In this blog post, we'll explore the Key Metrics and Performance Indicators within SEO, focusing on the pivotal role of improving organic traffic.

For any beginner SEOs, please also read our post on Getting To Grips With SEO Fundamentals

Organic traffic, derived from unpaid search results, serves as the cornerstone for effective SEO strategies - but organic traffic on its own isn’t everything. 

In this piece, I’ll highlight the significance of metrics such as Average Engagement Time (AET) in Google Analytics, Sessions, Users and Keyword Visibility showcasing their role in measuring SEO success and audience reach. I’ll also touch on strategic internal linking, the impact of quality backlinks, and keyword research strategies, including the use of tools such as SEMrush.

Getting the Fundamentals Right.

Before we look at page (or site) KPIs, we should first establish any ‘easy’ fixes. 

It’s easy to overlook the basic SEO practices such as: 

  • 404 pages
  • Page formatting (e.g. using H1s correctly) 
  • MetaData (page title and description) 
  • Image compression (to improve page load times)

These are the best focus areas if you want to see immediate results and growth. To get started you’ll want to find out if your site has fallen prey to any of these errors by using a crawl software such as Screaming Frog, Ahrefs ‘Site Audit’ (or the Semrush version), or check your Google Search Console (GSC > Indexing > Pages to find a list of issues). 

With a list of basic optimisations at the ready, you must measure the impact of these changes. So… how do you know if your changes work? And what metrics should you be using to monitor your SEO performance long term? 

Take a look at our simple and effective methods and KPIs for tracking organic SEO performance below. 


Organic Traffic

Organic Traffic is the Bread and Butter of SEO. It refers to the visitors who come to your website through unpaid, natural search engine results. 

These users find your website by using search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and clicking on the organic (non-paid) search results. Unlike paid search - which comes from online advertisements -  organic traffic is free and is driven by the relevance and quality of the website's content about the user's search query. This means that organic traffic can be a cost-effective way of promoting your site and a brilliant way to monitor your site's overall health and performance. 

Several factors influence a page's (or site’s) Organic Traffic, almost all of which we cover in this blog will affect Organic Traffic Results. However, there are two key ways to monitor your Organic Search Progression in GA4 - Session and Users.


Average Engagement Time

In UA (Universal Analytics), SEOs would check the Average Time on Page, to see whether users were finding the page that is engaging. Since Google Analytics was updated to GA4, this feature has been replaced by the metric ‘Average Engagement Time’. 

Average Engagement Time can be found in Google Analytics 4: Reports > Life Cycle > Engagement > Pages and Screens. 

A high Average Engagement Time suggests that the page has high-quality content that is relevant for its ranking keywords and is engaging for its audience. With this being said, it is important to remember that some webpages, such as those with a call to action or contact form, will naturally have a shorter Average Engagement Time, compared to in-depth articles or blog posts. Therefore, monitoring and tracking progress should always be like-for-like (month-on-month, week-on-week). Equally, we want users to stay on the page because they’re finding it helpful, not because they’re looking for something that they cannot find. 

According to Orbit Media, the average engagement rate in GA4 is 55%, but this does vary depending on the traffic source and content type. Supporting the previous statements, Databox released data to suggest that an average rate of 56.23% engagement is positive -  and that eCommerce and Marketplace sites have an average engagement rate that is 10.12% higher than Food Sites. Furthermore, shared data from a sampling of their own client base which concluded that a positive engagement time is, on average, 63% for B2B websites and 71% for B2C websites. 

Databox data on engagement rate, from their page 'Google Analytics 4 Industry Benchmarks for 2023 and Beyond'


If you are concerned that your pages have a low AET, we recommend reviewing your content, making sure it is relevant and easy to read/well formatted. Thereafter, look at implementing accurate Meta Descriptions, and SEO titles and checking whether the pages are from a redirect that is not relevant to the original source.

To monitor whether the SEO fixes you have implemented have been positive, it is important to track organic traffic to the pages in question - monitoring their week-on-week AND month-on-month progress. 


Sessions & Users

Sessions and Users SEO performance metrics in GA4 can be vital when used in conjunction with one another for SEO growth. If you’re looking to use SEO to increase organic traffic, measuring these metrics will be pivotal for success. 1 User can have many Sessions - track both - one (Users) is a good metric to show your reach to individuals, while the other (Sessions) can be a good metric to show how your content is being engaged with, across multiple platforms and with users returning to the site.  

Filtering to Organic Only Sessions allows precise tracking. Setting monthly and yearly goals for Organic Sessions serves as a key SEO performance indicator, showcasing improved visibility and effective content optimization. Sessions, encapsulate User Interactions within a timeframe, aiding reflection on overall traffic volume and content popularity across platforms. 

Delving into User metrics will give you a closer focus on individual visitors. A User, unique within a specific period, provides insights into audience size and composition. Monitoring Users alongside Sessions elevates website visibility, attracts relevant organic traffic, and ensures sustainable SEO success. Uncover the nuanced impact of SEO on user experiences through a strategic blend of Sessions and Users analysis.

To access Session and User metrics in GA4, navigate to Reports > Life Cycle > Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition.



Internal Linking

Internal linking acts as a strategic guide, leading users and search engines through the intricate web that is your content. Similar to signposts on a journey, it ensures seamless navigation and enriches the overall user experience. By interconnecting relevant pages within your website, internal linking facilitates a logical flow, enhancing user engagement and encouraging exploration. 

For example, we have a Guide to Internal Linking if you want to learn more about internal linking. That anchor text acts as another way to grow organic, user-friendly traffic to that page. This not only aids users in finding related content effortlessly but also signals to search engines the structural coherence of your site.

Internal linking is a great way to increase user engagement and attention - as it can affirm that the topic is well researched as well as adding the convenience of having additional resources at the user’s fingertips. When building your internal linking, we recommend planning out content - mapping content that you have is a surefire way to see any gaps in your content strategy


Quality backlinks are like gold in the digital realm, indicating that your content is valuable and trustworthy. These links not only drive direct traffic but also signal to search engines that your site deserves a higher ranking. Monitoring backlinks becomes a crucial performance indicator; it showcases your website's reach and influence. The quantity and quality of backlinks reflect your site's popularity and industry relevance. By analysing these links, businesses can gauge their online presence's effectiveness, identifying areas for improvement.

So, how do you increase your backlinks, and how can you monitor the impact this has on your SEO success? Well, firstly, it is important to remember that - as with anything - quality matters over quantity. A hundred backlinks from unsafe, low-traffic or unrelated websites will equate to significantly fewer page views (and thus conversions) than a handful of backlinks from high-quality, well-respected websites (gov sites, expert blogs etc). It is equally as important to note that the quality of your content will impact the backlinks you acquire - high-quality sites aren’t going to link to a low-quality page that isn’t SEO-friendly. 

Now you have quality content, on a secure site that has been fully SEO optimised? 

Great news, you will gain some backlinks naturally - other pages, blogs and client companies will link out to you. Some may mention your company but not link - so a manual search of backlink opportunities can work brilliantly here, simply reach out to the companies that mention you and see if they will kindly link to your page/site.



Keyword Ranking

I’m sure that by now, you have heard about the importance of Keyword Rankings - they are, after all, often considered the heart of SEO. Learning how to target the most relevant, high-quality keywords is invaluable to your website. Before you begin your journey into optimising your content for keywords, you must first look at which keywords to target. Making sure each of your pages targets a different set of keywords is imperative for avoiding cannibalisation - as is targeting keywords within your reach (i.e., not trying to against a highly authoritative site if you’re a start-up, etc).

If your page already exists, you can also check whether you have organically begun to gain rankings (you can find this by putting your page URL into the Organic Research area of Semrush) and use this as a foundation, or, do some market research by checking which keywords your competitors are ranking for. 

We always recommend aiming for keywords that truly align with your brand and content - niche works well, as over time this will build your site’s authenticity and trust within Google. You want to avoid targeting keywords that are over-saturated and dominated by global, highly authoritative sites (such a government sites etc).

Position Tracking with Semrush not only allows you to track your position changes but also any changes to your competitor's rankings (once you set up the competitors you want to track). This knowledge refines your SEO strategy, allowing you to focus on high-performing keywords that bring real business results.

A clear Keyword Optimisation Strategy that is implemented into the technical and on-page aspects of SEO will result in Keyword Positions steadily improving, which we all know will, in turn, result in an increase in Organic Traffic and ultimately, improve page conversions (which can be tracked in GA). 

Keyword Visibility

Now we know the importance of keyword selection, implementation and position tracking, it’s worth looking at the value Keyword Visibility plays in understanding your SEO success. 

Keyword Visibility is essentially a metric that shows the ranking performance of your site based on all of the keywords being tracked. “100% Visibility” for example would mean the site is ranking in 1st position for all of its tracked keywords.

Visibility tracking can be found in the same space as position tracking. Monitoring your keyword visibility is crucial to understanding how successful your SEO strategies are, as Higher visibility translates to increased click-through rates. As already mentioned, you must consider your audience and aim to target appropriate keywords for your content because it's not just about being seen; it's about being seen by the right audience.

This is where Keyword Visibility tracking, as a metric, really comes into its own.  As your keywords climb search engine rankings, your website becomes more accessible to potential visitors, enhancing organic traffic. Higher visibility translates to increased click-through rates, establishing authority in your niche, and elevating your online presence. Visibility growth signifies alignment with user intent, ensuring your content resonates with search queries. 

In the competitive online arena, keyword visibility growth is the key to unlocking doors to endless opportunities and sustainable digital success. Ultimately, growth within your keyword visibility signifies a growing strength within your brand's digital footprint.


Key Takeaways

  • Prioritise Basic SEO Fixes: Focus on correcting common SEO issues such as 404 errors, incorrect use of H1s, metadata improvements, and image compression for immediate improvements.
  • Monitor Organic Traffic: Track visitors from unpaid search results as a primary indicator of SEO success, using metrics like Sessions and Users in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to measure engagement and reach.
  • Engage with Content Quality: Increase Average Engagement Time (AET) by ensuring content is relevant, well-formatted, and aligned with target keywords.
  • Strategic Internal Linking: Use internal linking to guide users through your site, improving engagement and the overall user experience.
  • Build Quality Backlinks: Focus on acquiring backlinks from reputable sources to enhance site credibility and authority.
  • Keyword Optimisation: Select and target high-quality, relevant keywords to improve rankings and avoid keyword cannibalisation. Use tools like SEMrush for position tracking and optimisation.
  • Enhance Keyword Visibility: Monitor and increase the visibility of your keywords to boost click-through rates and align content with user search intent.

If you’d like to speak to a member of our SEO team about how to measure your SEO success, we’d love to hear from you





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Dani is one of the SEO executives within Reflect Digital, she loves to problem solve any changes on page sessions and site health, as well as discovering more about Keyword Demographics and creative strategies around huma online behaviour. She hopes to bring uplifting energy to the team and develop a more rounded knowledge of the part SEO plays in the growth of users across a variety of industries.

More about Danielle

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