Are You Properly Contextualizing Your SEO Metrics?

No metric exists in a vacuum. It’s one of the first things to understand about SEO. It’s not enough to contextualize, though. You need the right context.

It’s one of the most frequent mistakes we see from search engine optimization (SEO) novices. Rather than taking the how and why into consideration, they simply view individual metrics in isolation from one another. They don’t analyze or contextualize.

They simply passively observe. 

To be blunt, taking such an approach to optimizing your website ultimately amounts to a waste of time and effort. Without considering context and connections, you don’t see the bigger picture. And if you don’t see the bigger picture, you have no idea what works in your approach (and what doesn’t). 

As an example, let’s say a site owner notices that his traffic numbers are up. At first glance, that seems pretty exciting, right? More people are visiting his website, which means his SEO efforts must be paying off.

Or are they?  If he just looks at traffic, the owner has no real way of knowing the actual reason for the surge. Maybe it’s not something he did at all, but one of his competitors messed up and dropped on the search engine results page (SERP). 

Or maybe it has nothing to do with SEO at all, and he was simply lucky enough to have one of his blog posts go viral. Beyond the reason for the increase in traffic, our theoretical owner should also be considering the result. Namely, what are visitors doing

  • Are they simply reading one page and leaving?
  • Are they bouncing immediately, without even interacting with any content?
  • Is there a particular page or segment on the website that new visitors reach before leaving? 
  • Does their visit to the site ultimately conclude with the desired outcome? (i.e., purchasing a particular product, signing up for a mailing list, etc.) 
  • Is the audience interacting with the brand outside the site, such as through social media? 

As you can see from the above, an individual metric like traffic numbers presents an extremely narrow vision of what’s actually going on. Unless you consider the context of each metric you work with, you do not see the whole picture. With that in mind, for each metric you measure, you need to answer the following questions: 

  • How does this relate to my core SEO objective? 
  • What external factors might be influencing this metric, and why?
  • What other metrics should I use that are connected to this one? 
  • What story does this metric tell as part of a whole?

Basically, you need to consider what you want to achieve with SEO and figure out what key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to measure your progress towards that goal. From there, it’s a simple matter of understanding that, where search engine optimization is concerned, everything is connected. No metric is entirely irrelevant, and every piece of data could provide an insight you might otherwise have missed.

Author: Terry Cane

Terry Cane is a technical writer for, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner.