Should Rankings Be Your Main KPI for Search Engine Optimization?I recently came across the HubSpot 2021 State of Marketing report and I was surprised to find that so many companies are still using keyword rankings as the main measure of SEO success. Here at Zozimus, we don’t consider keyword rankings a top Key Performance Indicator (KPI). The only one of the seven KPIs below that we use is organic traffic. When I shared this graphic on social media I got a lot of feedback from within the SEO community around the importance of keywords as a KPI. The sentiment within the SEO community is that keywords are a great leading indicator of the success of an SEO program. In order to drive website conversions you need traffic and thus rankings which we agree with. Our POV is that keyword rankings are not the principal KPI of a successful SEO strategy. If a keyword ranks number one on Google and does not drive traffic, leads and conversions would it be considered a success? We don’t believe so. How do we measure the success of our SEO efforts at Zozimus? Here are the five metrics we use.
ConversionsThe top SEO metric we measure for our clients is conversions – either an increase in leads and/or sales. Clients engage Zozimus to generate business results. The C-Suite question is not about search engine rankings. Rather, it is about leads and/or sales from organic search and how we can scale that channel.
TrafficOur second most important organic search KPI is website traffic. Are we driving more organic traffic than we were last month, last quarter, and last year? The C-Suite questions are “What are you projecting for traffic in the upcoming month and quarter? How can you grow organic traffic faster?”
Growth in organic trafficBuilding awareness around a brand or product involves more than SEO, but SEO is really useful in capturing the growth of people searching for your brand. The C-Suite question is, “Are more people searching for our company or brand than they were a year ago?”
Revenue per visitorRelated to conversions, another metric that we follow closely is revenue per organic website visitor. What is the value of each website visitor and does it take more, or less, sessions to create a conversion than it did last month, last quarter and last year? We find this to be a really useful metric when it comes to prioritizing SEO recommendations. Implementation happens much quicker when you can show a projected $100,000+ increase in monthly revenue from a website change.
Expected traffic per pageThe first keyword related metric we look at is expected traffic by page. Using Google Search Data and CTR data, we can model the expected search traffic that each page should generate based on the sum of the keywords that page is ranking for. Did the page get more or less search traffic than expected?
Next Steps?As you can tell, we don’t ignore keyword rankings, but we consider them to be leading indicators of success and not the main KPIs. These metrics give SEO a seat at the table because they all have direct links to the business goal of increasing revenue and can easily be included in decks to the C-Suite or Board of Directors. We are seeing incredible results for our clients. Don’t go it alone, reach out, say hi, and see how Zozimus can help.
David Wilson is a veteran Marketing Executive experienced in designing, developing, and executing on performance marketing campaigns across digital marketing channels like SEO, Paid Search, Programmatic, ConnectedTV, Social Media and OOH.