Over the years, SEO has a become a fundamental part of digital marketing. Because most of the browsing nowadays starts in a search engine query, being on top of search results pages has become critical to marketers and website owners. In fact, it is estimated that over 50% of all traffic generated in a search results page is driven from the top three positions.

With that in mind, SEO experts have been working hard to find the best tactics to improve organic search positions and guarantee a place within the top three page rank.

However, because each website and industry is an entirely different reality, these actions need to be based of very detailed metrics that are used to identify specific issues, opportunities and courses of action.

On this guide we will be covering some of the most relevant metrics that are used in SEO.

Before we get to that we need to understand some of the fundamentals of SEO.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising a website to perform better in the search results page and drive more organic traffic.

SEO aggregates a comprehensive list of tactics that are meant to improve a website’s performance across different levels, with the goal of improving the visibility of the site for a certain keyword, query or topic.

These tactics are split into on-page and off-page optimisations:

On-page tactics

Includes all the optimisations that are implemented directly into the site’s content or the html. This could go from optimising the content across different elements for a specific keyword to improving the site URL structure and internal linking. These are usually more controllable and are always the first to be implemented before considering any off-page tactics.

Off-page tactics

These are all optimisations taken place outside of the website to increase the reach and reputation across other domains. One of the best known off-page tactics if link building which consists in increasing the volume of links landing on a website. As a website gets more reputable pages linking to its pages, the better it will perform in the organic search.

SEO metrics

The following are some of the most relevant metrics used in SEO to measure websites performances, identify opportunities and outline optimisation tactics.


When a page link is loaded in the search results page after a user looks for a specific term, it counts as one impression. This is independent of whether users actually click the link or the position of the link in the results page. All results in the page count as an impression, even the links that are not appearing on screen but are loaded on that results page.

Search Rankings

The ranking position of a page link in the search results page.

The first organic page link appearing in the results page is the first position, the second link is the second position, and so on. Each results page has 10 organic page links, with ranking following through across the pages. This means that the third link appearing on the second results page would be the 13th organic position.

Paid links (or ads) are not considered for the organic rankings, meaning that the top organic results won’t always be the first links to appear in a search results page. The number of ad links at the beginning of the page will determine whether organic links will appear in the first page print, or if they will be hiding below the fold and can only be viewed users scroll down. For this reason, it is even more important that search results are as high as possible in the organic results list when queries are usually getting a lot of ad links.

Organic traffic

The number of users landing on a page originated from organic search results. Although there are many different ways for users to land on a page, these are visits exclusively originated from users that click a link in the organic results list.

Organic traffic is extremely important as it is usually the ultimate goal for any SEO strategy: to get more people to visit the site from search results. Although rankings are relevant to access the performance of a site in regard to a specific term or keyword, organic traffic is the most accurate metric to know precisely if the SEO efforts are succeeding.


Used to describe the action of a user completing a site goal. This could be purchasing a product, fill out a contact form to request a quote, subscribe to a service, etc. These are usually referred to as macro conversions as they are business target goals. Any smaller conversion leading to a macro conversion is called a micro conversion. This could be subscribing to a newsletter, download a stocklist or creating and account.

Because conversions are such a fundamental part of the business, websites need to be tailored around them and not the other way around. Ideally, conversions are carefully identified before the site’s creation, and then the website is designed to improve the chances of these conversions to happen.

Conversion rate

The amount of conversions generated from all organic traffic. This is measured by the number of conversions, divided by the total volume of organic traffic.

Because not all visitors will generate conversions, it is important to understand the amount of visits that result in a conversion, but more importantly the number of visits that don’t result in a conversion. This helps identifying issues and opportunities to guarantee the best chances of users converting when they visit the site.


Organic leads are users that come across a site or a page after typing in a query for a product or service in search browsers. Because these users end up learning about that site’s offer, they become a potential future customer or a prospect for that business.

Leads can also be generated from users visiting a site and filling out contact forms. This is common in B2B businesses that don’t offer ecommerce but instead rely on lead generation tactics such as “request a quote”.


If you are considering delving into the world of SEO, then be sure to consider the metrics you will need to measure the success of your campaign.


Polaris is an award-winning B2B SEO agency in London specialising B2B, PPC, e-commerce and the healthcare industry.

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