An SEO strategy can quickly get confusing, especially one where your SEO company is completing a technical SEO consulting campaign and you want to track progress. 

You’ve got a bunch of strategies, activities, and campaigns to keep an eye on—each of which has a specialist set of SEO metrics that show you how they’re performing. 

Where should you be focusing your time?

Databox recently polled hundreds of marketers to find the SEO metrics they set goals around most often:

Which SEO Metrics do you set goals around most often?

In this guide, we’ll dive into the top four—and run through the SEO goals you can create, based around each metric.  

1. Top-Ranking Keywords

We all want to rank for the phrases our target audience is searching for, right? That’s likely why targets related to improving keyword rankings are amongst the most popular SEO goals.

You could set the following goals to improve this metric:

  • Publish X new posts
  • Build X high-authority backlinks
  • Create X internal links

All of those activities have an impact on your keyword rankings and are goals that are easy to measure.

However, Tony Mastri of MARION Integrated Marketing has a word of warning: “So many times, brands make the mistake of aiming only for keyword rankings they think they can easily achieve instead of rankings that will actually generate real business for their company.”

“Our SEO goals are tied strongly to the business outcomes we wish to achieve. After setting a meaningful SEO goal, we reverse engineer the objectives that will get us there—regardless of keyword difficulty scores and strength of first page incumbents.”

2. Estimated Traffic

Organic traffic shows how many people are landing on your website from a search engine. It’s a great indication that your search visibility is increasing.

You could set goals for your estimated organic traffic; the number of people you’re attempting to drive to your website within a certain period of time.

But when setting traffic-related goals, Ben Johnston of Sagefrog Marketing Group says: “If you want to develop realistic goals, look at your past data and analytics and set predictive goals based on existing data and seasonality, e.g. “we had 70% more users during that time period, lets set tactics to increase traffic for that same time period using these tactics.”

Johnston puts this into practice: “Don’t look at a site and set arbitrary goals based on what you think sounds good, e.g. “we want to double our traffic”, or “we want 200% more users!” these are goals that are destined to fail.”

3. Backlinks

Backlinks prove to Google that your site is reputable and trustworthy. It makes them think: “If someone is linking to their website, they must be offering something valuable.”

That’s why lots of SEOs set targets related to the number of backlinks they’re getting. But you shouldn’t just aim for a number of backlinks you’d like to add to your backlink profile.

Promotique’s Katie Eldred thinks you should “make sure you also set a goal relating to the authority of referring domains, rather than just a number of new backlinks you’d like to gain. This way, you can focus on earning high authority links which are more valuable.”

4. Domain Authority

The Domain Authority of a website is a metric created by Moz that predicts how well a site would rank in search engines. (It’s similar to Ahrefs’ Domain Rating score. There are slight discrepancies between the two, so just pick one tool and stick with it.)

In theory: the higher your Domain Authority, the more chance you have to rank in Google.

Examples of goals that could improve your Domain Authority rating include:

  • Getting more high-authority backlinks
  • Disavow bad backlinks
  • Publish content more frequently

You can keep tabs on your competitors’ Domain Authority using the same tools, as Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging explains: “You can use the MozBar for competitive analysis. You can actually see your competitors’ Domain Authority Rankings as well as their meta descriptions.”

Final Thoughts

There are hundreds of SEO metrics you can keep an eye, ranging from organic traffic right the way through to the conversions you’re getting from that audience. However, these experts show that these four metrics are the most important. 

They’re the SEO metrics they’re creating goals to improve across a variety of industries.