Meaningful SEO Metrics at #SESLondon

Meaningful SEO Metrics at #SESLondon

22nd February 2012

The next session is all about Meaningful SEO Metrics. With more resources being dedicated to creating well optimised and keyword rich landing pages, Senior Management are demanding more proof of the return that they are investing. This session is led by Jon Myers and we have three great speakers discussing ways to move beyond the basic SEO metrics and look into more qualified measures to get the campaign budget increased to the level it needs to be at.


  • Jon Myers, SES Advisory Board; Director, Account Management, Yahoo! UK & Ireland


Up first we have Chris Boggs who is the President of SEMPO. He is going to discuss the basics of metrics – Reactionary vs. Proactive and projecting ROI from SEO.

What to Measure

An interesting slide from Chris shows what you should be measuring in your SEO campaigns in order of importance

1) Technical
From a technical standpoint you should be link checking, validating the page, analysing the server response and perform regular 301 updates to old content and pages

2) On Site Optimisation
Lots of things to be covered here including regular content audits, running keyword visibility reports, monitor organic search traffic, give keywords effectiveness scores and check that your pages are getting indexed.

3) Off Site Promotion
Measuring your offsite promotion should include inbound link reports, syndication reach reports and broken inbound link reports.

Some of the basic SEO metrics include measuring your traffic and conversions. For traffic this should be broken down by Brand vs. Non Brand and for conversions, this will depend on your site but key conversions may include sales, leads, downloads, page views etc.

You need to be keeping track of everything at a high level but should also have your metrics properly set up so that if something does go wrong you can drill down into specifics quickly.

One of the key things that Chris wanted to get across was the difference between reactive and proactive metrics and when and why you should need to measure:


  • Loss of rankings and traffic
  • Loss of onsite conversions
  • Loss of phone calls, emails etc


  • New competitor seems to be up
  • Algorithm update
  • Industry shift
  • Monthly reporting

Sites Positioned Above Mine – A great acronym for SPAM!

KEY TIP – Measure pro-actively but have a reactive plan in place as well that you can pull on when you need to.

Vertical Nuances

There are different things to look at when it comes to metrics which will have a subtle distinction depending on the niche/vertical that you are in. For example, those in Retail could measure the number of unique keywords being used to enter via organic whereas in the B2B vertical you could be analysing downstream traffic to other organisations domains. It is down to you to really understand what metric you should be measuring depending on the niche you are in.

Regardless of vertical one of the must have metrics to use across all models would be to measure Brand vs. Non Brand traffic.

Up next we have Kevin Gibbons who is going to look at how businesses can measure SEO and he wants to share how he take PPC campaign metrics and applies them to SEO.

SEO goals tend to be different to the main business goals and this is a problem. They really should align!

Rankings = Business Success

Traffic = Revenue

So how do we look at bringing business goals and seo goals in line with one and other? Taking a PPC model is great for this as a lot of the metrics can be applied to SEO too.

PPC Budget – Traffic – Revenue – Profit

Organic Rankings – Traffic – Revenue – Profit

Paid Search Metrics Organic Search Metrics
Cost per Click (CPC) Traffic
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) Conversions
Conversion Rate Conversions/Traffic x 100
ROI Revenue-SEO Costs/SEO Costs x 100

With the above in mind, there are seven meaningful metrics that you can apply to SEO.

Analyse Organic Traffic Valuation as a potential PPC media spend cost 

    1. Take your visits for a keyword and multiply this by the average CPC for that phrase
    2. This will give you the estimated media value for that phrase

Calculate the Revenue Value of SEO

You can calculate the revenue value of SEO by adding data to the below headings. Kevin recommends doing this for both brand and non branded keywords.

  1. Visits
  2. Average order value
  3. Orders
  4. Conversion Rate
  5. Revenue

Competitor Gap Analysis

Kevin uses the SearchMetrics tool to really understand where the site he is working on compares with the competition. The image below is from the slide that was shown at this stage which gives you a good understanding of the power of Gap Analysis.

Market Share Analysis

Lindex have recently launched an extremly powerful dashboard that will show you the full potential of your market and will benchmark you against your competitors. The tool uses PPC research and competitor ranking data to see how much you are missing in estimated media value. Taking this to a client and highlighting what they are missing out on will really help you when it comes to asking for more budget for your SEO campaigns.

Make it Actionable

If you haven’t already done so, you should be linking your Google Analytics Account with your Google Webmaster Tools Account. The data that you can obtain from these two platforms allows you to look at the impressions your site is getting in the organic results and compare it with actual traffic. From this you can quickly see what you are missing out on.

Break Down the SEO Campaign into a more Scalable and Measurable Project Plan

Kevin suggested that we categorise site sections as though they were PPC ad groups and put a monthly plan in place to create content and grow inbound links. Once you have this monthly plan in action, you need to ensure you keep track of the key performance indicators. You need to give yourself something to benchmark against so make sure you take note of the KPIs before you start.

Forecast Results

Find your average ranking position for target organic keywords and build an SEO forecast to show the predicted value of an SEO campaign.

Up next we have Will Critchlow who is the Founder of Distilled who is focusing on managing teams or agencies and ensuring that you have a structured reporting system in place. This ensures that you are able to highlight a potential problem BEFORE it becomes an actual problem.

The most important thing to start with is to have a plan and that plan must be signed off by your boss and the client. Everyone needs to be in agreement that the plan of action is the right one before you start on the project. There is no point having metrics for a plan that has not got sign off from everyone involved.

Structured Reporting

So back to structured reporting and the importance of measuring the input before you measure the output. Will explained that he sees reporting as being pulled into three sections; Activity, Output and Results.


Clients and other members of the team are not aware of how much goes into a project so you need to be transparent and tell them. is a great tool for time tracking so that you can really keep an eye on what is being done.

  1. What have you done?
  2. How much time have you spent?
  3. How many emails have been sent?


Think about this section a little bit like a business plan. In business plans there are a whole bunch of assumptions and midway through the project you should be able to measure those assumptions to see how you are doing against the plan.


Everyone wants to know about the results but it is important not to shout about results to early on in the project. Wait until you are sure of the results that have been generated, there is nothing worse than telling a client that a campaign is working great and then it slipping back down slightly.

  1. How much money have we made?
  2. Is there an ROI?

If there is anything holding you back with the project and the client is yet to finish a task you have set, highlight this clearly in the reporting.

Top Metrics Used at Distilled

  1. Time on Site
  2. Bounce Rate
  3. Top Level Daily Visits
  4. Keywords driving Revenue
  5. Top Line Organic brand vs non brand
  6. On Site Searches
  7. Revenue

In the Q&A the question was asked to Will, ‘What metrics do you measure at Distilled?’ and you can see the answers above. A lot of great stuff to take away from this session (hence almost 1,500 words in this post) but the key takeaway for me was to understand the niche that you are marketing and uncover the metrics for that vertical. Remember, not all verticals will have the same metrics.

This post in part made possible by a sponsoring from Majestic SEO who have the largest Link Intelligence database in Search.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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