SEO ROI: How To Make Sure Performance Tracking Matches Goals

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It’s necessary to track SEO performance to understand what activities are useful and which are not.

However, there are multiple reasons why it’s hard to precisely approximate the ROI (roi) of an SEO campaign, beginning with argument regarding which metrics are most important.

The State of SEO report reveals some consensus as to which metrics are useful however that there is much dispute.

Top 3 SEO Metrics

As will be seen, the relative value of private SEO metrics differs between internal, company, and freelance SEO pros who reacted to the survey.

But the leading 3 SEO project goals and KPIs (essential efficiency signs) from the report are the same.

All 3 SEO demographics among report participants settle on the leading 3 SEO metrics in the same order:

  1. Rankings.
  2. Page views.
  3. Conversions.

The above SEO metrics are tracked by means of Google Analytics, Browse Console, and third-party tools, making them helpful for tracking the goals of an SEO project.

While there is arrangement about the top 3 SEO metrics, there is a large variation of opinions relating to the relative importance of the remainder of the metrics.

That is very important because those other metrics can represent campaign goals and KPIs.

Why Is Measuring KPIs So Difficult?

Even when there’s agreement on which KPIs are essential, there is still the concern of precise measurement.

Privacy laws are sunsetting many kinds of tracking.

But there are also real-world obstacles. Browse online marketer Adam Humphreys, Creator of Making 8, relates:

“Communications with the customer and their often high turnover of reception makes tracking conversions beyond our lead tracking more difficult. With call tracking, if the customer receptionist forgets to verify a visit lead for tracking software, we only understand that it was a leader/new call. The lifetime worth of customers can considerably vary.

The kickstart conference is the most crucial time for SEO professionals to discover what product service offerings are offered, the most regularly sold, experienced with, and the highest return offerings.

With this, I cross-examine Google sheets opportunities to see where they are vs. what’s on their website and triage content to the top that needs to be enhanced first. While we can track on a really granular level, I choose to focus on tracked leads, not return on ad spend (ROAS), for service-based operations.

For ecommerce, nevertheless, we can extremely closely track ROAS. It is necessary to understand that SEO is a financial investment, and like going to the health club, it takes some time to enhance everything.

This understanding is why we have our exclusive triage formula for material to line up with client needs. Lead tracking SEO is just as great as customers understanding their numbers. Some are amazing, while others are rather satisfactory.

The important part is we continually track and are responsible for results. We can therefore see the seasonality of SEO and when something is off that needs to be enhanced.”

The Fourth Most Important SEO Metric

Both the agency and freelance SEOs ranked Revenue as the 4th most important SEO metric.

In-house SEOs ranked Marketing Qualified Leads as the 4th most important SEO metric.

There is a fascinating insight into why in-house SEOs disagree about the 4th SEO metric.

The factor in-house SEOs disagree on which SEO metrics are most important is the workplace.

The work environment surprisingly impacts which SEO metrics are deemed most important.

This phenomenon is clearly viewable in the fourth most important SEO metric exposed by the State of SEO Survey.

Naturally, revenue is essential to internal SEOs. However it is not provided as a top issue in the study for factors particular to the work environment.

Earnings is generally tracked outside of internal SEO. It’s the responsibility of another department or layer of management.

Even in a smaller internal function, the management layer might not share specific profits numbers.

In many cases, especially in bigger business, the revenue numbers are closely protected and not shared with the SEO department.

Australia-based search marketer Ash Nallawalla, who has years of internal SEO experience, discussed:

“In every big company I have been in, Profits was never ever my issue in a reporting sense. There were analytics groups who did that.

In some companies, the in-depth profits breakdown was concealed. e.g., which item was the most successful. Even conversions are not clear cut in big companies.”

The role of internal SEO in lots of verticals is generally worried about keeping the leads rolling in.

So it makes good sense that Marketing Qualified Lead is ranked number four by in-house SEOs. It shows their duties and how the work environment influences which KPI is necessary to their SEO implementation.

Revenue is ranked 4th essential by company and freelancer SEOs, potentially since that might be very important to their consumer base of small and medium organizations (SMB).

The (ideally) increased profits metric validates the work of a firm or a freelance SEO.

On the other hand, there are reasons to consider why Certified Leads might be a better metric for tracking SEO success.

Adam Humphreys discusses why:

“The problem is customers will video game the profits regarding avoid paying more, and if they have a satisfactory front end, etc, it could lead to less earnings. Bad in-store experiences could likewise lead to less profits.

This is why I would say it’s not the best way to determine success. Certified leads are more what I would say is the best metric of success. What the client does after is up to them.”

The Five Through Ten Most Important SEO KPIs

All three SEO demographics diverge totally about what the next top-ranked metrics must be.

There is contract as to the top 3 essential SEO metrics.

The 4th most important SEO metric is primarily a reflection of obligations.

But positions 5 through ten are where the top metrics appear to become a matter of opinion.

Here are how the various SEO demographics ranked the next essential SEO KPIs:


5. Marketing Qualified Lead: 5.8%.6. Bounce rates: 5.4%.7. Backlinks: 5.3%.8. Page Speed: 4.6%.9.
Consumer Acquisition: 4.4%.10.
Social: 4%.


5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic: 6.5%.6. Backlinks: 6.1%.7. Revenue: 5.6%.8. Page Speed: 5.2%.9.
Bounce Rates: 5.0%.10.
Time on Page: 4.5%.


5. Bounce rates, Backlinks, Social Engagement: 6.3.6. Marketing Certified Lead (MQL): 5.8.7. Consumer Acquisition, Page Speed: 5.7.8. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic: 5.6.9. Email Subscriptions: 5.4.10. Consumer Lifetime Worth (CLV): 5.1.

Page Speed is the only metric that all 3 groups settle on.

Page Speed is a known ranking factor.

However it’s likewise a small ranking aspect and not most likely to be a direct reason that a website is top-ranked in Google’s search results.

The study results validate what everybody knows, that Page Speed is a valuable metric to track. But it’s trivial as a ranking element.

A fascinating observation about page speed is that a higher page speed can straight help increase conversions, and sales, improve time on page, bounce rates, and basically all the other metrics crucial to SEO.

Offered how page speed affects the other SEO metrics, it’s worth amusing the idea that page speed ought to be ranked as a higher concern.

Mismatched Goals And Metrics

Aside from page speed, there is no arrangement on which metrics are essential.

Another curious outcome is that Freelancers were uniformly divided amongst essentially all the metrics.

6.3% of freelance SEOs agreed that bounce rates, backlinks, and social engagement were critical, a three-way tie for the number 5 most important SEO metric.

The number 10 ranked SEO metric, Consumer Lifetime Value, was ranked with 5.1% votes. That’s a distinction of just 1.2% in between the fifth and the tenth most important SEO metric as voted on by freelancers.

The distinctions between the 5th and tenth-ranked SEO metrics were closer to 2 percent for the company and in-house SEO demographics.

What is clear is that freelancers might not reach any consensus. Freelancer votes yielded a three-way tie for the 5th most important metric and a two-way tie for the seventh-ranked metric (customer acquisition and page speed, 5.7%).

Freelancers were the only group where the votes ended in ties for any metrics.

The tied results indicate that freelance SEOs commonly disagree about which metrics are the most important.

Respondents who recognized as freelance may be a more comprehensive market than those who determined as company or in-house.

For example, a freelance SEO might concentrate on content writing, link structure, website auditing, regional search, affiliate work, or even a combination of several.

Taken a look at in that way, it makes sense that the freelancer SEO market is virtually evenly split as to which metrics are the most important. Their survey responses show that all the metrics are necessary.

Disconnect Between Campaign Goals And KPI Tracking

All three demographics settle on 3 metrics that are each a measurement of SEO success.

  • Rankings.
  • Page views.
  • Conversions.

Those 3 measurements are results-based KPIs of success.

Where the three SEO demographics highly disagree is on metrics that are understood to be factors to SEO success and healthy traffic.

  • Bounce rates.
  • Backlinks.
  • Social engagement.
  • Time on page.
  • Page speed.

A possible explanation for why the SEO market disagrees with the above five metrics might be unpredictability as to which of the above plays a role in Google’s algorithm and to what level.

This unpredictability about SEO elements should be acknowledged since it points to the restrictions of these metrics.

The factor for the uncertainty is that Google’s ranking algorithm is a black box.

In computing, a black box is a scenario where what is put into package is understood (SEO), and what comes out is likewise known (rankings).

But what takes place inside the box is not known.

Backlinks, social engagement, time on page, page speed, and bounce rates represent what we put into the box. Rankings are what comes out.

However no one understands what occurred inside the Google black box that resulted in the rankings.

Compounding the mystery is that nobody can precisely carry out tests to isolate what elements contributed to rankings because you only see the outcome, not the process.

This failure to see how the algorithm works doesn’t mean that social engagement or time on page, or any of the other metrics ought to not be tracked.

It just implies that one needs to be aware of the restrictions of these kinds of metrics.

The fact that the different SEO demographics do not agree on the relative value of these metrics highlights the general unpredictability of what takes place inside Google’s black box.

Result On Tracking SEO ROI

There are numerous posts about tracking the ROI of SEO, but the truth is that it can not be accurately tracked; it can only be estimated.

For example, we do not know if backlinks played a role in rankings. In some cases there are no modifications in rankings until months later on.

Did the links take a long period of time to affect the rankings, or was it a coincidence?

Social engagement is stated to be an indirect ranking factor in that it could result in more branded keyword traffic and links, which in turn influence rankings.

But once again, there is no other way to attribute the branded keyword search traffic directly and gotten links to social engagement.

Even if one could, one might still not properly confirm that those links contributed in rankings since Google’s ranking processes for each query take place in a black box.

Guarantee KPIs Support Project Goals

The State of SEO results makes it clear that selecting the very best metrics is vital to your situation.

In some cases the information is not offered, such as earnings or sales figures. However there are always other data, such as leads or conversion rates, that can demonstrate how well the SEO project is progressing.

Differentiate between actual SEO efficiency metrics (rankings, traffic), metrics that refer to site experience (page speed, time on page, bounce rate), and SEO improvements (backlinks) to get an overall photo of how well the different parts of an SEO campaign are interacting.

But also consider indirect elements such as social engagement (where proper) because, in addition to being an indirect SEO element, it’s a measurement of popularity, a reflection of how well a site is growing as a brand and a destination.

For more insights about the state of the SEO market, download the 2nd yearly State Of SEO Report.

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel