SEO ROI: How To Guarantee Efficiency Tracking Matches Goals

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It’s vital to track SEO performance to comprehend what activities work and which are not.

However, there are multiple reasons why it’s hard to properly approximate the ROI (roi) of an SEO campaign, starting with difference as to which metrics are essential.

The State of SEO report reveals some consensus regarding which metrics work however that there is much dispute.

Top 3 SEO Metrics

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

But the top three SEO project goals and KPIs (crucial performance indicators) from the report are the exact same.

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

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

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

While there is contract about the leading three SEO metrics, there is a broad variance of viewpoints regarding the relative value of the rest of the metrics.

That is essential since those other metrics can represent project objectives and KPIs.

Why Is Determining KPIs So Difficult?

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

Privacy laws are sunsetting many forms of tracking.

However there are also real-world obstacles. Search marketer Adam Humphreys, Founder of Making 8, relates:

“Communications with the customer and their often high turnover of reception makes tracking conversions beyond our lead tracking harder. With call tracking, if the customer receptionist forgets to validate a consultation lead for tracking software, we just know that it was a leader/new call. The lifetime value of clients can drastically vary.

The kickstart meeting is the most crucial time for SEO experts to learn what product service offerings are provided, the most often sold, experienced with, and the greatest return offerings.

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

For ecommerce, nevertheless, we can really closely track ROAS. It is very important to understand that SEO is an investment, and like going to the health club, it takes some time to optimize everything.

This understanding is why we have our proprietary triage formula for material to align with client requirements. Lead tracking SEO is just as great as clients understanding their numbers. Some are incredible, while others are rather satisfying.

The fundamental part is we continually track and are liable for outcomes. We can therefore see the seasonality of SEO and when something is off that requires to be optimized.”

The Fourth Essential SEO Metric

Both the agency and freelance SEOs ranked Income as the fourth essential SEO metric.

Internal SEOs ranked Marketing Qualified Leads as the 4th essential SEO metric.

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

The reason internal SEOs disagree on which SEO metrics are crucial is the workplace.

The workplace surprisingly impacts which SEO metrics are considered most important.

This phenomenon is clearly viewable in the fourth crucial SEO metric revealed by the State of SEO Study.

Obviously, earnings is important to in-house SEOs. However it is not given as a leading concern in the survey for factors particular to the work environment.

Revenue is usually tracked beyond internal SEO. It’s the obligation of another department or layer of management.

Even in a smaller sized in-house function, the management layer may not share specific revenue numbers.

In some cases, especially in larger companies, the earnings numbers are closely guarded and not shown the SEO department.

Australia-based search marketer Ash Nallawalla, who has decades of internal SEO experience, described:

“In every large 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 income breakdown was concealed. e.g., which item was the most successful. Even conversions are unclear cut in big business.”

The function of internal SEO in many verticals is primarily interested in keeping the leads rolling in.

So it makes sense that Marketing Qualified Lead is ranked number 4 by in-house SEOs. It shows their responsibilities and how the workplace influences which KPI is necessary to their SEO implementation.

Revenue is ranked 4th most important by company and freelancer SEOs, potentially since that may be important to their customer base of little and medium organizations (SMB).

The (hopefully) increased revenue metric validates the work of a company or a freelance SEO.

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

Adam Humphreys describes why:

“The issue is customers will video game the earnings as to prevent paying more, and if they have an acceptable front end, and so on, it might result in less income. Bad in-store experiences might likewise lead to less profits.

This is why I would state it’s not the very best way to measure success. Qualified leads are more what I would state is the very best metric of success. What the customer does after is up to them.”

The Five Through Ten Essential SEO KPIs

All 3 SEO demographics diverge completely about what the next top-ranked metrics need to be.

There is agreement regarding the leading 3 most important SEO metrics.

The 4th essential SEO metric is mostly a reflection of responsibilities.

But positions five through ten are where the top metrics appear to end up being a matter of viewpoint.

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


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


5. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic: 6.5%.6. Backlinks: 6.1%.7. Earnings: 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 Memberships: 5.4.10. Consumer Lifetime Value (CLV): 5.1.

Page Speed is the only metric that all three groups agree on.

Page Speed is a recognized ranking aspect.

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

The survey results verify what everyone knows, that Page Speed is an important metric to track. But it’s not important as a ranking aspect.

An interesting observation about page speed is that a greater page speed can directly help increase conversions, and sales, enhance time on page, bounce rates, and practically all the other metrics essential to SEO.

Provided how page speed affects the other SEO metrics, it deserves entertaining the concept that page speed must be ranked as a greater top priority.

Mismatched Goals And Metrics

Aside from page speed, there is no agreement on which metrics are crucial.

Another curious outcome is that Freelancers were equally split among essentially all the metrics.

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

The number 10 ranked SEO metric, Consumer Lifetime Worth, was rated with 5.1% votes. That’s a difference of only 1.2% in between the fifth and the tenth essential SEO metric as voted on by freelancers.

The differences between the fifth and tenth-ranked SEO metrics were closer to 2 percent for the company and internal SEO demographics.

What is clear is that freelancers could 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 market where the votes ended in ties for any metrics.

The tied outcomes show that freelance SEOs commonly disagree about which metrics are the most vital.

Participants who determined as freelance may be a wider market than those who determined as firm or in-house.

For example, a freelance SEO might specialize in content writing, link building, website auditing, local search, affiliate work, and even a combination of one or more.

Taken a look at in that way, it makes good sense that the freelancer SEO demographic is essentially evenly divided as to which metrics are the most essential. Their survey responses suggest that all the metrics are vital.

Disconnect Between Campaign Goals And KPI Tracking

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

  • Rankings.
  • Page views.
  • Conversions.

Those three measurements are results-based KPIs of success.

Where the 3 SEO demographics highly disagree is on metrics that are understood to be contributors 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 5 metrics might be uncertainty regarding which of the above contributes in Google’s algorithm and to what extent.

This unpredictability about SEO aspects must be acknowledged since it indicates the limitations of these metrics.

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

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

But what happens inside the box is not understood.

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

But nobody knows what took place inside the Google black box that led to the rankings.

Compounding the secret is that nobody can precisely perform tests to separate what aspects contributed to rankings because you just see the result, not the procedure.

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

It simply suggests that one has to understand 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 basic unpredictability of what occurs inside Google’s black box.

Result On Tracking SEO ROI

There are numerous articles about tracking the ROI of SEO, however the reality is that it can not be accurately tracked; it can just be estimated.

For example, we do not know if backlinks played a role in rankings. Often there are no modifications in rankings up until months later.

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

Social engagement is said to be an indirect ranking consider that it could lead to more branded keyword traffic and links, which in turn affect rankings.

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

Even if one could, one could still not accurately verify that those links contributed in rankings since Google’s ranking processes for each question happen in a black box.

Make Sure KPIs Support Campaign Goals

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

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

Distinguish between real SEO performance metrics (rankings, traffic), metrics that relate to website experience (page speed, time on page, bounce rate), and SEO enhancements (backlinks) to get an overall picture of how well the different parts of an SEO campaign are interacting.

However likewise think about indirect elements such as social engagement (where appropriate) because, in addition to being an indirect SEO aspect, it’s a measurement of appeal, a reflection of how well a website is growing as a brand and a destination.

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

Included Image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel