Beginner’s Guide To Measuring Search Engine Performance Metrics

search console performance tab with key metrics
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    If you’re new to the world of working with an agency on your digital marketing, you may have questions on evaluating whether or not your investment is making any difference. A website is a cornerstone of digital marketing infrastructure, and a well built website will naturally attract some traffic from search engines; known as organic traffic.

    If you’re working with an agency on growing your business it’s good to familiarize yourself with some of the basic search engine performance metrics for how your website is doing with search engines. In this post we’ll cover some of the basic search engine performance metrics.

    Impressions

    Each time a user opens up Google, or other preferred search engine, and types in what they are searching for, they are shown a web page full of search results. The keywords that they use are known as a search query and the results they are shown are know as the SERPSearch Engine Results Page.

    On the SERP, there will be a list of results from various websites across the web. If your website appears on that list of results, that is known as an impression.

    If you take a look at the graphic below you can see our post about WordPress architecture ranking in the top 3 on the search engine results page, delivering a search impression.

    search engine results page with query and impression
    SERP – Search Engine Results Page
    1. Search query
    2. SERP – Search Engine Results Page
    3. Search Impression

    Clicks

    Search impressions are the basic top line metric to track, but once you start having your website’s content appearing in search results the next performance metric to track is clicks. A click happens when someone clicks on your website in the search results and is sent to your website. Certain actions like expanding more details, refining the search query, and other actions can happen while remaining on the SERP that allow people to interact with your content in a limited capacity without actually being sent to your website. A click is only counted when someone is sent to your website from the SERP.

    CTR (Click through rate)

    If you divide the number of clicks by the number of search impressions, you get a metric known as the click through rate, or CTR for short. For instance if your website is shown 100 times and is clicked once, then 1 divide by 100 is a 1% click through rate.

    Average Position

    The average position is an important metric which represents the average position that your web page was shown in the search engine results for a given search query. If we take another look at our graphic from above, the search results that appear at the very top are in position 1 and count upwards from there. The second result on the page would be position 2, the third result would be position 3 and so on and so forth.

    Search engines are constantly moving around the results they present and to some extent each individual person will be shown a customized set of search results based on numerous factors such as the geographic location of the searcher, the time of day, the searchers browsing preferences, and more. Google is also constantly testing the quality of it’s search results, so in order to provide the most relevant results so your websites positional rank can change for no reason at all from search to search. That’s why the average position is a more meaningful metric.

    Measuring Search Engine Performance With Google Search Console

    There are numerous tools to measure search engine performance but the golden standard, at least in the United States, is Google Search Console. Once you’ve registered a site with Google Search Console, you’ll start to get data trickle into your account. As time goes by and you accrue a meaningful amount of data, you’ll be able to see a screen similar to the one below. You’ll be able to see information about some of the key metrics we just reviewed including the impressions, clicks, average CTR, and average position. You can get information about these metrics sliced by the search query, page, device, country, date, and search appearance.

    search console performance tab with key metrics

    Google Search Console is a great tool to be able to get a better understanding of the types of queries your website is ranking for, what your top traffic driving pages from search are, and other valuable information that you can use to grow the presence of your website on the internet and generate new business for your technology company.

    Conclusion

    In this post we reviewed some of the basic search engine performance metrics that can help you understand how your website is performing on the internet. We reviewed search queries, search engine results pages, impressions, clicks, click through rates, and average position metrics. Knowing these metrics is a good base that can help you get started in understanding search engine performance and maximizing the relationship you have with your agency.

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    Hunter Nelson

    Hunter is the founder and president of Tortoise and Hare Software, a digital marketing agency for B2B technology companies. Hunter has more than 10 years’ experience building web applications and crafting digital strategies for companies ranging from scrappy startups to Fortune 50 household names. When not on the clock, you'll find him spending time with his family and pups, relaxing on the beach, or playing competitive online video games. See LinkedIn for more.

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