How to measure SEO performance – 7 important SEO metrics

SEO is the act of editing your website content to appear higher in search results, and using it to drive more traffic to your site.

So when looking at SEO performance, you’re ultimately measuring where you rank. Yet, there are other important elements you need to consider and measure too.

We recommend monitoring these 7 metrics to help analyse your SEO performance:

1. Position in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)

The first thing you’ll want to monitor as part of your SEO performance, is what position your website is showing as in SERPs (for relevant search queries). Each page has got 10 blue links (organic results that aren’t featured snippets, knowledge boxes or ads), and your aim is to show up as high on the page as possible.

When looking at reports, the results at the top of the page will be represented by a lower number e.g. the top result on the first page will be reported at position 1, while a result situated half-way down the page will be reported as position 5.

Tape measure

You can track your average overall position (although, bear in mind that lower page rankings for less relevant keywords can bring this metric down considerably); the rank of your website for specific keywords (that you know are important for your brand); the position of branded keywords compared to un-branded keywords, and even the distribution of your SERP rankings; all with the intention of increasing your first and second page rankings.

Google Search Console is a useful free tool you can use to monitor your SEO performance by tracking the position of keywords over time. This tool only displays the position of keywords at a certain point in time. So, while there are filters you can use to narrow down the data you’re analysing; comparisons of groups of keywords will have to be done manually (by downloading the data and grouping it in Excel or Google Sheets).

Google search console keyword table

If you’re after a tool that can automatically pull a lot of keyword data; then SEMRush, MOZ and Ahrefs have all got tools – as part of their paid packages – which you can use to spend your time analysing results, rather than collecting the data.

semrush keyword distribution chart

2. Impressions

Another metric you may want to measure is impressions. An impression is counted every time you show up in search results for a user’s query. While many SEOs focus on getting the highest positions in SERPs; it’s important to remember that you’re only aiming for these positions to increase your chances of being seen by a user.

Impressions can sometimes be helpful for measuring the effectiveness of the keywords you’re showing up for. After all, there’s no point having a first page ranking for a particular query, if it’s not actually getting your website in front of audiences.

If you have a first page ranking – but a low number of impressions – it’s likely that the keyword you’re ranking for has got a low search volume, and may not be the most valuable for your website.

Similarly, you can also: measure your total number of impressions; the number of impressions you get for a group of keywords (that you’re targeting); the impressions of branded keywords compared to unbranded keywords, or track the impressions you get for terms you class as “relevant to your brand”; to all help gauge your position.

You can easily monitor impressions using Google Search Console. However, if you are only measuring the impressions of a group of keywords, then this will need to be collected manually.

google search console impressions chart

3. Organic Search Traffic

Once you’ve got a high position in SERPs and have had an impression from a user; you’ll want to get them to click on your website. Organic search traffic is one of the main ways to track your SEO performance through clicks, users or sessions.

Again, you can opt to measure your overall organic traffic; the traffic from a specific set of keywords; the traffic of branded vs unbranded traffic, or only the traffic coming from relevant search queries.

Google Analytics is one of the most popular ways to assess organic search traffic, as it contains advanced segmentation options that can help you to perform complex analysis repeatedly and efficiently. You can measure organic traffic in Google Analytics by sessions or by users. Please note that users will need to consent to your cookie policy in order to be tracked in Google Analytics.

google analytics sessions graph

If you struggle to collect data due to cookie consent policies; you may want to track organic search traffic through Clicks in Google Search Console instead. Here, the data is extracted from Google’s existing systems and from logs that are produced during a search.

Depending on the CMS you’re using for your website, you may also be able to track organic traffic through internal reports, such as HubSpot’s Traffic Analytics.

hubspot traffic analysis

Likewise, you may want to track your SEO performance by comparing your organic search traffic to your competitors – which can be difficult when you don’t have access to their analytics. This is where third party tools like SEM Rush and MOZ can be incredibly helpful. SEM Rush’s Organic Research Tool allows you to access a list of competitors – for any site – based on the number of keywords a site ranks for, and for the level of common keywords that exist between your website and theirs.

The traffic is an estimate based on keyword rankings, search volumes and previous performance. So while the figures aren’t 100% accurate, you can use these numbers to develop an understanding of how you are performing in comparison to others in your industry.

semrush competitor analysis table

4. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-Through Rate (CTR) measures the percentage of people who clicked through to your website after seeing it displayed as a result in SERPs. Search engine results are made up of your Title Tag and Meta Description for that page, meaning that they can play a huge part in whether a user clicks on your result.

It’s a good idea to monitor CTR as part of your SEO performance, to help you better understand how appealing your results are to a user, as well as to track the effect of any changes you make.
Depending on your objective, you can choose to trace: the overall CTR of your website; the CTR of specific pages, or the CTR of certain terms through Google Search Console.

google search console ctr graph

5. Engagement Rate

Engagement rate measures the percentage of users that interact with your website by staying for more than 10 seconds, clicking on something or submitting a form. If you are familiar with bounce rate, engagement rate is basically the opposite of that metric.

The aim is to have high engagement rate (somewhere between 60% – 70% is a good engagement rate), as a low engagement rate suggests that users found the page irrelevant to their search query, and weren’t interested in exploring anything else you had to offer.

A low engagement rate can negatively affect your position in SERPs, and is therefore a key metric when measuring your SEO performance.

As with all other metrics, you can use engagement rate to measure SEO performance across your whole site, on specific pages or keywords. Google Analytics 4 provides a whole host of engagement rate reports that you can continue to refine and filter based on your objectives.

6. Domain Authority

Domain authority is a metric used by third party tools – like MOZ – to indicate how Google will rank your site based on link authority. You may want to track your domain authority over time – as part of your SEO performance – to measure how your link building activity affects your position in SERPs.

Each third party tool calculates this metric differently, but it’s good to track your progress over time.

MOZ domain authority report

7. Technical Site Health

If you’re already using third party tools like SEM Rush, then you will have access to site audit reports that can provide you with a technical site health score. This score is calculated based on how many technical SEO errors you have, such as – missing Meta descriptions, broken links and duplicate title tags. Fixing these issues can improve the SEO performance of a site; making technical site health scores a popular one to track.

semrush site health report

There are a number of different ways you can measure your SEO performance, but these are a good place to start if you’re new to SEO.

Having well-defined objectives and a clear plan of action to optimise your website will make it easier for you to decide what you’re going to measure as part of your SEO performance. If you need help with either of these things, please feel free to get in touch with our team.

Deborah Keir – Head of Digital Marketing
Specialises in creating bespoke, data-driven digital marketing strategies to help businesses grow. When not hard at work, can be found cuddling with her fur baby or getting her hands dirty with clay.