What SEO KPI Do You Track To Show Value To Clients?

Please, for the love of god, if your first instinct was to say to yourself “What is this guy, crazy? Rankings, of course! What else is there?” please, please stick around and read the rest of this post. I’m going to make your life easier! We’ll talk about some more eclectic Key Performance Indicators (KPI) here- everyone already knows about Visits, Visitors, Pages per Visit, Time on Site and Bounce Rate. Wow, just typing that sentence made me yawn! We’ll examine some other ways to show clients wins here.

Rankings– Rankings, to me, are a super problematic KPI. It starts during the sales process- most clients seek out an SEO firm because they want better rankings, and traditionally, the one-sentence answer to “what the hell do SEO’s do” is “we make sites rank higher on Google’s and the other SERPs”. However, rankings are super problematic nowadays- the advent of personalized search means that there really is no such thing as “rankings” any more”. I am really, really downplaying the importance of rankings as anything but a barometer of site health with all of my clients and I recommend you do, too. Also, try to get your sales guys on board with this! Selling “high rankings” is selling about 5% of the value of what SEO’s actually do.

Indexation– How many of the site’s pages are in Google’s index? There’s a concept that my friend, SEO extraordinaire Chris Hart introduced me to, called a site’s “contextual footprint”, and what it means is basically what kind of presence does your brand and its site have on the Web? A big part of this is the number of pages you have indexed, all other things being equal the site with more pages indexed is the site that’s going to “win” the rankings. Interestingly, I was exposed to another indexation phenomenon this week- I have a client that has maybe a few hundred pages on their site, however, if you do a site: search Google has 150,000 URLs in their index. If you’d like to answer this in the comments I’d appreciate it but here’s the question: is it better to let Google think there are 150,000 URLs on the site? Or is it better to re-run a sitemap, and condense all the authority to the pages that actually exist and are authoritative? I’ll give my answer if anyone comments 😉

Site Speed– increasingly important in Google’s algorithm is how fast your site loads- especially on mobile devices. Have you seen the Black Friday numbers yet? Percentages of those shopping on smart phones and tablets is higher than ever- you can bet that the speed of your site is going to continue to be an important factor to marketing moving forward, and providing your clients with recommendations to speed up the site and crawls of the site is an excellent value proposition.

Number of KW sending traffic to the site– I have clients that are 14th for one vanity term and blindly instruct me to solely work on the #1 ranking for that term because it’s a vanity term that their sales guys use- “you should buy from us because we’re #1! Even Google thinks so!” However, they are ignoring the fact that the sites ranking highly for that one vanity term are only getting traffic from a handful of terms while their site is pulling visitors from 35,000 different keywords. If you can show over time that the site is attracting traffic from a more diverse set of search queries, that should be an easy and obvious win!

Traffic vs. Industry Trend– If your client sells “blue widgets” and search volume for “blue widgets” is down 50% over last year, but your client’s organic traffic is only down 25% that is definitely a win. It might take some convincing, but a smart client will realize that! You can check industry trend data with an expensive tool like Hitwise or an inexpensive (meaning free) one like Google Trends.

There are more, but that’s for another post!

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