5 Essential SEO Metrics and 4 Tools to Track Them

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SEO can be one of the most powerful tools at a communicator’s disposal—if it’s used correctly. Having an optimized website will drive valuable free traffic that can be converted into leads, advocates, fans and customers. But SEO can work against a site too, making poorly optimized destinations all but disappear.

One of the bedrocks of an effective SEO strategy is having the right metrics in place. But with the fluid nature of Google’s algorithm changes, metrics have to be consistently monitored.

Before the work of monitoring and adjusting an SEO strategy can begin, a baseline needs to be established. Leighanne Stainer, global SEO lead, Cisco, suggests that PR pros track these five metrics to understand how their sites are faring. Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list of important SEO metrics, but these factors will give communicators a solid foundation to start from.


To get the full story about SEO tracking from Leighanne Stainer and learn to develop a robust SEO strategy from experts at Square and CareerBuilder, check out PR News' SEO Strategies That Will Help Your Message Find the Right Audience webinar taking place on Aug. 23 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. EST.


  • Keyword ranking — This metric will help determine where your site ranks for specific search terms.
  • Organic traffic
    • Direct—When a person inputs the site’s URL directly into the browser to find your site.
    • Referral—Any traffic that comes from another source, like social media or links to your content on another website.
    • Search—Traffic that comes directly from the search engines.
  • Top pages driving traffic—Look at your most successful pages to see if you can replicate the success elsewhere on your site.
  • Number of pages indexed—This metric is important to gain a long-term understanding of how specific search engines are indexing your site. Compare results over time to determine if your pages are doing better or worse at drawing in traffic from search engines.
  • Bounce rates—This measures how many users come to a single page on your site and then leave. This is a tricky metric because users leave for a number of reasons, some of which aren’t necessarily the fault of the site. But it can be an important indicator of how people are interacting with your content.

To help gather these metrics, here are four tools that Stainer suggests for SEO tracking:

  1. Google Analytics (free)
  2. Google Search Console (free)
  3. SEMrush
  4. Advanced Web Ranking

Follow Leighanne: @swirleigh

Follow Mark: @MarkRenfree