We asked 129 SEOs to weigh in on the most important SEO KPIs for measuring success and search visibility. Here are the 49 SEO metrics they recommend.
Marketing | Oct 30
Jessica Greene on November 4, 2019 (last modified on November 12, 2019) • 28 minute read
And it’s a true statement. Building a website full of high-quality content, a backlink profile full of relevant links, and a site that’s fast, user-friendly, and technically sound isn’t something that can be done overnight. It takes time, effort, budget, and dedication.
But that doesn’t mean that every single thing you might do to boost SEO will take six months to work. In fact, there are lots of little tasks you can do that will produce results very quickly.
To find out what those tasks are, we asked 195 marketers to share their favorite SEO quick wins.
What constitutes a “quick win” in SEO? Nearly half of the tips our respondents recommended work within a week—some even work within 24 hours:
So if you’re looking for a relatively low-effort, fast-acting change you can make to impress a new client or boss, consider assigning yourself one of the tasks below.
Table of Contents:
When we asked our respondents to specify which branch of SEO most quick wins fall under, on-page SEO received the most votes:
“Often, when we get started creating content, we don’t give much thought to our SEO,” says Samantha Tetrault of Samanthability. “Going back and updating posts with better keywords, new internal/external links, and more up-to-date information can make a big impact.”
Tetrault recommends conducting a content audit to find new SEO opportunities for existing content. Here are a few things you might want to look for when auditing your content.
“One thing that marketers and SEOs can do to produce fast results is updating blog posts that are six months or older,” says Steven Diaz of SwankyDen. “Since these are already indexed, updating them produces faster results than writing a new blog post.”
Evan Ankney of Sportsbook Scout agrees: “Refreshing a post with more relevant information will usually result in an immediate traffic/rankings bump because Google usually likes content that is fresh and updated.”
“The key is making sure the updates to the page are substantive and not just minor tweaks to fiddle for the sake of fiddling,” says Eli Gieryna. “It needs to be enough of a rewrite to give a signal to Google that says, ‘Hey, we’ve added something of value here.’”
“You should update your post to truly be fresher than it was before,” says Joe Robison of Green Flag Digital. “Check its links and update the intro, conclusion, and body content. Add relevant visuals and stats to make it a higher-quality piece. Then, republish it with a new date and submit it for re-indexing in Google Search Console.”
“Many marketers just continue to push out content, leaving it to linger on the second page of Google results and never realize its maximum potential,” says Hung Nguyen of Smallpdf. Instead, you should take time to reoptimize those underperforming posts.
“Figure out which keywords you rank for on the second or third page of Google,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “Optimize these pages by adding relevant keywords, adding a bit of content, and building a few links to them. Your page will jump to the first page of Google in no time.”
Other respondents offered their suggestions for how to improve the rankings for content that’s ranking on pages two and three of the SERPs:
“The bump from page two to page one is much simpler than trying to rank for a brand new keyword, and the traffic increase when you get to page one is great,” says Jasz Joseph of SyncShow.
“You’ll see faster results by getting a page-two keyword up to page one rather than a page-eight keyword up to page three,” says Wes Marsh of eRep.
“Use a tool like Ahrefs to perform your keyword research, and filter your keyword options by Keyword Difficulty (KD) score,” says Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles. “This will help you find less competitive terms to focus on that will produce near-immediate results.”
“We’ve done this with new clients in the past to great effect. They immediately start seeking a vast increase in traffic and sales, which then gives them the confidence to reinvest more into the SEO program. That, in turn, allows us to target the more competitive keywords over the longer term,” Dodds says.
“Remember, ranking number one in the SERPs for a low volume keyword is generally better than ranking in position 10 for a higher-volume keyword,” says Jeff Martin of HealthLabs.com.
“You have to make sure you’re nailing search intent,” says Miva’s Luke Wester. “Whether you’re publishing a long-form piece or a punchy short-form listicle, lock down the intent of the primary keyword. If people are given what they intended to find in the SERPs, your content will have a higher potential to succeed.”
“One tactic that can work well is to improve pages that already have good traffic,” says Marcus Miller of Bowler Hat. “Say you have a blog post that ranks around position five for a number of search terms. Focus on improving the content on that page.”
“If you can get a featured snippet or move that post a few spaces forward, then you will typically see improvements in traffic at around 30% for each space moved towards the top of the page,” Miller says.
To earn more featured snippets, Lynell Ross of Zivadream recommends “adding a small summary section that mirrors the primary target keyword near the top of the article.”
“We’ve found that this summary section is often used by Google for the featured snippet. In fact, we’ve had articles ranking in the 5-7 range that immediately get pulled into a featured snippet after making this change,” Ross says.
“My favorite SEO quick win is identifying keyword cannibalization on a website and resolving it,” says Blake Smith of SEO Consulting Australia.
“Keyword cannibalization is when a single keyword or phrase is targeted on multiple parts/pages of a website. Having a bunch of pages that target the same keyword can cause problems, and often, this means lower rankings.”
“I identify the culprit pages using filters in Google Search Console and then make recommendations to resolve, Smith says. “The resolutions may be:”
“Very closely review what pages are appearing for what keywords in Google Search Console,” says Eagan Heath of Get Found Madison. “If you have multiple pages ranking for the same term, then you may be confusing Google about which one is the most appropriate to show.”
“One thing that marketers and SEOs can do to produce near-immediate results is to conduct an on-site audit of the blog posts/landing pages that are generating little to no traffic,” says Ross Simmonds of Foundation Marketing. “Look at their value, target keyword, backlinks, and quality, and delete the assets that have no value.”
Quentin Aisbett of OnQ Marketing agrees: “I’m a huge fan of conducting a content audit. For key pages, I like to ensure that the copy is satisfying user intent while demonstrating expertise and social proof. For blog posts, I like to cut the number down and improve the quality of those I’ve chosen to keep.”
“Quick wins in SEO are hard to come by, but the fastest results can be generated simply through optimizing meta titles, especially if it’s the first time a site has actively worked on its SEO,” says Dan Rawley of Twinkl Educational Publishing.
“Your title tag is extremely important because it’s what displays in the SERPs,” says Hamna Amjad of Indoor Champ. “Even if your site ranks well, users will only click on your result if they like your title and find it relevant.”
Amjad offers these tips for optimizing your SEO title:
“If you know what you’re doing, optimizing your title tags is the lowest of the low-hanging fruit,” says Matthew Schickling of From The Future. “You can often see results as soon as a day or two.”
Our other respondents offered a few additional tips for optimizing SEO titles.
“Instead of fancy headlines with puns, focus on one or two keyphrases that you can actually rank for quickly and that people actually search for,” says Tad Chef of onreact.com. “Most page titles are either too broad or too obscure.”
Alexandra Lens of Chocolate Films agrees: “At one moment, we changed the SEO title on our homepage and got a bit too creative. In an attempt to write the most attractive title, I removed obvious keywords. We lost our spot in Google’s top results.”
“When noticing this, I immediately changed the title again to include important keywords. There we were again in Google’s top search results for our field,” Lens says.
“I recommend pasting your URLs into Google Search Console to see which keywords are driving the most impressions and clicks,” says Terakeet’s Jonas Sickler. “Then, cross-reference those keywords with Ahrefs to uncover the terms with the most volume.”
“Finally, search for the keyword in Google Search and analyze the top-ranking titles to guide your own phrasing. Aim for something that uses your keyword(s) but is also enticing to searchers,” Sickler says.
“A really great and simple quick-win is to change the keywords in your homepage title,” says Patrick Whatman of Spendesk. “Naturally, most websites have the highest number of links pointing to their homepages. So the keywords you use in the title tag there have a great chance of ranking.”
“Obviously, it needs to make sense. This is going to be the first page people see when they visit your page, so you can’t stuff the tag with weird keywords that are unrelated to your business.”
“But if you can find a good low-competition keyword that suits your offering, add it to your homepage, and you should see results quickly,” Whatman says.
“Run title tag tests,” recommends Best Company’s McCall Robison. “We use a tool called ClickFlow that allows you to submit the URLs you’re running title tag tests on, and it will run the test for 15-30 days (the longer tests are for tests that may be inconclusive after 15 days and still need more time).”
“As your test is running, you can see it update every day, showing you if the CTR, clicks, impressions, and average rank have improved since your change.”
“Running title tag tests are a great way to produce near-immediate results. Even if you’re ranked #3 or #4 on the first page of Google, if your title tag performs better than the websites with a better position than you, your page will likely be bumped up since Google will see visitors are clicking on your page the most.”
“When I started working on an SEO project that hadn’t been worked on much before, I ran lots of title tag tests,” says Alice Stevens of Best Company. “I saw results from the title tag tests within a month and was able to significantly increase the traffic and capitalize on some seasonality that quarter.”
“Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description,” says Phil Gregory of Peak District SEO. “Although it’s not a ranking factor, it will increase your click-through rates.”
“But I often see a nice boost by rebuilding title tags and meta descriptions, rewriting them to improve the call to action,” says Bill Sebald of Greenlane. “The more your titles and descriptions stand out, the more likely you’ll get the click—even if you are not in the first position.”
“It can take some time to go through all your pages, but it’s an exercise worth trying,” Sebald says.
Editor’s note: Need an easier way to track the click-through rates for your site’s pages and blog posts? Grab this free Google Search Console Basics dashboard to get a quick view of your most visible keywords and pages—and which of those drive the most traffic to your site.
“Optimizing a website’s internal linking is one of the most underappreciated quick-win SEO tasks you can do,” says Max Coupland of Type A Media. “It can immediately improve your content discoverability, boost authority to key pages, and lead users down the purchase funnel.”
Looka’s Elijah-Blue Vieau agrees: “Conducting an internal link audit can produce incredible results in terms of improving the rank of key pages. Internal links establish your website architecture but also pass page equity throughout your website.”
When you’re looking to optimize your internal links, our respondents recommend these tips:
Sagapixel’s Frank Olivo also recommends “reducing the number of links in your navigation and footer. Reducing these by half can double the PageRank flowing to each of the pages you’re linking to.”
“The more you can consolidate/remove, the more concentrated the link equity will be when it flows to your most important pages,” Olivo says.
“Optimizing the images on your website can bring almost immediate results,” says Stephen Taylor of WISER Systems. “I’ve seen average web loading speeds go from 6 seconds to 2.5 seconds in a single afternoon, accomplished merely by shrinking images a bit and optimizing them for the web.”
“This is a win not just for user experience—since faster load speeds correlate very strongly with lower bounce rates and higher CTRs—but for search rankings as well,” Taylor says.
“Your images can be much more than a little eye candy for your site,” says Andrea Loubier of Mailbird. “In fact, they can even drive traffic to it—if handled properly. To get started, you’ll want to check the size of your images. Anything too large should be compressed to 100 KB or less.”
According to Pearl Digital’s Shane Black, another quick win comes from “optimizing image titles and alt text. We do dozens of SEO audits each month, and we nearly always see images with either a generic title or missing alt text. Make sure you include the target keyword in the title and the alt text if it makes sense.”
If you’ve been publishing only text content or only video content, a few respondents recommend publishing both types of content on the same page.
“One way to get quick SEO wins is to incorporate videos into your blog,” says Jon Hill of The Energists. “This increased our average dwell time exponentially. If people spend 10-15 minutes on your page, search engines recognize that it’s a more valuable resource than pages where people spend 2-3 minutes.”
If you already have videos, Jeff Moriarty of More Gems recommends “transcribing all of your video content. This can give you a ton of extra unique content for your website, and it takes less than 20 minutes of work per post.”
And James Robinson of Iconic Genius recommends “creating YouTube videos around your SEO keyword strategy. This allows you to maximize your efforts because when people search for your keyword, a video will show up instead of just text. People are more likely to watch a video than read an article.”
Off-page SEO tactics received the fewest number of votes (11.8%) when we asked our respondents to weigh in on which branch of SEO was best for quick wins, but many of our respondents argued that earning more high-quality backlinks is one of the quickest ways to move the needle.
“It’s impressive how fast a website can rank after a boost of a few hundred links from high authority sites,” says Michal Rewers of Blogerio.
If you’re up for the challenge of boosting your rankings with backlinks, our respondents offered these tips.
“Drive links to pieces of content ranking in positions 6-20,” says Levi Olmstead. “These articles are so close to driving significant traffic, and building just a few links to these key articles can have major impacts in terms of ranking and traffic increases in as little as a few days.”
“Guest posting is a proactive way to earn links to your website relatively quickly while also establishing yourself/your brand as an expert in your niche,” says Stuart Cooke of Levity Digital. “If I could only do one thing to increase traffic to a client’s website, it would be that.”
“One quick tip that many SEO experts don’t do enough of is analyzing competitors’ backlinks,” says Matt Schmidt of Burial Insurance Pro. “By looking at competitors’ backlink profiles, you can find sites to reach out to in order to ask for a link or perhaps write a guest blog post.”
“Reach out to high-authority websites like universities or governmental organizations, offer them a discount on your product, and ask them to link to your offer,” says Gregory Golinski of YourParkingSpace. “Acquiring these links will improve your organic results and send more referral traffic to your website.”
“Backlinks to your site with 404 or server errors don’t pass any value,” says Nathan Thompson of Pavilion Broadway. “Simply adding a redirect in your CMS or via your developer to a relevant, live page can ensure this value is not lost.”
“You can do this by using Ahrefs’ Broken Backlinks report,” says Charles Ferrer of Dilate Digital. “Once you have your list of broken links you can then 301 redirect those to the most relevant working page. This can really help build or recover the overall domain authority of the site.”
“Use Google Alerts or Mention to find and keep track of mentions of your brand,” says Victor Antiu of Sleek Bill. “If any of these mentions don’t link to your site, try to email the site owner and ask them to add one.”
“Investing in original research that positions your company as a thought-leader is a key way to increase incoming backlinks to your website,” says G2’s Lauren Pope. “G2 has made a point to create original content around our big company milestones and craft interactive content hub experiences to showcase our work.”
“Here’s an example of a hub we created after our first conference, Reach. This sort of thought-leadership content is a goldmine for organic backlinks because you’re the only team publishing your original research and content. And there isn’t anyone to compete with, so your content will rise straight to the top.”
“All of this paired with good SEO fundamentals are a winning combination that any team can start implementing immediately,” Pope says.
“If you’re trying to get your main page to rank up for high-volume and high-intent keywords, try submitting it to CSS galleries,” says Vlad Shvets of Paperform. “There are around 30 or 40 galleries out there with domain authorities of 40+. The submissions are either free or cost no more than $20 USD on average.”
“It’s a cheap and fast way to get high-quality backlinks,” Shvets says.
“On HARO, reporters or bloggers from reputable websites ask for advice and tips on different subjects for their articles,” says Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada. “You can answer any query a journalist posts, which could lead to receiving a link in his/her article.”
“Sometimes, you can get an email back the same day saying your answer was accepted for the article,” Stevens says.
“Start with content that focuses on a hot topic,” says Jacqueline Salvino of Real Estate Webmasters. “Whether it is breaking news in your industry, a new product (or a new perspective on an old one), or a strong opinion, strategically pick content that disrupts the regular narrative.”
Charlie Worrall of Imaginaire Digital agrees: “Build linkable assets. For example, if you create an infographic or a video that has a sensationalist approach, you’re more likely to gain traction, links, and even brand awareness.”
“Newsjacking is written about a lot, but you don’t need to go the whole hog,” says Mio’s Dominic Kent. “If you get word of something that’s about to happen or know the date for a specific event that will gauge high media interest, write an article about it.”
“If nothing is about to happen, use Google Trends to see what’s hot. B2B marketers need to be applying the same tactics as Millennial YouTube commentary channels to stand out,” Kent says.
“Find a social media influencer,” says Morgan Taylor of LetMeBank. “This works because they already have a base. If they’re promoting your product or service, it’s going to have a more effective and immediate result because people are choosing to watch the influencer.”
“The legwork has essentially already been done. You just have to jump on the bandwagon,” Taylor says.
Antti Alatalo of Cashcow agrees: “When we first launched our first affiliate website, we used YouTube influencers to do a presentation about our website.”
“They went to our website, showed what kind of casinos and bonuses, and then they played in the casino. The whole video was pre-recorded and uploaded on a channel that had a minimum of 10,000 subscribers. We got a ton of referral traffic from those videos, but also it had a significant impact on two other things:”
“Of course, our website had an excellent technical and content foundation, but the traffic and search boost we got from YouTube skyrocketed our rankings,” Alatalo says.
If you’re looking for a few SEO quick wins for a local business, our respondents recommended these four tasks.
“In the race for perfect on-site SEO, it’s important not to forget that Google My Business listings come up first in most local search results. A complete profile is the fastest way to capture local search conversions,” Litscher says.
Jamie Steidle of Deluxe Modular agrees and offers these tips: “Make sure you have a solid description with keywords, fill out all the categories properly, upload pictures, and add a post each week. You will see a spike of engagement on your profile, more phone calls, more direction requests, and more visits.”
“While you’ll still be competing with other businesses for this space, you’ll be competing in a much smaller field,” says Duncan Pacey. “And Google Maps packs appear above the 10 blue links, so you are instantly at position zero, essentially.”
“Link building can be very time consuming and frustrating because the return on investment of time for a small business is almost non-existent,” says Bernadette Kelly of ActiveWin Media. “But there’s an oldie-but-goodie means still available: directories.”
“There are must-have directory listings for businesses of any size to stand a chance online:”
“NAP stands for name, address, phone, and it’s important to make sure these things are consistent all over the internet,” says Anne-Héloïse Pagliardini of AHBC Group.
“Your NAP should be on your website, and it should be written exactly the same way on your Google My Business listing. This tells Google that your website matches your Google My Business listing,” Pagliardini says.
“For local service businesses struggling to rank for a specific keyword like ‘concrete contractor in Philadelphia,’ my quick-win strategy involves creating a location page optimized for that keyword on the site with an embedded Google map of the Google My Business location,” says Patricia Walterick of Open Space Digital.
“Then I create a Google My Business post targeting that keyword with a button that links back to that internal page. I also make sure the location page I created on the site is linked to from the global footer,” Walterick says.
“One thing you can do to produce near-immediate SEO results is to resolve any technical issues that are plaguing your website,” says Matthew Edgar of Elementive.
Ryan Patterson of SeniorAdvice agrees: “Most underperforming sites have glaring issues that are preventing them from ranking: slow page loads, broken outbound links, no structured data, etc. Fixing these can lead to significant improvements in just days.”
So what types of technical SEO quick-win tasks can you add to your to-do list? Here’s what our respondents recommend.
“A high-level SEO audit using a crawling tool can help you find things you need to fix with the click of a button,” says Nick Farmen of Spire Digital. “After crawling a website with a tool like Screaming Frog, you can find technical SEO quick wins like missing alt tags, missing title tags, etc.”
“A quick fix for SEO is to improve loading speeds across mobile and desktop devices,” says Alex Chenery-Howe of Yellowball. “Loading speed is not only a key ranking factor, but it is also critical for user experience.”
Other respondents offered these suggestions for improving your site’s load speeds:
“Google likes fast sites, and so do users,” says Nick Swan of SanityCheck.io. “So in addition to potentially seeing an improvement in rankings and clicks, after improving your page speeds, you should see an uplift in conversions—especially if your site has been really slow!”
“Websites that start with HTTPS perform significantly better than websites that start with HTTP,” says Dylan Max of Netomi. “The ‘S’ denotes a website is secure, and you just need an SSL certificate to get it.”
“You can get an SSL certificate for free online, and if your site runs on common hosting services like WordPress or Wix, they will generate a certificate for you.”
“Getting an SSL certificate is an SEO quick win that can have a tremendous impact on your site’s SEO. You’ll receive higher rankings, traffic, and conversions. Google reps have come out and said that their search engine favors websites that have been secured with an SSL certificate,” Max says.
“Identify 404 error pages using a tool like Screaming Frog and redirect them to live pages on your website,” says Andrew Burd of Web Talent Marketing. “Doing so can help lower your bounce rate, improve your user experience, and increase link equity throughout your site (for 404 pages with backlinks).”
“We’ve had success recently by adding schema markup to product and informational pages,” says Jared Bauman of 201 Creative. “Adding structured data helps Google better understand what the content is about and, for certain types of schema, expands your search result with rich snippets.”
“Rich snippets help you stand out in the search results and improve your click-through rates,” says Asif Khan of Brand Rebel.
“Depending on the type of web page, you can include FAQ schema, review schema, or how-to schema,” says Sneh Choudhary of Beaconstac.
“If you are looking for immediate results, implement FAQ schema,” says Tim Brown of Hook Agency. “They produce a block of text under your meta description that provides three questions and click-down options for the answers. To implement it, use this rich-snippet generator.”
Another tool for creating structured data markup, recommended by Phil Mackie of TopSailDigital, is Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator. “Use it to create your schema, add it to your site, and gain a technical SEO upgrade you can complete in an afternoon and will make the crawlers happy,” Mackie says.
“The greatest short-term impact we’ve seen in improving client rankings and traffic is disavowing spammy inbound links,” says Kent Lewis of Anvil Media. “Decreasing a domain’s spam score is a quick win that can generate immediate impact.”
Hopefully, you were able to find a few quick wins to target using the tips above. The next question to answer, then, is how to track the results of your quick-win tasks.
We asked our respondents which tools they recommend for tracking and reporting on results, and tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Moz, and Databox came out on top:
The best part about using Databox to track your SEO quick wins (and any of your marketing campaigns) is that it integrates with all of those other tools (more than 70 in total)—Google Analytics, Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz—letting you see all of the data you need in one central, consolidated dashboard.
Want to see it for yourself? Get started by grabbing this free SEO Overview dashboard that combines data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Moz, highlighting the key performance indicators you need to understand the overall SEO health of your site.
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