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How to Benchmark SEO Traffic in 9 Steps Before Adding Content

by | Jan 11, 2022

If businesses want to survive in the ever-changing market, they shouldn’t overlook the importance of competitive analysis, which includes benchmarking SEO traffic as a first step.

Tracking what competitors do is important for several reasons, including avoiding unwelcome surprises, improving business processes, minimizing potential loss of revenue, and discovering untapped markets that can lead to revenue growth.

Since we live in a digital era where almost everything runs online, websites and blogs are some of the main tools companies use to acquire new customers and grow their brand’s voice. In that sense, the traffic they get to their website is extremely important.

Doing everything just once isn’t enough. Businesses have to constantly track their metrics and their competitor’s websites to stay on top.

That said, we decided to talk about SEO benchmarking, explain what it is, and why it is relevant for your business.

What Is SEO Benchmarking and Why Is It Important?

When we say “benchmarking” we usually think about the process in which one business compares its processes, products, and services against another business in the same industry that are usually considered as leaders in the field.

SEO benchmarking is no different. Its main goal is to tell website owners where their website stands compared to their competitors and shed light on which areas they should improve to gain market advantage.

As Filip Silobod from Honest Marketing notes, there are different ways we can conduct an SEO benchmark: “[…] by keyword rankings, content benchmark, site structure/page benchmark, site speed benchmark, backlinks benchmark. Basically, you can benchmark everything that makes up SEO.”

Total SEO traffic is one of the most important benchmarks your business should track. It’s essentially the number of visits you get as a result of organic and paid searches. Here, we’re going to show you how you can benchmark your traffic more effectively.

How to Benchmark SEO Traffic in 9 Steps

We list 9 steps to take in the SEO traffic benchmarking process.

Step 1: Check the number of pages Google has indexed

Checking how many pages Google has indexed from your website is probably one of the most important steps you should take while performing SEO traffic benchmarking.

Simply, pages that aren’t indexed by Google won’t and cannot rank, hence, you cannot expect your website traffic to be at optimal levels if you have too many pages that haven’t been indexed.

There are several reasons why your web pages don’t get indexed, including duplicate content, slow page loading time, or a change in the URL structure.

Checking the number of indexed web pages is a straightforward process. As the Aanchal Padmavat, Marketing Associate & SEO Specialist at WriteCream notes tells us, “Simply type “site:yourwebsitename.com” into the Search box, and Google will return a list from every page on your web domain that it has indexed.”

seo benchmarking with google

The results will show how many pages are indexed and how many are duplicates.

Step 2: Check the performance of your keywords and (re)define them

Another critical SEO benchmarking metric you should track is the number of keywords your website ranks for. To make it more clear, keywords are important because they tell the search engine what the content on your webpage is about. If you use keywords right, higher are the chances more people will come to your website.

Generally speaking, proper keyword research can help both for competitive analysis and the whole SEO optimization of the website.

The first thing you should do is to look at the keywords you use. Using ones that are branded won’t help you gain traffic, as they’re only specific to you and aren’t used by others.

As Dominic Harper, founder and SEO Manager of Debt Bombshell highlights “Informative keywords which your customers really use are the ones you are supposed to input. In conducting a competitive analysis, it’s pivotal to use the right keywords as it boosts organic traffic to your website.”

However, rethinking the keywords you use isn’t enough to gain traffic. A good idea would be to compare these keywords against your competitors. Think about “who among your competitors are using the same keywords. How are their rankings? If you are still beyond the rankings or at the next page of Google, then you’re probably gonna work harder to gain traffic. Add something that will make your keyword more specific such as local keywords as this will serve as your leverage against your customers.”

Step 3: Check your website’s bounce rate

seo traffic benchmarking

Bounce rate is yet another important metric you should check while doing SEO traffic benchmarking. Bounce rate represents the percentage of people who come to your website and immediately leave. A high bounce rate indicates that traffic exists, but most people who come to the website find the content on it irrelevant or confusing.

An important thing to mention is that lowering the bounce rate itself won’t improve your traffic. However, it will help you make the most out of it.

To improve your website’s bounce rate, make sure to pay attention to where your users are coming from, what devices they use, and whether your content aligns with their needs. Furthermore, check the website UX and whether it is mobile responsive.

As Jessica Tappana from Simplified SEO Consulting indicates that “If plenty of people are clicking on the site but bouncing off after 10 seconds, we need to either consider making changes to the site itself, targeting different keywords or changing the meta descriptions we have specified to better reflect the content of the page. Often, it has more to do with making on-page changes.”

Step 4: Focus on the content

When it comes to SEO traffic, benchmarking content plays a huge role. If we know that websites with blog pages generate 434% more indexed pages compared to those without them and that websites that publish more than 16 posts per month receive nearly 3.5 times more traffic compared to those that don’t, we understand why content is important in generating traffic.

David Sweet, a VP of Marketing at Eterneva, agrees and adds that “While most focus on keywords to drive traffic and optimize SEO, it often causes business owners to ignore the other key component, which is identifying content opportunities. Keywords may connect your website with an SEO metric, however, having content that enhances your business’s brand, products, and services, will ultimately create the SEO results you desire.”

Sweet further explains: “To best find these opportunities, take time to research the competition whose SEO ranks above yours. Look at their menus, study the styling of their product descriptions, identify their branding, and above all, approach their page as a prospective customer. By investigating your competitors, you can find the key components lacking in your website, allowing you to better your content and make the changes to improve your SEO.”

Step 5: Check your backlinks

Checking the quality of backlinks is another important metric we should track while performing SEO traffic benchmarking. Backlinks allow SERPs to determine if the website is relevant or not for the specific topic it ranks for.

That said, when other authority websites link back to your website, your website becomes more relevant in the SERP’s eyes which allows you to rank higher and gain more traffic.

Amit Raj, Founder of The Links Guy confirms this state and adds “If the content is king, think of backlinks as the queen! Link building these days is more akin to great marketing, and organizations that understand this win in the long term. Backlinks are essential for SEO because they let Google know that another resource finds your content valuable enough to link to it within their content. Search engines infer that the website possesses valuable content worth ranking well on the SERPs as a website earns additional backlinks.”

Step 6: Check the site’s Core Web Vitals

seo core web vitals

Checking technical differences is yet another important thing to track while doing SEO traffic benchmarking. That said, you should always check a few things, including the website’s speed, performance, UX, SSL/HTTPS, mobile version, and so on. 

A great way to do so is plug your URL into PageSpeed Insights to get the Core Web Vitals and action items, if any.

Olivia Tan, an SEO expert and Co-Founder of CocoFax, confirms this. She said that “One out of the numerous steps involved in benchmarking SEO traffic is checking out technical differences which seems to be the most avoided steps by most people. In order to increase the level of traffic in benchmarking SEO, the level of site speed must be checked regularly because the speed eventually attracts more people to the site for the purpose of gaining customer services and their trust for future works. “

Let’s see how each of them impacts the website’s traffic.

Website’s speed

Website speed tells us how fast a browser can load fully functioning web pages from a given website. Websites that perform bad drive users away, while those who load faster have more traffic and a better conversion rate.

SSL/HTTPS

SSL is here to bind domain name, company name and location to protect your website (and your data) from malicious attacks. This is something that is highly favorable in Google’s eyes and what will prevent Google from sending messages about reconsidering visits to your website.

User Experience (UX)

User experience can be defined as the overall impression a person has when using a website. By working on, and improving the overall user experience on your website such as improving navigation, making content stand out, and overall customer satisfaction will make users stay on your website longer, engage more, and make repeat visits, as well as improve search results.

Step 7: Check your click-through rates

Click-through rate, or CTR, is a metric that shows us how many people clicked on our website’s content versus the number of people who saw it. Organic click-through rate is especially important for SEO as it shows how many people saw your content via the browser search versus the number of people who clicked on it. CTR and good rankings are independent, and, consequently, traffic is influenced by these.

Richard Lubicky from RealPeopleSearch confirms that CTR is important when doing SEO traffic benchmarking since “Google analyzes the CTR of the SERP results and mixes the results based on which pages get the best CTR. Besides what Google thinks, you should see the value of increasing your SERP click-through rate because it is the easiest way to capture more qualified traffic without increasing your keyword visibility.”

That said, before you start changing anything, check your organic CTR rate, and if you find it lacking, make sure to use all techniques available to make it better.

Step 8: Analyze the number of unique sessions and scroll depth

Performing SEO traffic benchmarking cannot go without analyzing the number of unique sessions and scroll depth since this data helps in pinpointing the quality of incoming leads and the performance of landing pages.

“Never forget the purpose of SEO marketing, which is to not drive in high numbers but to increase the number of converted leads. This applies to yourself and your clients,” advises Jenna Granger, the Founder of Drop By My House.

Step 9: Check how traffic Behaves over time

seo traffic decreasing over time

To improve something, you firstly need to know what is the current situation to make a well-informed decision. We spoke to our SEO and Digital Marketing Manager, Bart Platteeuw, who told us that the first thing he looks at while benchmarking SEO traffic is the Google Search Console traffic trends over different periods.

“Since Google Search Console only goes back 16 months, it could also be a good idea to export the data so you still have access to the older months as time goes on and they disappear from the tool.

If there is no Google Search Console setup, then looking at organic traffic trends in Google Analytics helps (and you should look at both in either case). Google Analytics gives a good enough picture but unfortunately does lack the same SEO context Google Search Console provides.”

However, he warns that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on tools such as Ahrefs while doing SEO traffic benchmarking since they’re still third-party tools. Ahrefs, however, is very important in competitive analysis.

Furthermore, Bart suggests we shouldn’t overlook the seasonality and adds that “a sudden traffic drop in December does not necessarily mean your rankings have dropped, it could just be that fewer people are searching for your products or services over the holidays. Google Trends is a handy tool that can sometimes provide some insights here.”

Conclusion

Performing SEO traffic benchmarking is not an easy task.

To do it properly, SEO managers need to have an eye for the detail, be meticulous planners, and be patient to explore different ways and methods they can improve website’s traffic and make their client go ahead of the competition.

By providing you with this guide, we hope we made your job much easier and paved the way for future success.

In case all of the above seems like a tedious and time-consuming process, we can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on your high-level marketing initiatives. Talk to us about planning a strategy on how to increase organic traffic.