on May 30, 2022 (last modified on October 21, 2022) • 20 minute read
Over 5 million searches happening on Google every minute.
Over 200 ranking factors that Google uses when offering answers to a search query.
Dozens and dozens of different SEO tips that sometimes may even contradict each other.
We get it; it’s not easy to reach the top of SERPs and get traffic, clicks, and authority to your website.
But also remember that SEO is a long-term game and that it may take a while until you figure out what’s working well for your business.
To help you speed up this process, and identify the most effective ways to do SEO for your business, over the past three years, we’ve run and published more than 60 SEO-related surveys and talked to 2000+ SEO experts who have been in the trenches themselves.
As a result, we identified 42 findings that can serve you as a benchmark and a reference point for building your company’s SEO strategy in 2022.
Let’s dig in.
You won’t know if your SEO strategy is working unless you track and measure relevant SEO KPIs and metrics. How often should you monitor them? What SEO tools should you use? Find out everything you need to know in this section.
Almost 75% of the companies we surveyed set their SEO goals for top keywords. For over 50% of respondents, estimated traffic and backlinks matter as well. A significant number of respondents also voted for domain authority and average position.
PRO TIP: Quality trumps quantity when it comes to SEO. Aim to rank for keywords that really matter to your business, rather than rank for as many keywords as possible. The same goes for backlinks: one quality backlink means more than a bunch of no-follow ones.
Identify up to 30 most relevant keywords to track your ranking for, and set a goal around the authority of the referring domains that link to your website.
Around 46% of the surveyed companies track 3-5 primary metrics in their SEO dashboards, while around 40% of respondents track 6-10. Only a bit over 11% of companies chooses to track more than 11 SEO metrics.
PRO TIP: Tracking everything at once will create chaos in your dashboard and keep your focus away from your business goals.
Think about which metrics directly contribute to your marketing strategy. Track metrics that are affected by others to avoid cluttering the dashboard: if you’re tracking CTR, for example, you don’t need to track Clicks and Impressions.
More than 45% of the marketers we surveyed said that sales were the primary metric they use to measure ROI of their SEO campaigns. Over 30% of respondents also claimed the number of leads was an indicator of how much their SEO strategy paid off.
To optimize your website for organic search, you probably use Google Search Console to learn which pages receive the most impressions and clicks, and which queries are driving them. Now you can quickly assess your SEO performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, including:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Search Console experts, who have put together a great Databox template showing the most important KPIs for monitoring organic search performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up this Google Search Console Dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Search Console account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Nearly 70% of SEO experts send SEO reports to their clients on a monthly basis. Around a quarter of the surveyed experts send the reports weekly.
PRO TIP: Write the report in simple language and use data visualizations to present the findings in a visually appealing manner. Your client is not you—the report should be understandable and compelling for them.
Half of the companies we surveyed check their rankings either at least once a day. About 80% of them monitor both for ranking drops and ranking increases as it helps them identify tactics that are working.
PRO TIP: Monitor rank drops, not just increases. That way, you can identify potential issues timely and be proactive about your content and update it, or tackle any technical errors, and make sure you avoid them in the future.
Most companies that participated in our survey rely on Google Search Console and Google Analytics to pull data from for an SEO report. Other than these two popular SEO tools, respondents use Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz.
PRO TIP: Use Google Analytics to show an often overlooked metric important for SEO: assisted conversions. It’s a good way to help your clients understand how your search traffic may be the first touchpoint to their website, even if the conversion doesn’t happen immediately.
Companies we surveyed voted organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversions as the most important SEO reporting metrics. Other relevant metrics include CTR, organic visibility, new backlinks, and referring domains.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to track the technical performance of your website. Page load speed and UX are just as important as the quality of your content.
More than half of surveyed companies think that Google Search Console is the best tool to identify issues with their sites, track organic CTR and track crawl errors.
PRO TIP: Sometimes, we may overlook the problems with our website that Google may detect. Use Google Search Console’s Coverage report to understand how Google indexes your pages and uncover any indexing issues.
Over 80% of companies we surveyed typically use paid SEO tools, while 17% of them use free SEO tools only.
PRO TIP: If you’re on a budget, combine several free tools to get what you need in terms of SEO research. Free doesn’t mean bad—after all, everyone uses Google Analytics and considers it one of the most reliable website analytics tools.
More than half of the companies we asked agree that the optimal monthly SEO budget for a new site is over $500. Only 6.5% of companies are ready to set aside less than $100 per month for SEO.
PRO TIP: Don’t wait until the new site is launched to optimize it. Plan SEO into your strategy from the beginning and educate your stakeholders about the importance of SEO for your website’s performance.
SEO is the channel that delivers the best results for ecommerce websites, according to more than 40% of companies. More experts opted for SEO than for PPC and paid social media combined.
PRO TIP: What your audience sees before clicking on your website is the title and the meta description. That’s your chance to win a click—spend enough time crafting a compelling meta tag to increase your CTR.
According to the experience of almost half of the companies we surveyed, most often, it takes 3 to 6 months for SEO to deliver results. The most important factors that affect the time SEO will take are the authority of the domain, keyword optimization, and backlink profile.
PRO TIP: Websites that use expertise, show authority, and build trust rank faster. If you focus on building authority in your niche, getting backlinks, and creating quality content consistently, you’ll cover the three most important ranking factors.
How do SEO experts update their knowledge? How many SEO specialists do companies hire? We’ve put together an overview of SEO expertise in the following section.
About 55% of surveyed companies have one sole owner that manages SEO activities. The second most common answer was that the whole team is responsible for managing SEO.
PRO TIP: Tools like Google Search Console offer a lot of data and it’s easy to get sucked into trying to follow and analyze everything. Whether you have a small team or one person in charge, choose your “big fives”: top 5 keywords to track or 5 critical metrics. Check them every morning. This way you won’t get lost in all the available data.
Just 5% of SEO experts say they’ve never made a mistake. The vast majority have made three errors or more.
PRO TIP: One of the common mistakes SEOs reported is doing proper redirects when changing the structure of your website. If you neglect to set up redirects, you will lose all your existing backlinks and your ranking will drop.
Blogs are the most helpful SEO resources for the majority of our contributors: almost 70% of respondents in our survey rate them as the most useful, compared to videos, courses, forums, etc.
PRO TIP: Popular SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Moz have handy blogs, too. Other than these two, we recommend reading Backlinko, Neil Patel, SEMrush, Yoast SEO, and Search Engine Journal.
All of our respondents read some kind of SEO-related blog, mostly 1-5 per week (almost 75% of respondents).
PRO TIP: If visiting your favorite SEO blogs daily is overwhelming, you can stay up-to-date with their content by subscribing to their newsletters! Most of the popular blogs share their latest articles through email marketing.
Industry blogs/news are the most popular source for identifying emerging SEO trends—for over 48% of SEO experts we surveyed.
PRO TIP: Following SEO-specific hashtags and SEO influencers on social media (especially Twitter and LinkedIn) is also a good way to learn what new SEO trends are on the horizon.
Keywords, links, and structure. These are just some of the important elements of on-page search engine optimization. What else should you pay attention to? We’re providing some useful insights in this section.
Content is the most important SEO element on an SEO-friendly website, as voted by the companies we surveyed. Other critical elements are relevant keywords, external links, and page organization.
PRO TIP: Aim to create content that matches your audience’s search intent, gives concrete, actionable advice, and is easy to skim over. If your visitors don’t get an answer to their question fast upon landing on your pages, they’ll leave and search for higher quality and better-organized content.
On-page optimization is the top-voted branch of SEO that brings companies the most quick-wins and visible results.
PRO TIP: Updating old blog posts can bring you faster results than writing new content. Even evergreen topics should be revisited and refreshed once in a while. Make it a habit to update your older (already ranking) content at least twice a year.
A tad over 20% of marketers say they write for search engines. But, for almost 80% of marketers, writing for humans is a priority.
PRO TIP: Aim to provide the best possible answer to the search query. Google will recognize such content, just like it recognizes bad SEO practices such as keyword stuffing. So, write for humans first, and optimize for Google later.
The vast majority of companies give writers a target word count when assigning them new work.
PRO TIP: Long-form content has a higher chance of ranking for multiple keywords and gives you enough space to cover a topic from different angles. However, ensure your article is free of fluff, which sometimes tends to sneak in when you’re chasing a specific word count. Quality is still more important than quantity.
Structured data matters! The vast majority of our respondents believe that structured data does have SEO benefits and agree that having rich snippets increase click-through rates.
PRO TIP: Structured data itself isn’t a ranking factor, but it may help provide more information about your page to both Google and users. That means having a rich snippet may increase your traffic, improve your CTR, and push you higher in the SERPs.
According to most experts, blog posts should include 2 or 3 internal links. The second most common answer is 4 to 5 links.
PRO TIP: Don’t neglect your link anchor text — aim for using keywords as anchors for linking to other content that covers that keyword more in-depth.
The majority of our respondents look at aspects of all three facets of SEO—on-page, off-page, and technical—when conducting a content audit.
PRO TIP: Make a list of every single URL you have on your website. Many content audit attempts fail because people try to do them without proper organization. Use a spreadsheet to track what content you’ve been through and leave notes to yourself regarding what needs to be updated, optimized, merged, etc.
Keyword analysis is how many of the companies we surveyed come up with new content ideas—almost 100% of the respondents rated it as important.
PRO TIP: High-quality content wins, but you need to make it discoverable. That’s where good SEO steps in: keyword research before writing allows you to nail the optimal content structure, include all the relevant keywords your audience searches for, how in-depth to go, and more.
Most commonly targeted keyword difficulty is 30-40. In case the keyword of choice has high difficulty, most companies will search for lower volume or lower difficulty alternatives.
PRO TIP: If the difficulty score of your targeted keyword is too high, try competing for a long-tail keyword related to it. Long-tail keywords usually have a lower keyword difficulty, but some may still have a substantial search volume.
Keyword optimization seems to be the best place for new SEOs to start, at least that’s what 40% of our respondents recommend. Technical SEO and optimizing existing articles are also good choices.
PRO TIP: Start small. Don’t impose huge challenges on yourself the second you take on the SEO role. Choose three top-ranking articles and focus on on-page SEO: optimize titles, meta descriptions, and images, and move on to the next piece of content.
How do you increase your domain authority and build trust between you and your target readers? There are plenty of off-page SEO techniques you can use to polish up your overall SEO strategy. Learn what marketing professionals have to say about off-page SEO in this section.
Acquiring backlinks – or link building – is the most effective off-page SEO tactic, according to our research. The majority of marketers also devote a portion of their time to guest blogging and influencer outreach.
PRO TIP: Whether natural (when others link to your website because you have high-quality content) or manual (when influencers and bloggers link to your website due to a collab), backlinks only matter when they come from another trustworthy source. Don’t waste your time getting a bunch of low-quality links as they won’t help you boost your ranking or authority.
A vast majority of surveyed companies take time to optimize their brand’s social profiles for SEO: over 90% of marketers think of this aspect of SEO, too.
PRO TIP: Include visual content in your articles: charts, quotes, images, and more. That way, your content will be shareable on social media, and get you lots of new traffic from social platforms.
For half of the surveyed companies, most of their video views come from visitors who found them through YouTube search.
PRO TIP: YouTube videos with longer watch times rank better. To ensure high ranking, tease important info at the beginning of the video and spill the beans at the end, making sure you also answer the questions your competitors don’t answer in their videos. That will make your audience stick till the end of the video.
For most of our respondents, the preferred way of building local citations is through local directories.
PRO TIP: Make a list of relevant events and magazines that can make good local citation opportunities. Upload your citations to their sites and make sure your information is completely accurate and as detailed as possible.
SEO experts rank Google My Business as the second most important channel for a local business to focus on (right after their own website).
PRO TIP: It may sound like common sense, but people often forget to update their Google My Business profiles with their email address, phone number, or working hours. For example, your holiday hours may differ from the regular ones—make sure you keep them up-to-date.
Technical SEO is often overlooked, but it’s just as important if you want to rank well. Here’s what marketers say about it.
For many marketers, technical SEO is the missing piece in their SEO strategies. In fact, More than half of our respondents said that marketers tend to place too little importance on technical SEO.
PRO TIP: Type in site:yourwebsitename.com into Google search to see how many of your website pages Google has indexed. Compare this number to the number of URLs that should be indexed to identify any discrepancies.
Only 1% of the surveyed companies think that having the keyword in the page URL is not important.
PRO TIP: Keep your URLs clean, short, and include the keyword, but make sure you don’t turn your whole blog post title into the URL.
Many believe that paid ads will bring them better results, but forget that SEO is a long-term strategy that can bring consistent results over and over. But which one generates more sales? Or more qualified leads? Here’s the experience our respondents shared.
Most companies (over 86% of them) use PPC data to help them with their SEO campaigns.
PRO TIP: PPC can help you discover new keyword opportunities. Instead of waiting to rank for your target keywords, you can use PPC to discover which keywords are the most relevant for your audience and worth ranking for.
The vast majority of companies we have surveyed believe PPC provides quicker results than SEO, but also stated that SEO provides better quality leads.
PRO TIP: PPC and SEO shouldn’t exclude each other. SEO takes more time, so if you’re only starting, use PPC to lay the foundation for your business and acquire your first clients. Then you can also focus on publishing great content and optimizing it for search engines.
SEO generates more sales than PPC for 70% of surveyed companies.
PRO TIP: SEO can cover your entire sales funnel, but PPC may work best for the bottom of the funnel and give your leads that final push that’s necessary for them to convert. Target your organic visitors who have already gone through your content and liked it, as it’ll make your PPC spend even more efficient.
Whether you need to prove your SEO results to your team or a client, SEO strategies take quite some time to get tested and generate results. And whether you’re new in this aspect of marketing or you’ve got some experience, you’ll find out that even proven tactics may not work every time and that you’ll learn a lot by experimenting.
Wait, scratch that.
There’s one proven tactic that works every single time.
And that’s tracking and measuring the right SEO metrics the right way.
We can’t tell you which metrics to track, as they depend on your goals, but we can tell you how.
Actually, we can show you. When you see the Databox SEO dashboard, you’ll understand that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a data visualization is worth a whole report, because:
Sounds like something your business could use? You’re one click away from setting up your free Databox account. Get started today.
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