SEO Metrics: Do I Need To Track All Of Them?
  • May 22nd, 2023
  • Marketing
  • Mary Hubbard

a man analyzing various charts featuring SEO metrics, shaded in blue, orange, and red.

Without practicing SEO (search engine optimization) and using SEO metrics to track your progress, your business will likely be unable to outpace the competition’s growth. In today’s world, SEO is an essential component of marketing any business.

As a leading digital marketing company, Swarm understands that SEO is never a one-and-done event. Instead, it’s a never ending process of continually planning, testing, analyzing, and changing your digital marketing efforts to effectively target your audience. Of course, this involves carefully examining the metrics that indicate how your SEO campaign is performing. And all this can get a little overwhelming.

Do you really need to pay attention to every SEO metric available? Keep reading for an introduction to the most essential metrics to track, and what they can tell you about your campaign.

How many SEO metrics are there?

Wouldn’t it be great to narrow down an exhaustive list of relevant SEO metrics? A quick Google search reveals just how futile this would be. Google can offer lists of 7, 9, 10, 11, or 13 top SEO metrics. But the truth is that Google uses around 200 ranking factors to decide who belongs on the front page of results. Other search engines use large numbers of ranking factors, too, though the algorithm will vary somewhat. Want a better look at search engine algorithms? Check out this article on Yandex’s data leak, the second largest search engine in many countries.

this graphic features a teenager in a red hat and blue hoodie, searching on google.

Of course, Google’s ranking factors don’t stay the same over time. Google is constantly changing its algorithm — in fact, a low estimate is 500 times per year. While not all of these updates make a major impact, some do.

Cutting through the noise to find the SEO metrics that matter

If you try to act on every available SEO metric, your campaign may lose focus — and you’ll definitely be exhausted. Instead, it’s best to focus on the metrics that matter most for your specific goals. While this is far from a definitive list, you might start by examining these SEO metrics to guide your initial decision-making.

Social engagement

Social media is an important aspect of any digital marketing campaign. Is your content generating reactions and engagement on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter? If not, you may be missing opportunities to boost your rankings.

In a similar vein, customer reviews and comments on your site itself are crucial for improving your rankings. Google associates customer reviews with a positive user experience on your site. If no one’s engaging with your content, it might indicate that you’re not aligned with the search intent that brought them to your site in the first place.

Speaking of social engagement, backlinks are another important way to prove your worth to Google’s algorithm. If no one in your industry is linking their site’s visitors to yours, consider networking opportunities that might create connections.

Bounce rate

Remember that Google will prioritize your site if it offers customers the content they were looking for when they searched. One way to measure how often that’s happening is to look at the SEO metric known as bounce rate.

This graphic features six small wooden cubes, five of them imprinted with an X, and one with a tick. The man is lifting the box with a tick.

Bounce rate compares two quantities: the number of times visitors come to your site, then stay and engage with it, and the number of times visitors arrive and leave without engaging. A high bounce rate indicates that visitors aren’t sticking around long enough on your site.

What causes a high bounce rate? There are countless possible reasons, but these seven factors are often involved:

  • slow page loading time
  • content that doesn’t match search intent
  • trouble reading your content on a mobile device
  • no sense of purpose or urgency in your content
  • page errors
  • following a misleading link that directed to your site
  • difficulty navigating your site

The Swarm team can help you identify what’s at the heart of your low bounce rate and get you back on track. Quality content creation and a well-oiled website will go a long way towards improving this SEO metric.

Dwell time

Dwell time is another SEO metric that is closely related to bounce rate, however, it might be even more important to track. this metric helps measure the amount of time visitors remain on your site. Even if visitors stay a long time, they’ll count as a “bounce” if they leave without clicking anything. To calculate your dwell time, divide the total time people have spent on your site by the number of all the visits you’ve received.


The more time you’re able to retain visitors’ attention, the higher your chances of conversion or engagement will be. And of course, your conversion rate is the most important metric you’re seeking to boost. So, how can you boost your dwell time to attract more business? A few suggestions include:

  • identify which of your site’s pages is performing well or poorly
  • provide engaging content that’s easy to read, yet informative
  • use internal linking to guide visitors from one of your web pages to the next
  • invite users to engage with your site via reviews, online forms, social media interactions, opportunities to ask questions, videos, polls, and more

Keyword rankings

Visitors come to your site because Google associated their search terms with keywords on your site. Using keywords is a balancing act for every brand. On the one hand, keyword stuffing (the excessive use of keywords to “trick” a search engine) will lower your rankings. On the other hand, you’re playing a constant tug of war game with competitors who rely on similar keywords to attract traffic. You can’t just ignore keywords, so it’s important to track them, like any other SEO metric, as it will show you how well yours are performing. This will give you the ability to adjust your keyword strategy as needed.

As you use SEO tools to track your keyword performance, ask the following questions:

  • what are my most valuable keywords right now?
  • what is the search volume of my top keywords?
  • which of my keywords is failing to perform?
  • am I using keywords in titles, meta descriptions and content headings?
  • what keywords should I be using from related searches?
  • which keywords are working for my competitors?

Like all aspects of SEO, your quest to optimize your keywords is an ongoing process. Many triggers, including your competitors’ updated content and Google’s algorithm updates, can send you back to the drawing board to adapt your keyword strategy.

This graphic features an abstract depiction of on going marketing strategies.

Organic traffic

Organic traffic refers to the number of visitors who come to your site due to search engine results. It reflects your visibility and is clearly linked to conversion rates, so it should be among the top of your SEO metrics if your campaign strives to improve.

Ultimately, optimizing the way your site presents itself in SERPs will drive more organic traffic to your site. However, it’s important to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality traffic. If  your site is getting high-quality traffic, people who match your marketing personas are deciding to visit. Low-quality traffic refers to people who visit, but aren’t likely to buy anything. Attracting low-quality traffic is a waste of your marketing budget and will leave visitors with a bad impression.

Tools for tracking SEO metrics

Many SEO experts prefer to use a variety of these tools to gain a broader perspective. A few of the best tools that display some SEO metrics and help you make sense of them include:

  • Google tools, including Google Analytics and the Google Search Console
  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • Moz

Ultimately , these tools should not only be used to optimize your own campaign, but also to analyze your competitors’ strategies and identify any opportunities.

How much do SEO metrics really matter?

this graphic features a player beating his opponent in chess. This is an abstract representation of what an effective seo strategy can do for businesses.

Without an effective SEO strategy, it will be difficult for your business to gain new market share. By using SEO, your competitors will easily be able to crowd you out by attracting relevant traffic. You’ll also be unaware of what’s working — and what’s not working — in your digital marketing campaign, so you may waste time and funds on the wrong projects.

Rankings are part of the picture, but they’re not the whole picture. Ultimately, the most important metrics are the ones directly tied to your conversion rates, and these may vary from one business to the next.

It takes a village to do SEO right

You’ve got a business to run, and doing quality SEO work is a full-time job. At Swarm, we can determine the relevance of each available SEO metric to your unique digital marketing strategy. Our team of marketing experts will help you analyze the data, develop a concrete plan of action, and implement a marketing strategy that gets results. Want more information? Ask us a question for free today!

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1. What is SEO and why is it important for my digital marketing campaign?

   SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results. It is important for your digital marketing campaign because it helps increase your online visibility, drive more organic traffic to your site, and improve your chances of converting visitors into customers.

2. Do I need to track all available SEO metrics?

   No, you do not need to track every SEO metric available. Instead, focus on the metrics that matter most for your specific goals, such as social engagement, bounce rate, dwell time, keyword rankings, and organic traffic.

3. What are some essential SEO metrics to track?

   Essential SEO metrics to track include social engagement, bounce rate, dwell time, keyword rankings, and organic traffic.

4. How can I improve my social engagement metric?

   To improve your social engagement metric, create high-quality, shareable content, promote your content on social media platforms, and encourage user interaction through reviews, comments, and social sharing.

5. What is bounce rate and how can I reduce it?

   Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without engaging with any content. To reduce your bounce rate, improve page loading times, ensure your content matches search intent, optimize for mobile devices, create a sense of purpose and urgency in your content, fix page errors, and improve site navigation.

6. What is dwell time and how can I increase it?

   Dwell time is the amount of time visitors spend on your site. To increase dwell time, identify well-performing and poorly-performing pages, create engaging and informative content, use internal linking to guide visitors through your site, and encourage user interaction through reviews, forms, social media, and other interactive elements.

7. How can I optimize my keyword rankings?

   To optimize your keyword rankings, research and identify valuable keywords, monitor search volume, analyze keyword performance, use keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and content headings, and analyze competitor keyword strategies.

8. What is organic traffic and why is it important?

   Organic traffic refers to the number of visitors who come to your site through search engine results. It is important because it reflects your online visibility and is directly linked to your conversion rates.

9. What tools can I use to track SEO metrics?

   Some popular tools for tracking SEO metrics include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Moz.

10. How can a digital marketing agency like Swarm help improve my SEO strategy?

   Swarm can help you determine the relevance of each SEO metric to your unique digital marketing strategy, analyze the data, develop a concrete plan of action, and implement a marketing strategy that gets results. By working with a professional team, you can save time and resources while optimizing your online presence and driving more conversions.