How to Measure the Impact of SEO

One of the questions I invariably get after I give a speech on measurement is, “How do I measure the impact of my earned media efforts on our  SEO (Search Engine Optimization?”

Essentially SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of making sure the right words, images, titles, and links are in your content to ensure it gets to the top of the page when someone does an Internet search for who you are or whatever it is that you sell.

More and more companies are using PR and content marketing to drive up their search rankings. So when someone asks me, “What about SEO?” my answer is always the same: “It’s all about SEO.” 71 percent of purchasing decisions today start with a search. So, one might argue that everything a professional communicator does should be geared toward improving your search rankings and being in the right search categories. But it doesn’t stop there. SEO plays a role throughout the decision process. Good SEO has value beyond just the initial research.

But how do you measure your impact on that SEO ranking? Here’s an example: Sodexo recently launched an integrated PR campaign the goal of which was to improve their search standing. They churned out press releases at an astonishing pace, four releases a week for a month. Each one was about a different aspect of the company’s service, areas that most people were completely unaware of. Remember the goal was SEO, not media coverage. And while a couple of the releases did in fact generate coverage, the business value was elsewhere. After a month, the specific services that had been virtually invisible to Google before were now showing up on the first page. Additionally by getting their stories out there on news sites, they had a nearly 100% increase in share of voice vs. the competition, and double the amount of traffic to their press releases. Best of all there was a 14% lift in traffic to their content site Sodexo Insights, as well as a corresponding lift in inquires and sales leads.

The good news is that people have been measuring SEO for years. All you really need to start is Google Analytics. GA reports the percent of traffic and conversions on your website that originate from organic search vs. direct (someone types in your URL) or paid. That is your basic SEO success metric: are you increasing conversions from organic search vs. all the other paid/owned activities?

So log into your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t yet set up any goal conversions, watch our video and set up at least one. Then go to the Conversion section of Google Analytics and click on Multi-Channel Funnels. Click on Overview and you should see something like this:

What you want to see is the percent of organic search increasing. You can also check your overall traffic by search by clicking on Acquisitions and then on Source/Medium and you’ll see this:

Google has a new tool called Search Console that will help you improve your results.  If you don’t already, you should subscribe to Search Engine Watch, a great resource for tips for improving your search rankings.

I’d go into more detail but Avinash Kaushik and others have already written about it in depth. So I suggest you start by reading the following great tutorials. And if you have questions, just ask me by email, or in my monthly Measurement Hour.

  1. Avinash Kaushik: “How do you measure SEO performance on a page level? I’d like to know how well my seo efforts for a particular pages have performed.”
  2. MOZ: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. This is the ultimate guide to everything SEO.
  3. Kissmetrics Blog: “5 Must-Know Google Analytics Strategies To Measure SEO Success.” This is a great and simple way to start, it walks you through the steps.
  4. And for ROI, read Michael Akinlaby: “How To Measure The ROI Of Your SEO Campaign.”

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