5 Ways to Track Your SEO Progress

Guest Post by Larry Kim

Let’s face it: Many of us have websites so we can make money. As much as we’d like to call ourselves savvy communicators, prolific content creators, or detail-oriented designers, our main purpose for being online is earning a buck.

Optimizing our sites for search traffic is a means to achieving that goal. But in order for us to know if our efforts are paying off, we need to track our SEO progress. Here are the five best measures of that progress...

1. Conversion rate is an important, if not the most important, metric for evaluating SEO efforts. It is defined as the number of website visitors who complete a desired goal out of the total number of visitors. Sometimes that goal is getting people to give you their contact info. Sometimes it’s getting people to download one of your white papers. Sometimes it’s getting them to make a payment. Whatever it is, it’s a step in your sales process. An easy way to track goal conversion data is through Google Analytics.

Google provides step-by-step instructions on how to set up goals for analysis.

2. Site traffic is also very important when it comes to measuring SEO progress. Your site may have a high conversion rate, but if only a handful of people are visiting it each week you likely aren’t getting very many sales. There are many ways to get more traffic on your site, including submitting your site to search engines, asking other sites to link to you, and using relevant keywords. If people like what you have to offer, they will come back. They will also tell their friends about you, and those friends will tell their friends about you, and so on. Google Analytics tracks site visits and page views.

3. Number and quality of links is another key metric for evaluating SEO improvement. Google attaches much importance to these factors in determining which sites appear at the top of its search engine results page (SERP). While it is helpful to link outward, and to other pages on your site, you benefit most from having other sites link to you. There are various ways you can get sites to link your way. Those include syndicating a press release, reviewing products on Amazon, and creating a page about your company in Wikipedia. Creating regular content that's useful to your audience, especially via a corporate blog, can also be very helpful.

You can track links to your site by downloading a free service from Majestic-SEO.

4. To evaluate your SEO progress you also want to keep tabs on how your site ranks in Google and other search engines. Ideally your site will appear on search engines’ first results page when your target keywords are queried. That’s a goal worth pursuing, considering many people don’t click past the first page. The website SEO Book offers a free tool that tracks your rankings on Google.com, international versions of Google, Yahoo! Search, and Microsoft Bing.

5. Bounce rate and time spent on pages are two related metrics also worth measuring. Bounce rate is the ratio of the number of visitors to a site who view just one page to the total number of site visitors. If you have a high bounce rate, your site isn’t engaging visors. You also aren’t captivating readers if they are spending little time on your pages.

You can use Google Analytics to get these measurements. If you are disappointed with your bounce rate you might need to revisit your landing page’s headlines and copy, and consider whether they address the keywords you're attempting to target. If readers are spending little time on particular pages, you should probably focus on updating and improving the quality of content on those pages.

About the author: Larry Kim is the Founder and VP of Products for WordStream. Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog. Larry lives in Cambridge, MA.

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Good post. Great list of tools that can be used by marketers and webmasters. One I would like to mention (Which was mentioned by Terry a while back) is that if your running an affiliate page, then the bounce rate being high may not be a bad thing. In that case, its your conversion rate that requires the most amount of measurement. Thanks for the post.

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    • Welcome Brent! Ive been a member for several months now and for me, it's been life changing. Don't tell Lynn, but at the price, it's a steal for all the info and support you get with the Elite membership.

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  4. Hi Lynn,

    Great post and great blog. You say that "If you have a high bounce rate, your site isn’t engaging visors" but a lot of new marketers (including myself) do not know what a "high" bounce rate is...Is 10% high? is 50% high or is 70% high? What would you consider a healthy bounce rate?

    ta 🙂

  5. Lachlan makes a really good point. I had no idea that your bounce rate effected your SEO rankings, so it would be interesting to see what was considered a high bounce rate.

  6. >>If you have a high bounce rate, your site isn’t engaging visors. You also aren’t captivating readers if they are spending little time on your pages.<<
    Hi Lynn,
    excellent post, but in 2 points i have to disagree:
    a) bounce rate: when a visitor views only one page and then clicks on an external (e.g. affiliate) link, you will record a bounce, but actually the visitor fulfilled a goal.
    b) time on site: difficult to measure - I agree that little time spent is bad, but long times recorded can be misleading. Think about links opening in new windows and the visitor forgetting about the underlying original site. A long visit has been recorded, although the visitor didn't rreally interact with the site but visited somewhere else instead.

  7. Arafat Hossain Piyada says:

    As a software reviewer I think website bounce rate is not that bad when one have to link on other site. Thanks Larry Kim for Majestic, that site is unknown to me.

  8. Great advice. I have seen a lot of people talk about bounce rate like it is necessarily something that must be decreased. However, I think it depends on the type of site you have. A bounce simply means that the user didn't click through to another page on your site but it doesn't mean that the user didn't spend 5 minutes reading all the content on the page they landed on. If a visitor found everything he was looking for right away, he has no reason to click through to more pages. So a bounce is not always a bad thing.

  9. @Tom...I agree. If your goal is to have a visitor click through to an affiliate offer then a high bounce rate may indicate a very healthy site with great copy. My suggestion to discover the unwanted bounces is to subtract the number of affiliate offer clicks from the number of bounces...

    So, if you had 200 visitors and analytics reports a 50% bounce rate (100 of the visitors bounce) BUT 50 of the visitors actually clicked on your affiliate offer, that means only 50 visitors bounced without completing your goal...Therefore, your true "Bounce rate" is more like 25%

    What do you think?

    • Good idea!
      There is also the possibility to track the outgoing links with GA (you have to append a tracking code to them), but I never tried that.
      Any experience with that?

    • Jessie Jacob says:

      The computation is quite logical. You can't plainly rely on the result of bounce without considering all the things that might affect the process.

  10. Interesting info on Majestic-SEO, it shows ~650 backlinks so far the most out of all tools AFTER yahoo site explorer. However, Yahoo site explorer shows both nofollow and dofollow links, which is not indicative for my real Google link juice.

    Unfortunately, we are still waiting for that ONE tool that will be as close to precision as possible.

  11. online shopping cart website design says:

    Conversion rate is an important metric! It measures how well you are getting the visitor your website to take some action, in this case buying what you are promoting with your website.

    If you improve the conversion rate of your website, everyone will benefit because it measures the number of actual visitors who took that action versus the total number of visitors to your site.

  12. Henrik Flensborg says:

    Since nobody knows specifically how much each link influences the SERP's then there really is no need to strive for "perfection"

    Just find one tool that gives consistent data and you find easy to work with and then use that to track *progress*

    The time spent trying to figure out *exactly* how many inbound links you have and how they *specifically* influence your position in the search engines is time wasted imo - Creating more content and more inbound links is a far better use of our time.

    Changes to search engine ranking algorithms as well as content and link changes to the pages you're competing with for a specific keyphrase will ultimately let you know if you need more links (and/or changed content) or if what you have created in terms of content and inbound links is sufficient to get you your target ranking.

    Bottom line; linktools are great for comparison and trendanalysis but I don't think it's useful to think of them in terms of a finite answer.

  13. Thanks Lynn n Larry Kim for a info rich write-up on 5 Ways To Track Your SEO Progress. I did not that Google Analytics can do wonders.
    This info is one to be bookmarked.

    Thanks once again and nice knowing you here
    Advance Valentine Day to you and all over here.

  14. Really good info! I definitely need to start focusing more on stats.

    When you say reviewing products on Amazon do you mean actually doing the review on their website? If so, I had no clue I could link to my own blog/website from those reviews. Gotta check that out because I do a lot of shopping on Amazon for products in my niche. And as far as creating a page about your company in Wikipedia, how do you do that?

    Learn something new every time I come to Lynn's blog, man she rocks doesn't she?

  15. These are really simple things, but often ignored or dismissed. Great reminder!

  16. One metric that i like to keep track of is search engine rankings. This is the best way to see which keywords are performing the best.

  17. I like to use Google rankings to track my SEO progress. I found analytics to be very inaccurate especially when it comes to time spent on page. And if you have a good landing page, time spent on that page is not that important.

  18. DeAnna Troupe says:

    Awesome advice! It's important to have a way of tracking all of this SEO work we're doing!

  19. Chris Marper says:

    Some great points for keeping track of your sites performance in the SERPS. Interesting thought on what is an acceptable bounce rate. I'd also be interested in what how much work people feel is necessary in keeping a site ranking in the top 3 for a keyword once it is there. Do you sit back and hope it stays, or have a regular routine of adding content, backlinks etc to make sure it holds its position.

  20. Hey @Chris Marper. I got to position 2 or 3 for an emerging niche last year and got a lot of traffic and made a lot of cash. I figured it was easy to sit back, do nothing and just cash the cheques. Boy was I wrong, Competition became stronger and stronger and I was given the boot. I am now floating around position 8 and making nowhere near as much $$$. If you are not constantly adding content/backlinks etc, you can bet that somebody else is!

  21. Great post with excellent information. I never thought about creating a wikipedia page about my business! I just added it to my to do list.

  22. I agree with the use of Google analytics I find this is a great way to measure which pages are getting the most views, and once I know this I can start to build links to those pages.

  23. hi Larry,
    Very good points about tracking one's progress - it helps to see where you're going and then adjust as necessary.
    Something else I would add to this discussion is the importance of PATIENCE... results don't happen overnight (at least for me) and sometimes the hardest thing is the waiting. 🙂
    I also like that your first point is the most important one (again in my opinion)... conversion rate!

  24. valokuvaaja helsinki says:

    I would pay good money for tool that says witch links I have are good and witch are bad for my site.

  25. Hi Larry, Thanks for sharing nice tips to track SEO progress.

    I would like to say something here regarding Bounce rate. Normally people who owns a blog feels that their blog has high bounce rate. Generally blogs has higher bounce rate than other sites this is because people just spent 15 to 20 minutes to read a single blog on a same page in a site. But according to Google analytics if the user exit the site within 30 mins after visiting just single page is considered as Bounce rate. That's what the reason is.

    And for a perfect site, bounce rate should be less than 30%.

    Thanks again 🙂

  26. Great article, currently I am working on my website trying to get it ranked higher. I am going to check out the seo book.

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