Congrats! Your site's up and running, connecting your business with customers searching for what you have to offer.
But is your site performing well? With a long list of metrics to track, you’re probably wondering which will help you determine how your site's performing against competitors – or what you'll need to do to grow.
To help you take your website to the next level, I surveyed over 400 web analysts in the U.S. (including web marketers who track site growth) to learn how they measure performance and the top strategies they use to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a trends report without a mention of AI. So, we also asked about their early predictions about how this tech will shift SERPs in the future.
In a rush? Click through the slides below for a peek at what you'll learn in this post.
2023 Website & SEO Benchmarks
- The median website gets 20,000 unique visitors per month, while the average is over 300K (However, the average is easily skewed by a handful of extremely high-traffic sites.)
- The average website gets 7 page views per visit.
- The average website has a bounce rate of 37%.
- The average site has an SEO click-through rate of 13%, while the median comes in at 8%.
Remember, these numbers are self-reported, and many factors play into your performance, including the size and age of your website, how big the team managing it is, and how often you publish content on it.
When it comes to ranking on search results, just 40% of websites rank on the first page, and only 23% rank in the top 1-3 results of the first page.
With 60% ranking on pages 2 and beyond, SEO is definitely a challenge for less established websites or brands that are building their web presence. While the data above demonstrates that ranking highly on SERPs is an attainable goal, this likely didn't happen for our high-ranking participants overnight -- and it won't happen that quickly for you either.
You’ll need to establish your blog or website as a credible and helpful source in the eyes of a search engine, for it to rank you highly. That means consistently publishing quality content that is relevant to those who choose to click on your website after searching up a question or phrase.
Another crucial component is doing your keyword research - 79% of SEOs say the monthly search volume (MSV) for the keywords they target is high. With that, let’s take a look at which SEO strategies are most effective.
2023 Website & SEO Trends to Know:
1. AI will shake things up in Search, but respondents are optimistic.
AI is coming to search results, and while it will definitely shake things up, bloggers predict it could give users a better experience on search platforms, offering more relevant results faster than before. This in turn could result in more people using search.
75% of blog professionals we surveyed believe AI-enabled search engines would have a positive impact on their blog, and 68% predict that their site would get more traffic than before.
But some are worried that their website will get overlooked.
One concern is that AI in search could negatively impact your traffic if content focuses on answering straightforward questions, like “How to Enable Macros in Excel,” since AI can answer those questions without users having to visit your website. As people get their questions answered by AI, they might not need to go to these site pages, so monitoring your traffic during this period of change is key.
Another way Google is shifting is by changing the way it prioritizes standard link-based search results and rankings with its new E-E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) framework.
Key Focus Areas of E-E-A-T
- One notable "E" in the framework rewards "experience" -- something that AI is incapable of having. It measures whether content “was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced.”
- AI also can’t leverage expertise to express a unique point of view or opinion, nor does it have an engaging personality. Content that leverages these will continue to perform well, as it incentivizes searchers to go beyond the AI result and click on your site.
For example, content featuring original data and perspectives from experts could do well in the evolving Google landscape, as it can be difficult to know when generative AI is giving you wrong information about data or expert quotes, a.k.a “hallucinating.”
Students, professionals, and even consumers in the research stages of the buyer's journey might wish to get data or expert insights from direct sources beyond the search page so they can vet legitimacy and trustworthiness.
2. 50% of writers use AI tools to boost content performance.
Not only do half of bloggers use AI to make content, but 74% of web analysts whose writers use AI for content creation say it makes their content perform better and 65% say it makes their pages rank higher on SERPs.
58% of web analysts/SEOs are also incorporating AI tools into their workflow.
Some are gradually testing it and comparing results to performance without AI, while others use AI for specific things, like keyword research, automating tedious tasks, optimizing their website, and idea generation. Some are also building brand-new teams to leverage AI.
Check out the full State of AI Report for more use cases.
3. Blogging for SEO is still highly effective, but social search shouldn't be ignored.
75% of web analysts say their web strategy has been effective for reaching their business goals this year, and almost half of websites saw their traffic grow YoY, while just 13% saw a drop.
Still, 79% of Gen Z and Millennials say they use the search function on social apps. On top of that, 29% of Gen Z and Millennials actually prefer using social media to search for answers to questions online over search engines, though a majority (58%) still favor search.
Search engines are actively being disrupted by both social search and AI, meaning it's more important than ever to monitor your web performance and adapt your strategy accordingly.
4. Most SEOs have seen positive impacts from Google’s 2023 algorithm updates.
65% say the update had a positive impact, including increased web traffic and SERP ranking. 48% saw an increase in traffic since the update, while just 3% saw a drop.
As mentioned, the update added an “E” for experience to Google’s “E-E-A-T” framework for determining search rankings.
Professionals in our survey ranked each of these in order of importance for ranking highly on SERPs, with Trustworthiness and Expertise taking the top spots, followed by Experience and Authoritativeness.
Trustworthiness is all about showing that your website and the content on it is credible. The Expertise and Experience metrics focus on whether or not you are a subject matter expert and have personal experience with the topic at hand - these will all be increasingly important as AI enters the mix.
For a better idea of the changes to come, check out our article on How Generative AI Will Change Search and SEO.
5. The Top SEO Strategies are All About Optimization
We asked web analysts about the most effective strategies they use for ranking on SERPs, and as you can see below, the top three revolve around optimization.
Optimizing your content around target keywords, optimizing for search intent, optimizing images for SEO, and conducting keyword research are all highly effective strategies.
Despite all of Google's ongoing changes, these results are similar to our 2022 survey where the top three strategies were optimizing content for search intent (61%), optimizing on-page content around target keywords (58%), and writing compelling title tags and meta descriptions (20%). But, one place we're seeing new attention is in multimedia.
Adding visual content to your blog posts, like videos or infographics is another strategy that can increase the time users spend on your page, which lets search algorithms know your content is valuable and potentially increases your ranking.
The last tactic we want to call out is using AI tools to SEO-optimize your website. 58% of web analysts/SEO are already looking for ways to incorporate AI into their workflow - this can help save you time and supercharge everything from keyword research to content creation.
6. Mobile optimization is more important than ever.
Our consumer trends survey found that 54% of consumers use their phones most often when looking up a question on a search engine. This jumps to 80% for Gen Z and around 60% for Millennials and Gen X.
Chances are, your site is being visited by mobile more often than by laptop/desktop computers, making prioritizing the mobile experience key to success.
7. When it Comes to Tracking Performance, Web Analysts Focus on the Bottom Line.
Sales, leads, and conversions are the most important metrics web analysts track, followed by total monthly visitors, click-through rate, search traffic, and bounce rate.
Other HubSpot Research
While SERPs and site performance trends are always evolving, a lot has stayed the same year-over-year. Here are some stats we still think are important to keep in mind from the Web Strategy Survey we ran in 2022:
Web & SEO Performance
- Half of websites receive 15,000 unique visitors or less per month. Meanwhile:
- 31% of websites average over 50,000 unique visitors per month
- Only 15% of websites average over 100,000 unique visitors per month.
- Nearly 1 in 4 websites have an average SEO click-through rate between 10-19%.
- Just 14% of websites have an average SEO click-through rate over 40%.
- Almost 50% of websites get 4-6 page views per visit.
- 35% of websites get 7-10 page views from each visit.
- Just 17% of websites get one to three page views per visit.
- Nearly 2 in 3 websites have an average bounce rate under 40%
- Just 11% of websites have an average bounce rate over 60%
Other High-Traffic Channels
- Mobile devices were responsible for nearly half of all web traffic. Continuous research done by HubSpot and many other publications shows that this trend is only increasing.
- Nearly one-fourth of web professionals surveyed in 2022 said direct traffic was their top source.
- Following direct was organic search (17%), social (16%) and email (14%)
Next Steps for Building a Great Web Experience
Inspired by this data and want to leverage the traffic sources, optimization tips, or other strategies mentioned in this piece, but don't know where to start on building or improving your website's SEO?
Test your site against our Website Grader.