Ultimately, the success of most SEO campaigns comes down to how profitable they are. While profitability and return on investment are great metrics, they aren’t very useful in the early stages of an SEO campaign. SEO takes time to mature, so it’s important to have some clear KPIs, especially for the first 12 months. There are four KPIs (key performance indicators) that provide the most meaningful measures of success for SEO campaigns:
1. Impressions – This is a measure of online brand visibility. Essentially, it measures how many people are shown your website on a search result page within Google. Impressions will increase as both your primary keywords and any long tail keywords begin to rise in the search engines. This is normally the first metric that increases, so it’s one to take note of in the first few months. After 6-12 months this metric may plateau, so don’t expect this one to continue rising at the same rate as it does at the start of your campaign
2. Rankings – At the beginning of your SEO campaign, we’ll confirm a list of primary keywords to target. Your primary keywords are those that are the most valuable for your to rank for, based on a combination of search volume and relevancy. Rankings for your primary keywords will normally start to reach page one of Google after about 3-6 months, but your most competitive keywords may take much longer depending on your competition. Ideally, we want to maintain at least 50% of your primary keywords on page one, as your rankings will directly influence the amount of organic visitors your website attracts each month. While rankings are critical to the success of your SEO campaign, don’t focus too much on individual keywords or even natural fluctuations in the rankings and don’t expect too much too soon. While rankings are extremely important, remember that organic visitors and conversions from your SEO campaign are actually the measures that make you money
3. Organic Visitors – Whether we call them visitors, traffic, sessions or clicks, we essentially mean the same thing. We wish to measure how many user sessions take place on your site each month that have originated directly from a search engine. The get even more specific, we can isolate ‘non-branded organic visitors’, as this removes searches for your brand and gives us the purest measure of your SEO traffic. Once your SEO campaign begins to mature (after about 6 months), we can then use the ‘organic visitors’ metric to calculate your cost per click (CPC) from your SEO campaign. Knowing your SEO CPC allows you to compare your SEO costs directly with other digital marketing campaigns, such as AdWords, which is a great way to understand your comparative marketing costs. Your organic visitors will only begin to rise significantly once you’re ranking on page one for enough of your primary keywords, although some clients may see significant rises in organic visitors as a result of page one rankings for long tail keywords
4. Conversions – Goal completions or conversions are the output from your search engine optimisation campaign. Some clients focus on soft conversions, like gaining email marketing subscribers, video views, or document downloads. However, most business owners prioritise hard conversions like email enquires or phone enquiries (lead generation). Hard conversions for ecommece websites are easy, as we can measure actual online sales. If we assume most people wish to focus on hard conversions, we need to ensure the value gained from your SEO campaign is greater than your SEO investment. Building a profitable SEO campaign takes time, so you wouldn’t expect to see a positive return on your investment for at least the first 6 months, but between 6 and 12 months this metric should be improving steadily. For a lead generation website, we measure the number of leads gained as a direct result of the SEO campaign, so we can calculate the cost per lead (CPL). CPL is a useful comparative measure, so you can see how your SEO campaign stacks up against your other marketing campaigns. In order to calculate your return on investment (ROI), you need to understand your value per lead (VPL), which is essentially the average lifetime gross profit earned from each new enquiry. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit complex, our SEO consultants will work with you to explore the metrics that matter most to your business throughout your campaign. At the end of the day, your SEO campaign needs to generate leads and sales for your business, so your ‘conversion’ KPI is critical. Increases in conversions won’t happen straight away, so use impressions, rankings, and organic visitors first, then over the longer term switch your focus to conversions
Each SEO campaign has individual goals set for the four KPIs, as each website’s starting positions are different. These goals allow us to clearly measure how your SEO campaign is progressing over time, so everything is as transparent as possible.