We’ve all done it — taken on a client with a young site or a really bad site with basically no traffic, no authority, and no content that was worthwhile.
Something about that client just connected with you, though, and you knew you could help them — but it’s going to be an uphill battle.
The hardest part is finding ways to prove it’s working using real data you can measure and track. You know it’s going to take publishing a lot of content, then waiting for a certain amount of time for Google and other sites to start crawling and indexing the site.
It could easily be 12 to 18 months before your client starts to see much lift in organic traffic — and the client isn’t going to wait patiently for the results. When you’re stuck in this type of situation, the following KPIs are going to be a GAME CHANGER.
Once I discovered these small metrics that start moving long before traffic increases and leads are generated, it helped me have more confident sales conversations with clients. I was able to keep them happier in the short-term while we worked together to establish and grow their online presence.
It’s still an uphill battle, but with these KPIs, your client can get emotionally invested in the journey and enjoy the small victories along the way.
6 Content Marketing KPIs for Young Sites
KPI #1. Domain Score/Authority/Rating
Domain Scoring is a method various SEO tools use to predict how well a site will perform in search engines.
Each tool has its own algorithms for calculating it, and they all call it something different, but it typically serves the same purpose in each tool.
Why is Domain Score Important?
As you start doing the right things to grow a site, the domain score will grow over time. When you’re publishing content frequently, it’ll often begin to grow within the first three months — even if it just increases by a few points.
With domain scoring, you’ll quickly show your client some proof that their investment is paying off, and it’s starting to work.
How Do You Track Domain Score?
You can find several tools around the web to track a website’s domain score. Because they each use a different algorithm to calculate the score, you need to pick the one you like best and stick with it.
Why? Because bouncing around from tool to tool won’t give you an accurate apples to apples comparison. You’ll end up with skewed results that don’t paint the entire picture.
For an example of what I mean, click the links below. Each link shows you what HubSpot’s domain score is in each tool.
These are my favorite tools I recommend you test out when you’re trying to decide which one to use for the long-term.
When testing tools, pick a few you want to compare, like the ones I showed you above. Use the ones you choose for a few months.
Compare the results from the same tool vs. comparing them with each other, and keep using the one you like best.
KPI #2. Number of Ranking Keywords
The number of ranking keywords refers to the total number of keywords a website is currently ranking for in search results. This number will start to grow within the first 3 to 6 months if you publish content regularly.
Why is the Number of Ranking Keywords Important?
The more keywords your site ranks for, the more visibility your website has. The higher this number grows, the more confident you can be in knowing that traffic growth isn’t far behind.
When you’re creating blog articles, use a different keyword for each article instead of recycling the same keywords into multiple articles.
Doing so allows you to rank for more keywords much faster, and you aren’t competing with yourself in the search results for that specific keyword.
How Do You Track the Number of Ranking Keywords?
As with domain scoring, and pretty much every SEO metric, there are several tools you can play with and choose from.
These are the two I recommend you give a try to start:
KPI #3. Number of Backlinks
According to Neil Patel, “Backlinks are links that travel from another website to your website. They can come from social media sites and directories, but they most often come from blog posts and the content of other websites.
Ideally, those links come from other relevant websites within your niche and industry. Marketers like yourself are scrambling to build these beauties because they massively impact your rankings on Google.”
Why are Backlinks Important?
Think of backlinks like word of mouth advertising. When someone with a website that has a good reputation with Google links to your site, Google takes this as a cue that your website is one of value — why else would this other reputable website link to you?
Google treats each backlink as the equivalent of someone saying something good about you and recommending you to a friend. Google ranks your site higher because of this so that more people can find your website.
Be careful what sites you link to, though.
Linking to sketchy sites or sites with a bad reputation with Google can have the opposite effect. Your site will suddenly lose reputation points with Google, and you’ll start to disappear from search results.
How Do You Track the Number of Backlinks?
Tracking backlinks is easy when using the same tools I recommended for keyword ranking.
Here’s how to find the number of backlinks using each of the tools I recommended for tracking the number of keywords:
KPI #4. Number of Linking Domains
The total number of websites linking to you is the number of linking domains a website has. This is similar to the number of backlinks, but you’re looking at this number on a competitor’s website — not your clients.
Why is the Number of Linking Domains Important?
When you have a young site with no authority, you can research what sites link to your competitors so you can attempt to steal some of their traffic to get your site off the ground faster.
How Do You Track the Number of Linking Domains?
Use tools like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs to analyze competitor websites and see all the domains linked to their sites. Make sure the competitor is in your target niche and has the same audience.
You’ll also want to make sure that the sites link with “dofollow” links by using the “dofollow” search filters and pick sites with a substantial amount of organic search traffic.
Once you’ve found a site that looks promising, check out their backlinks to see what domains link to them.
Which domains aren’t linking to your site? Reach out to the owners of those sites and introduce your site to them for a good opportunity for backlinks.
Here’s how you get to the metrics within each of the recommended tools:
KPI #5. Search Impressions
As defined by Google Search Console, “Search Impressions is how many times a user saw a link to your site in search results. This is calculated differently for images and other search result types, depending on whether or not the result was scrolled into view.”
Why are Search Impressions Important?
Search impressions help you determine if the content you’re publishing is what your audience is looking for.
This metric will go up before site traffic does because it’s tracking how many times your site shows up in a search result vs. how many times someone clicked a link and landed on your site.
When your site is showing up in a lot of searches but not getting many clicks, this is a good indication you need to rethink your content strategy or reoptimize the content to improve the clickthrough rate.
How Do You Track Search Impressions?
Using Google Search Console — which is free to use — you can click on the Performance tab to find your website’s clickthrough rate.
KPI #6. Search Position
Your website’s search position is the average position your site appears when displayed in search results. This position is based on the highest position whenever it appears in searches.
You can view the search position of your entire website, or for individual posts and pages. Your position might be different than the average due to variables such as search history or location.
Why is Search Position Important?
As your client’s site gains traction online, the average search position will begin to increase. This can typically start to rise six months in, which is about when search engines start indexing your site and serving it up in search results.
How Do You Track Search Position?
The best way to track your website's search position is by using Google Search Console (free to use).
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