Even if you aren’t in finance, you are constantly completing valuations throughout your day. And it’s not just you, reader, we are all experts at assigning worth to loads of different things.
Everyday, we ask ourselves:
“Is this latte really worth 5 dollars? Even if it has sprinkles?”
“Is it worth it to go to the gym today?”
“What’s more valuable to me, 20 more minutes of interrupted reality TV, or calling my mom?”
Everything can be determined to have a certain level of value to us, even if it doesn’t have a price tag stuck on it; sometimes we just have to do a few calculations in our minds.
These assigned values help us make decisions. We base our actions off of how we’ve determined we can extract the greatest amount of value from our day, as efficiently as possible.
The same principles apply to SEO. In order to make the best decisions for your SEO strategy and invest in the most profitable tactics, you need to be able to look at the value of each aspect.
So how do you figure out how much each piece of the SEO puzzle is worth? And how do you use this knowledge to your advantage? The answers lay in a sea of metrics and rates, which we’ll dive into today.
People are often skeptical of SEO because it is difficult to assign value to it. What they’re missing is this: just because SEO’s value is hard to measure, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
SEO will benefit your website in ways that other paid tactics cannot. Without any monetary requirements (just time, patience, and hard work), SEO supports content marketing efforts and helps your website reach more people.
SEO can have the following benefits:
All of these effects will eventually lead to more customers and sales for your business: real monetary gains. SEO, with the proper strategy and execution, can deliver quite the bang for your buck.
The catch? SEO is a long-term investment; these benefits cannot come overnight. Significant improvements to your rankings will likely take a couple of months to occur, adding another layer of difficulty in deriving SEO’s direct returns. Still, this does not mean the value isn’t there.
But how do we figure out exactly how much value your SEO activities are delivering?
The definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
Therefore, in order to determine if the given SEO tactic is successful, you need to figure out if that activity is delivering on its intended goal.
To measure the success of an SEO activity, identify its purpose and use the proper metric to measure progress the tactic is making toward its established goal.
Since the SEO umbrella comprises a wide variety of activities, there are numerous metrics that can be looked at.
Let’s look at what the right metrics are for each type of SEO activity.
If you’re trying to improve your website’s performance on the SERP for relevant search queries, you’ll look at these foundational SEO metrics.
What it measures: How many users are visiting the webpage from the SERP (search engine results page).
This gives you an overall indication of whether or not people are finding your page on search engines.
As you implement SEO activities to increase domain and authority to your site, improve on- and off-page website components, and create relevant, unique content that is useful to your target audience, you can track the organic traffic to your website and pages to see if these efforts are bringing more visitors to your site.
What it measures: Where your content is placed on the SERP for a given search word or phrase; whether it’s the first result, or on the fourth page.
As you optimize your content for target keywords, track how the page’s keyword ranking changes over time. This way, you’ll be able to adapt your keyword strategy and know if your content is easily discoverable for users searching with your target query. This is a great indication of if your content is getting in front of the right people on the SERP.
What it measures: The percentage of people that clicked on your result from the SERP
This will help you tell if your page is enticing to users that find your page on the SERP. If your click through rate is low, there are a few reasons for why this may be occurring:
The problem: Your page isn’t ranking for the right keywords; the wrong searchers are seeing the result, and it’s not relevant to them
The fix: Modify the target keywords of the content
The problem: The result isn’t attractive enough to get users to click on it. They may be confused at what the link will lead them to, or not believe that the page will have what they’re looking for.
The fix: Alter your page titles and meta descriptions to better entice users. Consider the user search intent and seek to match it in your description as well as the content on the page.
What it measures: The number of links on other websites that lead to yours (inbound links)
Backlinks will help you measure the authority that Google is assigning to your website. The more quality, relevant backlinks your website garners from other sites, the higher authority that search engines will reward you.
If you’re seeking to improve the authority of your website, you’ll want to track if your SEO activities are improving your site’s backlink profile.
Engagement metrics help you gauge how well your SEO is performing for the user experience, and bringing the right visitors to your website. Once users are on the site, what are they doing?
What it measures: The percent of people that click away from the page right after getting there
If you're tracking if your pages are useful and user-friendly to your audience, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your bounce rate. A high bounce rate could mean that the page isn’t conducive to a positive user experience, or the wrong users are ending up on that page.
What it measures: How many people are engaging with the content on your page. This could include time spent on the page, video views, etc.
If people aren’t spending a long time on your page or they aren’t interacting with its different components, it’s a sign that the page and its content could use some sprucing up.
What it measures: Conversions refer to any actions that move users to the next stage of the buying journey. Typically, this means turning visitors into leads or customers; someone makes a purchase from the site.
But what if you don’t sell products directly on your website? Conversions could then refer to newsletter subscriptions, quote requests, or calls.
If you’re trying to generate leads and sales through SEO, then conversions will be the most significant metric to look at. Remember, you can’t get conversions from your site until you get the right people to your pages.
If you want to track how your overall brand is doing compared to your competitors, you’ll use awareness metrics.
What it measures: The number of times your content is displayed, regardless of clicks.
If you’re trying to bolster as much awareness for your brand as possible, this metric will be an important indicator of how often your content is being seen.
What it measures: How often your website shows up for searches containing or relating to your brand name.
You can compare these numbers to those of non-branded searches, which are searches whose queries do not contain brand references that your site shows up for. If you are getting a lot of branded searches, this means that users are aware of your business and are seeking out more information about it.
What it measures: How your content performs compared to your competitors; how you stack up in thought leadership/industry share compared to others in your field
While all of these metrics can be useful to determine if your SEO efforts are headed in the right direction, at the end of the day corporate executives and small business owners care about one thing alike: How much money are we making from this?
Like we discussed at the beginning of this post, it’s easier to understand the value of something when there’s a dollar amount attached to it.
This can be shown through calculating your SEO’s ROI-return on investment. How much revenue are you getting out of the investment compared to what you put in?
The simple calculation goes like this:
(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment * 100 = ROI
Calculating ROI from SEO can be tricky. Your website doesn’t get paid for ranking first on the SERP, or for driving loads of organic traffic (unless you run ads on your website through AdSense, but that’s another story).
However, you do get money from conversions. So, you’ll need to set up conversion tracking. This can look a few different ways, depending on the type of website you have. E-commerce websites are more straightforward than websites that only generate leads. Whichever type of website you have, pick out the conversions that are most relevant to your customer journey.
We will use conversions to calculate our gains from SEO. Recall that conversions are any actions that move users along in the customer journey. We need to assign $ amounts of value to each type of conversion, and add together how many occurred in a period of time.
Every business will calculate its multi-attribution model differently. This article from Web FX breaks down an example of how a company may assign values to each of their conversion types.
The cost of your SEO investment is a bit simpler. Make sure you’re using the same time period that you used to calculate your gains from conversions, and add up the money it took for the time and resources you dedicated to SEO during that period.
Then, you’ll want to follow the formula from the beginning of this section to get your final ROI.
What counts as a “good” or “bad” ROI for SEO will always depend on the business. For every business, you of course want your ROI to be positive. If your ROI is negative, that means you’re losing money on this investment.
Compare the ROI to the rest of your current marketing endeavors, and see where SEO falls. Although it may be a little rocky in the beginning, good SEO will be cost-effective and extremely worthwhile for your business.
To improve the ROI of your SEO, you’ll need to constantly be learning more about your customers; what content they want, what keywords they use, what formats they engage with the most, etc. That way, you will be able to focus on SEO tactics that will best resonate with your target audience, and get you those conversions you need for a higher ROI.
To perform well with potential customers, remember to:
With the power of the metrics we discussed above and the ability to calculate your SEO’s ROI, you can begin to evaluate your current SEO strategy and identify areas for improvement.
It’s simple enough to establish an SEO strategy “by the book” by following the hundreds of articles and guides, but the concrete results you’re seeing from your website will tell you so much more. Let the results show you which tactics are returning profit, and which tactics need to be reworked or aren’t as effective.
If you’d like to discuss your SEO strategy with an expert, consider an SEO coach to get your website where you want it to go, faster and easier. You can book a free SEO coaching consultation with us at Centori.
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