What is Your SEO Benchmarking Strategy

What is Your SEO Benchmarking Strategy

As a business owner, I know first-hand the frustration of meticulously crafting a beautiful website only to have it languish in digital obscurity. You pour your heart and soul into pages that barely warrant a passing glance from search engines. It’s downright demoralizing!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With some strategic search engine optimization (SEO), your web presence can shift from invisible to impossible to ignore almost overnight! 

However, with Google’s algorithms evolving constantly and competition growing fiercer, staying visible demands having a razor-sharp SEO strategy anchored around continual benchmarking.

Think of benchmarking as your trusty compass on the exhilarating expedition to search dominance. By obsessively tracking key metrics against historical trends and rival sites, you can continually course-correct towards higher visibility and more qualified traffic. 

It might seem daunting initially, but I promise tangible SEO success rests on how rigorously you measure and optimize efforts over time.

So let’s get you started with some proven best practices for benchmarking that I’ve seen deliver tremendous returns for businesses time and again. 

Why SEO Benchmarking Matters

Why SEO Benchmarking Matters

SEO benchmarking refers to the practice of tracking, measuring, and analyzing important SEO metrics for your website over time to evaluate the impact of your optimization efforts. 

This allows you to identify areas of improvement, adjust your strategy accordingly, and ultimately enhance your site’s search visibility.

Here are some key reasons why SEO benchmarking should be an integral part of your strategy:

Provides Quantitative Insights

SEO benchmarking gives you cold, hard numbers to make data-driven decisions instead of relying on guesses and assumptions. Metrics like organic traffic, rankings, and conversions clearly demonstrate the tangible impact of your SEO initiatives.

Facilitates Competitor Analysis

By benchmarking your performance against competitors, you can learn from their strategies in areas where they outperform you to close any gaps.

Enables Progress Tracking

Analyzing historical trends and patterns in your key SEO metrics allows you to track improvements over time and validate that your efforts are actually paying dividends.

Promotes Accountability

Setting specific SEO performance goals based on accurate benchmarks fosters accountability within your team to drive results.

Identifies Issues and Opportunities

Significant changes or drops in core metrics like traffic and rankings based on historical benchmarks indicate potential issues that need addressing or reveal areas for improvement.

Clearly, regularly monitoring a portfolio of relevant SEO benchmarks is invaluable for understanding your current position, measuring future progress, and strategizing accordingly. But what should you actually be tracking?

Key Areas to Benchmark for SEO

Key Areas to Benchmark for SEO

While hundreds of SEO data points exist today, benchmarking all of them is unrealistic. Instead, focus your analysis on a few metrics that reliably indicate your overall search visibility and alignment with business goals.

Organic Traffic

Monthly organic traffic is the quintessential benchmark as it demonstrates measurable awareness being driven through search engines. Pay attention to overall patterns and changes across mobile, desktop, and total users.

Keyword Rankings

Prioritize tracking rankings for your most valuable target keywords, especially those driving considerable traffic and conversions. Drops in rankings often foreshadow issues.

Bounce Rate

Your site bounce rate benchmarks visitor engagement. Spikes warrant further user behavior analysis to identify page experience flaws.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates, calculated from your website analytics data, are crucial for calculating your SEO ROI.

Mobile Experience Metrics

With mobile representing over 50% of search traffic, benchmarking metrics like mobile load speeds and mobile-friendliness is now non-negotiable.

By regularly tracking historical data for these key benchmarks, you gain invaluable context to evaluate your efforts and calibrate your SEO strategy.

Conduct Competitor Benchmarking

While tracking your own website’s SEO metrics over time is important, analyzing competitors provides further context about your relative performance.

Competitor benchmarking reveals areas where rivals are outperforming you, allowing you to model what’s working for them, close crucial gaps, and ultimately gain an edge.

Follow this systematic process for effective competitor benchmarking:

Identify Relevant Competitors

Choose 3-4 competitors that align closely with your business in terms of offerings, target customers, and positioning. Avoid comparing yourself to significantly larger brands.

Analyze Their SEO Metrics

Leverage tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz to benchmark competitor performance across key areas like rankings, traffic, backlinks and technical SEO.

Compare Domain Authority Scores

Domain authority scores from Moz and domain ratings from other tools reflect overall SEO prowess so compare them to your own. Higher scores demand further analysis.

Review Their Link Profile

Assessing the quantity, quality and type of backlinks pointing to a competitor site reveals SEO strengths to model.

Evaluate Their Content Strategy

Compare the breadth and depth of competitor content across formats like blogs, videos, and visual aids to identify content gaps.

Essentially, obsessively analyzing competitors’ SEO metrics, strategies, and content equips you to regularly evaluate your performance against the competitive landscape.

Track Progress Over Time

The true value of benchmarking emerges when you monitor your metrics consistently over an extended duration. This reveals meaningful trends and patterns in your efforts.

Set a Consistent Cadence

Decide on a set interval for analyzing benchmarks. Monthly or quarterly works best for most small businesses.

Document Your Metrics

Record benchmark data in tables or graphs over time to visually track progress. Automate where possible via custom analytics reports.

Compare Period-Over-Period Performance

Look at percentage changes in key metrics like traffic and conversions compared to previous periods to quantify growth.

Review Trends and Patterns

Do you see consistent upward momentum over time or volatility in performance? What external factors potentially influenced anomalies?

Revisit Initial Assumptions

Consider whether early expectations around impact and timelines still hold true based on the data.

Essentially, instead of a one-and-done analysis, keep returning to those benchmarks at regular intervals to evaluate if your SEO strategy is delivering continual and compounding returns over the long-haul.

Tailor Benchmarks to Business Goals

While universal SEO metrics like rankings and traffic matter, it’s equally important to identify and analyze benchmarks aligned to your specific business goals.

For an ecommerce site, that may include monitoring conversion and bounce rates for product pages or tracking rankings for commercial keywords only. For a content site relying on ads, benchmarking pages per session and time on site makes more sense.

Business-specific benchmarks should cover:

Traffic

Are you tracking visitors from your target locations or demographics?

Conversions

Are you measuring submissions for key conversion forms or downloads?

Engagement

How about scroll depth or click-through-rate for specific site areas?

Essentially, your bespoke benchmarks coupled with universal SEO metrics provide a 360-degree view of your search visibility and progress towards business goals. Tweak them as goals evolve.

Leverage SEO Tools for Easy Benchmarking

While manually tracking SEO metrics using several disjointed tools is possible, it consumes immense time and effort. Instead, leverage comprehensive SEO platforms like Semrush or Ahrefs for easy benchmarking.

They provide preconfigured reports, intuitive graphs and custom alerts for key metrics across organic and paid search, backlinks, content, and technical SEO. This allows easy comparison against historical data and competitors in one dashboard for productivity.

Most also offer API integration options to feed data into your existing analytics platform or data warehouse to create custom reports tailored to your business objectives.

Wrapping Up: What is Your SEO Benchmarking Strategy

As search engine optimization becomes integral to digital marketing, implementing a structured approach to track and optimize core SEO metrics is crucial for continued success.

But I know first-hand how daunting SEO can feel for businesses just getting started. Between ever-changing algorithms, emerging datasets, and increasing competition, keeping up with best practices is challenging even for veterans.

However, by taking it step-by-step – prioritizing key benchmarks aligned to your goals, rigorously monitoring competitors, and staying nimble as the terrain evolves – your odds of ranking higher dramatically improve.

Think of benchmarking as your trusty compass on the path to search visibility – keeping you on course as the winds change.

And the best part? You don’t need to embark on this journey alone.

Here at Social Spike, our tight-knit team of SEO specialists thrive on collaborating with brands to custom-tailor data-driven strategies that get results. 

If you need an experienced partner to help demystify SEO, align efforts to your specific business goals, and continually optimize based on meaningful benchmarks over time, let’s talk!

Book a free 30 minute consultation through our site to map out an actionable way forward – whether you’re just getting started or looking to build on existing efforts. We can’t wait to see how far we can take your organization together.

The road to online growth and opportunity awaits…let’s hit the trail!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I be benchmarking and tracking my SEO metrics?

Experts recommend benchmarking key SEO metrics at least on a monthly or quarterly basis. This allows you to spot trends in time to course correct. Some critical daily/weekly metrics warrant more frequent checks.

What tools can I use to benchmark my website’s SEO performance?

Top proprietary tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz offer user-friendly benchmarking options. Google Analytics also provides abundant organic search data. Configure custom reports, dashboards, and alerts to simplify tracking.

What are some common SEO benchmarking mistakes?

Some common mistakes include:

  • Only episodically benchmarking (not tracking progress over time)
  • Using irrelevant, vanity metrics like social shares
  • Not comparing against competitors
  • Failing to align benchmarks with business goals
  • Not adapting benchmarks to algorithm changes

How can I use my competitors’ SEO performance to improve my own rankings?

Analyzing competitors often reveals gaps in areas like technical SEO, backlinks, content development and keyword targeting where they outperform you. By methodically improving and bridging these gaps using proven strategies, you can steadily advance your own rankings.

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