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We recently ran a survey of 50 UK businesses, which found that 78% of them had increased their SEO spend in 2020, with 77% intending to either maintain or grow it further in 2021.

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 opportunities to clients.

When we measure the value of SEO success, we look for these three factors:

  • Higher rankings
  • An increase in organic traffic
  • An increase in conversions

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, as rankings alone don’t tell the full story. 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, it will have a detrimental effect on your positions.

How to determine keyword targets

When you’re conducting keyword research for your brand, it’s important to segment your target keywords into separate categories, as this will enable you to better understand the opportunity by keyword sector.

There are so many tools out there that you can use to conduct this 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.

The benefits of using keyword research tools

Whilst each tool will offer similar functions and benefits, some carry advantages specifically to them. Looking at Google Ads and Google Search Console specifically, they can give you a lot of insight between them.

Google Ads

If you run PPC campaigns on Google Ads, you’ll be able to access insights that you can use for your future SEO strategy:

  • Conversion data: By getting the conversion data at a keyword level, you’ll gain added insight of 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.

Google Search Console

  • Keyword insights: You’ll understand which keywords are driving traffic to your site right now, and where the relevance is at a keyword level.
  • SERP engagement: You’ll be able to identify keywords that come with typically higher CTRs, which in turn, will offer more opportunities.

By using Google Ads and Google Search Console together, you’ll be able to identify real opportunities that you can implement straight away.

Creating a framework for your reporting

Once you’ve identified which keywords offer the opportunities and how to segment them, it’s time to consider how you’re going to report on these. These four steps will help you to create an effective, easy-to-understand report.

  • Keyword category: Segment your keywords into product categories, so you can understand your brand’s organic performance by keyword sector.
  • Search volume: Either use Google Keyword Planner (or a similar tool) to collect search volumes for each keyword in the set.
  • Traffic potential: Overlay a CTR model to your keyword set, to understand the estimated monthly traffic potential.
  • Organic share: Understand share of the market by overlaying ranking data to each keyword’s potential.

By doing this, you’re putting real-life figures to your opportunities, so you can see which keywords will have the most impact. But 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, which means focusing on that alone will mean you ignore essentially 90% of the other traffic potential – hindering both your strategy, and your ability to be creative with your content.

Things to consider when reporting your keywords

Once you’ve put your 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.
  • 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 June, and then work out the average, rather than reporting the position on 31st July).
  • Use Google Search Console to estimate organic traffic split – especially the difference between brand and non-brand; and apply the percentage split to actual traffic figures.

How to estimate non-brand organic revenue

When it comes to your reporting, you’ll want to be able to report back on the effectiveness of non-branded keyword research.

To do this from an organic perspective, you’ll 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 understand the revenue from non-branded traffic.

For example, if you had 100,000 non-brand organic visits to a website over the 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.

Creating a forecasting framework for your SEO activity

Once you’ve looked at the opportunities from 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 winning, and why?
  • Market growth: You can use the keyword tools mentioned previously to understand trends.
  • 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 activity?

Ensure you benchmark your non-brand traffic against the market, to get a bigger picture. 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 compare vs previous years?
  • Have there been any significant changes to the look and layout of search results?

The other important thing to remember, is that whilst SEO activity in isolation can drive good results; by ensuring all aspects of your SEO activity are working together, you can achieve truly great results.

Combining technical SEO with a solid content strategy, and digital PR campaigns to build links, will help to drive your brand’s visibility and success. Are you ready to take your SEO to the next level? Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

JJ Grice

Organic Performance Director