Measuring the success of your work as a school marketer can absolutely be one of the most challenging parts of the job.
At the same time, one of the hardest parts about search engine optimization (SEO) is that you can’t always immediately track your progress because it can take time for the search engine results pages (SERPs) to update. And, when they do update, they don’t always improve evenly across all your target keywords.
For this reason, you need a better strategy for tracking SEO performance.
One of the biggest advantages of marketing today is the plethora of information available on site performance, meaning you will always have plenty of data about how well your SEO efforts are paying off and how they’re impacting your goals.
In fact, for most school marketers, the problem isn’t accessing enough information. It’s determining which metrics to focus on.
Fortunately, there are many tools that provide you with reports you can use to track and follow your SEO metrics. Two of the best tools you can use to track and report SEO metrics are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Not only are these tools free, but they also offer most of the metrics school marketers need.
Why Do SEO Metrics Matter?
SEO metrics matter because once you have the data you need, you can make changes that will help you improve your outcomes. Professional SEO managers track everything from rankings to conversions to backlinks to improve SEO results.
What Is SEO Metrics Tracking?
If you’re new to tracking and measuring your SEO results, you might be wondering what SEO tracking involves.
Fortunately, SEO tracking is more straightforward than it may seem. It simply involves choosing the right metrics for your school and then monitoring those metrics to watch for trends and track your progress.
The key to gaining the best insights is to be selective when choosing which metrics to track. Since there are literally thousands of metrics to choose from, you don’t want – or need – to track them all. No one wants to read all that data and it would just be too confusing. But when you select a limited number you can create reports that are easier and more meaningful to read.
This is especially true when you use a data compilation tool to compile and create your reports. Google’s Data Studio is an excellent, free tool you can use to collect, store, track and develop reports using built-in templates. There are many integrations that connect to Data Studio, such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Community Connectors, Google Sheets, YouTube Analytics and many others.
Why Setting SEO Goals Is Important
Before you set up your SEO tracking dashboard, take a few minutes to write down your specific SEO goals. This will help you determine the right metrics for your school. While it’s common to have multiple SEO goals, try to establish a specific end goal to help you narrow down your key performance indicators (KPIs).
For example, you may want to focus on the number of inquiries your website generates as a long-term, overarching goal.
Once you have determined your goals, make sure they are measurable and specific. Remember, if you can’t track them, you can’t improve them.
Now that you know why SEO metrics matter, what SEO tracking means and have set your SEO goals, let’s dive into the 11 most important SEO metrics for schools.
It’s no secret that engagement is a major factor in school marketing. Some of the most popular SEO metrics for measuring engagement on your website include:
Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of unique visits to your website during a particular time period. Your conversion rate helps you determine the return on investment (ROI) your traffic is delivering. A conversion is a pre-determined action a visitor will take on your website, such as a newsletter sign-up, filling out an inquiry form, registering for an account, downloading an ebook, etc. If you aren’t already, you should be tracking conversions in Google Analytics. Read more: 10 Key Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking in Google Analytics
Time on page
How long are visitors spending on each page on your website? You want to know people are actually reading your content, so look for longer times on longer pages. Some pages will naturally have low time on page (like Contact Us) so don’t worry about those pages. Focus on the intent of the page and how important it is that people actually read the information it contains.
Pages per visit
Pages per visit is a valuable measurement because it helps you understand how well your website engages readers and then takes them to the next step. The architecture of your site should help users engage with your site, find what they’re looking for and take the next step in their enrollment journey.
Your bounce rate measures the number of people who visited a page on your site and then left without browsing your site further. Sometimes this makes sense; for example, if someone is just looking for a phone number or address for your school and that’s all they need. But most of the time you want people to spend time on your website, especially if they’re just learning about your school. If you consistently see a high bounce rate for your website, you may want to consider whether this is a quality issue and determine if your site needs a redesign.
Scroll depth measures how far down the page people are scrolling. This can be a very helpful metric, especially if you have a high bounce rate on that page. It will show you how well people are reaching your most valuable content, which can be helpful in determining how to design the page. For example, you may want to add a video to the top of an important page, or maybe an inquiry form. Scroll depth triggers can be set up in Google Analytics.
Understanding your website’s organic performance is essential for meeting your SEO goals. After all, organic traffic is the ultimate goal of SEO. Even if your content is ranking well on SERPs, if you’re not getting traffic to your site, for some reason people are not linking to your content. But before you can strategize your content and search queries, you need to understand how much traffic your site is receiving from search.
Traffic source by channel
Google Analytics allows you to track and report traffic to your site by source channel. This means you can isolate organic traffic from paid campaigns. This will help you identify how successful your paid campaigns are as well as identify your consistent organic traffic independent from paid campaigns.
Traffic to your site over time
Using Google Analytics, you can view total sessions, number of users, and number of page views over a specified date range. You can also compare two different ranges. These metrics will help you identify seasonal changes which can help you make important marketing revenue decisions.
Analyze site content
Site content reports in Google Analytics will help you determine how well your webpages are performing. For example, maybe you’d like to track how many visitors your Admissions Process page receives each month.
Click-through rate (CTR)
Your click-through rate is the percent of people who clicked on the link to your page from search results. This metric can help you identify how well you’ve optimized your page title and meta description. This information can be found in Google Search Console, which you can link to within Google Analytics.
Number of pages indexed
Before a page can be shown in search results, it needs to be indexed. If any of your pages aren’t being indexed by the search engines, it won’t receive any organic search traffic. Google Search Console is a great tool for ensuring all your relevant pages are being indexed.
Search engines today are all about the user experience (UX) and page load speed is a big part of UX, especially when it comes to the mobile version of your site. Page load time matters a great deal to Google. We know site speed has been a ranking factor since at least 2014, when Google received a U.S. Patent on desktop page load time. Then, in 2018, mobile page speed became a ranking factor as a part of Google’s “speed update”.
To take things further, Google introduced Core Web Vitals, which went into effect in May 2021. There are three metrics included in Core Web Vitals:
- How quickly a page is visible
- How long it takes before a user can interact with the page
- The visual stability of the elements on the page.
Core Web Vitals are important because they give you insight into how well people experience your website.
Google Search Console offers information on how well the pages on your site perform based on the Core Web Vitals. To find these metrics, go to the “Enhancements” area of GSC. You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to access the SEO metrics.
There are many more SEO metrics you can track if you want, but these are the essentials for school marketers. I encourage you to really dive deep into your analytics to gather the most pertinent data for measuring SEO success.
And, if you’d like to learn more about SEO, consider SEO Coach. SEO Coach is a simple, easy-to-understand tool designed specifically for schools to learn how to conduct SEO. SEO Coach gives you the knowledge and information you need to design a SEO strategy for your school. Learn more about SEO Coach here.