SEO campaigns are made up of many moving parts, and as marketers, we are constantly revising and reconfiguring our strategies in search of success.
But how exactly are we supposed to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns in an age when so many variables are at play? Aside from conversion rates and click-throughs, we need more information on what’s really working.
Ambiguity is the enemy in digital marketing, and to hit your goals, they need to be defined in clear, quantitative terms.
Let’s walk through 5 lesser-known success metrics that will clarify your vision of success in today’s search engine environment.
1. Domain Authority and Page Authority
When search engine optimization first took root in the 90s, it was all about volume. Marketers would cram as many keywords and links into a page as possible in hopes of seeing their sites rise in the ranks.
This worked for a short time before Google cracked down on the spam and pledged to give more rank weight to domains with a high degree of authority. Now, it’s hard to crack the top-10 on the SERPs without your page being authoritative and relevant to the search terms.
How does one boost domain authority and ensure their site is on the right track?
It all begins, with quality content, which remains at the core of any successful SEO strategy. The more entertaining, informative, and influential your articles are, the more likely they will be shared and skyrocket to the top of organic search pages.
It’s also key to build ethical backlinks from other high-authority sites in your niche, such as industry-leading publications and influencers with wide-reaching blogs and social media accounts. Guest posting and HARO are great tools to help you get the links you need.
When building domain authority, it’s important to play the long game and let go of the expectation of instant results. As Neil Patel points out, it can take at least 6 months before you move the needle on domain authority in any noticeable way.
Be patient when building brand authority and don’t expect things to happen overnight. Eventually, your site will be a go-to destination for learning and buying.
2. SERP Features and Position Zero Spots
Marketers have become so accustomed to seeing organic search rankings as the only worthwhile SEO metric, it’s easy to forget about SERP features like carousels, snippets, rich answers, and the “people-also-ask” boxes we see every day.
Not only are these SERP features hugely advantageous for your visibility and authority, but they can also be obtained more easily than top-ranking positions on organic search pages.
The best digital marketing strategies are all about working smarter, not harder. Since competing with big brands in organic search is insurmountable in some cases, your goal should be to earn as many position zero spots as possible.
The more SERP features you occupy, the faster you will gain the trust of audiences searching for information in your niche. When it comes time to buy, your brand will be top of mind.
3. Engagement Metrics
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on big-picture metrics like clicks and conversions, the bread and butter of SEO success. However, a wide range of other engagement metrics can give you a clearer picture of how your content and campaigns are working (or falling short).
Don’t just watch how many visitors come to your page and cross your fingers hoping for a newsletter signup or sale. Leading SEO experts track the entire customer journey across every page and piece of content to determine the optimal path towards conversion.
That means looking at how much time visitors spend on each page, what content keeps them interested, plus when and where they’re most likely to bounce or abandon a cart.
Will tracking these metrics immediately reduce bounce rates and triple your conversions? That’s not the point. The idea is to quickly learn your lessons from this information and turn it into meaningful action that yields results.
If you have a page that outperforms others by a longshot, pinpoint what makes it so great. Strong visuals? Distinctive writing style? Invaluable insights? Your mission is to interpret engagement data to direct your future content efforts and get more out of every page.
4. Page Speed (Especially on Mobile)
We’ve been told our whole lives that patience is a virtue, but that advice goes out the window when we’re browsing the web for products and services to research and buy.
The connection between page speed and key engagement metrics has been made crystal clear by a number of studies, which show faster load times almost always lead to greater user satisfaction and more sales.
It’s a simple dynamic: the faster your pages load, the more likely visitors are to stay and browse your website. As they learn more about your products and services through a clean and accessible user experience, the greater chance they’ll make a purchase.
According to Mangools, page speed is particularly important when marketing to mobile users, who have been shown to have a very short attention span when it comes to loading times.
Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to assess which pages need a speed boost, and upgrade any lagging pages with a protocol such as Google Accelerated Mobile Pages. It will have a major impact on your success in the mobile-first search engines of today.
5. Local Visibility
Our lives become more digitized every year, but our most valued and memorable experiences take place in the real world, and local businesses play a big role in every community worldwide.
Think about how much you rely on your neighborhood grocery stores, salons, restaurants, auto repair shops, and dry cleaners. Unfortunately, many of these businesses don’t have the web presence they need to climb up the ranks and get the online visibility they deserve.
Local SEO has its own set of rules and requirements, but the goal is familiar: outperform regional competition and ascend to the top of the SERPs for local keywords.
Easier said than done, of course, but free tools like Google My Business can help you cover a lot of ground without much effort. Max out your GMB profile and see for yourself how much more attention your pages get online.
This should translate to in-person foot traffic and bigger sales, provided you take the time to update and post to your profile with photos, updates, review replies, and promotions.
Remember to keep an eye on the competition, says an article from iSpionage, and see what keywords are most relevant for the latest regional developments and seasonal trends.
Definitions of search engine success will vary from one brand to the next, and it all depends on how marketers set their goals. We’ve gone over some of the most common SEO success factors to appear in recent years, and they will remain relevant moving forward.
This isn’t to say you should scrap all of your old metrics and just focus on the new, but it may be time to upgrade and expand your existing set of goals to include these important factors.