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2018 SEO, Part 7: Measuring Success

Published: January 26, 2018

Author: Annie Ye

Some people mistakenly believe the most transparent method of measuring SEO impact is to pull keyword to traffic data. What those people don’t know is that Google does not release keyword to traffic data and has not done so for years. Additionally, SEO efforts are not impacted by spend, so SEO needs to looks at many types of metrics to measure performance.

For a comprehensive understanding of performance in SEO, we look at the following KPIs.

Primary KPIs


  • Rankings are indicative of a website’s position for specific queries on the search engine results page (SERP). The better a website ranks, the more likely a user will click through to the website.
  • We generally only track ranking positions 1-30 because those generally represent the first 3 pages of the SERPs. Because users rarely navigate beyond 3 pages of the SERP, we do not report on keywords that rank beyond it.


  • SEO typically reports on 3 mediums of nonpaid traffic: Organic, Direct, and Referral.
  • Organic traffic is indicative of nonpaid traffic that lands on the website through a query on a search engine such as Google.
  • Direct traffic is made up of users who directly land on the website by typing the web address in the address bar of a browser. Traffic attributed to other mediums such as referral or organic frequently get misattributed to direct traffic. If there’s a sudden spike in Direct traffic, there’s likely an issue.
  • Referral traffic comes from users who land on the website through a secondary source such as a backlink or a link from a social media platform (example: Twitter, LinkedIn).
  • Other components of traffic that we look at are Bounce Rate and Time On Page.

SEO Visibility

  • SEO visibility score indicates how visible a website is on the search engine results page (SERP). This typically looks a website’s propensity to rank as a whole. The better a website ranks, the higher the visibility score.

Organic Conversions

  • These are conversions that come from organic traffic.

Lead Quality

  • This looks at a ratio between conversions over traffic to determine how likely a user is to convert.

Organic CTR

  • Click-through rate can measure how compelling meta data is in persuading a user to click and navigate to the website.

Organic Impressions

  • Organic impressions measure the number of times a page appears for a user.

Primary KPIs are metrics that SEOs can review to evaluate the website performance on an organic scale. Depending on the needs of a client, we may also look at secondary metrics to evaluate performance.

Secondary KPIs

Device Type

  • Breaking down traffic into device type can tell us how users are reaching a website. We look at this breakdown more as Google and other search engines move towards a mobile-first web.

Domain Authority

  • Moz uses a complex algorithm that uses known ranking factors and assigns a “score” to the domain on how authoritative and trustworthy it believes a website is.

Page Authority

  • Also calculated by Moz, the page authority number looks at various ranking factors on a single page and assigns a score based on how authoritative and trustworthy they believe that page to be. The page authority score can be higher or lower than the domain authority score.

Citation and Trust Flow

  • Citation and Trust flow measures how frequently other websites are linking to a website. These links can both send traffic to a website and indicate how much trust external sources place in a website. The greater the citation number and from authoritative websites, the more likely a website will rank.

Non-brand search traffic

  • Improved organic visibility should increase non-brand traffic.

To make movement on secondary metrics, we typically need to review a website on a deeper level that would require a full SEO audit. For the most part, SEOs review the primary KPIs to determine the impact of a website’s current SEO strategy.
We hope you enjoyed our 2018 SEO series! If you have any questions about the posts, or about how we can help you grow your organic impact, drop us a line.

Ready to learn more? Download our Guide to SEO in 2018.

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