How to measure SEO performance (and explain it to non-marketers)

“Is SEO even doing anything for our website?”

“How is SEO actually helping my business?”

“What has all this SEO work done for me?”

If you’ve heard any of these questions from your clients, this article is for you.

When you’re running SEO activity yourself, you’ll know exactly which metrics you’re measuring to gauge how well it’s all working. But for business owners with no marketing experience, it can be hard to understand how a higher Click-Through Rate (CTR) really benefits them.

We’ve already shared an article about how to measure SEO performance but this article is designed to help you break it down in a way that non-marketers can appreciate.

The customer journey through Google Search

There are several steps a user has to go through to get from their original search query to the final conversion on a website (e.g. buying a product or getting in touch). By separating each step of this journey, you (and your client) can understand exactly which areas are working well and which areas need more improvement. A classic example of this is being able to understand why higher rankings are not generating more conversions.

The three stages we like to break this journey into are:

  • Visibility – are users finding you in search results?
  • Consideration – are users willing to click on your links and hear what you have to say?
  • Conversion – once on the site, have you convinced them to take a specific action?

Measuring each stage of SEO Performance

Measuring visibility in search results

If your website isn’t visible in Google Search results in the first place, you’re not going to get any traffic to convert. For this reason, increasing a website’s visibility in the search results is a large part of most marketeer’s SEO activity. You’ll need to measure visibility through both organic search rankings and impressions. While rankings tend to be a primary metric for many business owners, these don’t always translate into impressions. By tracking impressions as well as rankings you can give these businesses a good indication of how many people are seeing their website in search results.

Measuring consideration in search results

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing all of their SEO performance tracking on the visibility stage (after all, we all shout about rankings from the rooftops). But getting someone to see your website in search results is only the first step. The next step (and arguably the most crucial) is to get them to choose your result over the other 9 on the page – not to mention the other pages of results. This is where you should measure CTR – a measurement of what percentage of people who saw your website in search results chose to click on it. Your CTR will give you an indication of what people (not Google) really think of your result compared to the competitors above and below you allowing you to make changes to your title tag and meta description if you need to make it more appealing.

Not sure how to find data on impressions or CTR?

You can find all of this information for free using Google Search Console!

Measuring conversions from search results

Let’s be honest, all businesses want conversions. Whether it’s leads, purchases, sign-ups, conversions are what drive businesses forward so business owners need to know how the SEO activity is impacting them. By setting up goals in Google Analytics, you can use the channels report to understand how organic search is driving conversions compared to other marketing channels.

Separating this stage from the visibility stage is important if you’re going to be able to carry out the right activity to improve performance. Some business owners think that they’ll be guaranteed more conversions simply by ranking higher for a certain keyword – but we know that’s not always the case. While the stages are linked (since you can’t convert someone if they can’t find your website in the first place), improving conversions is much more about improving the user experience through web design, calls to action and page speed.

SEO isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s a lot easier when you’re making adjustments based on accurate conclusions. If your impressions are increasing but your conversions are down, it’s more likely that you need to improve something for the user on the website rather than needing to improve rankings.

If your agency needs SEO support (or someone else to pawn difficult clients off to), get in touch with our team. We can provide both white label services and transparent partnerships to help your digital agency grow.