Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that can drive organic traffic to your site and boost your bottom line. However, one of the challenges with SEO is that it’s not always easy to understand where your results are coming from.

By leveraging the right tools, you can access and analyze a plethora of data. But focusing on the wrong ones can make you lose sight of the bigger picture or lead you astray.

So how do you know what’s actually working and what’s not? How can you ensure that your efforts are generating a return?

With the right metrics and SEO tracking tools.

In this article, we’ll explain what SEO tracking is and why it’s important. We’ll also look at the key metrics you should track and how you can use them to improve your campaign.

What Is SEO Tracking?

SEO tracking is the process of measuring the progress and performance of a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. It helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your SEO and SEM efforts.

SEO tracking metrics

So, what makes SEO tracking so important?

When you track the right metrics, you get a clearer picture of what’s working. This lets you uncover valuable insights that you can leverage to inform and refine your SEO campaign.

However, the key to deriving these insights lies in selecting the right metrics — not easy when you consider that there’s no shortage of metrics you can track.

SEO Tracking Metrics To Monitor SEO Performance

Knowledge isn’t always power. With SEO tracking, it’s easy to get lost in a wealth of information and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Here we’ll look at the most important metrics you should measure to monitor and evaluate your SEO performance.

Keyword rankings

Keyword rankings are where you rank in the search results for a keyword. They’re an early sign that your SEO efforts are working.

You want to aim to rank in the top positions for your target keyword. That’s because the top three organic search results account for 62.5% of all clicks.

Google organic clickthrough rates

While rankings tend to fluctuate, a sudden drop could indicate a bigger issue. You can track your keyword rankings manually or use our free Google Rank Checker Tool to check for existing rankings.

Top traffic-driving keywords(Image Source)

Organic traffic

Organic traffic refers to how much traffic you’re getting from Google. It’s another metric that helps you measure your SEO campaign’s effectiveness.

Backlinks and referring domains

Backlinks continue to be one of the most important ranking factors. Think of them as a vote of confidence as they signal to Google that your content is useful and valuable.

The more backlinks you have, the higher your page will rank. One study found a strong correlation between backlinks and rankings.

Graphic showing that top ranking pages have more backlinks(Image Source)

In addition to tracking backlinks, you’ll also want to track referring domains. These are the number of unique domains that you have backlinks from.

You can use The HOTH’s Backlink Checker Tool to track your backlinks.

The HOTH's free backlink checker tool(Image Source)

This tool is also a great way to conduct link research on your competitors.

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

Clickthrough rate or CTR is the percentage of searchers who see and click one of your pages in the search results.

For example, if 100 searchers see your listing on Google and five people click through, your CTR would be 5%.

How to calculate your organic clickthrough rate

This metric tells you how effective your pages are at grabbing your visitors’ attention. One way to improve this metric is to optimize your titles and make them more enticing.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz that predicts how well your site will rank in search results. It’s based on factors like the quality and quantity of your backlinks.

The score ranges from 0 to 100 and is based on a logarithmic scale, meaning that going from DA 0 to 10 will be much easier than going from DA 70 to 80.

DA isn’t an official ranking factor, but it can help you gauge the impact of your SEO strategy and measure how authoritative your site is.

You can use our Domain Authority Checker Tool to measure your DA.

Domain Authority checker tool(Image Source)

Organic conversion rate

Organic conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who find your site through Google and take a desired action (e.g., signing up for a trial, filling out a form, making a purchase, etc.).

Tracking this metric tells you the quality of the traffic you’re getting. If you’re getting a high volume of traffic, but your conversions are low, you may be targeting the wrong search terms.

Here are the average organic conversion rates by industry:

Organic conversion rates by industry(Image Source)

If your numbers are below these benchmarks, consider revisiting your keyword research.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who visit only one page on your site without taking any other action and “bounce” or exit the page.

Here are the average bounce rates for different industries:

Average bounce rates by industry(Image Source)

A high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing as users could be looking for quick answers (e.g., phone numbers, addresses, etc.). However, it can indicate that users aren’t finding your content relevant.

Dwell time

Dwell time is an indicator of the quality and relevance of your content. It refers to how long a visitor spends on a web page before clicking back to the search results.

The industry benchmark for average dwell time is between two to four minutes.

Industry benchmark for average dwell time

Indexed pages

Indexed pages are the pages of your site that Google has added to its database. This metric is important because if your pages aren’t indexed, you’re not getting any SEO value from them.

You can check how many pages are indexed from the Coverage report in Google Search Console.

Index coverage report from Google's Search Engine Console(Image Source)

The report shows you the number of pages that are indexed along with any indexing errors.

Technical SEO health

Google is increasingly focused on delivering better user experiences. Page experience is now officially a ranking factor.

It’s important that you monitor the three main factors of the Core Web Vitals — load times, ease of interaction, and visual stability. Monitor and address any issues that could impact these elements to ensure good technical SEO health.

The Top SEO Tracking Tools

With the right SEO tools, you’ll be able to see how your efforts are paying off and uncover valuable insights to inform your search engine marketing strategy.

Here are the top SEO tools you can use to measure your site’s performance.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the best SEO tools you can use to monitor your SEO performance. You can track metrics like new users, bounce rates, average session durations, and even traffic sources.

Google Analytics homepage(Image Source)

With Google Analytics, you can set up conversion tracking for goals that are important to your business (e.g., purchases, newsletter sign-ups, and form submissions).

The best part? Google Analytics is completely free. If you’re not already using this tool, you’ll want to get it installed sooner rather than later.

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another tool that Google offers. It allows you to monitor your overall site health and gives you more control over how your site appears in the search results.

Google Search Console homepage(Image Source)

With Google Search Console, you can see which search queries are bringing visitors to your site and other useful information like your organic CTR. What’s more, you can receive alerts if Google identifies any indexing or crawling errors.

Google Search Console is free, but you’ll need to add a snippet of code to your site before you can start using it.

3. Google Rank Checker Tool

Our Google Rank Checker Tool lets you easily check the keywords that your website is currently ranking for.

Screenshot of The HOTH Google Rank Checker Tool(Image Source)

Simply enter your URL and click “View Google Rankings.” Then you’ll get a list of the top keywords that are driving traffic to your site and their rankings.

The tool also displays:

  • Ranking changes since last month
  • Estimated site traffic for each keyword
  • Average monthly searches
  • Number of search results

Our Google Rank Checker Tool is completely free. We also offer Hoth Rank Tracker — let us know what keywords to track and we’ll send daily updates of their rankings.

4. Backlink Checker Tool

Our Backlink Checker Tool lets you see the top backlinks pointing to a domain or specific URL.

Checking backlinks with The HOTH's Backlink Checker Tool(Image Source)

Simply enter a URL, specify whether you want a report for the entire domain, subdomain, or exact URL, and click “View Backlinks Report.”

The tool will display:

  • Total external backlinks
  • Total referring domains
  • Percent of dofollow backlinks
  • Referring IPs
  • Anchor text

Want to see how your competitors are ranking? Enter a URL that ranks high for your target keywords and this tool will show you a list of its top backlinks. Then you can reach out to those sites to try to get a backlink.

Our Backlink Checker Tool is free to use, so you won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars a month for similar services.

How To Track the Performance of Your SEO Campaigns (With a Combination of Tools)

Now that you know what metrics you should track and the tools you can use, let’s look at how you can monitor the performance of your SEO campaigns.

Organic traffic from search engines

Ultimately, you want more organic traffic. This type of traffic is from people who have entered a search query and clicked through one of your pages. It’s an effective indicator of your overall SEO strategy.

You can track organic traffic in Google Analytics. Simply navigate to Acquisition and click on Overview. Then click Add Segment, select Organic Traffic, and click Apply.

Tracking organic traffic in Google Analytics

The resulting report will display your site’s organic traffic for the previous week, but you can also adjust the time frame.

Of course, don’t just look at organic traffic in isolation. You also want to compare it against other metrics like conversions to measure the quality of that traffic.

Keyword ranking movements

Tracking your keyword rankings can help you evaluate your SEO strategy and determine what’s working. For example, if using blogger outreach helped a page move up in rankings, then you know that those efforts were worthwhile.

One way to track your rankings is to simply search for your target keyword, see where your site ranks, and mark it down in a spreadsheet. However, tracking rankings manually is incredibly time-consuming.

Another option is to use our HOTH Rank Tracker, and you’ll get daily updates like this:

Keyword rankings graph(Image Source)

Simply tell us what keywords you want to track, and we’ll take care of the rest.

User engagement

User engagement refers to how people behave on your site. Are they interacting with your pages and reading your content? Or are they leaving after only a few seconds?

The user signals you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Bounce rates
  • Dwell time
  • Organic CTR

Google Analytics can track bounce rates and dwell time (average time on page). Simply click on Behavior and click All Pages.

Tracking bounce rates in Google Analytics(Image Source)

You can view total clicks and your average CTR in Google Search Console.

Tracking organic clickthrough rates in Google Search Console(Image Source)

Keeping an eye on these metrics can help you measure and improve user engagement. For example, if your dwell time is only a few seconds long, one way to improve this metric is to match your content to search intent — the “why” behind a search query.

Making sense of it all

Before you start improving your SEO, you need to establish some baseline metrics first. Use the tools covered here to understand the current state of your site’s SEO. Establish baselines for metrics like keyword rankings, organic traffic, and backlinks.

Then define specific and measurable SEO goals. For example, you could set a goal of increasing your organic search traffic by 20% by the end of the year. That’s much better (and more motivating) than simply saying that you want to “increase traffic.”

Continue to track your SEO efforts against your baseline data. This will help you measure the impact of any changes you make and determine whether you should adjust your strategy.

Get Managed SEO Services

SEO tracking is an essential aspect of search engine optimization. It helps you gauge how well your SEO strategy is working and determine which areas need additional work.

Of course, you don’t have to go it alone.

Whether you need help scaling your content creation efforts or managing other aspects of your SEO strategy, we’re here to help. Schedule a free call with one of our experts, and we’ll be happy to discuss your marketing needs.