5 Ways to Measure SEO Success

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Learn five of the best ways to measure your SEO success and the effectiveness of your optimization efforts using hard data to prove your case.

# Full Post

One of the biggest issues with running effective Search Engine Optimization campaigns today is the muddy waters that often surround whether or not the campaign is successful or not.

If you work for an agency, you’ll know about the rampant skepticism that usually accompanies the industry. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to be able to convey success through hard statistics rather than allowing a client to take your word for it (which often causes clients to cancel swiftly).

Additionally if you’re managing your own SEO, you’ll need to be able to analyze hard facts in order to determine where to prioritize your marketing efforts.

Below, I’ll detail 5 different ways to break down your SEO campaign to determine if it has been successful or not – starting with:

#1. Traffic

Traffic Comparisons to Help Measure SEO Success
When trying to determine if your SEO campaign is successful or not, traffic is probably the first (and most obvious) place that people look. As an SEO analyst, the most common complaint I get (whether it’s true or not) is, “My traffic hasn’t gotten any better; SEO must not be working!!!” Most times, this statement is based on endless skepticism rather than reality.

I’m here to tell you that traffic IS a good general measure of success but ONLY if you break it down right – by comparing it to baseline traffic measurements (which you should take at the beginning of EVERY campaign in order to compare results). If you don’t establish baselines for future comparisons, then you’re really shooting in the dark when trying to decide if your SEO is truly working or not.

Down the line, be sure to compare your traffic to your baselines to see if there was a net gain or loss.

#2. Rankings

Search Engine Rankings Report for Baseline SEO Comparisons

Many SEO’s say that search engine rankings don’t really matter. I say that they DO make a difference. In fact, you can often show a solid correlation between increased/decreased search engine rankings to increased/decreased search engine traffic.

A client will often say, “How do I know if my increased traffic is because of SEO efforts? It could be just a seasonal increase.” That may be true, but what will they say when you show them that search engine rankings have increased at the same time as a traffic increase? It doesn’t take a doctor to see that correlation.

Remember, just like with traffic it is important to establish baselines. First, decide on a set of keywords to track rankings for. Then compare reports that you gathered at the beginning to reports down the line to see if there is any net increase or decrease. These results should help you understand more about the success or problem areas of your campaign.

#3. Increased Coverage

Number of Keywords Driving Traffic

Uncovering whether your SEO campaign has resulted in “increased coverage” can be critical to measuring success. What do I mean by “increase coverage”? I mean maximizing the total overall exposure/coverage that your site is getting.

There are a couple of ways you can tell if your site’s “coverage” is increasing. Again these metrics are all contingent on your gathering of baseline data from which to draw a comparison:

  • Pages Indexed – The goal of an SEO campaign is to ensure that all of your site’s pages are getting indexing. First, you have to have a rough idea of how many pages your website has. Then, measure a baseline to see how many pages are indexed. Finally, measure your site’s indexed pages at a later date to see if the percentage of indexed pages has increased.
  • Number of Keywords Driving Traffic – The goal of any SEO campaign is to extend your reach by ensuring that you rank well for a wide breadth of keywords. During your baseline, record how many keywords are driving traffic. After a couple months, go back to see if the number of keywords driving traffic has increased/decreased (note: it’s also important to ensure that the quality of keywords driving traffic improves).

#4. Increase in “Other” Areas

There are several other metrics in SEO that sort of fall into the “Other” areas that may help you determine success. These include:

  • Google PageRank
  • Inbound Links
  • Crawl Frequency
  • Increase Presence within social media & bookmarking websites.

Again, this is all contingent on establishing baselines. Be sure to check a these metrics a couple months down the line to see if they’ve increased or decreased.

#5. Conversions/Leads

Goals Overview in Google Analytics

Though this is listed last, it is usually the most important in the eyes of business owners and marketeers. I mean hey – why put money into something that doesn’t yield more leads, conversions, sales, etc.?

The way I see it, if all things are equal – meaning your conversion rates hold steady – you should see an overall increase just by getting better traffic and rankings. For example, let’s say your website has a 5% conversion rate and you increase your traffic from 1,000 visits per month to 5,000 visits per month. If your conversion rate holds, you should see an increase in conversion from 50 to 250 – a pretty big difference!

Now as we know, nothing is ever that simple. There are many other factors that play into how and why leads, conversions, and/or sales occur including design and user intent among many other things.

The bottom line with SEO and the reason most people do it is ROI. If the Return on Invenstment is there, and you can prove that it correlates directly to your SEO efforts (and not another initiative), then you can tenatively say that your Search Engine Optimization efforts are a success.

In conclusion, when you look at all these things together you should be able to draw a pretty accurate picture of where your Search Engine Optimization campaign has had success and failures. Hope this helps – happy optimizing!

Jacob Stoops

Jacob Stoops

Long-time SEO and podcast host. Senior Manager at Search Discovery. Husband. Dad. Mob movie aficionado. @jacobstoops