Here at connective3, we ran a survey of 50 UK businesses to find out how important monitoring and measuring SEO was to their brand. When we got our results back, we found that 78% of those surveyed had increased their SEO spending in 2020, with 77% intending to either maintain or grow it further in 2021.
It’s clear that many UK businesses want to grow and measure SEO performance. Our Organic Performance Director, JJ Grice, recently spoke at Digital Superchats’ Marketing Masterclass, to discuss how we at c3 measure SEO success, and how to accurately report back on SEO opportunities to clients.
When deciding how to evaluate SEO performance, we always look for these three factors:
- Higher rankings
- An increase in organic traffic
- An increase in conversions
But whilst it’s easy to simply look at Ahrefs, MOZ, or SEMrush and assume that, because your rankings have increased, your work has been a success, it’s important to check that organic traffic and conversions have increased too
Rankings alone don’t tell the full story and should not be the only metric you use to measure SEO.
For example, your rankings may be higher, but if the content is irrelevant, people will bounce off the page, meaning conversions will potentially decline – and in the long-term, this can even have a detrimental effect on your ranking positions.
So, by using the three key factors, here are our tips on how to measure SEO effectively.
Categories your keywords
The first step in choosing SEO metrics to measure is to categorise your keywords efficiently.
When you’re conducting keyword research for any brand, you should always place keywords into separate and distinct categories, as this will enable you to better understand the opportunities created by the keyword sector.
There are so many tools out there that you can use to conduct keyword research: from free options such as Answer the Public, Google Ads, and Google Search Console, through to paid versions like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and MOZ.
With your keywords in hand, you’ll be able to incorporate them into your organic content, and then use your keyword rankings to help measure SEO success.
The benefits of using keyword research tools
Whilst each keyword research tool will offer similar functions and benefits, some carry advantages specific to them. Looking at Google Ads and Google Search Console in particular; they provide a lot of insight between them, especially when you consider that they are free tools.
By running a PPC campaign on Google Ads, you’ll get access to the following vital statistics:
- Conversion data: By getting the conversion data at a keyword level, you’ll gain added insight into the commercial value of each individual keyword.
- Drive efficiencies: Google Ads highlights high-spending keywords, which will further showcase just how important it is to rank well organically for these keywords in the future.
Both of these statistics will help provide greater insight into measuring SEO, and ultimately help you decide how to evaluate SEO performance for your business.
Google Search Console:
Alternatively, should you opt to use Google Search Console when measuring SEO. You’ll be able to garner information on two other important statistics:
- Keyword insights: This will help you to understand which keywords are driving traffic to your site right now, and where the relevance is at a keyword level.
- SERP engagement: Viewing engagement levels will help you to identify keywords that come with typically higher CTRs, which in turn, will offer more SEO measuring opportunities.
Of course, by using Google Ads and Google Search Console together, you’ll be able to identify real SEO opportunities that you can implement straight away, making all four of these SEO metrics vital to measure.
Create a framework for your reporting
There’s a lot more that goes into deciding how to evaluate SEO performance than just collecting the data.
Once you’ve identified which keywords offer the best SEO opportunities, and you’ve decided how to segment them, it’s time to consider how you’re going to report on them.
These four steps will help you to create an effective, easy-to-understand report for how to measure SEO in relation to your chosen keywords:
- Keyword Category: Segment your keywords into product categories so you can understand your brand’s organic performance by keyword sector.
- Search volume: Make use of Google Keyword Planner or a similar tool to collect search volumes for each keyword in a set.
- Traffic potential: Overlay a CTR model to your keyword sets to help visualise the estimated monthly traffic potential.
- Organic share: Help improve your understanding of your share of the market by overlaying ranking data to each keyword’s potential.
By doing this, you’re putting real-life figures to your SEO opportunities so you can see which keywords will have the most impact.
However, it’s important to ensure that, when focusing on a keyword set, you look to optimise for all keywords and not just the headline one. After all, headline keywords only tend to drive up to 10% of your total non-brand traffic
Focusing on headline keywords alone means you’re ignoring essentially 90% of the other traffic potential – hindering both your strategy and your ability to be creative with your content.
Other things to consider when reporting keywords
Once you’ve put your keyword framework together, there are some additional things you should consider when reporting back on ranking performance:
- Keyword positions can change daily across some results, particularly for those large, headline keywords.
- Look to use weekly and/or monthly averages to report on ranking performance, rather than rankings simply taken from one day; i.e., for July 2021, look to see what a keyword ranked for every day in July, and then work out the average, rather than reporting the position of keywords on the 31st of July specifically.
- Use Google Search Console to estimate the organic traffic split, especially the difference between brand and non-brand traffic. You can then apply the percentage split to actual traffic figures.
How to estimate non-brand organic revenue
When it comes to your reporting, and how to measure SEO, you’ll want to be able to report back on the effectiveness of non-branded keyword research as well as branded.
To do this from an organic perspective, you want to be able to look at the estimated non-brand visits after the percentage split is applied to the actual figures, as discussed above.
You can also gain insights from your PPC reporting by taking a look at the conversion rates, and the average order values, to help understand the revenue from non-branded traffic.
For example, if you had 100,000 non-brand organic visits to a website over one month, with an average conversion rate of 1.8%, and an average order value of £70, you’ll be able to report an estimated revenue of £126,000.
Essentially, this shows how adapting your SEO has improved performance, and therefore lets you measure SEO success with a numerical value.
Creating a forecast framework for your SEO activity
Finally, once you’ve looked at the opportunities provided by your keyword rankings, you’ll be able to look at visibility and growth for specific product or service categories.
To do this, you’ll need to understand what the current share is, and then work out the projected share, which will give you a percentage change.
Again, there are some key considerations to take into account when predicting these percentages:
- Market conditions: Who’s currently leading the market and why?
- Market growth: You can use the keyword tools mentioned previously to understand trends and use them to your advantage.
- Historical performance: Has the brand ranked well previously for the product category? If the answer is yes, they may well have a better chance of ranking well again.
- Focuses: What are the business’ priorities, and how does that feed into other marketing activities that you can take advantage of?
You should also always ensure you benchmark your non-brand traffic against the market to get a bigger picture of the market overall.
For example, your non-brand traffic may have a projected share of only 5%, which you may think is very small, but if you look at the bigger picture, you may see that the market overall is expected to decrease by 20% – in which case, that figure is very good.
That’s why it’s important to ask yourself these questions when determining whether your non-brand traffic growth is ‘good’:
- Has visibility dropped?
- How has the organic landscape changed?
- What does ATL spend look like YoY?
- How does other advertising spend compared with the previous years?
- Have there been any significant changes to the look and layout of search results?
The final important thing to remember is that, whilst single SEO activities in isolation can drive good results, by ensuring all aspects of your SEO strategy are working together, you can achieve truly great results.
At connective3, we’re experts in combining technical SEO with a solid content strategy, and link-building digital PR campaigns. When you choose c3, our always-on approach will help to drive your brand’s visibility and success.