Let’s Talk KPI: Which Three Really Drive Your Business?

Pat Marcello

Jun 04, 20155 min read
Let’s Talk KPI: Which Three Really Drive Your Business

One thing an SEO must do is monitor KPIs. What is that?

KPIs are your “Key Performance Indicators.” If you’re new to SEO, you probably wonder what those are, or you may think that the only KPI that’s important is involved with traffic. Or you saw KPI when you did some keyword research at a particular site, and wondered what it meant then or if it was important. Right?

In my mind, each situation is different. A keyword may have a KPI, but that doesn’t mean that it will for your page.

Or another site’s key performance indicator could be video performance or how many people are sharing their products of Pinterest. Actually, I’d call those indicators, sure. But I just wouldn’t put the label “key” on them.

KPIs can be important, but there are just three that make the biggest difference in whether you’ll be a winner or a loser, at least to me. (Business is just a big game, after all, isn’t it? Totally why I play.) So, let’s talk about each of Pat’s Major KPIs in detail. Cool? See if you agree.

KPI #1: Traffic

Let’s get the elephant OUT of the room, OK? Traffic really is a great place to start, because let’s face it… Without traffic, you have nada. If nobody comes to your page, there’s nobody to buy something or sign up for anything or to just read your stuff. Right?

It amazes me that there are still so many people who think that you can put up a Web page, a YouTube page or a Facebook page and that just because it’s there, scads of folks will find it and use it.

It'll never happen.

Listen to me now and hear really well: There are trillions of pages on the Internet, and you have to DRIVE traffic to them, not wait for your allotted traffic genie to magically arrive and dump it on you.

So, you have to choose (as an old boss of mine used to say) whether you have more time or more money. If you have more money, then getting traffic is simple — pay for it.

If you have more time than money, you have to figure out a way to get traffic without paying a lot for it. What’s the answer? Say it all together now, “SEO!” Right. It may take a while to build authority by getting beaucoup backlinks and the right number of pages in your site (which is a LOT), and you need to have some social interaction, too. I mean, it’s the whole ball of wax, right? But the cool thing is that the things you do add up. You build our online presence this way and develop authority.

That probably scares you because you’re working 12-15 hours a day, and something’s just not happ’nin’, and now I’m telling you that you need to actually DO more things that bring traffic.

Put all that other stuff aside! Traffic should be your main obsession.

How do you do it all?

Try setting a schedule, a routine if you will. (I do really well with systems and routines. They work.) Maybe you do one certain task every day. It will work, but like the slow boat to Tierra del Fuego. You’ll probably run screaming from your computer before you make much, if any, money. But if you’re persistent, and really try hard, you can get your business going. It will take a LONG time, but hey… You have that. So…

Think smart. What will bring the most traffic, the quickest? Social media, maybe? Get involved in groups in your niche. Write an article once a week for your blog and put it out there. And above all, work on SEO. Make sure every page in your site is SEO-friendly. (At the very least, the most important pages.) The quicker you can get into the Google SERPs (search engine results pages), the better, and the less work you’ll do. Then you’ll be ready to move on to my second KPI...

KPI#2: Bounce Rate

The second most important KPI to me goes back to your website and how you’re presenting it to visitors.

Take a long, hard stare at your bounce rate in Google Analytics.

Bounce rate is the number of minutes and seconds a visitor spends on your page after clicking a search result link before clicking away. Use Google Analytics to find the exact page(s) that aren’t working to keep people engaged and see how better to engage them.

You want every page in your site to be interesting enough to hold someone’s attention for as long as possible. (At least 20 seconds or more. Yes, it’s right. That’s a long time! Time is in complete silence sometime, and you’ll be surprised at how long 20 seconds takes.)

If your bounce rate is high? I like to get a site working toward 50% or less for new sites, but you’d have to evaluate how high the bounce rate is now. Then, set one goal at a time. It you’re already at 50%, then good for you! You’re doing something right. But still work on improving things. Shoot for 45%, Right?

The page to keep your most evil eye on is, of course, your sales page. It’s totally where you make your money. But you also need to care about your home page.


Well, basically, and they’ll not admit it, but Google hates sales pages, unless you prepare them right.

Write a sales page that tells a story. Share something, that has great images to look at and maybe an interesting video on the page, like one of those “hand drawn” videos. People like to watch them to the end to see how the drawings turn out.

Or start with something funny or a video with you telling your story and adding written copy to the page. Sooo many things you can try, and the same solution won’t work for every market. You have to test everything you do, even if you’re only A/B split testing. Which leads to…

KPI #3: Conversion

OK, so after we get traffic, and we get people staying on our sales page. What’s the most important thing? ARE YOU MAKING MONEY? Or how many opt-ins came through? What is the purpose of your page? Are you getting at least 3% of the people who visit your page to say yes?

You know what they say, “ABT: Always Be Testing.”

Starbucks is for Testers! Remember that.

Test, test, test, until you reach your goal. And then, after you reach your goal, keep testing until you exceed it. When you can do that, you’re on the beach sippin’ Pina coladas.

On the flip side, if you keep trying and don’t have any results, period. It’s time to move on. Sometimes, you’re trying to sell raccoon leashes when you should be selling them to dogs! Or, maybe you’re trying to sell us Floridians on snow blowers. If so, you have a real problem. Stop now and get more training. You totally need it.

When You’re Serious

When you’re really serious about business, there are lots of KPIs you can look at and fret over. In my mind, these three are the most important to any business. Without traffic, nobody comes to your page, and if they do come and bounce right away, you surely aren’t selling much. So… Can you name more important key performance indicators?

Let’s hear them. Let us know in the comments below. What’s great about the Internet is that we can all teach each other — everywhere around the world. What’s cooler than that?

Author Photo
Pat MarcelloPat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for Semrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."
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