SEO Benchmarks: What Are They and Which Ones Matter Most?

Running an online campaign without measuring performance makes it impossible to determine if what you’re doing is working. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and SEO benchmarks allow you to track and measure performance to see if you’re reaching your goals.

But which ones should you choose? Let’s get into it!

What Is an SEO Benchmark?

An SEO benchmark measures where you stand with a specific metric, aka a KPI.

While KPIs and SEO benchmarks are often used to refer to the same thing, they’re actually different.

  • KPI: An industry statistic that lets you measure performance over time. It gives you insight into the effectiveness of your SEO campaign.
  • SEO Benchmark: The KPIs you use as a reference when creating an SEO strategy.

Since KPIs and SEO benchmarks work so closely together, it can be difficult to figure out how they’re different. An example may better explain it:

Let’s say one of the KPIs you use to track website performance is organic traffic. You could use last quarter’s organic traffic as an SEO benchmark to measure your progress.

Do I Need to Track SEO Benchmarks?

You should! An SEO benchmark gives you a before-and-after snapshot of a KPI.

On its own, a KPI is just a stat, neither good nor bad. With benchmarking, though, you can tell if that stat is improving or getting worse. From there, you can adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.

If you’re reporting progress to a client, SEO benchmarks are even more important to track. Otherwise, you won’t have a way to illustrate the value of your services and show the client that what you’re doing is working.

How Do I Benchmark Performance?

Here’s a general overview of how you benchmark SEO performance:

  • Select KPIs to track.
  • Analyze the KPIs to set baseline data points.
  • Measure KPI performance over a set period of time.
  • Compare before-and-after performance.
  • Tweak your strategy to improve performance.

Depending on the KPIs you select, you can track anywhere from daily or weekly to monthly, quarterly or annually. You’ll probably track different KPIs at different intervals.

Which SEO Benchmarks Are Most Important?

The KPIs and SEO benchmarks that are most important for you are specific to your campaign and goals. The best option is to focus on the KPIs that matter most to you rather than select KPIs simply because they’re the most popular.

Let’s go over some of the KPIs that you may want to add to your benchmarking strategy.

These are organized alphabetically and not in order of importance.

Backlink Profile Benchmarks

A backlink is a link to your website from another website, and search engines consider backlinks when determining the value of your website. The more backlinks from reputable websites , the better.

Graph showing the correlation between search traffic and backlinks for SEO benchmarks.

Here are a few backlink profile KPIs and SEO benchmarks to consider adding to your strategy.

Number of Backlinks

Ideally, the number of high-quality backlinks to your site will grow consistently. With a tool like Ahrefs, you can view the total number of backlinks to your site, how many domains are referring your content, and the growth of your backlinks over time.

Keeping track of backlink SEO benchmarks in Ahrefs.
Source: Ahrefs

The more referring domains and backlinks you have, the better your rank and organic traffic can be.

Domain and Page Ratings From Ahrefs

Ahrefs has Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) tools that measure the strength of a website’s or web page’s backlink profile. Both ratings are on a 100-point scale, and the higher the number, the better.

Domain and URL ratings for SEO benchmarks in Ahrefs.
Source: Ahrefs

While DR and UR only compare your backlink profiles to other entries in the Ahrefs database, they’re easy ways to see the strength of your site or page and how it increases or decreases over time.

This is particularly useful if you’re explaining campaign results to clients because the visual presentation is easier to understand than a more technical graph or explanation.

Keyword Benchmarks

Without keywords and keyword phrases, you won’t be able to optimize your pages to match search queries. Here are a few keyword KPIs and benchmarks you may want to add to your strategy.

Individual Keyword Ranking

By tracking the ranking position of a primary keyword, you can assume that related long-tail keywords are following the same trajectory. A tool like Semrush lets you enter your primary keywords and track their ranking with the Position Tracking feature.

Share of Voice

The Share of Voice (SOV) metric gives you an idea of how visible your website is on search engine results pages (SERPs). It does this by determining the percentage of potential organic clicks for your tracked keywords.

The best way to use SOV is by comparing your site to others in your niche. Often, an increase in SOV also means an increase in market share.

Graph showing the correlation between share of voice and market share.

If your SOV is improving compared to the competition, your market share and competitive value may be going up as well.

Organic Search Traffic

There are few KPIs and SEO benchmarks more important than organic search traffic. The best strategy is to review your organic search traffic each month and compare it to the previous month’s data. If you go too far into the past, the results won’t be relevant.

Our article about organic traffic talks about how to measure this KPI using Google Analytics. Check it out.

Revenue Per Visit

The revenue per visit (RPV) KPI is essential for e-commerce websites. This metric shows you how your website traffic converts to revenue and the monetary value of each unique website visit.

RPV takes both conversion rate (CVR) and average order value (AOV) into consideration and helps to smooth out each metric’s shortcomings.

Conversion Rate

  • CVR tells you the percentage of site visitors who made a purchase.
  • Lets you know whether or not your site is successful at converting visitors.
  • Doesn’t give you a dollar value from purchases.

Average Order Value

  • AOV divides the total revenue by the number of sales.
  • Lets you know the average dollar value earned per order.
  • Doesn’t give you a broad enough view of what’s happening in your store.

Revenue per visit gives you more insight than either CVR or AOV can offer, though both of those metrics are necessary for calculating RPV. With this KPI and SEO benchmark, you’ll see how much money your website makes every time you get a unique visitor. From there, you can adjust your strategy to increase revenue, like by running a special promotion, for example.

Search Results Benchmarks

Impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR) and position fall under search results SEO benchmarks, and you’ll use Google Search Console (GSC) to track them. They’re under the Performance section, which you can navigate to from the left sidebar.

Google Search Console performance stats for SEO benchmarks.
Performance results from a new website.
  • Impressions: The number of times users saw your link in search results.
  • Clicks: The number of times users clicked a link to your website.
  • Click-Through Rate: The percentage of impressions that were clicked.
  • Position: The average position of your website in search results.

All four of these website KPIs should grow over time. Additionally, you can track these KPIs for individual pages by clicking on the Pages tab in GSC.

Google Search Console performance stats for individual pages.

If your website is large enough, track the top 25 pages for these four KPIs to see how they do over time.

User Experience Benchmarks

No matter how much traffic your website gets, those visitors won’t make a difference if they don’t have a positive experience on your site. Without considering the user experience (UX), you’ll lose those visitors and may never see them again.

Here are a few UX metrics to pay attention to and benchmark.

Number of Sessions Per User

According to Google, a session is a set of user interactions on your website that happen during a visit. One session may include viewing several pages, posting a blog comment and making a purchase.

Source: Google

The number of sessions per user KPI divides the total number of sessions by the total number of users. If you see a high number or a number that increases over time, that means there are more sessions per user — which is a good indication that users like your website and are returning.

Average Session Duration

The average session duration KPI is the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website per session. That’s calculated by dividing the total amount of time from all user sessions by the total number of sessions.

There are a lot of ways to improve average session duration so that visitors spend more time on your website. This article from Hubspot has 7 suggestions.

Bounce Rate / Engagement Rate

In Google Analytics 4, bounce rate and engagement rate are closely related. Both of them let you see how much users are engaging with your website. Additionally, both of these metrics consider engaged sessions. An engaged session is a session that meets one of the following:

  • Lasts longer than 10 seconds
  • Includes a conversion
  • Has a minimum of 2 page or screen views

Bounce rate is the percentage of non-engaged sessions, and engagement rate is the percentage of engaged sessions.

For benchmarking purposes, you want the bounce rate to go down over time and the engagement rate to increase.

Wrapping Up

To make SEO benchmarking manageable, especially if you’re running your website on your own, be selective when it comes to the KPIs you track. You don’t have to keep an eye on every single metric possible. Choose a few that are the most important, and add to them over time as your business and website grow.

You can also spread out how often you analyze your metrics and adjust your website. For example, depending on your business needs, you can benchmark some KPIs weekly while others you can do quarterly.

Our SEO Basics Guide for Beginners may also help you get your website up to speed.

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