SEO Metrics to Track in 2023: A Guide
Knowing which metrics to track is key to the success of an SEO campaign. Our agency has run over 200 SEO campaigns and seen pretty much every metric internal teams track. This report condenses those metrics into the ones CMOs and other digital marketing leaders consider the most important as of 2023.
In the below table, we list key SEO metrics along with success benchmarks. In addition, we score each metric by its practical value to a marketing leader when evaluating an SEO campaign. Finally, we provide a brief note on each metric’s overall relevance.
The Most Important SEO Metrics to Track
|Metric||Success Benchmark||Practical Value Score||Notes|
|ROI||748%||5.0||ROI is the most direct measurement of the effectiveness of your SEO program.|
|Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate||2.4%||4.8||Traffic is only useful when it converts to leads for your sales team, making conversion rate optimization an important element of successful SEO campaigns.|
|Keyword Rankings||+91% Growth YOY||4.3||Higher keyword rankings are the first sign of a successful SEO campaign, and indicate that your team is successfully aligning content with searcher intent.|
|Organic Traffic||+47% YOY||3.9||Organic traffic provides an easy to track measure of SEO effectiveness, but by itself does not indicate that your campaign is generating a return. It must be combined with other metrics such as conversion rates and insight into your sales funnel to create a full picture.|
|Clickthrough Rate||1st Page Average: 9.8%
(Highly dependent on ranking position)
|3.8||Clickthrough rate measures the percentage of searchers who click on your site in Google’s search results. It is highly position dependent, with the first three search results accounting for nearly 70% of clicks.|
|Backlinks||150 – 300||3.8||Though its importance has diminished over the years, backlinks remain a major factor in Google’s Algorithm. Attaining backlinks organically also indicates that others in your industry find your content useful.|
|Engagement Rate||Above 63% for B2B websites
Above 71% for B2C websites
|3.5||In Google Analytics 4, bounce rate was replaced with engagement rate. Low engagement is a sign of either low quality content or content that does not respond to search intent.|
|Domain Rating||50 – 60||3.5||Domain Rating is an ahrefs metric that estimates the relative strength of a website’s dofollow backlinks. (Moz users may substitute domain authority.)|
|Pages Per Session||2.2||3.4||A high average pages per session is a strong indicator of visitor engagement, as well as a clear website flow.|
The top SEO metrics listed above apply to B2B SEO marketing for midsize to enterprise companies. The practical value score is a scaled ranking factor that allows for a direct comparison between different metrics and their impact on overall SEO. Benchmarks are good indicators of a campaign’s success; however, they do vary by type of business.
Top SEO Metrics by Business Type
All SEO marketing plans are intended to generate demand or leads, depending on the maturity and size of the campaign. For example, startups or companies launching new products or services should focus on demand generation to create awareness and interest.
Mature marketing plans concentrate on converting visitors into leads. At this stage, lead generation is more important, and metrics like visitor-to-lead conversion rate are more useful gauges for campaign analysis and success. Your industry or business type also influences which SEO metric is most important to follow, and what benchmark to use.
|Business Type||SEO Metric||Benchmark||Notes|
|Startup||Organic Traffic||10,000 unique visitors per month||While ROI is a more valuable indicator for more established businesses, startups need to measure growing awareness of their brand as quickly as possible. Organic traffic provides a more responsive and easier to track indicator of SEO performance.|
|Backlinks||75 – 150||New websites have no backlinks, making the impact of every new link that much more valuable.|
|CAC from SEO||B2B: $647
|The average cost of acquiring each new customer, CAC is one of the core metrics startups should track across their entire marketing program.|
|Midsized||ROI||748%||ROI is the most important metric to track for midsized companies, as it shows if their SEO program brings in sufficient new business to justify its cost.|
|Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate||2.4%||Poor conversion rates are one of the most common challenges midsized companies face when it comes to organic lead generation.|
|Domain Rating||50 – 60||Midsized businesses often find themselves competing with many other websites with domain ratings in the 30-40 range. Achieving a significantly higher domain rating allows their search rankings to outstrip their competition.|
|Enterprise||Content Impressions||B2B: 2,500 per piece (1st month)
B2C: 8,000 per piece (1st month)
|When it comes to SEO, Enterprises are often more concerned with content reach than measuring direct ROI.|
|Engagement Rate||B2B: Above 67%
B2C: Above 75%
|Paired with impressions, engagement rate allows enterprises to assess how well their content resonates with their audience.|
|SEO Share of Voice||16%||Enterprises command significant attention in their industry, making share of voice a uniquely valuable metric to track.|
Next, we discuss how to calculate or track each of the top SEO metrics in more detail.
Return on Investment is the truest measure of the value of an SEO campaign, as it accounts for potential variance in both customer value, and in the cost of closing a sale. It can be calculated using the following formula:
While this makes ROI more complex to measure, it allows you to better compare it against your other marketing channels.
Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate
SEO improves organic traffic, but traffic alone is of limited value. It is only when a portion of this traffic leaves their email to subscribe to a newsletter, reach out to your sales team, or make a purchase that SEO begins to provide a return. This is what visitor-to-lead conversion rate measures.
- Define which trackable actions qualify a visitor as a lead (i.e., define which Events you wish to track),
- Create a report on total conversions, setting the traffic source to include only organic traffic
- Divide your total number of conversions by your total organic traffic, resulting in your conversion rate.
While the value of keyword rankings is overemphasized by many SEO agencies, it remains one of the most important metrics to track for any SEO campaign. Rather than being a measure of success, rankings should be instead treated as a leading indicator with consistent keyword ranking growth being an early sign that a campaign is headed in the right direction.
The best way to track rankings is with the help of an SEO tool such as ahrefs or Moz, which in addition to tracking current rankings, will also provide historical data to help contextualize your rankings.
Organic traffic is the portion of your visitors that arrive through search engines (over 90% of which will be through Google). It can be measured most easily through Google Analytics. Organic traffic is tied closely to keyword rankings, and the best way to grow your organic traffic is to earn higher search rankings for more keywords.
Clickthrough rate, or CTR, measures how often searchers on Google clicks through to your website. It is the percentage of searchers that actually click through to your site after seeing your page in Google’s search results, and is most easily measured through the Search Results tab in Google Search Console. Note that while Search Console provides a sitewide CTR by default, this metric is of limited value and you should instead analyze the CTRs of individual pages to better understand the effectiveness of your meta descriptions.
The most important factor in a page’s CTR is ranking position. For SEO, snippets receive the highest average CTR at 43%, and second page results have far lower CTRs (often below 1%) than all results on the first page. Even on the first page, CTRs are highly stratified, with the top 3 results accounting for nearly 70% of clicks. This makes comparing each page’s CTR against the benchmark for its ranking position the best way to use this metric.
While the importance of backlinks in Google’s Algorithm has diminished over the past 15 years, they remain a useful indicator that others in your industry find your content useful. This metric is best tracked with the help of an SEO tool, which can automatically generate reports on your backlink profile. These tools can also notify you of new backlinks.
Note that not all backlinks are valuable for SEO, and you should pay more attention to those coming from websites with high (70+) domain ratings, as these will have the greatest impact on your own website’s rankings. Conversely, a high number of spammy links can negatively affect your site’s domain rating as well as your search rankings.
Since Google’s introduction of GA4, engagement rate has replaced bounce rate as the determining factor for whether visitors find your pages relevant to their search. A visitor is considered “engaged” if they perform at least one of the following:
- Stayed on a page for 10 seconds or longer
- Clicked through to a second page on your website
- Performed a conversion event (such as filling out a contact form)
To increase your engagement rate, ensure that your content promises value immediately to establish trust with searchers. Poor UI/UX will also cause visitors to leave quickly, lowering engagement.
Domain Rating is a proprietary metric developed by ahrefs of the strength of a website’s backlink profile. It functions similarly to Google’s PageRank, but applied to an entire domain rather than a single page. (You may substitute the similar Domain Authority metric from Moz.)
Your domain rating will increase naturally as you publish high quality content that others find useful and link to. Matching or exceeding your competitors’ domain ratings gives your content an edge in Google’s rankings.
Pages Per Session
When a visitor arrives on a page through Google, you want them to stay on your website so you can continue to build trust with them through your content. This is done through (a) providing high quality content on every page, so visitors know that if they click an internal link they can expect to be rewarded with valuable information; and (b) ensuring that each page includes natural pathways for visitors to learn more about niche topics by clicking through to other pages on your site. As with many of the metrics above, pages per session is most easily measured through Google Analytics.
Improving Your SEO Metrics
This guide lays the groundwork for understanding which metrics to track and how, but doing so consistently is easier said than done. Metrics and data by themselves are of little value without a way to translate them into effective action, and as a result, many businesses choose to partner with an experienced SEO agency to develop and implement their SEO campaigns.
We have over 12 years of SEO experience, taking a data-drive, ROI-first approach. If you’re interested in learning more about how our agency can help manage every aspect of your SEO campaign, contact us.