If you’re putting a good amount of time into improving your SEO, you’ll likely want to know if that effort is worth it. Reminding yourself, or management, of the important return on investment SEO efforts present, is much easier when you track the following five statistics, but keep in mind that it’s important to start with a baseline line so you know when efforts are working. For each section below, make sure you record your current statistics and keep them handy so that you can compare future data and make changes accordingly.

1. New Users and Returning Users

If you are taking the time to improve your SEO efforts, you would be remiss if you did not track progress with some sort of analytics program. There are many out there, but Google Analytics is by far the most popular (and it’s free).

Monitoring your new and returning users – as well as where they are navigating from – can provide insight into your SEO improvements. New visitors are often people just checking out what you have to offer, and they likely came from either a search engine or referral link. A high percentage of new users are one indication that your SEO efforts are paying off.

2. Organic Search Traffic

The “Channels” section of Google Analytics (found under Acquisition) can provide you with information about how people navigated to your site.

You will likely see these four channel groupings:

  • Referral
  • Direct
  • Social
  • Organic search

Referrals are any outside page that links to your page. You can track which referral efforts are paying off the most and which could use less attention. Direct traffic refers to a user who types in the web address directly and also accesses your page on a device that has a cleared cache. Social traffic shows how many users are accessing your site through social media channels (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).

Organic search traffic is the statistic you want to pay closest attention to. This is the traffic that you get as a result of people searching for a phrase or term and then coming across your site. This type of traffic is entirely free to you, and is also the entire goal of SEO efforts. A higher percentage of organic traffic means your SEO efforts are definitely paying off.

3. Key Word Rankings

You carefully craft every sentence you write to reflect your SEO goals, always using words from your word bank of frequently searched-for terms that relate to your website. However, the rankings of different key words are always changing. It is worth your while to invest some time – and possibly money—into monitoring how your often-used key words rank.

Companies like SERPs allow you to constantly monitor which key word searches have earned you the most traffic. Google AdSense offers a similar function if you purchase an ad. Within Google Analytics, you are able to monitor estimated traffic for key words that you enter in the “queries” section under Search Engine Optimization.

4. Referral Traffic

It’s important to remember that SEO efforts aren’t always about key word insertion. A good deal of SEO traffic can come from other websites that link to your site. Monitoring your referral traffic will help you decide if you need to put more effort into getting your content posted on other, reputable sites.

When thinking about which sites to reach out to, keep in mind that sites similar in content or theme to yours, and those that end in .edu are particularly good choices.

The higher your referral traffic is, the more your SEO efforts are paying off. It is more worth your time to try and improve your referral traffic over paid traffic, but organic search traffic will always top the list.

5. Visit Length

Tracking how long users stay on your site can provide meaningful insight to your SEO efforts. People are most likely to remain on a site for an extended period of time when the content appeals to them and connects with what they were looking for.

You can bet that the people who search for a key word and then navigate to your site through a search engine are also the people who stay the longest. Thus, the longer your average visit time is, the more valuable your SEO efforts are.

According to a Nielsen Normal Group study, most users leave a website after 10 to 20 seconds. The longer someone stays on a site, the less of a chance there is they will leave soon. If you can capture a users’ attention for 30 seconds, there is a good chance they will end up staying for several minutes. This means it is all the more important to have an engaging site with relevant information.

This is a particularly good statistic to monitor over long period of time, as it may indeed take some time to improve. Small improvements to your key words and content writing will greatly impact the type of user who visits your site and how long they remain there.

Are there any SEO statistics that you keep an eye on to measure success? Let us know in the comment section below.