14 SEO metrics to track with a SEO reporting tool

SEO Search Engine Optimization - Words on Chalkboard

Neil Patel shared a great article on QuickSprout in which he presents what he sees as the 14 most important SEO metrics you should incorporate in your regular SEO reporting.

Usually, I agree with 100 % of the stuff he shares. His articles are always extremely complete and well documented. But this time, even if I agree that all the 14 SEO metrics he highlights are really important, I think that he forgot one thing.

Why should you use a real SEO reporting tool?

In order to track your SEO performance on a regular basis, you have to gather all your data in one single place and your report has to be simple and quick to read. 

The metrics proposed in Neil’s article are all accessible from different places (Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, etc.). And that’s perfectly fine, because all tools have different purposes or things they do specifically great.

But when it comes to SEO reporting, you have to gather all your data in one place.

Otherwise, it will be a technical mess. You’ll have to log into each tool every time and analyse multiple data extract. Or even worse, you’ll have to build an Excel report! It will take you more and more time to actually generate a report!

Don’t get me wrong. Once a while, when you need to answer a specific question, you have no choice but to log into multiple tools and to do data mining.

But reporting has to be quick, simple and straightforward since it’s a recurring task.

I think Neil should have told you to get yourself a real reporting tool to track all those metrics without pain.

In order to convince you about the importance of using a real SEO reporting solution, I decided to use DashThis to build an SEO monthly report based on the metrics proposed by Neil’s article.

Gathering your data sources in one place

First, you will need to gather all your data sources in one place.

It is important to mention that DashThis supports all the SEO tools Neil suggests:

  • Ahrefs
  • MajesticSEO
  • Moz Analytics
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Web ceo
  • Clickmeter
  • And many other inbound marketing tools.

You can also upload your own data via CSV files.

All you have to do is to create a DashThis account and add authorizations to it in order to access/show your data from DashThis.

All your SEO data sources in one report

It’s very quick and intuitive.

Choosing the right metrics for your SEO reports

Once all your data is in one place, you have to create an SEO report that is easy and quick to read.

This means you need to chose the right metrics!

There are surely many ways you can make sure your report will be quick and easy to read. You may want to read our article about the 7 golden rules to creatinga kickass dashboard to know more about that subject.

But this time, let’s concentrate on choosing the right metrics and let’s see which one on Neil Patel’s suggestions we’ll use.

Some metrics are useful when it comes to analyzing your data. But as juicy they may be, they don’t always belong in a report. A recurring report should present an overall performance.

If you want the whole complex analysis, you’re probably not just following performance. You’re trying to find an answer to precise questions you may have from time to time.

Giving enough data to understand but being simple to understand is really difficult to achieve.

Also, some metrics don’t vary that much. A recurring report (and your audience’s attention) is limited.  So, keep the space for metrics that vary over time. Be sure to only keep metrics that has the potential to vary from one period to an other (week, month, trimester).

Let’s review the 14 metrics recommended by Neil Patel’s article and see which one we will want to use.

1- Keywords: focus on the user intent!

keyword rank tracking in moz

This is certainly an important thing you must look at. But is it really what matters?

You track the ranking of a keyword to see how things evolve over time: how far are you from position #1 for a certain region or language. This is interesting because the closer you get to #1, the highest amount of traffic (and conversions) you will get from this keyword.

So, is the position of a keyword really important?

In my point of view, it is more of a vanity metric.

A small business could be happy with a small trafic share of a enormous market driven by big players. Besides, your position for a certain keyword isn’t fixed. Tools like Moz will show you your AVERAGE position since it changes for almost every person along with his region, navigation historic, language and many other factors.

You know that!

The real question should be: are you getting more traffic than you were before for a certain keyword? 

This means that the position don’t really matter, but traffic coming from them does.

Before the “Not provided” problem, you just had to look at the keywords generating traffic to your site in Google Analytics. Now, it looks like this. :(

not provided - organic keywords in seo reports


But with the “Not provided” problem, this report doesn’t make sense anymore.

The closest you could probably get is “Top Queries clicks” in Google Webmaster Tools. It tell you which queries in Google generated clicks towards your website.

Not enough?

Moz’s analytics has got you covered with their new landing page tool.

Moz's landing page new tool


This report estimates the traffic share you’re going to get for a certain keyword based on the rank of the keywords you’re tracking and the organic search traffic your landing page is getting.

Isn’t that awesome?

Unfortunately, we can’t get that data yet through their API. When it will, be sure we’ll give it to you!

Let’s get back to your monthly report. Since we don’t have that Moz report yet, you might have to regularly look at your top landing pages from organic traffic. It might not give you the keywords that were used, but it may tell you the subject and the intent of the user that got to that landing page.

For example, if you are an insurance company and your top landing page is about auto insurance, you can guess your visitors’ intent. They probably wants to buy insurance for their cars.

Traffic to the home page is not helpful. But let’s hope that your website has enough good content to minimize the non-branded organic traffic to your homepage.

And since Neil says long tail keywords represent 91 % of organic traffic, you maybe should focus on the intent and less on keywords!

Chosen metric(s):

  • Top landing pages from organic visits - Google Analytics
  • Top queries clicks - Google Webmaster Tools

2 – Backlinks : do you get traffic from them?

Plugging Ahrefs to DashThis will let you have in your report the referent domains you get and the anchor text they used. But, in my opinion, adding the list of linking root domains or backlinks to your SEO report won’t help much. It surely is something important to check once a while. But, if you often look at it, the domains and backlinks with more authority will be on top of the list. So this section of your report will always be the same.

You don’t want that, do you?

Again, you want to see how things evolves.

Knowing which links sent you traffic is something very interesting though. And, if during the last period, you received a new backlink from an authority website, it will probably generate lots of visits so you will notice it in your Top Referrers section.

You still can go look at those sites and see what the backlink anchor text was. However, for the vast majority, the anchor will be your organization’s name and you won’t get a hundred per week.

We can’t all be Neils! :)

Therefore, if you are actively working on getting links, you probably will want to have a look over the number of linking root domain. So let’s add that to our SEO report.

Chosen metric(s):

  • Top referers – Google Analytics
  • Number of linking root domains – Moz Analytics or Ahrefs

3- Organic search traffic: the reason behind SEO

Nothing to say here. Generating organic search traffic indeed is the reason why we do searches engine optimization.

You may want to compare your organic traffic to the overall traffic.

Chosen metric(s):

  • Total visits - Google Analytics
  • Visits from organic – Google Analytics

organic search trafic vs all trafic - SEO montly report

4 – Average time on-page: will it change over time?

Like Neil says:

Typically, time on-page won’t change much once you have a few hundred visits. So you only need to record this value for most pages once.”

Do I really have to add anything?

Like I said earlier, keep the space for metrics that vary over time!

You may want to analyze this one from time to time if you’re making big changes (i.e. website redesign), but you don’t need to analyse this every month in my perspective.

Chosen metric(s): None.

5- Pages per visitor: use segments to analyse it

This metric is interesting only if you analyze a segment of your traffic. If you look at your entire traffic, the pages per visitor won’t vary like the preceding metric. In this case, it useful because we’re only looking at the pages per visitors coming from search engines.

So we’ll add it to our report.

Chosen metric(s): Pages / session – Google Analytics

6- Returning users: make them comeback!

If they liked what they got when they visited your site, chances are they will come back for more.

You surely want to have a look at this one on a regular basis. But, like Neil says, the specific ratio of new visitor / returning visitor isn’t a big deal. In fact, it will change a lot from one website to another. For example, a tool made for every day usage will have a big portion of returning visitors.

So you should instead look at the absolute numbers in your SEO monthly report.

Chosen metric(s): New vs returning visitors - Google Analytics

New vs returning visitor - SEo montly report

7 – Bounce rate: use it or not?

I must say I haven’t always used this metric.

For a long time, I though it wasn’t helpful. But as for the Time on Site metric, you have to segment your traffic to make it useful. If you look at your general bounce rate, it won’t change over time.

So, yes, you should use it.

Chosen metric(s): Organic traffic bounce rate - Google Analytics

8- Page load speed: 

Avg. load time is an important thing to watch. If your site is too slow and offers a bad experience, all other metrics will be affected (bounce rate, pages/session, conversion, etc.)

Chosen metric(s): AVG. Load Time (in MS) - Google Analytics

Average load time - seo monthly report

9 – Monitor crawl errors:  leave it to the IT

If you have the capacity and will to address crawl errors yourself, be my guest!

However, not all SEO specialists have the necessary development skills to fix these errors when they pop up. I usually leave this to the IT team.

Just make sure the IT team has enough SEO knowledge to fix it right. Also make sure they check this on a regular basis.

Chosen metric(s): none.

10 – Traffic by device: I hope you already look at this one

This is more and more important as the portion of mobile traffic increases. If it’s not the case, it should have been in your SEO report a long time ago!

Chosen metric(s): Visits from mobile – Google Analytics

11 – Pages crawled per day and time spent downloading:  a preventative metric

Yes, you should look this over on a regular basis to make sure there are no problems. However, I don’t usually add it to my SEO reporting because it’s not really a thing you can improve directly/easily (unless there is a problem with your website).

Remember that we are searching for metrics that we can rely on to analyze the results of our SEO efforts.

Chosen metric(s): none.

12 – Index status: use it to fix problems

As for the crawl errors, set a recurring task of checking this out.

Note, thought, that it’s more of a technical task than a performance monitoring task.

Chosen metric(s): none.

13 – 404 page views: another problem fixing metric

Again, this kind of metric is useful when it comes to optimizing your website’s internal link structure; however, it’s not something that is directly linked to the efforts your making to attract organic visitors.

We won’t add it to our SEO performance report.

Chosen metric(s): none.

14 – Conversions: the mother of all metrics!

Bringing organic traffic to your Website is one thing. Generating quality traffic showing a high conversion rate is another thing.

You could use extremely popular terms in your content that will bring a lot of people to your website. But what if those people weren’t exactly searching for what you have to offer?

In short, be sure to look to your organic traffic conversion rates and the absolute number of conversions.

Chosen metric(s):

  • Conversions from organic traffic – Google Analytics
  • Conversion rate from organic traffic – Google Analytics

Organic traffic conversion number and conversion rate - SEO monthly report

Bonus metric: Top Queries – Impressions

In my SEO reports, I like to look at the queries for which my website got impressions in Google. I compare this list with the Top Queries that generated clicks.

I often find really interesting opportunities (read: low hanging fruit) when comparing these two.

Chosen metric(s): Top Queries generating clicks – Google Webmaster Tools

Conclusion: SEO metrics that make the cut

Let’s wrap up!

Since, an SEO performance report should only present data that is directly linked with our SEO efforts, we eliminated a bunch of metrics.

Here are the metrics types we eliminated:

  • Vanity metrics
  • Metrics that don’t vary much in time
  • Crawling/indexing issues

And here are the metrics we selected for our SEO report:

  • Top landing page from organic visits - Google Analytics
  • Top Queries generating clicks - Google Webmaster Tools
  • Top referrers – Google Analytics
  • Number of linking root domain – Moz Analytics or Ahrefs
  • Total visits - Google Analytics
  • Visits from organic – Google Analytics
  • Pages / session – Google Analytics
  • New vs returning visitors - Google Analytics
  • Organic traffic bounce rate - Google Analytics
  • AVG. Load Time (in MS) - Google Analytics
  • Visits from mobile – Google Analytics
  • Conversions from organic traffic – Google Analytics
  • Conversion rate from organic traffic – Google Analytics
  • Top Queries generating clicks – Google Webmaster Tools

And here is what you SEO monthly report will look like:

SEO Monthly Report


Once you easily created this report, you can consult it whenever you want without having to pull the data from different sources again and again. It will be there, waiting for you in your DashThis account.

For your information, once your SEO report is created, you can:

  • Add or edit any widgets (KPIs)
  • Choose where you want each metric in the report to appear (drag and drop)
  • Add notes directly on each metric to help your audience analyse them
  • Add comments at the end of the report
  • Add your logo or your client’s logo in the report
  • Access it by a specific URL (optional password)
  • Create an automated email to send your report
  • Export it to PDF

So how is that? Doesn’t using a real SEO reporting tool sound fantastic?

Try our SEO reporting tool yourself!

What are the metrics you use for your SEO reporting and why aren’t you using a comprehensive SEO reporting solution yet?

More reading :

How to Create an SEO and Online marketing Dashboard with DashThis by Aleyda Solis – International SEO Consultant

The fundamentals of the ideal SEO reporting dashboard by DashThis


Antoine, aka. Tony, has been in the field of digital ecommerce and marketing for the past ten years. Ranging from marketing analyst in a large corporation, to web marketing specialist in a small agency, to independent consultant for small and large business alike, he’s been involved in the ins and outs of inbound marketing, analytics, SEO and SEM for years. Currently Chief Operating Officer at DashThis, Tony has his hands in everything… but he’s still a marketer at heart.

Category: Dashboards, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), reporting, Uncategorized, Web analytics, What would Tony do | Tags: , , , , , , , 10 comments »


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