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SEO Metrics For Profit Not Vanity.

By: Paul Clarke
Published: May 23, 2021

If you’re obsessed with what keyword you’re ranking #1 for or even worse if your boss has that fixation, that could be damaging your credentials as an SEO or marketer and more importantly, hiding the real truth behind those SEO metrics and your/clients poor online performance.

The reason is simple: chasing keyword positions on their own for organic traffic is just a vanity metric and doesn’t mean too much without hard business-led SEO metrics to justify why you should be ranking for them.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a much bigger discipline than just where your site ranks for specific keywords and should therefore be treated as a separate marketing channel. In business, your SEO metrics from ranking needs to be aligned and framed within those other channels you use, such as social media and paid ads.

It’s all very well finding that amazing keyword during your research or thinking that you should be ranking number one for keyword X as an industry expert only to find that after putting in the graft of ranking for it, the organic traffic volume doesn’t translate into revenue for the business.

As an SEO, is that a conversion you really want to have with your client (or your boss), especially if you have put so much emphasis on chasing those keywords in the first instance.

Instead, I want you to consider an alternative, a way of tracking your SEO that we use for clients and can be presented in the vocabulary of the board room in the language that business owners understand most, which is of course revenue and profit.

We all know to rank high in search results takes a lot of work and skill and even though it may help your site to be more visible at the top of the SERPs and the organic traffic that can come with it often not appreciated by the people who are paying your wage/retainer, especially if all that organic traffic doesn’t relate to increased revenue and the only value being the SEO bragging rights.

The fact remains there is no guarantee that ranking number one for a keyword will increase revenue, get more customers or increase retention. There’s no direct correlation between the two, so you need to think about SEO differently and consider other metrics instead.

Being obsessed with your keyword rankings, and checking them hourly is all well and good, but potentially having to explain why your site is high in google but low in new customer acquisition is a symptom of misdirected focus.

So What are the SEO Metrics you should be measuring instead?

Glad you asked, what you should be doing instead is concentrating on other metrics that have tangible results for a business such as lead generation, conversions and revenue growth as they tend to be understood better in the boardroom than where a keyword ranks. In fact, keyword position and where you rank in Google is probably one of the last things you should be measuring.

So here are 4 things you should be concentrating on and monitoring while carrying out any SEO for your business or for anyone who wants more visitors that turns into customers on their website

Revenue from the SEO traffic:

It seems obvious that we should be trying to measure revenue growth as part of our search engine marketing, after all, isn’t that the point of using SEO for business, the question is, how do we do that?

Google Analytics is an amazing tool, and it’s free, setting it up properly means that you can easily include values related to your products or services so you can track, and even predict revenue trends. Over time this can become a fairly accurate barometer of your online revenue.

As an example, you could track a goal and assign a monetary value to an action, such as filling in a lead magnet opt-in form as the trigger. You can reverse engineer the assigned value for the goal by calculating the average value of a client and how many go on to spend as a percentage of the overall opt-in rate to arrive at a value based on the conversion.

While this is not super accurate to the penny value, it gives you a better idea of tracking your SEO investment and definitely better than not having a value assigned at all. however over time as you get more tuned into these metrics, it becomes easier to track and becomes very accurate indeed.

Obviously, if you run an e-commerce store, it’s easier to track sales and link to the cost of each product, but for businesses who don’t sell directly online, it can be an essential piece of data that can be used to predict online sales growth, cash flow and of course if your investment in SEO is actually providing an ROI

Return of investment spent on SEO

This is a way your company can look at what SEO is costing you whether that is internal, if you have a team or what the monthly retainer of your SEO contractor is. Obviously, if it’s the former, then it’s a little bit more difficult for you to track, but essentially all you do is to take your revenue number minus you’re expenses and work out your ROI.

That’s a really good metric because these are business-level reports and SEO, just like any other marketing channel affects your business-level impact, so you’ve got to look at it through that lens. And let’s not forget the reason you are doing SEO in the first place most likely is to generate more revenue.

SEO Traffic

How much organic traffic am I actually getting through my website and what are those visitors doing when they are on the site and which pages are they visiting. Where are they landing and which pages are exiting from your site?

Once again, this is an important metric as you want to monitor how visitors are navigating through your site and finding the page that you want them to, and if not, how to change it so they do.

A Great tool for understanding your traffic behaviour in Google Search Console, which along side analytics allows you to dig deeper into user behaviour.

Who is linking back to your site?

Which other sites are linking to you from unique linking domains and how many individual websites out there see me as an authority enough to be linking to our site? That’s such good information especially if that number keeps moving up over the years and is a reflection on the content you’re posting which provides value to others.

Other sites linking to your website is possibly one of the most powerful SEO techniques you can get which has a direct consequence of organic traffic and is an on going, real-world assessment of your site’s content and that it’s of sufficiently high quality, and one which is key to your SEO success as well as revenue goals.

Keyword Rankings

Finally, we can measure where you’re ranking for particular keywords. You can actually track individual keyword rankings in many tools, but the important thing here is that you want to convert those ranking positions and traffic you get from being in those top spots into actual conversions.

As mentioned above, traffic is only one part of the marketing equation, because until you get visitors you don’t know if that keyword has the intent they need to become engaged visitors. So it’s important not to focus too much on the rankings and instead focus on how can you make every visitor landing on our site a customer.

As part of your analysis, you need to understand what are barriers stopping people from engaging on your site or bouncing off too quickly and what are the things you need to do to fix those bottlenecks?

One of the quick wins here is to examine the data in Google search console and see which search terms you have impressions for, but have zero on no clicks. This allows you to improve those pages that are appearing in search but nobody is engaging with.

Has That Changed How You Think About SEO?

So just to summarise, if your business’s goal is to generate a profit, it would make sense for you to want metrics that show the effectiveness of your SEO and how well it’s working. And when I say “business objectives”, I don’t just mean traffic or keyword rankings. You’re going to need metrics that show things like revenue generated through SEO, ROI on SEO spending, total conversions from ranking 1 in Google for keywords, linkbacks from other websites and so on. These are all ways you can assess the success of your marketing campaigns – whether they be social media or SEO – and see how effective they are at achieving their goals.

paul clarke is black and white boy seo
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