Ever since I was first introduced to search engine optimization (SEO), I've had to use it in every role I've had from editorial writing jobs to marketing blogging.
While SEO was never my sole focus, I had to learn how to measure the success of my efforts.
As a marketer, it's important to look at key performance indicators (KPIs) to show how you're doing.
Below, let's look at SEO KPIs you should measure to track success.
- Organic traffic.
- MRR-based metric.
- Cost-per-click (CPC).
- Clickthrough rate (CTR).
- Cost per acquisition (CPA).
- Return on ad spend (ROAS).
Organic Search KPIs
1. Organic traffic.
Organic traffic is one of the most important metrics to track for SEO. However, keep in mind that this shouldn't be the only metric you track. You'll track this in combination with other KPIs.
Aja Frost, the head of SEO content at HubSpot, says, "Any metric—in isolation—can be misleading. For example, HubSpot's SEO team used to obsess over organic traffic. And it seemed like our focus was paying off: Monthly organic sessions skyrocketed. However, we'd lost sight of the quality of those users... and leads and signups weren't following sessions."
So, while you'll want to know what your organic traffic is doing and how it's trending, it's important to use the other SEO KPIs on this list in addition.
2. MRR-based metric.
Paired with your organic traffic, you should measure a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) based metric.
So, what does that mean?
According to Frost, "I recommend SEO teams pair organic traffic with one or two MRR-based metrics (if possible). You can figure out which MRR-based metrics are the right ones by talking to leadership and/or the other team(s) you support. What numbers do they care about? How does organic traffic feed into those numbers?"
A few examples include:
- Organic search
- Demo requests
- Organic search
- Organic search
- Percentage of chats that convert into customers
For HubSpot, we track content leads and user signups in addition to organic traffic.
Frost says, "If all three of those metrics are trending in the right direction, we know we're generating the right type of traffic."
Paid Search KPIs
3. Cost-per-click (CPC).
Cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that you'll pay for each click on your ad. You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad. What you actually pay is determined by the following formula: (Competitor's Ad Rank / Your Quality Score) + 0.01 = Actual CPC.
Victor Pan, a principal marketer and technical SEO at HubSpot, says, "When you're just starting to grow organic traffic and you just don't have the full picture on what the return on investment will be, the average cost per click is a great KPI to use as a temporary replacement for average organic traffic value. For example, if there's an average of 2400 searches for X/year and the average CPC is $20, then you can make projections on the advertising value gained from capturing 5%, 10%, or 20% of that traffic in a year to be $120, $240, or $480 per year respectively."
He adds, "Average CPC is a KPI that can also be used to capture content strategy gaps. There are a lot of high purchase intent keywords where the ROAS (return on ad spend) in pay per click ads does not make business sense. These are golden opportunities to consider longer-term organic search tactics to win as a part of your overall content marketing strategy to become a trusted authority on a particular topic."
Laura Mittelmann, a marketing manager on the paid acquisition team at HubSpot, says, "CPC tells me how much on average I'm paying for a click. This is important when setting bids and working within the constraints of a set budget, and can also help me decide which keywords and match types to bid on."
4. Clickthrough rate (CTR).
Clickthrough rate reveals how often people who view your ad end up actually clicking it.
Mittelmann says, "There are many helpful paid search KPIs to watch depends on the goal of the campaign. CTR helps me to understand how effective and relevant my ad copy is, and if it matches the intent of the user searching for my keywords."
5. Cost per acquisition (CPA).
Cost per acquisition is a great metric that can help you track how much you're spending for each acquisition.
Mittelmann remarks, "CPA is typically the KPI I use most to optimize on a daily basis. CPA factors in other metrics and ultimately tells me how much I paid for a conversion."
6. Return on ad spend (ROAS).
Return on ad spend is a metric that measures the revenue that's generated compared to every dollar of an advertising campaign. For example, let's say you made $10 for every $1 spent on an advertising campaign. That means your ROAS for that campaign is 10:1.
Mittelmann says, "While there are many KPIs to track and use for paid search optimizations, at the end of the day I measure the success of a campaign based on its return on ad spend. It's important for me to know that the value of the conversions the campaign is generating outweighs the cost of the campaign."
It's important to keep in mind that any metric in isolation can be misleading. It's critical to track several SEO KPIs to truly measure success. And if you need any help, you can use HubSpot's SEO tool.