To effectively measure the performance of any campaign and digital marketing goals, it is essential to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks. However, determining which SEO benchmarks to focus on can be a daunting task due to the multitude of options available. In this article, we will explore the significance of SEO benchmarks and identify the key ones that matter.
Understanding SEO Benchmarks
While KPIs and benchmarks are often used interchangeably, it’s important to differentiate between them. KPIs are industry statistics used to gauge the effectiveness of your SEO campaign over time, providing valuable insights. On the other hand, benchmarks serve as reference points for setting your SEO strategy. They help you compare your current performance with past results.
The Importance of SEO Benchmarks
SEO benchmarks play a crucial role in assessing the progress of your campaign and making necessary adjustments. By having a before-and-after picture of your KPIs, you can track improvements and identify areas that require optimization. Additionally, benchmarks enable effective communication of your work’s value to clients.
Essential SEO Benchmarks to Consider
While the choice of KPIs depends on the specific goals and nature of your website, certain benchmarks are universally important for monitoring overall performance. Let’s delve into these key benchmarks and explore their significance.
1. Traffic and User Experience Benchmarks
Merely driving traffic to your site is insufficient; you must also ensure a positive user experience to maximize engagement and conversions.
Organic Search Traffic
This metric measures the number of users visiting your site through unpaid search engine listings. It is recommended to track organic traffic every month. When setting benchmarks, it’s advisable to utilize the previous month’s data as a reference point for improvement. In cases where seasonality affects your business, you may choose to establish benchmarks based on the best month during the peak season.
In the new GA4 setup, “Engaged sessions” replaces the concept of “Bounce rate.” An engaged session is one where the user’s duration exceeds 10 seconds, involves multiple page views, or results in a conversion. Monitoring the number of engaged sessions per user provides insights into user engagement and satisfaction. This benchmark helps identify potential issues such as low-quality content or poor user experience.
Average Engagement Time
The average engagement time is a critical indicator of user satisfaction and involvement with your website. While a low engagement time may not always be negative (e.g., for content monetization sites), it can highlight issues like low-quality content or a poor user experience. GA4 offers an overall average engagement time in the “Report snapshot” section and a detailed breakdown in “Engagement > Pages and screens.”
2. Backlink Profile Benchmarks
Backlinks are essential for establishing your website’s authority and improving search engine rankings. Monitoring your backlink profile provides valuable insights into its quality and growth.
Number of Backlinks
Tracking the growth of your backlinks is vital for maintaining and improving your search rankings. There exists a positive correlation between the number of referring domains and increased organic traffic. By benchmarking the number of backlinks, you can monitor the progress of your link-building efforts.
Domain Rating (DR)
Domain Rating is a measure of your website’s backlink profile strength, rated on a 100-point scale. As your website’s DR increases over time, it signifies an improvement in the strength of your backlink profile. Benchmarking DR is particularly useful for clients who may not be familiar with SEO and link building, as it simplifies the explanation of progress.
URL Rating (UR)
While DR is a reliable indicator of Google rankings, Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR) provides a more accurate assessment of individual page rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). UR considers both internal and external links, as well as “nofollow” attributes, to calculate the score. Benchmarking UR helps you gauge how well an individual page can rank on SERPs.
3. Keyword Benchmarks
Keywords form the foundation of any SEO campaign, as they determine your relevance to users’ search queries. Tracking keyword-related benchmarks is crucial for optimizing your web pages.
Individual Keyword Positions
While your website may rank for numerous keywords, it is essential to prioritize those most relevant to your products or services. By benchmarking the positions of these keywords in search results, you can set goals and measure progress. For example, if your website currently ranks at position #6 for the keyword “SEO consultant,” you can use that as a benchmark to aim for higher rankings.
Keyword Profile Value
Benchmarking the value of your keyword profile may not be relevant for everyone. Organic traffic value represents the monthly cost of traffic if paid through PPC instead of achieving organic rankings. This benchmark can help quantify the potential value of your keyword rankings.
Keyword Difficulty (KD)
Keyword Difficulty is a metric that assesses the level of effort required to rank within the top 10 search results for a specific keyword in a given country. By benchmarking KD, you can determine the competitiveness of keywords and focus on those where you have a realistic chance of ranking. Over time, your ability to achieve higher KD scores should improve.
By benchmarking essential KPIs, you gain valuable insights into your website’s current performance and establish a basis for ongoing improvement. Setting strategic goals and continually measuring your progress ensures the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns. Remember, SEO benchmarks are not fixed; they require regular evaluation and adjustment to align with evolving goals and industry trends.