4 Straightforward Methods In Measuring SEO Effectiveness

We’ve analysed four relatively simple SEO metrics in 4 Smarter Ways to Measure SEO Effectiveness (traffic, rankings, conversions, links). We’ve shown ways to add an extra layer of rigour to each of them to improve your analytical insights.

In this article, we will go one step further and introduce you to four new methods you can use to measure the value of your SEO campaigns, which are: 

  • Brand vs. non-brand clicks.
  • SEO’s impact on other channels.
  • SEO CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
  • SEO keyword performance

While some of these are more goal-oriented than others, I have found each to be a very effective way to quantify the impact of my team’s SEO efforts on our clients. (If you have your own business, they are also of interest to executives who want to assess the value of their team)

1. Brand vs. non-brand clicks

First, brand traffic indicates some level of awareness and intent, which means that these users are not new.

They may have become aware of your brand through previous SEO searches, but without segmenting the data, you have no chance of connecting those dots. 

Brand traffic is valuable, especially if you are getting traffic for {brand + product} or {brand + service} 

But the exact value may differ from whether you bring new users into your system, primarily if you use first-touch attribution.

The other reason is that in specific industries (primarily SaaS), a large portion of brand traffic comes from customers using Google to find your site so they can log in. This impacts the overall value of brand searches.

That being said, we use Google Search Console to gain insight into searches for brands vs non-brands 

You could also use Ahrefs or Semrush to do the same thing, but we prefer GSC (although the UI is not as fancy) because all the data comes directly from Google. 

Even though it’s just a data sample, we think it’s more accurate than third-party tools, and the best organic measurement tries to reduce ambiguity as much as possible.

Of course, since it’s only a sample, GSC is not perfect, and I tell my clients that clearly.

If we all agree that this is the best option for measuring brand and non-brand traffic, I will:

  • Export keyword data (a subset of total traffic) from GSC within a date range.
  • Remove/filter all keywords that mention the brand.
  • Calculate the percentage of non-brand keyword data compared to that of the brand.

Based on Econsultancy , this is what it will look like:

Once you have collected this data over several months, you will get a good insight into the exact trends for non-brands and brands.

2. SEO’s impact on other channels

While SEO can lead directly to conversions (as I’ll explain in more detail in a moment), much of the value of SEO comes from up-funnel engagement. 

It’s prevalent for good SEO campaigns to introduce and educate users about brands and products/services, only to have users convert to other, more transactional channels.

So what is the value of these contacts? 

How do we measure the impact of SEO on downstream metrics?

At the macro level, I am looking at whether there is a correlation over time between increased SEO traffic and lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) on other channels.

If SEO engagement is growing a lot, and performance marketing is becoming more efficient, that’s a signal to dig into your traffic mix and close/sales mix to see precisely:

  • Where leads are coming from.
  • Channels are bringing in information at an excellent close rate.

One of the most promising features of GA4 that I have been interacting with is that after setting up events/conversions, there is an attribution model that shows multi-touch attribution so that you can get a direct measurement of touchpoints in a conversion channel. You can get good data and insight into the relationship between SEO and other channels – whether in a large enterprise that shows you macro trends or an SME where a single SEO-related conversion can change the performance picture.

3. SEO customer acquisition cost

One of my favourite metrics to calculate is the SEO Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) 

We’ve heard quite a few times over the years that SEO fees are high – especially during disruption. But if you can present SEO’s ROI to the budget folks, you are probably in good shape.

First, choose a system (GA4, Looker, Mixpanel, etc.) that lets you track engagement. 

Choose an attribution model and create a channel report to track signups, leads, demo requests, etc. (or product views, items added to cart, conversions, etc. if you are in e-commerce) 

Ultimately, you’ll want to assign an approximate number of events with attributed value to your SEO campaigns.

Next, look at your SEO costs per month. These usually consist of agency and internal resource fees, as well as the cost of technical equipment. 

Apply these costs to figure out how much you are paying for these users (and events) 

For example, if you pay an SEO agency $10,000 per month for SEO and content writing, and the SEO channel delivers 200 last-click signups that month, you might report a simplified CAC of $50 for SEO 

With metrics like these, you can almost certainly show a high return on investment compared to the CPC of the paid channels. 

Also, you can compare this CAC number to an LTV data point to see the value. 

If your client’s LTV is more significant than SEO CAC, you are well on showing SEO as a profitable marketing channel. 

You do not have to reinvent reporting for SEO but compare apples to apples when parties use performance data for comparison.

4. SEO keyword performance

SEO connoisseurs will fondly recall the time before 2011 when Google started replacing valuable keyword-level data with “keyword not provided.” 

It’s much harder to determine and quantify keyword performance and value accurately, but you can put some pieces together to get closer.

Understanding the interplay between SEO and paid search is critical and helps with how to attribute signups to specific keywords when you can only find traffic in GSC.

Paid search provides accurate, up-to-the-minute keyword data. 

If you use the exact keywords in paid and organic search, you can take the rough conversion percentage from paid search and extrapolate the value of organic engagement.

Even if you do not have access to paid search data, there are scenarios where you can assign a value. 

Let us say you create a “programme features” page for a SaaS product that ranks on page one for a long-tail, non-brand term. 

You can look at how visitors convert on that page (GA4, Looker, Mixpanel) and triangulate the evolution of that keyword.

So if 80% of the traffic on the page is coming from the long-tail keyword (which you can find in GSC), you can say that there is a high probability that visitors are converting from that keyword.

Are these methods accurate? No 

Are they effective in targeting? Yes.

Conclusion

GA4 progress aside, SEO measurement is an exercise in imperfection.

That does not mean you should settle for the essential metrics you get from Google or third-party platforms. 

Be transparent about how you get your numbers and that they are directional and not 100% accurate.

Flex your analytical muscles to dig a little deeper and understand how your efforts are driving actual business results 

It isn’t easy to measure the impact of SEO beyond essential traffic and keyword ranking. 

That’s why real insights into SEO business are valuable in helping executives and decision-makers assess the value of SEO in the marketing mix.

D’Marketing Agency is the best digital marketing agency in Singapore specializing in effective SEO tactics, on-page optimization, link building and many more. Contact D’Marketing Agency to help you improve your website organic traffic.

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