As far as online SEO tools go, it’s hard to think of a more influential one than the SEMrush sensor. The widely popular program has been a game-changer for online marketing and search engine analysis. That said, SEMrush can be very daunting for beginners, presenting users with an overwhelming series of numbers. As a tool that’s crucial for producing data-points from the most important search engines, it is a must-have. Here’s our guide on how to interpret the most important SEMrush metrics so you can get the insights you need.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEMrush are looking for the basics, this article is not for that specific purpose. We’ve previously covered the introductory aspects of the SEO sensor here. While the previous article instructed on what data is available and how to obtain it, this article is about interpreting it and knowing what that data is. Basically, this entry will discuss what that information is and what it says about your website. Aside from making SEMrush easier to navigate, these metrics are a great rule of thumb for understanding the various factors the Google algorithm keeps track of.
Another note to keep in mind is that this article is not diving into detail about what these data metrics are or what SEMrush helps measure. If you’re unfamiliar, SEMrush have already made a comprehensive article of that sort. Instead, this article will aim towards letting you know how to best match specific goals to specific metrics. If you want to know how to make the most of your data and which metrics to apply to your online marketing goals, this is the article for you.
Interpreting SEMrush SEO Performance
There are a whole lot of different metrics that companies need to keep track of if they are going to get their desired SEO results. Understanding them is crucial to deriving an analysis that helps your website succeed. Metrics are case dependent and can indicate different things in different contexts. That’s why a more nuanced reading is appropriate for each of these measures as one scenario may not encapsulate the full picture.
It’s obvious to most that one of the most important numbers you need to boost is organic traffic. This is the number of visitors your site gets purely from search engines. This is especially pertinent as it proves the strength of your targeting and serves as a good metric of your SEO strategy. Additionally, organic search increases are a great way of measuring your keyword rankings and levels of unpaid visitors arriving naturally.
When measuring your organic traffic, it’s important to look at the number of clicks and which queries they are coming from. On your dashboard, you can view a comparison of your paid and organic traffic through the domain overview. From here you can compare data ranges across time periods, devices, and measure which landing pages are most prominent. These will provide a good basis for judging which areas are most optimal in SEO and keyword terms.
This metric is highly related to all the other ones mentioned later (even more than most), and that means improving everything else leads to better organic traffic. Therefore, the best way to increase organic visits is to improve all these other metrics listed below, but there are some fixes that are not mentioned later that are worth keeping in mind. You can also try identifying and improving non-performing content. Another way is to set up a content marketing scheme if you don’t have one, or try to dominate in terms of featured snippets.
- Track your queries.
- Organic traffic is a complex metric with a lot of variables. Make sure to contextualise it using time periods.
- Other aspects listed below will affect it greatly.
- Improve content, renovate non-performing content, and focus on snippets.
- Another way to improve organic traffic is through keywords. Which brings us to…
Keyword rankings are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. If your goal is traffic, these can be crucial but a fixation on them might make you miss the forest for the trees. In essence, ranking needs to be put into the context of relevant searches, target groups, and a whole host of other things. That said, keyword rankings do lead to better visibility and clicks, even if the rate of conversions is dependent on external factors.
It’s best to use SEMrush’s position tracking tool and set up your website in their system. Depending on your needs, you can input your list of keywords or you can import them from a campaign or Google Analytics. Keyword positions should be contextualised over time as opposed to seen as a single snapshot in the present. Additionally, it would be advisable to conduct a keyword gap analysis in comparison with up to 5 competing URLs.
Make sure you are targeting the right areas with an SERP analysis. Look into related searches, people also ask, and Google’s auto-complete system.
- Conduct keyword analyses on a regular basis.
- Fix website technical issues, add schemas, and look into related searches and sub-topics.
- Improve UX.
- Focus on social media and content marketing as well.
SERP Visibility & Positioning Metrics
Visibility displays the overall trend of your site’s traffic potential. Similarly, estimated traffic is an indicator of how much traffic you can expect from organic searches. It gives you a decent view of your own SEO progress and some measures of potential traffic. These are both good statistics but they should be supplemented with Google Analytics data and not just SEMrush alone.
To get a better grasp of their impact, highlight the keywords and rankings distribution sections on SEMrush to get a more thorough overview of how many keywords you have ranked in the different positions. This will also give you an idea of how the distribution has changed over time. A high SERP volatility is not always something to worry about. It can be dependent on the purpose of your website, what wider trends are going on, and even seasonal economic trends.
It is also best to keep track of changes in how the algorithm operates, as these can have ripple effects. Sometimes you keyword ranking changes because Google has altered something in their system. Often, small changes can restore your ranking, so it may not be a bad idea to spend a little bit of time renovating old content.
As with SEO and organic traffic, improving these other measure in the list with lead to better SERP visibility. Another thing that has an impact is making sure your website is compliant with mobile and tablet formats. Programs like AMP for WordPress can help achieve this much more easily. Depending on your industry, it is possible that just as many visitors, if not more, are visiting you on alternative devices.
Also, make sure you are visible in your local area. You can do this by registering with Google Business, working on Google maps, using local keywords, etc.
- Keep track of algorithm changes.
- Repeat: Content, backlinks, keywords etc. are important for SERP visibility.
- Check device compatibility for mobile, tablet, and PC.
- Improve local SEO for better regional visibility.
Click-Through Rate & Bounce Rate
CTR should be used as a display of how effective your title tags and meta descriptions are in attracting users’ attention. Low CTRs mean you should be optimising meta descriptions, titles, URLs, image SEO, and adding featured snippets. As mentioned earlier, keyword rankings also improve CTRs. The average CTR for a top-ranking URL on the SERP is 28%, so it’s best not to be worried that your numbers are below 30%.
Another important SEMrush SEO metric parallel to CTR is the bounce rate. Different categories of websites have varying ideas of what a bad bounce rate is, however a high bounce rate lowers your ranking nonetheless. Google perceives high bounce rates as a sign that your website does not meet search intent. To improve your bounce rate make sure you are targeting relevant users, optimise your lead magnet, improve the content, or make the website layout more appealing to your target market.
Plug-ins like Yoast and SEMrush’s WordPress plug-in can really help improve readability and SEO on your pages. They can help along and give you precise metrics on structure, overly verbose sentences, and much more. Additionally, they can help in target keywords, which you can use to build content around to attract visitors to the pages you want. Related content can lead to sales and push the purposes of your website.
- Improve speed and UX to improve these measures.
- Make sure your landing page, in particular, is helpful and easy to navigate.
- Analyse your pages using plug-ins.
- Try connecting content to sales portals or lead generating pages.
Website Authority Over Time
All SEO efforts need to keep things in perspective of competitors and website authority is a great measure for this. Low numbers on this metric may be a predictor of low traffic and rankings. Make use of domain authority scores and modify your SEO strategy to aim for a higher score than competitors.
New websites always start with an authority score of 1. Websites that take time to build authority, backlinks and gain consistently high organic traffic will mostly be in the 40-to-60 range. In general, this metric is quite slow in terms of movement. It’s best not to fret too much about it but its still good to keep it in mind.
Worth noting: fluctuations in your score are no always due to your actions. Competitor’s action may change this list as well, so before finding faults in your own practices, examine others as well. Remember to conduct a regular link audit to keep track of whether your links are still following. Changes can be due to other website discontinuing your links or even going out of business or deleting old posts.
- Make connections with credible sources.
- Find a forum for reporters or find people via LinkedIn who take interest in your content.
- Get people to share it and link it.
- Mainly: to build higher authority scores, you need links from higher authority sites. Which brings us to…
Backlinks are pretty high up the totem pole in terms of measures that Google takes into account. This is why it’s pertinent to understand SEMrush’s backlink analytics tool and what it offers. This tool has some fairly detailed metrics while being easy to use, and is thus very potent in developing analyses. On a basic level, the tool allows you to evaluate your site’s link-building progress, identify new backlinks, and discover when backlinks are deleted.
Important metrics to keep track of in this tool are: The most common categories of linking domains, the anchor text cloud (which is important so that you can ensure there is no spike of a commercial anchor text that could be harmful), referring domains, link profile size over time, and nofollow vs. followed breakdowns. It’s also important to keep track of your link toxicity.
It’s important to have a solid content marketing strategy, with regular posts that others can link. While it may sound obvious, but quality content that is more comprehensive gets more backlinks. Just throwing together content is not enough, as you are looking for highly reputable sources to take notice. Therefore, building skyscraper content will require a lot more effort. Format can also be a great helper.
The other part of this is promotion. Posting it on your own social media is a good first step, but it’s not enough. Email it to bloggers in your relevant industry, as they might give it a shout-out, or maybe even link it in one of their posts. Another way to do this is to find sites with outdated info and reach out to them. You can do this by finding an old article that has info that is old (depends on your industry but 5 to ten years should be a good benchmark). Then, find what sites are linking to this older info and reach out to them so they can link to you.
- Regularly audit your backlinks and where they come from.
- Quality, fresh content is still the best way to get linked by other reputable sources.
- Promote your content, post it on social media, email it to interested parties, etc.
- Try to provide more up-to-date information or media and get sites with outdated info to reappraise their content with your posts.
- Find an appropriate yet linkable format (lists, quizzes, how to, etc.)
- You may want to look into Pagerank for more info. We’ve covered how Pagerank determines the value of links here.
We have an entire article on boosting page speeds, if you’re looking for a more thorough dive into this topic as it relates to page SEO. SEMrush does give certain website performance stats, but there are better ways to identify issues related to site speed when you need further insights. Aside from SEMrush, you should also analyse your pages with Chrome’s own user experience report and Google Lighthouse. Page Speed Insights is another helpful program that can give you the metrics you need in a more specific manner.
If you feel like your page speed is preventing your website from reaching its full potential, there are quite a few things you can do. Stay away from using heavier images and compress them when you can with in-built tools like those on WordPress. It’s important to pick a web hosting package that will help improve your site’s page load speed. This can be improved by having a server that has dedicated resources, which prevents other sites from hogging your processor and memory power.
You can also cache and minify resources, which will help improve your site’s speed. Keep track of your plugins, apps and widgets. All 3rd party scripts can hamper your speeds immensely. What theme you’re using can also matter because heavier ones can be draining.
- Oversized images are the number one culprit.
- Cache and minify your resources.
- Manage all 3rd party scripts, plugins and apps.
Time Spent on Page
The time users spend on your page is a measure of user intent. If they’re looking for something specific, go on your website but don’t find it, they will leave without conversion. A high number on this metric can (potentially) give your website a less desirable standing. The first thing to understand about this metric is that it is contextual. A minute’s worth of a user’s time can be good or bad depending on the purpose of the page. This time span would be too short for a long article with a lot of information, but it would be ideal for a low-info purchase page.
Check your own average reading time for your page, and compare it to the average reader’s. If there is a wide discrepancy between these two times, you are probably not fulfilling the user intent. If your purchase page has a high bounce rate and a quick one, you might not be matching in the right keywords, so changing these can be a priority. In some instances, you may be finding relevant visitors but they are not enticed to stay on the page.
Accordingly, you might be matching in the right keywords, but not providing sufficient information for a sale to occur. In this instance, look at what higher ranking competitors are doing and try to do something like that with your own content. Another possibility is that your UX is not efficient. If there are a whole bunch of confusing ads on your page that distract from conversions, users may just leave. Think about what features make you exit a site, and then avoid those pitfalls.
- Make sure you match in the right keywords.
- Check whether the page fulfils user needs.
- If it matches in the two categories, make sure the UX is up to scratch.
- Particularly, keep track of your landing pages and whether they are helpful, fast, and easy to navigate.
And here it is: The Big One. CRO is the bread and butter of online marketing and there are a whole bunch of ways to make it happen. However, we first need to delve into how to make sense of these numbers. Google Analytics makes conversions pretty easy to track by setting up custom goals and SEMrush SEO measures can also give you some relevant indicators. Tailor these goals to your site’s purpose and what you want from customers or visitors.
How do you know whether you’re making an impact in conversions? Growth is always a good indicator but you can also use the global average website conversion rate of 4.31% based on multiple marketplace conversion rates as a benchmark. If you’re lagging behind on this front there are a bunch of things you can do.
- Conduct customer surveys or engage in A/B testing to find best practices.
- Focus on high-performing content and places with most prominent visitor interaction. This can also give you a niche to expand from. Additionally, you can analyse visitor demographics and choose to focus on a segment.
- Examines bounce rates and where visitors stick around the least. This can help you improve your customer interactions and produce a better purchase funnel.
- Improve your calls to action.
- Consider adding helplines, chatbots, subscriptions or shopping trolley item/ purchase reminder emails.
- Make it easier to navigate the website. Some customers may leave if they think its too difficult to navigate the webpage and find what they are looking for.