponentially, you can then start improving page titles, meta descriptions, etc to generate more clicks.”
“Every SEO loves to watch rankings and traffic like a hawk, but it’s the (admittedly much less exciting) crawl metrics that can hold the key to success or failure,” says Dan Jones of Black Lotus Marketing.
“If you’re publishing content regularly, it’s critical to monitor how search engines are accessing and indexing your pages. After all, the best content in the world won’t achieve much if Google can’t see it.”
“I make sure to quickly check for outstanding errors or warnings each week, with a more thorough analysis at the end of each month.”
According to Antenna‘s Peter Prestipino, “the mistake most businesses make is not understanding how SEO changes they implement or the outreach initiatives they engage actually impact revenue.”
“Engagement and behavioral metrics are important, of course, but if those efforts never lead to positive action, it ultimately doesn’t matter.”
Trenton Erker of Clarity Online agrees: “A conversion is always the end game. No other metric assures you that the situation is good or bad like conversion rate does.”
Jason Acidre says the team at Grit PH track this it “tells how your daily/weekly SEO activities are impacting your campaign’s progress, and could also help in analyzing how new algorithmic updates are affecting your site’s search performance.”
“Another viable option is to create your own rank/keyword index for your SEO campaigns, to have a better overview of how your brand compares with its competitors (in terms of search market share or share of voice).”
“Tracking brand awareness can be a great indicator of wider SEO metrics,” according to Alice Cornerof Venngage.
“More people searching your brand means more people are seeing and retaining your content. You can track branded searches on Google via Data Studio.”
The easiest way to keep track of your most important metrics is to include them in your SEO dashboards. Use a template that pulls data from your favorite SEO tools, and show these metrics.
It’s the easiest way to spot any important changes–even if you’re diving into 20+ metrics on a weekly basis.
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