What is the Measure of Success in SEO?

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” was a quote made famous by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal. So, too are the cries of “SEO is dead” across the website. And while SEO isn’t the same as it used to be, it is still a viable and necessary evil for not only your website and blog, but represents your entire online marketing strategy.

Since SEO as we know it has changed (and if you don’t believe me, sign up for our webinar about SEO in 2013 and Beyond) we must also measure it’s success different. Success can be measured by answering these key questions:

  • What are your search goals?
  • What have you done to try to reach these goals?
  • What impact did these efforts have on your search presence?
  • Are these efforts helping your reach these goals?
  • Are there new opportunities for optimizing for search?
  • Are there any new threats from the competition?

In order to create goals, we must first understand what SEO is in the present state of affairs. No longer is is just about being #1 in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages.  The SEO of 2013 (and beyond can be defined as the ongoing process of determining highly converting non-branded keyword phrases that can drive organic search traffic and conversion— and then taking action across your company’s web presence to improve upon its impact, plus make new impact.  The impact is in the form of improved organic search traffic together with conversions, content footprint index, spreading out the keyword phrases you are being found for and so on.
Next ,you need to determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can show the impact of your SEO efforts. You can determine these by answering the questions:

  • What do you want your website visitors to do?
  • What would you consider a successful visit?

Some examples of metrics that demonstrate the impact of your SEO efforts include:

  • Time spent on site – If a visitor has stayed on the site for a certain number of minutes (3+) and the bounce rate is low, then perhaps it can be concluded that the visitor read the content. The content was appealing to them.
  • Number of pages visited – If the visitor reviews two or more pages, then perhaps it can be concluded that they were intrigued with the content enough to read further.
  • Main product or services page to contact sales page – If the main purpose of the site is to promote the organization’s main product, did the visitor review the product page, then the pricing page then the contact sales page?
  • Number of organic visits or volume of organic traffic
  • Conversions by keyword – while you may believe internally that a specific keyword is exactly what your prospects are searching for, do visits to your site as a result of searching on that keyword really turn into conversions?

Now that you have identified some KPIs, you can then set goals, and take actions to positively impact those goals. Some of these goals could include, for example:

  • Increase Organic Search traffic
  • Increase the number of highly converting unbranded keywords.
  • Diversifiy your backlinks and their anchor text
  • Increase the number of indexed pages on your site
  • Improve your social signals on keywords by each social channel
  • Increase the number of pages receiving at least one visit from search engines

From here, you create a plan of attack to affect these goals, and thus measure the success of your SEO. The bottom-line goals of the campaign must be reverse-engineered in order to inform the most impactful elements that will lead to those goals so they can be properly analyzed.
An important element in any SEO campaign is the ability to adjust strategy based on actual results. Tracking the right data is essential not only to show the value of the investment and effort in a campaign but also to help refine the campaign for even better results.Ultimately, every company will determine its own unique metrics and goals for success. By focusing on the metrics that matter, you will be able to have a much better idea of whether what you are doing is working.

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