If you’re investing a lot of money or effort into your SEO campaigns, it’s only natural to wonder whether your investment is paying off. SEO success is sometimes hard to measure, as results aren’t always direct and immediate.
Nevertheless, there are ways to tell if you’re heading in the right direction. Here are 7 signs that your SEO efforts are working.
1. Your Website Health Score Is Getting Better
Many tools analyze your website and give it a health score. If your health score is improving, your SEO efforts are accomplishing something. Your score might improve slowly, but that’s okay. Make sure you are using the same tool consistently, as each tool uses different metrics to determine your website’s health score.
You can use tools like:
These tools measure your overall website health, not just in terms of SEO but for crawlability, broken links, and other important metrics. Those metrics can indirectly affect your SERP rankings too. Nonetheless, depending on the tool, you may be able to exclude certain factors from your overall website health ranking.
Run a site check regularly — every week works fine. Your results might fluctuate from week to week. Get the average score from the past four weeks and see whether that has gone up over the last few months.
2. You Are Getting More Organic Traffic
An increase in organic traffic doesn’t come out of anywhere. Did you know that more than nine out of ten websites get zero traffic from Google whatsoever? If you’re getting more organic traffic than before, that’s a sure sign that your search engine optimization efforts are yielding results.
How can you tell if you’re getting more organic traffic? The best way is to use Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to install. You can select different periods, such as the past month or year, and see a graph of your website traffic. Filter for organic traffic to ensure the increase in traffic isn’t from referrals, ads, or social media.
Again, fluctuation is normal. Your website might get less traffic this week than last week, but comparing such short periods won’t give you the full picture. You need to zoom out to the past few months, at least.
3. Your Pages Are Ranking Higher
If you’re publishing a lot of new content, that can explain the increase in organic traffic. If your older pages are ranking higher as well, however, then your search engine optimization efforts are unmistakably working.
How can you tell if they’re ranking higher? Both SEMrush and Ahrefs, two major players in the SEO game, have rank tracker tools that help you measure your rankings over time. Another splendid software is SERP Robot, which is free.
Regardless of which tool you use, you want the majority of your pages to slowly increase in rankings. Not all of them will — sometimes, a competitor will create content for one of your target keywords and outrank you, causing your page to drop in the rankings. That’s okay, as long as your rankings increase slowly but surely overall.
I’d suggest tracking each page’s rankings for several keywords. Sometimes, your rankings will drop for one of your target keywords but go up for others. That’s still a win for you if you’re getting more traffic than before.
Why would your older pages start ranking higher? Google’s algorithms don’t rank each page in a bubble. Instead, the SEO authority of the entire site influences the rankings of each specific page.
Some site-wide metrics that can affect your rankings include, but are not limited to:
- How much quality content you have overall
- Your site’s URL structure
- The Domain Authority of the site
- How many backlinks the site has overall
- The user experience and how easy it is to navigate the site
- The website’s loading speed
- The age of the domain
4. Visitors Are Spending More Time on Your Website
Another thing to look at is how long people are spending on your website. Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your site and then leave without taking an action.
Why does it matter? If people are visiting your site and then quickly exiting, it means your site is lacking in some way:
- Your content may be uninteresting.
- Your calls to action might not be engaging enough.
- Your website might not be user-friendly.
- Your website might be taking too long to load.
Do bounce rates affect rankings? They might, according to Backlinko. One study found that bounce rates did correlate to higher rankings.
That doesn’t mean that bounce rates directly affect SEO. However, sites with higher bounce rates probably have problems that are hurting their rankings, such as those I just mentioned. For example, a poor user experience and unengaging content aren’t good for SEO.
You can see how long users are spending on your site in Google Analytics. If that time has been increasing, it means your content strategy is on point and your site provides a friendly user experience.
It also means you are targeting the right people, using the right keywords. If people don’t spend much time on your site, it might not be a problem with your website itself. Instead, you may be attracting the wrong people who just aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
5. You Are Increasing Your Conversion Rate In the Process
If you find your conversion rate increasing as well, you’re probably doing SEO right. The more traffic you get, the more conversions you’ll get. While that’s simple math, your conversion rate matters too.
For example, in the past, you might have converted one percent of visitors, but you are now converting two percent. A few SEO-related factors might have led to this increase:
- You are choosing better keywords to target. Those keywords have buyer intent, so you are getting more sales and leads.
- Your content is more engaging, better written, and more convincing. Your blog posts may be more readable.
- Your website is more user-friendly, allowing visitors to navigate it quickly and find what they are looking for.
- Your site has more content overall and just looks more authoritative, so people trust you more.
All of those things directly affect SEO rankings. If you hired an SEO agency, but your conversion rate increased too, they’ve been doing the correct things.
6. You Are Getting More Referring Domains
If new websites are linking to you organically, without you doing any backlink outreach, that’s an unquestionable sign your SEO efforts are producing results.
If you (or your SEO agency) are running an outreach campaign, and you are getting additional backlinks, that means the outreach campaign is working. Either way, the more backlinks you get, the more you can expect your rankings to increase.
Getting backlinks organically shows that people are noticing your content. Sometimes, it can have a snowball effect. After a few big sites start linking to you, other bloggers will follow. That’s because when doing research, those bloggers will often find those big sites in the search results and see that they linked to you. Wanting to cite the source, they’ll link to you as well.
Why are backlinks so important? Think of them as testimonials from other bloggers that your site has helpful content.
There are many types of backlinks. For example, if you operate a local business, you’ll need to build local citation backlinks; those don’t always come naturally, so it’s best to create them manually.
How can you track your backlinks? Yet again, SEMrush and Ahrefs provide excellent tools for this. Here’s a link to Ahrefs free backlink checker.
7. You Are Improving Your Domain and Page Authority
Finally, the last sign that your SEO efforts are effective is if your DA and PA go up. DA stands for Domain Authority, and PA refers to Page Authority. Both are scores that tell you how likely your site or page is to rank. Your Domain Authority is how likely your website is to rank overall, while Page Authority is how likely a specific page (or your homepage) is to rank.
DA and PA were developed by Moz, and they’re not official Google ranking scores. They run from 1-100 on a logarithmic scale. In other words, the higher you go, the harder it will be to increase your score. Changing your score from 1-10 is easier than increasing your score from 80-90.
If your DA and PA have been increasing, something has changed to make your site more likely to rank. It’s normal for DA and PA scores to fluctuate as new data becomes available, but they should be gradually increasing over the course of several months. Use the Moz Link Explorer to see your DA and PA.
You don’t need to have all the above to know if your SEO campaigns are effective. If you have just one or two — for example, if your organic traffic has increased, and you are getting new backlinks — your SEO efforts are paying off. Keep doing what you’re doing to get even better results.