Visibility in search engine results is the most critical factor to meeting your online business goals when it comes to SEO. It doesn’t matter how great your offering is, how helpful your content might be, or how outstanding your customer service is — the sustainability of your business is at risk if prospective customers can’t find you on Google.
Today, I’m going to discuss what SEO visibility means and which KPIs point to your site’s SEO health. You’ll learn about visibility benchmarks, how to tie visibility metrics back to your business goals, and five things you can start doing today to improve your site’s visibility in search results.
What is SEO Visibility?
Visibility is about getting your website in front of as many potential customers as possible when they’re using search engines to find your business, your products and services, and other related information.
Simply put, search visibility is the size and strength of your organic keyword footprint based on how high you rank for a bucket of keywords (i.e., your target keywords). For each individual keyword, the higher you rank, the greater your visibility. Maximum visibility would mean you rank #1 for every target keyword in the bucket. Zero visibility would mean you don’t rank for any of your target keywords.
What’s the Difference Between Organic Search Visibility & Traffic?
SEO visibility is a relative value that’s usually represented as a percentage. It estimates the likelihood that a site will receive traffic from a fixed set of keywords based on how high that site ranks for each individual keyword.
SEO traffic is an absolute value. It’s the estimated number of visitors (clicks) that you’ll receive from organic search results based on where you rank for each individual keyword, the estimated click-through rate (CTR) given that ranking, and its estimated number of monthly searches.
Keep in mind that search intent accounts for a lot of variability in click-through rates, but we can apply some broad averages to draw some conclusions.
Understanding that SEO traffic measures click-throughs and visibility measures keyword positions helps provide some context for changes you might see between those two numbers and the conclusions you can draw from them.
For instance, organic traffic gains or losses aren’t always caused by changes in visibility, but a change in visibility will always impact organic traffic.
How Do You Track Online Visibility?
Several SEO tools have created proprietary visibility metrics. Each tool calculates visibility in a unique way, so it’s not very helpful to track visibility for one site across several tools. Instead, it makes more sense to decide on one source of truth for your visibility numbers and track that metric across time.
Here’s a rundown of some of the tools you could use to track your SEO visibility and how each tool calculates its own version of a visibility metric.
SEMrush’s Position Tracking Tool allows users to set up a dashboard that tracks target keyword rankings and calculates changes in visibility and estimated traffic based on daily shifts in SERP positions.
Moz Pro’s Search Visibility Score takes it a step further by applying an estimated CTR for each keyword based on where you rank, ensuring that high CTR keywords are given greater weight. Then, they average the different CTRs to arrive at a single metric for the aggregate visibility of the keywords you’re tracking.
SEOmonitor uses current rankings to estimate what percentage of the people searching for a particular keyword saw your page among the search results. Then they multiply that by the monthly search volume for that keyword to get an estimate of your share of impressions.
Ahrefs’ visibility metric shows the percentage of all possible organic clicks from SERPs for the tracked keywords, similar to SEMrush.
At Victorious, we track campaign performance through combined keyword rankings. I see it as a holistic measure of how successful we are at boosting rankings for our target keywords. Aggregate keyword position movement can be seen as a proxy for how much additional organic traffic we’re driving to our customers’ target pages.
Why Does SEO Visibility Matter?
If visibility is a relative metric with different methods of calculation, why track it at all?
Watching your site’s visibility does give a high-level view of overall SEO performance. If the point of optimizing for search is to gain visibility in search results, visibility metrics can paint a picture of your site’s SEO health in broad strokes.
Since they’re a relative measurement, SEO visibility metrics are well-suited to use in comparisons.
1 – To evaluate how pages on your site rank in comparison to each other.
Understanding the visibility of a specific page compared to others on your site can help you prioritize which pages to update or flag for more aggressive optimization efforts.
2 – To compare your site’s visibility against your competitors.
Comparing search visibility metrics is an excellent way to understand how you’re ranking relative to your competitors for your target keywords, identify threats and opportunities, and illustrate your progress toward closing visibility gaps during your SEO campaign.
3 – To track the impact of your SEO campaign.
Charts showing visibility improvements over time offer an excellent “before & after” snapshot that can demonstrate the value of your SEO efforts.
How Do SERP Rankings Relate to Search Visibility?
Positive rank changes aren’t the end goal of a good SEO campaign. Instead, they’re the inevitable result of targeted SEO activities that should map to your overall business goals.
Rather than tracking individual keyword rankings, I think it’s far more helpful to track the visibility of a group of semantically related keywords (keyword themes) because it moves the conversation away from how one single keyword is performing and instead focuses on pushing the business forward with converting traffic.
What’s a “Good” Visibility Score?
Given the variability in how visibility scores are calculated, there’s no simple answer to this question. For each of the proprietary metrics I outlined above, you can be sure of two things:
- A 0% score means you’re not ranking high enough for any of your target keywords to generate organic traffic.
- A visibility score of 100% means that you rank at the top of page 1 for all of your target keywords.
Even with slightly different algorithms and normal SERP turbulence, it’s rare for a site to score above the mid-40s for non-branded keywords on any of these visibility scales.
Our philosophy at Victorious is that generic industry benchmarks are too broad to create a strategic roadmap for a campaign. We prefer a direct comparison of your visibility against your competitors.
Why Measure Online Visibility for SEO?
However you choose to measure your visibility, the bottom line is that being visible in search results impacts your ability to reach your SEO goals.
Whether you want to:
- increase traffic to your website;
- improve brand awareness;
- increase engagement;
- boost sales; or
- generate leads
being found in search results is the foundation of your success.
5 Tips to Improve SEO Visibility
Since showing up in SERPs is the key to achieving your SEO goals, you’ll want to do everything you can to improve the likelihood that your content ranks well.
Here are five things you can do to boost your search visibility.
1 – Do a Site Audit
An SEO site audit will reveal unseen obstacles that stand between you and the prospective customers looking for your offering. At Victorious, we uncover and explain what needs to be fixed and help prioritize which improvements to implement first — based on a ratio of effort vs. impact — to help you gain traction in search results.
2 – Have a Sitemap
Generating an XML sitemap and submitting it through Google Search Console tells search engines which pages to crawl and is essential to helping them understand and index your website. A missing, out-of-date, or error-laden sitemap can render entire sections of your website invisible to search engines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run a site audit that reveals errors in a customer’s sitemap that undermine all their other SEO activities.
3 – Be Mobile Friendly
Google’s indexing model uses the mobile version of site content for indexing and ranking. Previously, Google’s index used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. But, as most users have shifted to using mobile devices, Google has adapted to keep serving up the best possible user experience for people using its search engine. Content that isn’t mobile-friendly will have a harder time showing up in search results.
4 – Use Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases that create more targeted (and generally less competitive) opportunities to be found in search. For example, while most online snowboard retailers might be trying to rank for “snowboards,” you can bet that fewer sites are duking it out to rank for “handmade snowboards that are shaped like surfboards.” (Yes, that’s a thing. Google it.) By niching down with long-tail keywords, you grab the less competitive spaces in search and increase the likelihood that searchers who need exactly what you have will find you.
5 – Create Search Optimized Content
If the internet is a curiosity machine, the spoils go to businesses that provide reliable answers to the questions people ask. Helpful content goes a long way to winning you loyal customers, but search optimized content goes even further by making sure that when prospects ask a question, your answer is the first one they find.
Examples of How Organic Search Visibility Impacts Revenue
I witness the direct relationship between search visibility and business viability every single day. It’s one of the reasons I love what I do.
An online clothing retailer came to us looking for an SEO campaign that could expand awareness of their brand and help them gain recognition as a name in women’s streetwear. Our keyword research highlighted areas of opportunity, and we went to work to improve their search visibility.
We increased their ranking keywords by 6X and grew their item revenue by 1,129%. Yes. One thousand one hundred and twenty-nine percent.
In another case, an online jewelry retailer approached us hoping to increase online sales. Our customized campaign boosted their visibility with keywords optimized for the search intent of their ideal buyer. As you can see from the graph below, the result (so far!) has been an 821.6% increase in revenue from organic traffic compared to the same month last year.
For more examples of how search visibility can directly impact revenue, visit our library of SEO case studies.
Wrapping It Up
Without a doubt, visibility is one of the key measures of whether you’re achieving your SEO goals, no matter what they are. So whether you choose to track visibility scores from some of the online SEO tools I mentioned above, or you opt to track overall changes in Google search position, it’s important to be mindful of how many people are being exposed to your offering. Remember, although visibility doesn’t guarantee you’ll achieve your SEO goals, a lack of visibility virtually guarantees that you won’t. That being said, don’t track visibility for its own sake, but track it as it directly relates to your business objectives.
If you’re ready for an SEO plan that can boost your domain’s visibility in a way that maps to your business goals, the team at Victorious is ready to help. Reach out to realize your potential growth!