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5 Most Overrated SEO Metrics and the 5 Ones to Track Instead

Stop tracking SEO metrics that don’t matter; instead, analyze metrics that help with decision-making. Read our list of overrated vs. must-have SEO metrics.

6 mins read time
Haley Kuehl
Haley Kuehl

Feb 14, 2023

SEO metrics are an important part of your SEO strategy. Search engine optimization metrics help you analyze and monitor performance. However, not all SEO performance metrics are worth using. Choosing and tracking the right SEO metrics will improve performance without wasting time on irrelevant metrics.

What SEO metrics should you track for better decision-making?

Let's start with the overrated SEO performance metrics you should avoid and then we'll cover must-have SEO metrics to track.

5 Overrated SEO Metrics (and Why to Avoid Them)

1. Keyword Rankings (via Keyword Research Tools)

Yes, it is overrated. You don't have to track keyword rankings for different locations (e.g., U.S., Canada, U.K., etc.).


Keyword ranking isn't an indication of traffic. You can rank for 50 keywords and receive 10 visitors a month because your keywords aren't popular (or nobody is searching for them).

Secondly, SERP is relative — not absolute. No two people see exactly the same SERPs since Google (and other search engines) uses historical data to personalize SERPs. This is the reason you will see "average position" in Google Search Console and not just position.

Keyword research tools have made this SEO metric overrated. It is, in reality, not needed at all.

The best source for tracking keyword rankings is Google Search Console or the Webmaster tools in other search engines. They are more accurate than third-party tools. 

2. Exit Rate

Exit rate refers to the percentage of sessions ended on a page. It is available in Google Analytics, where you can see a report of percentage exit for each page.

An exit from a page isn't necessarily an indication of a poor page. A user might leave a page satisfied after finding the answer to the query. So a high percentage exit rate isn't a metric to be concerned about.

3. Engaged Sessions per User

This is a GA4 SEO metric that tracks the average session count per active user. Here is how it looks:

It is an overrated SEO metric because:

  1. There is no universal best average sessions per user benchmark.
  2. It is the average of your overall website, which is useless since it doesn't tell what pages are contributing poorly (unless you dig deep and move to other metrics like average engagement time).
  3. Low engagement sessions per user isn't an indication of a poor website or poor content. If your content solves visitor queries and the visitor leaves satisfied, you will have a low score but quite high UX and other metrics.

4. Traffic Value

The value of your website's organic traffic is estimated by keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush. It's an indication of the worth of the organic traffic your site is receiving (or the worth of your website):

Ahrefs' SEO Metrics: What They Mean and How to Use Them

It is an overrated SEO metric, without a doubt. If you own a website, you need to track financial metrics to measure its worth. And even if you are using this metric for spying on competitors, it is still useless because it has nothing to do with the website's finances. It is an estimation based on organic traffic — and not actual revenue or profit.

5. Word Count

SEO relies heavily on content, which makes word count a key SEO metric, but it's too hyped.

Expenses and Content Score control in Content Editor 2.0

Word count isn't related to organic traffic or any other SEO metric. Search engines rely on UX and how accurately you cover the topic. Pages with fewer words can easily outrank pages with more words. Tracking word count can waste resources.

5 SEO Metrics to Track

Here are the most important SEO performance metrics you should track:

1. Organic Traffic

One of the primary SEO metrics you should track is organic traffic. It shows you how effective your SEO efforts are and if you are moving in the right direction.

Organic traffic analysis reveals a lot of useful insights that are hard to find elsewhere, such as:

  • Overall organic traffic and where it is heading (increasing or decreasing)
  • Top pages and keywords that drive the most organic traffic
  • Pages with the lowest organic traffic that need attention

When used right and in combination with other SEO performance metrics, organic traffic helps you a lot in decision-making and analyzing SEO strategy.

2. Organic CTR

The click-through rate (CTR) for individual pages and the overall website is an indication of how persuading your titles and meta description is.

CTR is also important because Google promotes pages with high organic CTR and demotes the ones with low CTR since it indicates an irrelevancy between the search query and page content. If users aren't clicking your website, it means one of two things:

  1. There is a search intent issue that needs immediate attention.
  2. The page title or description isn't catchy or has a major issue.

Organic CTR shouldn't be measured alone. It needs to be tracked with impressions. A page with low impressions (that's probably ranking on the second page) will have low CTR, and it's OK. Pages with high impressions and low CTR need attention.

3. Organic Conversion Rate

This is perhaps the most important SEO metric. It all comes down to conversions and conversion rate.

Conversion rate is a simple and straightforward SEO KPI that makes it easy to prove the ROI of your SEO efforts. Clicks and impressions alone are worthless unless you track conversion rate. So, start tracking the organic conversion rate and see where you stand.

Google Analytics 4 has simplified tracking conversion rate. You can now create conversion goals even if you don't have an e-commerce site and also track micro conversions, such as signing up for a newsletter.

4. Impression vs. Clicks

Most marketers and SEO experts evaluate impressions and clicks separately; however, these two SEO metrics must be tracked and analyzed together.

A thousand impressions is confusing because it is neither good nor bad. But 1,000 impressions with 100 clicks makes more sense and it provides more valuable and actionable insights than merely 100 clicks or 1,000 impressions.

Track impressions and clicks together for individual pages to better understand SEO performance.

5. Page Speed

Page speed has become the most crucial SEO metric in recent years that's hard to ignore. It impacts UX, conversion rate, and organic traffic.

It is a metric used by both search engines and people to evaluate your site's performance and user experience. You need to monitor page speed from Google Search Console or use PageSpeed Insights to track load time for desktop and mobile.

Check out our guide on how to improve page speed for better ranking and organic traffic.

Final Thoughts

SEO metrics need special attention as they can often be misleading. Instead of wasting time tracking and monitoring several SEO KPIs, consider sticking with the most important ones. It won't just save you time and money, but it gets easier to analyze SEO performance with fewer, more accurate metrics.

Always use SEO performance metrics in a group. Most metrics make little to no sense when evaluated alone, such as impressions and clicks. Look at the SEO report as a whole and it will get more meaningful and useful. 

Grow Your SEO  The right SEO strategy can drive thousands of qualified leads to your site.  Our SEO strategy has grown organic traffic by 400% and revenue by 300% for  clients – see what First Page can do for you.  Learn More

Haley Kuehl

After getting her start in teaching, Haley fell in love with SEO because it let her combine two of her favorite things: writing and getting nerdy with data and code. She now has more than 12 years of SEO and inbound marketing experience with clients ranging from small ecommerce brands to huge associations and SaaS companies. She prides herself on being able to see the big picture while also noting the nitty gritty details that make a difference for users and search bots. In her free time she bakes a LOT of bread and cookies and loves to travel.

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