What Metrics to Monitor During SEO Promotion
During the promotion, website owners use SEO metrics as indicators of the effectiveness of the task completion. For example, if the domain authority grows, they believe that the optimization is successful.
Various indicators can be used to assess the effectiveness of promotion, but it is essential to make the right choice. If the metric is a value judgment of the algorithms of a particular service, which do not coincide with the opinion of search engines, you can hardly rely on it.
1. What Are SEO Metrics in 2023?
SEO metrics are a large set of metrics that can help webmasters assess the progress of promotion in organic search. The purpose of using any metric is to monitor promotion results.
For example, if the site owner invests $3,000 in the purchase of links, they need to see the results. And it is desirable that it was not only in the form of a graph of growth in link mass.
Links alone do not have any meaning; it all depends on the donor’s quality. So far, Google and other search engines do not provide official metrics that can be used to assess the authority of any site. Therefore, webmasters have to use the SEO metrics of popular services.
You can assess the dynamics of the link profile with Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF). The indicators take into account different aspects of work with links, but together, they allow you to draw conclusions about the growth rate of the link mass.
You can always assess organic traffic, average CTR, and bounce rate using Google Search Console and installed analytics systems. But the situation with domain authority, link profile, or the weight of each page is more complicated.
Google trends in recent years indicate that algorithms are constantly improving, but there is very little public data on the features of their work. Therefore, optimizers can only draw conclusions from public cases.
Each webmaster uses a different set of SEO metrics, among which there are metrics to assess the most important indicators of website quality. Previously, you could rely on PageRank from Google, but there are only unofficial metrics today.
2. SEO Metrics to Monitor
Popular SEO platforms use their algorithms to calculate various metrics. If you look at the Help section of any service, there will definitely be 1-2 metrics.
Some search marketing platforms rely on the indicators of external tools, but it is rather an exception to the rule. Top services have not only developed their metrics but have been improving their calculation formulas for years.
Also, keep in mind that some metrics are calculated based on other indicators. For example, Trust Ratio is determined as a ratio of Trust Flow and Citation Flow.
2.1. Organic traffic
The volume of organic traffic is the main metric of quality of promotion for many site owners. If the traffic history is stable and fluctuations are insignificant, the webmaster managed to cope with the task.
The number of daily conversions from search engines may change due to algorithm updates or increased competition. For example, if competitors get hundreds of links from different sources, which successfully pass the spam check, you need to take countermeasures.
Algorithms for calculating various metrics may change over time, but the organic traffic, specifically, its volume, relates to the permanent indicators of the effectiveness of the promotion. Therefore, most site owners use it.
Beginners in SEO should take into account that it is better to gradually reduce their dependence on search engines. If 90% of traffic comes from Google, this volume may decrease to a critical point one day. Then, it will be too late to diversify risks.
2.2. Visibility by keywords and positions
Organic traffic is the main indicator of promotion quality. Unlike Domain Authority and other metrics of SEO services, you can see conversions in the analytics system, and the improvement of DA is useful only for selling links.
Along with monitoring the volume of traffic, you should track the visibility of queries from the semantic keyword list. If you managed to get to the Top 5 for 80% of the keywords, it can be considered a good result.
But when only 2-3 pages provide most of the traffic, you should update the promotion strategy. Most likely, there is a problem with the content, technical optimization, or link quality.
Optimizers should make every effort to ensure that each page of the site brings at least some traffic. This will prove their value in the eyes of Google’s algorithms. Then, it remains to periodically update the pages so as not to lose the position.
2.3. Number of pages in the index
The number of pages in the search database is not metric, but this information is also useful. By the speed of processing a site by Google crawlers, you can conclude how much they are interested in it.
For example, if a resource publishes 5 new materials every day and gets into the search index with a one-week delay, this indicates a problem with indexing. If the content contains newsbreaks, the low rate of adding pages to the search engine database is a critical problem.
If 99% of pages consistently stay in the index and data in Google cache are periodically updated, we can conclude that there are no obstacles to high positions. The webmaster can add content and engage in internal optimization with confidence.
Working with links is one of the main tasks for website owners in any niche. From the beginning of Google’s development until now, linking remains one of the most important criteria for the quality of a site.
Profile improvement efforts should not be limited to checking the CF TF. Work in this direction is complex. If a webmaster buys 2 backlinks a month and does not look for new donors at all, competitors may eventually bypass their resource.
You should not only create a quality link profile but also constantly improve it. Search engines regularly update link-filtering algorithms and look at the structure of each project’s link mass. It may happen that most purchased backlinks will end up on the blacklist.
Dynamics on the graph do not always reveal the real situation. It is also necessary to see how donors perform. If they quickly lose links, this will eventually affect all recipients.
Therefore, the webmaster should regularly get links from relevant donors and not focus on the number. It is better to buy 2-3 links from authoritative resources than place 200 links in public directories.
Not all site owners pay attention to the clickability of pages in search results, although this information is always available in Search Console. You should check the actual figures at least once a week to keep the situation under control.
Low CTR is explained by the fact that the snippet does not look attractive. Users choose competitors’ resources, even despite high positions and all sorts of micro-markup schemes.
This problem can eventually lead to losing the top position. Even if the page is filled with quality content, algorithms may reduce it in search results due to low clickability. They closely monitor user activity.
To improve the situation, you can create attractive meta tags. They should clearly convey the essence of the page and be optimized to get search traffic. This is the formula that will produce the desired result.
2.6. Bounce rate
Optimizers closely monitor the CF TF and other indicators of SEO services but often forget to view reports of analytics systems. And they provide a lot of valuable information demonstrating the situation.
One of the main behavioral factors is the bounce rate. The metric shows whether the site has quality content and whether there are problems with the technical component. If 3 out of 4 visitors close the browser tab after 5 seconds, you should quickly look for the source of the problems.
The bounce rate has a strong impact on the conversion rate. In the case of informational projects, it can be a newsletter subscription, a donation, or simply scrolling to the end of the page. If the majority of users leave without performing targeted actions, even a large amount of traffic will not make sense.
2.7. Site speed
If you look at any infographics of the most important ranking factors in Google, you’re likely to see loading speed in it. This aspect greatly affects user experience and behavioral factors.
You should analyze the loading speed on a page-by-page basis. It is necessary to improve the metric to a perfect state and make sure that the speed does not decrease. In 2023, visitors expect instant content loading by default.
For the last few years, Google has been working on increasing the importance of behavioral factors. This is how Core Web Vitals, related to download speed, browsing experience, and interaction convenience, have emerged.
If pages have a minimum score on each CWV indicator, they may not rank well. And this will affect ROI and other metrics for assessing the quality of promotion in organic search.
3. ROI and KPI in Website Promotion
Each webmaster may have an individual approach to promoting a resource and fixing the results. Therefore, there is no clear list of metrics that all optimizers would adhere to. Usually, it is compiled at the start of the project promotion and periodically updated.
For example, not everyone determines ROI, although this metric is very essential. It shows the effectiveness of promotion better than TF CF and any other indicators. If the costs are not paid back for many years, this indicates the imperfection of the financial model.
ROI is important for both information and commercial projects. In the latter case, the indicator is more critical because e-commerce sites usually have a clear business plan with revenue projections.
As for KPI in SEO, many metrics can be used as indicators of progress. In the past, the main metric was PR. Webmasters believed that if PageRank reached 9-10 points, the site was progressing quite well.
Today, the list of relevant KPIs can include:
- Visibility and traffic dynamics
- Link mass growth rate
- Average CTR
- Referral traffic volume
- Specific SEO metrics like CF metrics
- Behavioral metrics
- Average Core Web Vitals score
ROI should also be added to KPIs to clearly see the current state of ROI. If financial indicators show a deep deficit every month, you should probably make changes in promotion tactics. The return on investment in SEO at the start of project promotion is usually low, but when the scenario is consistent over the years, you can forget about the payback shortly.
4. The Main Indicators of Quality and Authority of the Site — SQI, DR, and DA
The main indicators of project quality are conventionally considered the most common metrics that many webmasters use. All popular indicators are associated with different SEO platforms.
It is essential to understand that no unofficial metric can be a guaranteed indicator of progress or poor search engine results. For example, when PageRank was active on Google, a low PR was proof of a project’s weakness. And Moz’s conditional Domain Authority is only a value judgment.
If you look at the Help section of any search marketing platform, you can find only basic information about the model for calculating the metric. Accordingly, even experienced optimizers cannot judge the perfection of the formula because it is kept secret.
4.1. Site ranking in Yandex
Yandex is among the popular search engines in certain regions. It is actively used in CIS countries. The main feature of the service’s ranking algorithms is the dependence on behavioral factors.
Some site owners create good indicators of the duration of the session, page views, and bounce rate and get a boost in organic search results. This effect may not last long, but the rapid break of the algorithms indicates the corresponding quality of the service.
A few years ago, Yandex replaced the thematic citation index, which was similar to PageRank, with the site quality index (SQI). There is no publicly available formula for calculating the index, but it is known that it considers many signals.
SQI is often compared to the DA metric, and this comparison can not be called false. Representatives of the search engine have repeatedly noted that the quality index demonstrates the usability of the site. It is determined based on user satisfaction, audience size, and search engine trust in the project.
The search engine marketing platform has been on the market for many years and offers several metrics to assess the quality of both an entire domain and individual pages. Webmasters usually use them to verify donors before placing links.
The Ahrefs Help section provides information on the main features of all the metrics. In particular, Domain Rating uses the formula of the original PageRank with some differences.
4.2.1. Domain Rating (DR)
DR metric determines the strength of the link profile using a logarithmic scale. The minimum Domain Rating value is 0 points, and the maximum is 100. The indicator was created so that webmasters can quickly assess the quality of the site in terms of link mass.
DR is often included in the list of indicators of donor quality. The metric can be found in the interface of many link exchanges. When making the final decision about placing links, the Domain Rating value is usually decisive.
Domain Authority is a complex metric. To calculate it, Ahrefs algorithms focus on both the quantity and quality of links. That is why it has not lost popularity for many years.
4.2.2. Ahrefs Rank (AR)
Ahrefs Rank is a unique metric that shows the strength of a site’s link profile. Most of the time, this metric is not used when creating a list of donors, but it is still useful. The list of projects located on the first lines of the Ahrefs ranking does not change much. But local resources can lose a lot of points due to the activity of competitors in building link mass.
Optimizers with extensive experience promoting resources consider Majestic the most powerful backlink analyzer. The service has a specific design and dashboard structure, but you can get used to it.
Majestic SEO provides webmasters with two popular metrics for estimating website link mass. They are no less popular than Ahrefs metrics. Therefore, it is important for beginners to know what TF CF site metrics are.
4.3.1. Trust Flow (TF)
Trust Flow shows the quality of the donors linking to the site. Most optimizers believe that a project is not worthy of attention if its TF is less than 15. Nevertheless, each webmaster may have different standards.
With the help of Trust Flow, you can estimate the power of the link mass of the site and the individual page. The metric is more informative compared to a similar indicator from Ahrefs and other services.
4.3.2. Citation Flow (CF)
Citation Flow does not consider the quality of links at all. It is calculated only by taking into account the number of links. The more backlinks a site has, the higher its CF will be. Therefore, we can conclude that Citation Flow is not an indicator of quality.
In ideal conditions, when the links appear organically, a high value of citation flow can be considered an indicator of authority, but the ease of buying links undermines it. Therefore, CF can only be evaluated comprehensively.
4.3.3. TF/CF ratio (Trust Ratio)
Trust Ratio is a metric calculated as a ratio of Trust Flow and Citation Flow. It is believed that the TR of high-quality domains is up to 1.8 points. That is the figure provided by a reputable service Domaining LTD.
Majestic recommends choosing donors with Trust Flow much higher than Citation Flow. This indicates the quality of the project’s link mass. Such links will be of maximum benefit for external optimization.
This search engine marketing platform is in demand on par with Ahrefs and Majestic. Some site owners believe it provides more informative data than its main competitors. Moz offers webmasters two main project quality metrics: Domain Authority and Page Authority. They are used to make decisions about building links to the selected projects.
4.4.1. Domain Authority (DA)
DA is calculated on a scale from 1 to 100. The metric shows how well a site can rank in Google search results. The index takes into account all pages of a domain, so you can only focus on it in the context of the entire site.
The Link Explorer index and dozens of individual factors are used to calculate domain authority. A machine learning model allows you to quickly adjust the value when new data become available.
4.4.2. Page Authority (PA)
PA works in a similar way to domain authority but in terms of a specific page. The more points a URL accumulates, the higher its chances of ranking well in Google search results.
Authority is calculated on a logarithmic scale. That is, it is much easier to raise the ranking from 10 to 20 than from 90 to 95. The calculation algorithm is constantly updated, so the numbers can change quickly.
Metrics from Moz, Ahrefs, Majestic, and other services are useful. But to get the complete picture of a particular project, it is better to apply them comprehensively. If the site receives enough points according to several platforms, it can be considered high-quality.
5. Why Is It Necessary to Monitor the Site Metrics?
If you view SEO in terms of numbers, search engine optimization is entirely composed of metrics. You can find extensive lists of different indicators in various manuals, which should be monitored.
Beginners can be given advice about the DF metric or even obsolete PR, but they should be treated critically. SEO is a specific industry where things can develop in any case according to a unique scenario.
Therefore, you should make a list of metrics for tracking for a specific project. For example, sometimes, it is necessary to prioritize the share of direct conversions rather than organic traffic.
5.1. To evaluate the effectiveness of the promotion
Webmasters make a lot of effort to comprehensively optimize a project. They understand that only such a plan of action will allow them to count on the result. Many metrics can be used to assess the effectiveness of task completion.
Visibility by queries from the keyword list, a graph of the link mass, and the average CTR in search results are best suited. These metrics are sufficient to draw conclusions.
Keep in mind that any metric is not constant. Over time, the numbers may change dramatically but not for the better. Therefore, you should not count on the fact that the site will reliably gain a foothold in the SERPs after reaching the first lines.
5.2. To control the link profile
If the link mass of the resource will collapse dramatically, it may negatively affect the visibility in search results. That is why site owners spend a lot of time and money on maintaining the profile. In addition, to keep track of the link graph in SEO services, you need to monitor each link.
A sharp drop in the number of donors or backlinks will not necessarily collapse positions, but there is a correlation between these events. If search engine algorithms record a negative trend for several months, they can lower the project’s trust.
5.3. For competitor analysis
The metrics of SEO services also help to better understand the promotion tactics of competitors. For example, if they are actively investing in backlinks and Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics are steadily increasing, you can conclude a focus on external SEO.
Comparing your project with competitors’ resources on various aspects allows you to find weaknesses. If there are problems with loading speed or Core Web Vitals scores, you need to fix them.
Competitor analysis is an important part of a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy. If the site owner does not pay attention to this task, they may not notice the moment when competitors begin to come forward.
5.4. To plan a promotion strategy
The dynamics of visibility and link mass allow you to plan further actions. For example, when the rivals are working hard for a drastic increase in link mass, you have to take similar measures.
Updating the optimization strategy is a standard practice that helps to get the most out of the promotion in search engines. If they see that the site is developing steadily, then it is worthy of attention.
TF, CF, DA, and other metrics are essential, but you should also remember other aspects of promotion. For example, it is difficult to measure audience activity with numbers. You can count the number of comments, but in addition to visitors, spammers can leave them.
Beginners in SEO should understand that it is important to see the promotion picture in its entirety, not just some specific aspects. A project may be doing well with the link mass, but the visibility will not necessarily grow steadily. Therefore, you need to dive into the details and deal with all the problems.
6. Services for Analyzing SEO Performance of a Site and Their Main Metrics
There are several dozen SEO services in the search engine marketing niche. Each of them offers different tools to webmasters, but they solve roughly the same tasks. This means that you need to make the right choice based on the feasibility of using the platform and the cost of the subscription plans.
You should pay special attention to the analysis of limits. For example, some platforms do not allow you to add more than 2-3 sites to monitor positions. It is better to learn about such disadvantages before you start active use.
Some services provide a free trial period to evaluate the convenience. It is necessary to use this opportunity to check whether the platform can meet all the needs. Only after that, it makes sense to pay for long-term access.
The service is considered one of the best options for a variety of SEO tasks. With the help of Ahrefs, you can check backlinks, collect information about keywords, and analyze competitors.
Webmasters can use Webmaster Tools with basic features for free. They do not provide a trial after registration. Earlier, it was possible to buy access for 7 days for $7. Currently, Ahrefs offers to pay the full price of the subscription plan right away for a month or longer. Subscriptions start at $99.
This search engine marketing platform is Ahrefs’ main competitor. The service is believed to provide more options for important SEO tasks. With SEMRush, you can monitor links, do audits, search queries, and monitor positions.
Unlike Ahrefs, SEMRush offers only a few metrics unrelated to link mass. For example, there is SEMRush Rank, which shows the popularity of a project based on the amount of search traffic. The cost of paid rates starts at $120; you can use the tools for free every day with a limit on queries.
6.3. Majestic SEO
Majestic belongs to reputable SEO platforms with a long history. The service is beloved for its historical index and detailed link reports. With Majestic, you can view up-to-date TF and CF values.
Paid plans start at $49. There is no trial period, but after paying for the subscription, the client will have 7 days for a refund. If they don’t like the interface or the limits are not enough, they can create a refund request.
Moz is often compared to Majestic because the services have visual similarities in the structure of the personal account. The PRO version of the platform provides access to an abundance of SEO tools.
You can use Moz to view the latest DA and PA values. After you sign up and link your bank card, you can sign up for a 30-day trial. The cost of subscriptions starts at $99.
Serpstat is positioned as an alternative to Ahrefs with free daily limits. In terms of available tools, it is on par with the niche leaders, but it was created much later.
Serpstat has its own metrics such as Domain Rank. After registration, you can get a free trial for 7 days. To do this, you will need to link your bank card. There are 2 tariffs available for testing. The cost of subscriptions starts at $55.
6.6. SE Ranking
The service is in demand among optimizers because of the powerful module for checking positions on queries. In this niche, Ahrefs and other top services cannot offer as many tools as SE Ranking.
The platform is constantly developing, so now webmasters can use it not only to monitor positions but also to analyze backlinks and do audits. SE Ranking also offers applications for mobile devices. The cost of tariffs depends on the payment model for key queries, or a monthly subscription is available.
MegaIndex has been on the search marketing market for many years, but now, the service can hardly be classified as a popular platform. Tools for checking link mass, visibility, text analysis, and other tasks are available in the personal account.
There are dozens of individual modules in the system, so customers can use any of them if they wish. The service provides a free rate with limited features. Paid subscriptions start at $49.
If a webmaster only wants to focus on checking the link mass, it will not be difficult to choose a service, but when you need to solve various SEO tasks, it will take much more time to check the features of each platform.
You should make a choice based on your objectives and be sure to monitor the limits. Some services do not have a trial and free requests, so you can analyze the usability only on the basis of public information.
It is more profitable to choose versatile search marketing platforms. For example, some of them can not only analyze the link profile but also track competitors’ snippets and send notifications about lost backlinks.
7. Is It Possible to Check Metrics for Free?
Many search engine marketing platforms provide either a 2-3 day trial period or daily free queries. The first option is more advantageous because, during the trial, all the tools are available.
In some cases, the trial can take 30 days. This time is enough to make sure that the platform is worth using. If it is suitable for the task at hand, you can pay for the subscription.
To save money on the purchase of access to SEO platforms, webmasters usually pay for subscription plans for six months or a year in advance. This allows them to spend 10-20% less than the monthly subscription.
You can also search online for promo codes for SEMRush, Ahrefs, and other popular services. They will help to save additional money and spend it on buying backlinks or other important tasks.
If a webmaster only needs to control important site metrics, they can use free limits in SEMRush or Serpstat. And to quickly compare potential donors’ metrics, you can use PRPosting.
In the catalog of available resources, there are convenient filters for metrics from different services. You can always see the actual values in the platform’s search results. The list of indicators includes Ahrefs Rank, Domain Rating, Trust Flow, Citation Flow, and other metrics.
8. SEO Trends 2023
The basic model for optimizing projects in any niche does not change over the years, but Google periodically releases major updates. Therefore, it is necessary to closely monitor current trends and promptly adapt your sites to them.
For example, many years ago, webmasters created content with a large number of keywords, and now, LSI is in trend. Site owners are trying to use anchor words rather than lots of keywords. This tactic allows them to protect themselves from filters for over-optimization.
Over the past few years, SEO trends have not changed much, but this does not mean that you can ignore all the Core Updates and not monitor search results at all. At least once a week, you should look at organic SERPs and service reports.
To have a comprehensive picture of the ranking of your own site and competitors’ projects, you should use one or more platforms presented in the previous section to solve the problem.
For example, with the help of such a service, you can always find out the current number of donors and backlinks and the structure of snippets and evaluate the effectiveness of the promotion of any monitored site in general.
Current trends in SEO:
- Active development of voice search and tailoring content to such queries;
- Focus on the convenience of content viewing, site security, and responsiveness according to Core Web Vitals metrics;
- Creating credible content;
- Developing added value for sites.
When newbies ask experienced webmasters how to succeed in organic search, the answers vary. But in most cases, the components of effective promotion include quality content, credible links, and addressing audience needs.
If a webmaster manages to create a useful project that will be visited daily by interested users and behavioral factors will be at a high level, you should not worry about positions.
Figuring out what CF means is not difficult, but you should not rush. Each metric has its specifics, so you should carefully study all available data in the help section of the chosen SEO platform.
Newcomers to SEO should understand that all metrics are not official. Google does not provide any metrics that can be used to judge the authority of a site or a particular page.
Is it important to check the TF/CF ratio?
With the help of the Trust Ratio, you can conclude the quality of the link mass of the project. If Trust Flow is much higher than Citation Flow, it means that the resource is fine.
How often should I check the metrics of my site?
It all depends on how quickly the data are updated. If the project is large and hundreds of pages appear weekly, it is advisable to monitor new figures at least 1-2 times a week.
What services can I use to check the DA, DR, and CF/TF characteristics of the site?
Moz, Ahrefs, and Majestic can help. You can also use external analyzers that aggregate data from different services into one interface.
What are SEO metrics?
It is a set of indicators that help to assess the progress of the site promotion in search engines and make a comparison with competitors.
How do SEO metrics affect the choice of relevant links?
With the help of metrics, it is possible to conclude whether linking to a specific project will be beneficial.