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Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are financial and non-financial metrics used to help an organization define and measure progress toward organizational goals. The problem is that too many SEO clients and SEO consultants are focused on the wrong ones.

  • Specific rankings and ranking reports like web position gold – a bad KPI

Ranking reports like the ones from WPG are not only against Google’s terms and conditions but because of the introduction of Universal search (now experiencing its first birth day) they don’t return the value they once did. Google is focused on personalization, and localization. This means what you see in SF isn’t what I might see, and it certainly isn’t what a searcher is seeing in Miami. IE that ranking your are so focused on, might only be there because you love your own site so much, or your query is deemed to be relevant to your location.

  • Toolbar page rank – another bad KPI

This one drives a lot of clients crazy. Why did my PR drop, what have I done wrong. Or on the flip side, look how great I am, my site is a PR 7. Well here it is, toolbar page rank doesn’t matter at all anymore. It’s a gimmick and has very little value. You could argue that it is an indicator of quality but that’s it.

What KPI’s should you use?

For SEO light weights

  • Total organic traffic – not the best KPI in the world because there are so many factors that can influence this, but if your just starting out in search it is an easy KPI to understand. If organic (non paid) traffic is going up and to the right – good work.
  • Total number of pages indexed in Google. Google will report this in your Google webmaster tools or you can do a simple query at Google If Google keeps adding more of your pages to their index – good work. This is an even better KPI if you measure it as a percentage of your total pages. If the percentage keeps improving, your going in the right direction.

For SEO middle weights

  • Number of visitors per keyword phrase – take your most valuable keywords or keyword phrases, if the the ratio of visitors to keyword phrases is improving, then so is your SEO.
  • Brand search terms vs non branded search terms – break out your branded traffic from your non branded traffic. If the percentage of branded traffic to non branded traffic is high, then you have more work to do. You should expect to get a lot of traffic from your brand, but good SEO is about bringing in new traffic that may not have heard of you before. Caution, this indicator doesn’t work for everybody and only has value if your site has an established presence.

For SEO heavy weights

  • Yielding pages – percent of pages driving traffic vs total pages. As more of your pages get top rankings, then the percent of pages driving traffic vs total pages on your site will get bigger.
  • SEO reach – look at the total number of possible queries for a search term. What percent are you getting, is that percent improving?

The focus of this post was to open your eyes to what matters and doesn’t matter. My list will always be incomplete, but I encourage you to send me your SEO KPI so I can add it.


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