We work with a variety of companies to help them increase rankings, traffic and conversions; as well as partnering with digital agencies to help them provide best-in-class SEO services to their clients. One of the initial questions we ask, is how are you measuring SEO success and what data are you gathering to determine progress.

Many companies track the basic elements of SEO – traffic and rankings, but most miss some of the other core data points that should be included in every SEO measurement strategy. Below you will find ten of the core data points we monitor for every client to help provide strategic direction for current and future SEO campaigns.

#1 Total Keywords Your Website Ranks For

What is it?

Organic reach is a representation of almost all keywords ranking in the top 100 search results in Google. Reach has been typically used in traditional media such as TV and Radio – which sell advertisements based on reach (and frequency).

What it means.

Seeing a positive trend in reach means you’re expanding your footprint in Google and most likely reaching new users.

Where to get the data?

We get this number from SEMrush. The great news is that this basic SEO report is free.

Simply go to SEMrush.com, type your URL into the box, and hit Start Now.

SEM Rush

It will bring you to this screen(your domain will be auto-populated in the box). Simply click on the All Reports Dropdown, and click on Organic Research.


This will bring up a trended line chart that shows all the keywords you rank for in the top 100 Google positions. If you hover over one of the lines it will show you a breakdown of the keywords by position.

semrush keywords

#2 Organic Traffic

What is it?

Traffic that comes from the organic search results due to keyword rankings.

What it means.

This is a representation of how much traffic your website is receiving from the organic search results across the Search Engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, etc.

Where to get the data?

You can get this number from Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition > Overview.

#3 Referral Traffic

What is it?

Referral traffic represents traffic that comes from other websites outside of the primary domain, or sub domains on the primary domain.

What it means.

Growth in referral traffic means that you are receive more visits from links on other websites – including social, website links, etc. This correlates with content value, link’ability, and how well your content marketing is working.

Where to get the data?

You can get this number from Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.

#4 Social Traffic

What is it?

Social traffic is a representation of traffic coming from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

What it means.

This represents how hard your social marketing is working for you. Growth in this number means that your content is being valued, shared across networks, and users are clicking on the links within your social media updates.

Where to get the data?

You can get this number from Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition > Social > Overview.

#5 Direct Traffic

What is it?

This represents traffic from users who type your URL into the address bar and directly accesses your website.

What it means.

Direct traffic is usually a result of a marketing campaign, or brand awareness and value. The more aware of your business or brand a user is, the more likely they are to just type it into the address bar and not search Google.

Where to get the data?

You can get this number from Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

#6 Traffic By Website Section

What is it?

This represents how well each section, or page, on your website is doing – based on a specific data requirement.

What it means.

Segmenting traffic by section can help your business better understand which sections of your website are underperforming, or which are doing well.

Where to get the data?

This one takes a little extra work within Google Analytics.

First you’ll need to understand the URL structure of your website to be able to segment that pages within Google Analytics. For example, if all your Services pages have /services/ in the URL, and you want to know how your Services Pages are doing, you’ll need to set up a filter.

First, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages – this will list all the URLs on your website that are receiving traffic.

Then, above that list, you’ll see a bar that can be used to filter the data set.

Click on the blue link labeled advanced. Clicking on this will open a box that has criteria you can use to filter the pages. Use this area to include (or exclude) pages which contain (end with, begin with, etc) a certain word.

google analytics page

#7 Traffic Year-over-Year

What is it?

Year-Over-Year (YOY) compares a date range from one year to another.

What it means.

This metrics is extremely important for companies who have a seasonal business. Without monitoring YOY traffic your data may show huge swings in traffic patterns.

Where to get the data?

This number can be found using the date option in Google Analytics.

Simply click on the date in the upper right corner of Google Analytics – this will expose a drop down. Choose the initial dates you want to compare.

google analytics date

Then check the “Compare To” box.

Once this box is checked you can use the drop down to choose “Previous year”.

google analytics previous year#8 Rankings for Priority Keywords

What is it?

Rank tracking is a controversial subject, as some SEO professionals don’t feel this is valuable – to some extent I agree.  Your website rankings represents the approximate location a page on your website is ranking for a specific keyword. I say “approximate” because rankings from one person to the next can vary slightly.

What it means.

It is important to understand the volatility of rankings and to be deliberate and focus on managing the rankings only for priority keywords (those you have data on), not vanity keywords (those that it would be “cool” to rank for).

There is more on types of keywords in our DIY SEO article.

Where to get the data?

You can get this number from any ranking tool – we use SEMrush.

#9 Conversion Rate by Source/Medium

What is it?

This represents the source and/or medium that is contributing towards conversions. You’ll need to have a goal or conversion tracking set up to view this data – if you need help contact us.

What it means.

Understanding where you conversions are coming from is a vital part of any marketing campaign. Understanding which channel has the best ROI or is sending the most value can help shape strategies.

Where to get the data?

This can be found in Google Analytics within Conversions > Goals > Overview

Once in that section you will see an area where you can select Source/Medium – simply select Source/Medium and you’ll see your goals segmented.

GA source

#10 Page Speed

What is it?

Page speed can be described in either “page load time” (the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page) or “time to first byte” (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).

What it means.

Page speed has two primary benefits; SEO value, User Experience.

For SEO – Google has said many times that Page Speed impacts rankings – to what extent we don’t fully know. In general, slow loading pages suffer from low user engagement, and if it’s true that Google takes into account user behavior data to influence search rankings, then a slow loading website could negatively impact rankings.

For UX – Users will exit your website is a page takes too long to load. Several page load speed case studies have demonstrated that fast loading sites can significantly increase conversions and boost sales. While conversion rate drops when page loading time increases from 0-1 to 3-4 seconds.

Where to get the data?

There are many places to get page speed numbers. We like looking in Google Analytics and within Google’s new Page Speed Tool.

Google’s new tool can be found here. The tool helps analyze specific pages, and provides insights into how to make your pages faster.

Within Google Analytics you can find data on each page on your website. Simply go to Behavior > Page Speed > Page Timings

Final Thought

These are the basic elements that we track for each client we work with. Upon these we couple any addition custom metrics that help the business track and manage their marketing efforts online. If you need help defining a SEO measurement strategy for your website please contact our founder directly.

Need help with website analytics or measuring ROI?

Contact our CEO directly to talk about your website analytics consulting or measurement strategy project, the challenges you're facing, and to get a free quote.

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