Creating and implementing an SEO strategy requires vast amounts of hard work and sustained efforts. Once the initial hurdle is overcome and a brand realises the importance of SEO, it comes as great relief to finally feel as though progress has been made.
The next obstacle is actually achieving results. That first glimpse of return on investment is all that’s needed to gain the trust of colleagues and stakeholders in such a notorious ‘smoke and mirrors’ industry.
But measuring ROI from SEO is not always a simple task given the many facets of the process. Proving success is often muddied by multiple active marketing campaigns and the possible effects of such.
Questions are raised by senior staff or board members – they ask, “But how can you precisely connect the dots? How did SEO directly impact our sales? How do you know it wasn’t the ‘brand exposure’ campaign?”
In such a situation, it pays to be prepared. The best cure is prevention:
Always align SEO with business objectives for meaningful reporting.
It sounds silly, but you’d be amazed at how many businesses I’ve witnessed just shooting in the dark with SEO with no real strategy in place, no direction and erratic ‘processes’.
SEO is a meaningless experiment if you haven’t taken into account wider business objectives. So, first and foremost, align your whole strategy to the business and what really matters to its stakeholders.
It’s not practical to measure brochure downloads if video plays have been the key driver of sales in your company.
Know your metrics (and make sure everyone else does too).
#1. In Google Analytics, Use Goals Data
– under: All Traffic > Channels > Organic > Primary Dimension (Landing page)
This report will indicate the pages on your website which have received the most organic traffic from search engines.
If you look to the right of the dashboard, you will see goal conversion rate, goal completions and value.
This is critical. If you have correctly set up your goals in Analytics and applied monetary values, you should see good results here if your SEO strategy is paying off.
Being able to attribute conversions to landing pages is essential and there’s no arguing this when the time comes to present data to stakeholders.
The screen shot above shows no numerical or monetary values – in which case, I’d be concerned.
The first point of call would be to check if everything has been correctly set up in the goals area of Analytics. If so, check if other channels are bringing conversions.
If they are, you may need to change your SEO strategy, unless the next tip uncovers hidden value…
#2. In Google Analytics, Use The Attribution Modelling Report
– under: Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison
A lesser-known element of Google Analytics, this report provides some super-valuable information (if you do have goals set up) which would otherwise be overlooked completely.
What if organic traffic was actually the key driver of 85% of sales, but the visitors who first came through organically from search engines didn’t convert to customers on the first, second, or even third visit?
What if they first searched for a keyword you rank for, clicked an organic result to land on your website, exited the website, returned through AdWords PPC, left again, before finally returning through Facebook and converting?
Such data would not normally show as an organic conversion in Analytics.
This is where Attribution Modelling comes into play. In this screenshot, you can see I have set the view to first interaction – which means it will show the leading channel which first brought convertors to the site. Low and behold, look what is in first place. Organic!
A far cry from last interaction modelling (showing the channel which was directly related to a conversion):
The sheer disparity between conversion data here is noteworthy. It could mean the difference between keeping your job or losing it. (And most people will be impressed at these findings too).
#3. Discover Your Organic Market Share
The best way to do this is to collate all your keywords into an excel document.
Your head (money) terms and mid to long-tail terms should all be included. There could easily be 500 here. The more, the better.
Now list your main competitors.
Tools like ‘SEMrush’ allow you to import all these keywords and competitors, tracking their positions and movements in the SERPs without fuss.
Before SEMrush was around, this job took a lot longer, believe me! I used to manually scour Google and note down each ranking of my company and competitors before messing about in Excel – oh the pain.
Inside the visibility comparison tool of SEMrush, your data will begin to populate within a few hours, providing a coloured graph for visual representation.
Your competitor’s organic stance will be compared with yours on the same chart which makes presentation to the board very simple and easy to understand.
You can change the date range from a few days to more than a year which provides an accurate depiction of progress otherwise very difficult to visualise.
With the above techniques under your belt, you will enter meetings feeling confident in your findings and deliverables.
Always remember – cynics are everywhere, it’s how you deal with them that counts!
SEO is certainly measurable, it just takes a little more cunning to woo the non-believers.