How Do I Know What My SEO Agency Is Doing?
For some business owners, SEO is a mysterious unknown space. Others are more motivated to understand how Google operates and how the search engine rankings work. Whichever camp you’re in, if you have an SEO agency, you’ll be interested in this article which tells you where to look to see how they’re doing.
It must said though, that if your SEO agency has promised you a quick fix and a rapid rise to the top of the rankings, you probably need to rethink your relationship.
SEO is not a sprint and miraculous top slots in record time just don’t happen. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to SEO. The good news is that when a strategy is planned and implemented properly and is well-maintained, success is sustainable.
So if SEO takes time for results to show, how do you know if your SEO agency is doing its job?
In this post, I’ll take you through some of the key SEO performance metrics and explain how to access these. Even though SEO is a long-term investment and it will take time for you to see higher rankings, greater traffic and more leads and conversions, you can use these metrics to gauge your agency’s efforts and their progress towards achieving your SEO goals.
Measuring SEO Performance
By tracking the following SEO performance metrics, you can see if your SEO is working:
- Organic traffic
- Ranking pages
- Domain Authority and Page Authority
- Brand Mentions
Let’s look at each of these in more depth.
There’s a significant difference between impressions and clicks. An impression is counted each time a page appears in the search results when a user enters a particular search query, but this doesn’t mean that the user actually clicked on the page and visited it. An impression is simply when a Google user sees a page with a link to your site.
They’re an important metric because they show which keywords you have begun ranking for and you can enhance those pages to get them to page 1. Ideally, you need to record the numbers of impressions at the outset of your SEO campaign so that you have a benchmark for assessing progress. Y
Here’s how to use Google Search Console to check your organic impressions:
- Login to Google Search Console
- Go to ‘Performance and click on ‘Full Report’
- Review total impressions (you look change the date range to the last 16 months
- An increase in the number of impressions generally indicates that your SEO is working
2. Organic Search Traffic
The important word to remember here is ‘organic’. SEO success is about increasing organic traffic to your website (ie traffic that comes from actions that you can control) which will ultimately result in higher rankings and improved sales.
Comparing like-for-like data is crucial in order to get an accurate assessment of your SEO performance, so make sure that the timeframes you are comparing are the same for each period under review.
Here’s how to use Google Analytics to evaluate your organic traffic performance
- Login to Google Analytics
- Go to ‘Acquisition’
- Click on ‘Channels’
- Click on Organic Search and then change the dates in the top right-hand corner to the dates you started working with your SEO agency, and compare this data with the previous period (tick the box next to “Compare to” previous period for the data you need)
3. Ranking Pages
The number of pages that you’re ranking for is another good SEO performance indicator. It should always be on the up, otherwise you need to investigate possible problem areas such as indexing issues or penalties from Google.
Even if you only have one click per page, it should be ranked by Google and the more pages you optimise, the more you should be ranking for.
Use Google Search Console to track the number of pages that are ranked by Google
- Under the Index heading, click on Pages
- The graph at the top of the page will show you how many pages have been indexed by Google. You don’t need to overly concerned if some pages aren’t in Google’s index as Google will show old URL’s that are no longer live and other surplus pages that Google don’t need to index.
- Look under the headings, Crawled- not currently indexed and Discovered – not currently indexed to see if there are pages that should be indexed by Google but aren’t.
Your backlink strategy should be driven by quality not quantity, so you need to bear that in mind when you’re looking at the number of backlinks as a key performance indicator.
You can generally tell that if your SEO strategy is being worked on if the number of links from quality websites back to yours is on the rise. If it’s stagnant – or on the slide – you need to take action. Check out this article on why backlinks are so important for SEO for more info.
In order to accurately assess your progress, you should benchmark this performance metric at the start of your SEO campaign.
Try this the AHrefs Backlink tool for monitoring backlinks, It will give you the total number of backlinks you have plus the number of individual websites that are linking back to you.
5. Domain Authority and Page Authority
Contrary to what a lot of people think, Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) aren’t Google’s metrics, but are actually scores that were created by software company, Moz. These scores have become universally accepted as a reliable way of assessing a website’s domain and page authority and the higher the score, the greater the site’s authority.
Websites are rated on a score between 1 and 100 using a logarithmic calculator and it’s a good way of evaluating how your website stacks up against a competitor.
You can increase your domain authority by following best practice on and off-page SEO tactics. I’ve written a blog on all the things you need to know about Domain Authority which you may find helpful.
The Moz website can be used to track DA and PA.
Simply enter your website address and review your scores under the Domain Authority and Page Authority sections. Domain Authority is something you will need to monitor over time and expect to see a gradual increase, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Brand Mentions
As your SEO efforts gather pace and your brand awareness spreads, you should see an increase in your business’s online visibility. This should result in a greater number of online searches and brand mentions.
There are several good tools to use for monitoring brand mentions, but Google Alerts is my favourite because it’s easy, simple and free.
- Head for Google Alerts.
- Enter the name of what you’d like to monitor eg a product name, business name, competitor’s name, MD’s name etc. I would recommend adding “” around the names so that you only get alerts for phrases that include these names eg. “The SEO School”
- Enter multiple alerts if required – one name at a time
- Customise the settings eg the frequency of notifications for a brand mention
Your aim with SEO is to grow your business, right? Increased sales are the pinnacle of success when it comes to SEO and are the ultimate performance indicator.
Even if you don’t quite understand the technical ins and outs of what your SEO agency is up to or haven’t got the time to investigate the metrics yourself, if you’re getting more enquiries, increased leads and greater sales, you can rest assured that your SEO is working.
Last Word on SEO and Measurement
Tracking your progress in terms of SEO is crucial – not only in terms of ensuring that your efforts (or those of your SEO agency) are on point, but also in terms of ensuring you’re getting sufficient bang for your buck.
SEO is an investment in time and resources, so it’s important to measure your efforts against key performance indicators like the ones mentioned above. The dividends are significant, but it is really important to keep track of how your SEO is doing and whether your agency is delivering on its promises.
If you’re new to SEO, let me point you in the right direction with my Free SEO Starter Kit.
And if you’re thinking of switching from an agency to DIY SEO or if you want to start from the beginning by doing your own, have a look at The SEO School. This easy-to-follow, self-directed course takes you through all the essentials of SEO and you implement the tools and techniques as you progress through the modules. Plus you get heaps of my insider tips and plenty of practical support and advice. Find out more here or book your course now.
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