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4 Ways to Measure SEO Progress

From longtail keyword phrases to Google AdWords, your business follows a diversified strategy for SEO success. But how do you know whether your SEO strategy is actually working? Sure, you’re already tracking the results of your AdWords campaign and monitoring conversion rates, but this information only gives you a partial snapshot of your SEO strategy’s successes or shortcomings.

Whether you’ve noticed an increase in web traffic or a sudden drop off, the reason for this traffic change is often complex: a competitor is more effectively optimizing for the same keywords as you; your site has been slapped by an over-optimization penalty; or your latest content marketing campaign is a success (or failure). SEO metrics track your website’s performance versus other sites across all search engines, providing a more complete picture for your SEO strategy.

Every business website is unique, and a metric that is relevant for one website may mean nothing for another. However, there are several key metrics that are universally important. Below, we’ve listed four of the most critical tracking metrics and monitoring tools that are essential to measure SEO progress.

#1: Search Engine Traffic: Find Your Website’s Market Share & Diagnose Potential Problems

Measuring search engine traffic is important because these metrics allow you to compare performance versus market share. Understanding your traffic sources – referral traffic versus direct navigation versus search traffic – is absolutely critical. Knowing both the number of visitors and percentage of traffic from a specific source will help you identify weaknesses and track trends over time. For example, if your search engine traffic suffers a dramatic fall off, your SEO strategy may be in trouble. Conversely if you experience a bump in affiliate link traffic, thank your latest content marketing campaign.

Understanding website market share is also useful should your website traffic suddenly drop off. If all traffic from search engine drops equally, then you are facing an accessibility problem. However, if traffic from Google drops dramatically while traffic from other sites holds steady, then you may have been penalized for over optimization. Correct for over optimization and your website traffic will return to normal levels.

How to find your website’s Market Share:

Google Analytics provides a breakdown of different traffic sources. Many SEO monitoring tools also include these traffic sources, along with statistics on your website’s market share.

#2: Search Engine Traffic: Strategically Improve Your Website

A second – and equally important – use for the search engine traffic analytics discussed in #1 is to strategically improve your website’s SEO based on specific search engines and landing pages. Different SEO tactics are effective with different search engines. For example, thanks to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, organic link building efforts through anchor text and content marketing are more effective with Google. In contrast, on-page optimization, such as longtail keywords, is typically more effective with Bing.

Your analytics will also tell you the pages where visitors most frequently land when they visit your website. Knowing which pages (and how many) receive search engine traffic is essential for SEO success. These data points help determine which changes you make to your website’s structure, keywords and linking system to improve search traffic. In a perfect world, we’d have plenty of time and resources to tweak websites for SEO success. Sadly, that’s not the case. Consequently, it is absolutely essential that you strategically choose which SEO improvements to make – whether that’s an increased focus on crafting quality content and obtaining organic back links or carefully combing low-performing pages for missed on-page optimization opportunities.

How to find your website’s most popular landing pages:

Google Analytics is ground zero for determining which landing pages are most popular on your website. Compare this information with your website market share analytics to make strategic SEO improvements.

#3: Domain Authority: Measure Your Website’s Strength

How well does your website perform in search engine rankings? Domain Authority predicts your website’s performance versus other competitor websites in Google’s search engine rankings based on the strength of your website pages and link profiles. Domain Authority scoring is based on a model created by SEOmoz that aggregates over 150 different factors into a unified system for measuring domain authority. Scores are reported logarithmically on a 1 to 100 scale, with 100 being “ultimate” domain authority.

Domain Authority rankings are most useful for measuring your website’s strength versus other sites. Since it is a predictive ranking system, it is less useful as an historic measurement of your website’s own SEO efforts. Domain Authority also measures a website’s perceived “trust” within the online community; websites that rank higher in domain authority also have a stronger link profile, which means they are more “trustworthy”. Since the Domain Authority scale is logarithmic, it is easier to improve from a 30 to 40 ranking than improve from a 80 to 90 ranking.

How to find your website’s Domain Authority:

Domain Authority rankings are incorporated into many common SEO metrics measurements; they can also be obtained using Open Site Explorer.

#4: Keyword Rank Tracking: Keep an Eye on the Competition

Is a competitor optimizing for the same keywords or phrases that your company optimizes for? If you are an affiliate management company, do you know how your trademarks and brands are being used across the Internet? Keyword rank tracking is one of the most important SEO monitoring tools for any business. Here at iSpionage, our keyword rank tracking tool includes keyword monitoring and alerting functionality that can be used to track your company’s trademarks and brands across the Internet. This keyword tracking service will also notify you if a competitor begins to optimize for your same keyword terms.

How to track keyword rank:

The easiest way to track keyword rank is through an SEO metrics service like iSpionage; keyword rank tracking is not available through Google metrics.

Search engine marketing cannot be performed in a vacuum. In order to understand whether your SEO strategy is working, you also need to know how your website’s performance in search engine results compares to your competitor’s performance, as well as how your website is performing for different search engines. The right SEO monitoring tools not only make it easier to track these metric, but also translate their results into actionable SEO improvements for your website.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets. Connect with Chris or on Twitter.