If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If you can’t manage it, it can’t be improved. Search engine optimization is no different. Knowing how to measure SEO strategy will help you create better content, rise in search results and pivot with the punches.

While tracking keyword rankings can be a great way to measure SEO strategy, it only captures a fraction of what search engine optimization can do for businesses. Looking past keywords and deeper into more advanced SEO efforts empowers digital marketing teams to clearly see what brings profit and people to their business.

Small Business SEO

SEO takes time to measure, which is why small business owners in particular, tend to look past the value. While a solid SEO strategy may not grant instant gratification, the long-term results can really pay off. Not only can organic traffic deliver valuable placement on search results pages without having to pay to play, but users tend to trust organic search results over ads. 

Forbes reported that on the first page of Google search results, the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all clicks.

While SEO is clearly an organic breadwinner, according to PR Newswire, only 49% of small businesses invest in SEO and 18% say they never will! So, why don’t more small businesses invest in an SEO strategy? For smaller websites that only post content once a week, results can take a long time to track. According to Neil Patel, SEO efforts can take between six months to two years to track!

So what does this mean for small business owners? A well-planned SEO strategy will take time and effort – but considering 93% of buying experiences start with a search engine and 80% of local searches convert, it should be clear that SEO is worth the time and effort.

Small business owner leaning on his desk as he does a mobile search for SEO strategy.

 

SEO Strategy: 5 Metrics to Measure

1. Measure Search Traffic over Time.

The first metric you should measure is search traffic. You can use Google Analytics to view your search traffic over time. If you notice a correlation between the launch of your SEO campaign and an increase in organic traffic, that’s a strong indicator that SEO tactics are earning you those results – if they’re going down, you may need to try something different! However, be sure not to adjust your strategy too soon. It takes months to identify the true weaknesses and strengths of your SEO strategy.

To view search traffic in Google Analytics:

  • Log into Google Analytics
  • Select the desired account
  • Navigate to Audience Overview tab
  • Toggle timeframe to conduct your analysis

Here you can also view supporting metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, and returning visitors.

2. Track Impressions.

You can use Google Search Console to see which keywords are winning impressions. Tracking impressions is a huge factor when understanding how your content moves through SERPs! Impressions are the number of times your content is delivered in a search result for a given keyword.

Impressions should consistently grow as you continue to build more content around that topic. If impressions grow each month – you’re doing something right!

To view your keyword impressions in Google Search Console:

  • Log into Google Search Console
  • Enter your domain property
  • Select Performance tab
  • View your query list

More impressions should also lead to more clicks. If you notice an increase in impressions for certain keywords, but clicks are not improving, you may need to edit your heading to draw more intrigue.

3. Content Production.

Your SEO strategy should also include content strategy. You need to be on top of how much content you’re producing. If you’re cranking out quality content at a consistent rate, you’ll be creating more opportunities for backlinks and for Google to deliver your site in searches. But what is considered a consistent posting schedule?

“If you’re producing one article per week, it’s going to take you forever to do well in the search landscape. Ideally you need to be producing 3 or more articles per week at minimum.” – Neil Patel

Don’t have time to post that often? You can revisit old blog posts and update them with fresh content. This is useful for blog posts or pages that are not generating much traffic. Use Google Analytics to analyze when to edit or remove outdated content.

To find underperforming content in Google Analytics:

  • Log into Google Analytics
  • Select the desired account
  • Choose Behavior Overview in the Reports tab
  • Beneath the page list display, select the “view full report” link – make sure to select the “Show rows” dropdown and increase to 5,000.
  • Change the date range to the previous 90 days.
  • Evaluate content based on Pageviews, Average Time on Page, Exit Percentage and Bounce Rate.

4. Number of Indexed Pages.

A solid SEO strategy will include submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console. Why? Every time you publish a new blog post or page, you need to let search engines know. Otherwise, it could take months for Google to check up on your website and index the new content. Manually submitting an up-to-date sitemap sends a direct request to Google that lets them know, “Hey pal, we’ve got new goodies!”

To submit your sitemap to Google Search Console:

  • Log into Google Search Console
  • Enter your domain property
  • Select Sitemaps tab
  • Enter your sitemap link & submit

Graphic that says backlink with a group of people pointing to different illustrations of code, SEO strategy, computers, and other digital marketing tools.

5. Monitor Backlinks.

Backlinks are a key part of building a healthy SEO network. The more quality sites that link to your content, the more often Google search crawlers will visit your site. But you don’t just want to track the backlinks for your own website – here’s where you need to take a look at your competition!

A well-rounded SEO strategy will include keeping a log of yours and your competitor’s backlink profiles. If your competitors are growing a healthy backlink network at a steadier rate than you, their content will be delivered above yours in organic search results. Backlinks play a significant role in building domain authority and gives further context to search crawlers when they’re coursing through your site’s code. 

To view your backlink profile in Google Search Console:

  • Log into Google Search Console
  • Enter your domain property
  • Select Links tab
  • View your Top linking sites

If you want your competitor’s backlink profile, you’ll need to invest in a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to look into their network and growth strategy.

SEO Strategy Wrap-Up

SEO is a long-haul strategy, but if you post valuable content on a consistent schedule, you might be surprised at how quickly you can rise in SERPs – particularly in local searches. While there are additional content marketing KPIs and SEO metrics that can help support your organic growth strategy – improving load time, tracking dwell time, and choosing cornerstone content to improve site structure – these 5 methods of measuring your SEO efforts can get you started towards rising in the ranks.

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Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From digital marketing to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.

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