How should SME measure the success of organic SEO efforts

To answer that question one must first ask: what is SEO success?

What is the success in ranking #1 for a keyword that doesn’t bring any traffic? Or ranking #100 for a keyword that could bring thousands of visitors per day?

Both traffic and SERP ranking are crucial and that’s why you must accurately and objectively measure and track each.

For example if you check the ranking position for “keyword x” for a website that you have previously visited (through the same computer), you will notice that your Google will generate personalized search results page in which the visited website will be given higher ranking position.

Also, search engine positions vary based on your location, so you might be ranking at the first position on, but that doesn’t mean that you are also ranking in the same position on

Another thing you want to track is how much effort or backlinks were required to reach the desired search position.

How do I track search engine positions, traffic and backlinks?

The important thing is to remember that all of these are connected. Increase in ranks should bring you increase in traffic, and more backlinks should increase your ranking. So if you see one thing happening without the other, you should double check everything.

Tracking Ranks:

I track my ranks with cheap rank tracking services, but there are some free software alternatives too. Here are a few options you might want to check out:

  • SEO MOZ (This is the best rank tracking service I have ever seen, however it comes with a bundle of other useful seo tools that add to the price and also make this one of the most expensive seo tools)
  • Easy SEO Tracking (Cheap and efficient, only $2 per month for tracking 1000 keywords, and you also get daily email reports)
  • Market Samurai (This is one of the most famous SEO software on the market, it cost around $100 and has a lot of cool functions including a good rank tracker)
  • Seo Book Firefox Plugin (Free Firefox Plugin that will get the job done, but I think it lacks accuracy)

One thing to keep in mind is that the ranks will fluctuate all the time ± 2 or 3 positions all the time and you shouldn’t get worried every time you see this, instead you should track the long term changes.

Tracking Traffic:

Most of you already do this trough google analytics, awstats or statcounter. If you don’t you need to start NOW. It is important to track how much traffic you are getting trough your SEO targeted keywords so you can measure the exact increase of traffic that is related to the increase in ranks.

Remember that ranking increases from position 100 – position 50 don’t really matter since you won’t be getting any traffic anyway. Only the first 20 positions bring some traffic.

Tracking Backlinks:

This part can be a pain in the ass because there are tons of variables. All links have different anchor texts, some are no follow, some are do follow, some come from pages with different page rank, some are not indexed and some even are deleted through time.

Tracking this manually can be really hard, and that’s why I recommend that you use some of the following tools:

Paid: (measure and track – software)

Free: (only measure the current state – online)

You can easily write down the data you get from these service so you can track your progress, however this requires more effort and time.

Also, it is a good idea to track your own backlinking efforts in an excel file, since a portion of your links won’t be detected via these services for various reasons (not indexed, dead links).

Article Backlinks
Blog Comments / Forum Comments Backlinks

Things I track and measure:

  • URL
  • Page Rank and backlinks
  • Index

Tracking which links are not indexed in Google is a good practice because you can then work on getting them indexed and make sure you get the link juice flow to your site.


  • Tracking the changes in rank, traffic and backlinks are actually measurements in SEO success.
  • Using the right tools can help save you a lot of time and energy.
  • It is a challenge to keep all these records organised, but it is also a must if you want to be successful in organic SEO.

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