How to Choose a KPI to Measure SEO Performance

SEO promotion is one of the most effective ways to attract customers. You can check the success of SEO specialists and understand how rationally the funds were invested using KPI.

What is this indicator, how it happens and how to choose a KPI to evaluate the effectiveness of SEO – we’ll talk about all this in today’s article.

What is KPI and why is this indicator needed 

KPI (from the English. Key Performance Indicators) is the most transparent indicator that allows you to determine how well the work of a marketer, manager, SEO specialist or other specialist was performed. With it, you can understand whether the site has become more popular, whether the conversion has increased, and so on.

All KPIs can be divided into two types – economic and non-economic. The former remove the risks of misunderstanding on the part of the client – he can see how the situation has changed with conversion, ROI, and so on. The latter allow you to evaluate the dynamics of changes on the site in quantitative terms, for example, you can see how many positions the site has risen or how its traffic has grown.

In most cases, several KPIs are used to evaluate the effectiveness of SEO projects. They are selected based on the goals of the project and the expectations of the client.

Benefits of using KPIs:

  • The customer can see the work of a specialist: the growth of indicators, the quantity and quality of work performed on the site, and so on.
  • The optimizer can visually show the client the results of SEO promotion, correct work on unsuccessful areas and predict project growth points for the future.
  • The results of working with the site are not always and immediately obvious, it takes time to monetize some improvements. At the initial stage of SEO promotion, a report on the selected KPIs can show positive dynamics even when it is too early to talk about real results.  
  • Clients with different goals and business problems, with different solvency apply for SEO promotion services. By choosing an individual list of KPIs, you can achieve the highest work efficiency and correct budget spending.

Why do we need KPIs in SEO and what is the use of them, we figured it out. Now let’s move on to the main performance metrics that you can use when working with clients.

Non-economic performance indicators of SEO promotion

As I said above, thanks to non-economic indicators, you can learn more about attracting traffic, ranking in the top search engine, and also determine visibility by the semantic core. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail below.

Website traffic from search engines

A very important indicator that works with any type of site – commercial or informational. Changes in other KPIs also depend on how much traffic has changed. All traffic can be tracked using Yandex.Metrica or Google Analytics.

If you enter into an agreement with an SEO specialist, then mark important metrics in it, for example, the growth of X users over the period Y. As a rule, the specialist cannot guarantee exact data, but it will not be a problem to predict approximate values.

Brand traffic growth

Not everyone needs the growth of brand traffic, for example, if the company is already successful in promotion. However, companies may set other goals for themselves, such as increasing click-throughs for queries that are related to the brand.

The volume of such traffic is usually increased by working with external factors. This may be posting an article on thematic resources, VKontakte and other social networks. All of these factors can work well if the goal is to increase brand awareness.  

Site positions by keywords

Site positions are most often determined as a percentage. For example, if the total number of phrases is 500, and 50 (10%) of them are in the top 5-10, then this can be considered a success.

This KPI parameter helps to make changes to the content optimization on the site pages and allows you to see if the optimization process is going well. If everything goes well, then bringing the site to the top will increase traffic, conversion, and the number of leads. You can track positions for key queries using special services, such as  Seranking and  Topvisor .

Visibility by semantic core

This indicator is also measured as a percentage, and it shows the share of the audience that sees the site in the search results. This is a pretty good metric for assessing the dynamics and growth potential of a project.

You can track the change in the number of impressions for search queries in Google Search Console by comparing the reporting period with the previous one. Thanks to this, it is easy to understand in which direction the work is moving:

Proper optimization of the pages of the site will increase the visibility in the search. And if there is a complete semantic core, then you can roughly estimate what traffic will be in the future. 

Quality of targeted traffic

The quality of targeted traffic refers to how detailed users study the pages of the site. If they leave the site after viewing one page, then this indicator can be considered bad.

You can generate a report on targeted traffic through Yandex.Metrica or Google Analytics:

Having studied these indicators, you can respond in time and improve them. However, it should be understood that this report does not affect all factors, for example, it does not show the quality of the site, competitors, and so on. But these indicators just can affect the quality of targeted traffic.

Behavioral factors

This indicator is very important for Yandex and Google search engines. It is determined by how actively users visit the site and how they behave there. The most significant indicators influencing behavioral factors are:

  • CTR of the site in the search results;
  • average time a user spends on a resource;
  • average bounce rate on the site – if users enter the site and immediately exit, then the percentage will be high;
  • Browsing Depth – How far users go when visiting a site.

Tracking and improving these indicators will increase the conversion of the site and make it more attractive to search engines.

Economic indicators

Above, we looked at all non-economic KPIs, now let’s talk about economic ones. These include conversion, lead cost, user acquisition cost, and ROI.


One of the most significant indicators that is important for any commercial project. It is determined based on the achievement of the set goals: selling goods, registering for a webinar, submitting a form, and so on.

It is calculated according to the following formula:

CR = Amount of Conversions / Number of Visits * 100%

By this indicator, you can understand how effectively certain changes were made on the site. For example, if an entire page has been redesigned, then there must be some change in conversion. If the conversion did not increase or even worsened, then the work was done poorly.

Cost per lead – CPL (Cost Per Lead)

A lead (from the English Lead – target lead) is a person who has shown interest in a resource. If the user reacted in any way to marketing communication, then he becomes a potential client.

This KPI allows you to be aware of how many targeted actions potential customers have completed and how many resources have been used for this.

The coefficient is calculated by the formula:

Cost per Lead (CPL) = Budget Invested / Number of Leads Received

User Acquisition Cost

The cost of attracting one visitor (CPC) for the SEO channel has a distinctive feature – in the process of promoting the resource, it decreases, of course, with the growth of high-quality traffic.

The formula is calculated as follows:

Channel CPC (Cost Per Click) = Channel Budget / Channel Traffic Volume

It is important to know that this indicator does not take into account seasonality and conversion.


ROI (from the English. Return On Investment) is a return on investment ratio that allows you to evaluate the return on investment for a business when working with a particular channel.

The formula is used to calculate:

ROI = Revenue generated / Budget spent * 100%

You need to work on this indicator together – the customer and the SEO specialist. Only in this case can we talk about positive results.


In order to choose KPI indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of SEO, it is necessary to build on business goals. If you understand what you want to achieve, then it will not be difficult to decide on them. It is best to choose 3-5 indicators that will correspond to the project development strategy.

Correctly chosen KPIs will allow the SEO specialist to minimize the risk of claims from the customer, and the customer himself will understand that the work is going on and the budget has been directed in the right direction.

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