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How to Track SEO Progress and Measure Results Beyond Rankings

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How do you track SEO progress and measure SEO results? Much of the content written on this topic focuses on tracking the right metrics. It’s easy to find a list (often lengthy) of SEO metrics and KPIs you should be tracking — but metrics really only scratch the surface of tracking SEO progress.

Keyword rankings, for example, are a common metric for search engine optimization pros. Don’t get us wrong — rankings are an important metric, but only in the right context. To understand the true value of keyword rankings (and track your SEO progress), you need to connect those rankings to what happens after they visit a landing page and become a lead.

You need to connect rankings to revenue.

To explain how best to do that, we talked with SEO consultant, Jeremy Rivera, who works with us here at Raven. Jeremy outlined the 3-step process that he uses to measure SEO success and track progress:

  1. Putting rankings into the context of organic search traffic value
  2. Setting up the right conversion tracking in Google Analytics
  3. Taking your tracking a step beyond leads and goal completions

Below, we share Jeremy’s tips for how to follow this 3-step process and tie your SEO results more meaningfully to the ultimate end-goal: revenue.

Note: Raven Tools can help you pull together Google Analytics metrics (like conversions) and keyword ranking data into a professional SEO report. Sign up and try Raven Tools free for 7 days.

 

Step 1: Understanding Rankings in the Context of How Valuable the Traffic Is in Terms of Revenue 

According to Jeremy, before you can start meaningfully tracking your SEO progress, you need to reframe the way you think about (and measure) keyword research and rankings.

The typical way to evaluate specific keywords is to look at search volume, maybe keyword difficulty, and go from there. But, as Jeremy put it, “search volume is only part of the puzzle because not everybody who searches for something is going to buy your product.”

“At the beginning of the funnel,” he added, “your objective is to show up for more searches by people who are willing to purchase. And it’s that last piece that people forget.”

A better way to think about keywords and rankings is to tie them back to commercial goals, like revenue. To do that, Jeremy uses a 5-point scale during foundational keyword research to gauge the level of buying intent for each keyword. After pulling a list of topical keywords (using Raven Tools’ SERP Tracker Keyword Suggestion tool), Jeremy assigns each keyword a point value.

  • 1 point: Competitor keywords
  • 2 points: Related keywords that aren’t a good fit for you
  • 3 points: Keywords that are in the same neighborhood as your product or service—someone doing this search might eventually need your offering, but it’s not directly related.
  • 4 points: These are closely related to your product, but not quite a 5/5.
  • 5 points: These are your slamdunk keywords that signal high buying intent for your client’s specific offering. They’re high-quality, bottom-of-funnel, and close to conversion.

Here’s an example of keywords that might fall into each of those buckets if you’re looking at keywords for a client’s site auditing tool.

site auditing tool: relevant keywords

  1. “Woorank API”
  2. “Google mobile friendly test”
  3. “How to check keyword ranking in Google Analytics”
  4. “Site audit guide”
  5. “Site auditor tools”

As Jeremy explained, “Not all of these keywords are quality— some are a 1 out of 5 when it comes to intent and search objective.” And that’s important information to know when it comes to measuring rankings and tracking your SEO performance (not to mention focusing your SEO campaigns).

“If you don’t get granular on grouping your target keywords, you’re going to be running around in circles every time the algorithm changes. Do the work ahead of time and group your keywords with an understanding of how close they are to conversion,” he said.

Without an understanding of how valuable the keyword phrases you’re targeting are, you can’t effectively measure progress with your client’s rankings. “A successful website doesn’t always mean that all keywords are growing equally,” Jeremy noted. “Not all search traffic is created equal. Not all rankings are created equal.”

 

Step 2: Conversion Tracking

Once you have an understanding of how valuable keywords and rankings have the potential to be, Jeremy recommends spending time to properly set up your Google Analytics goal conversions.

As he explained (and experienced SEOs know), “It’s about connecting the keywords you’re targeting to the potential traffic you’re going to generate. But then you have to take that next step — and this is where the huge disconnect is — to set up Google Analytics to correctly track conversions.”

But according to Jeremy, too many companies and SEOs simply don’t track the right metrics in Google Analytics. Or, they spend time setting up custom goals for the wrong metrics. “The perfect implementation means that the conversion point where your customers give you their contact information is tracked in Google Analytics,” Jeremy explained.

For many companies, that means tracking more than online conversions. It also requires that you have the right processes in place to track conversions that happen offline, most often over the phone. 

To track those conversions and tie them back to your SEO progress, Jeremy recommends using a tool like CallRail. “You put your actual phone number into the code, and CallRail dynamically replaces it with a unique number based on the source of a call. So if someone comes from organic search, they’ll see one number. If they come from paid search, they’ll see a different number.”

Sign up for a 7-day free trial with Raven Tools to measure your SEO results and track progress. Integrate 30+ data sources with your reporting dashboard, and deliver automated white-label reports to your clients.

“CallRail tracks those calls on their side, and communicates the call and its source to Google Analytics (once you connect them). Then you can set up CallRail conversions as a custom goal in Google Analytics, and you’ll be able to identify calls (and the corresponding conversions) that come in from each source.”

Note: Since you’ll need event tracking codes to accurately track that information on your website and pull it into Google Analytics, you can use the event tracking code code tool in Raven Tools to generate the codes you need.

Event Tracking Code for Google Analytics

After you’ve deployed the event tracking code on your website, you’re ready to set up your custom goals in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics tracking code

 

Step 3: Going Beyond Your Conversion Tracking

Now that you’re set up to track SEO conversions, the last step is to take things a step further and connect each of those conversions (plus the search terms and rankings that spurred them) back to commercial metrics, to the bottom line. Specifically, Jeremy recommends looking at revenue.

Once an SEO lead fills out a form and becomes a sales lead, what happens to them? How are leads handled internally? Typically, as Jeremy explained, “that gets kicked off to somebody else. If it’s a form, someone has to make that call and connect with that person. If it’s a call that’s getting tracked, then the prospect has to talk to somebody.”

Understanding how leads are handled once they convert is a key part of measuring your results from SEO. The metric Jeremy boils it down to is the lead-to-sale conversion rate: “There’s a lead-to-sale rate involved that you have to multiply by the average revenue per purchase.”

Simply, you need to know, “out of the number of leads you get, how many of those leads do you need to sell a customer?” When you know your lead-to-close rate, you can figure out:

  • On average, how much is my new customer worth?
  • Do they usually buy 1 product, 2 products, 3 products?
  • Is that $500 per product? $1,000 per product? $10 per product?

From there, you can turn that information into an estimate of the ROI of your investment and SEO efforts. To pull that all together, Jeremy noted that you need to take several numbers into account:

  • Estimated organic traffic for your keyword (based on ranking position)
  • On-page conversion rate
  • Lead-to-sale rate
  • Revenue per sale

Once you have all that information, the ROI formula looks like this:

Traffic value = [Traffic estimate for keyword] x [Conversion rate] x [Lead-to-sale rate] x [Revenue per sale]

According to Jeremy, when you get to this level, it opens up a lot of doors for in-house SEOs and SEO agencies alike. “Once you get that last piece of how much per conversion and you dial in your lead-to-sale rate, then you can come back and do the cool stuff with your forecasting.

“Then you can say. ‘If we were on the first page of Google for this term, we could make $1,000/month. We’re not on the first page, but if we were—based on our conversion rate and our lead-to-sale rate—we could make this much money.’”

Connecting keywords, search rankings, organic website traffic, and other SEO metrics back to revenue potential takes SEO tracking to a different level. As Jeremy put it, “Revenue is a much more compelling argument to make to a client than ‘Hey, we can get you ranking on the first page.’ You can prove the value and model out a reasonable path to the first page.”

 

Take Your SEO Progress Tracking and Measurement Beyond the Obvious Metrics

Metrics are a starting point for building complete and compelling SEO reports — but they aren’t the only thing that matters. To meaningfully track your search engine results and progress, you have to build a connection between SEO metrics and revenue into your overall SEO strategy, from start to finish.

By using our 3-step process outlined above, you’ll be able to build revenue into your SEO process from start to finish — and be better equipped to track progress and results in a meaningful way.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial with Raven Tools to measure your SEO results and track progress. Integrate 30+ data sources with your reporting dashboard, and deliver automated white-label reports to your clients.