SEO Performance Should Be Measured On Search Conversions

Mar 14, 2013 • 8:51 am | comments (20) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

search conversionsA WebmasterWorld thread asks how can one judge and report on the SEO performance metrics when ranking reports are dead, when not provided is surging, when we have knowledge graph, Google+ and so on?

If we cannot tell a client that they went from position A to position B, how can they measure the value of SEO work?

The answer may be simpler than you'd expect, as goodROI Greg Niland explained in the thread. You want to provide search conversions, conversions generated by search referrals.

A conversion can be anything from an e-commerce sale to downloading a white paper or clicking on a contact us form.

SEOs need to get off the mindset of measuring their value on ranking for a set number of keywords and onto the mindset of increasing conversions through search.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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03/14/2013 01:04 pm

Unfortunately, clients can still and will still punch their keywords into Google and ask why they aren't in the top 3 on the first page.


03/14/2013 02:03 pm

That's so true. For some clients, rankings are something they are paying you for. Get them ranked in top 3 or let them go to someone else is all they talk about.

Josh Zehtabchi

03/14/2013 02:32 pm

It's the SEO's responsibility to educate the client and to gauge realistic expectations. This should be done in every case; however, we know it's not.


03/14/2013 02:39 pm

I'd love to see a video that shows how this is done.


03/14/2013 04:53 pm

I love the idea. But for to many people SEO is only valid if you have some SERP´s on it. We must educate to get an idea of what the ROI is about and how to measure it.

Nick Ker

03/14/2013 05:22 pm

True. But how many times after you have done everything imaginable to educate clients about better metrics, why keyword X they thought was the best is in fact useless, and even demonstrate higher conversion rates, better traffic and greatly increased revenue have you had a client come back to you and say, "but I am still not #1 for keyword X"? It is frustrating that hacks have some clients so conditioned to only look at keywords and believe that ONLY those 5-10 magical keywords are affected by SEO. Show them how they now rank for 50 more things than they did before and they think that "just happened on its own". As fewer SEOs offer keyword position reports as their main metric, I really hope this changes and more people learn more useful ways to measure progress.

Josh Zehtabchi

03/14/2013 05:26 pm

Granted, you're right. It's human nature. To your latter point, you're correct, it's cheap spam that mass emails "Page 1 of Google in 30 days or your money back" that are kicking us around. Little do these clients know, that page 1 is simply PPC that's misrepresented. Sad times, for sure. FYI, I've been pushing branding hard to a lot of my clients and for good reason. You get a more natural and more spread out result of ranking. Rather than putting all of your eggs into X keyword number baskets; I tell my clients our 'main focus' is XYZ keyword... However, as branding is becoming more important I suggest we break away from the rule and do a few branded links to let Google decide the pages and keywords that should rank. That, in conjunction with ethical and proper link building has shown some decent results.

Daniel Foley

03/14/2013 05:29 pm

Did Google pay you to say this? Funny how this advice is given at a similar time to Google tightening their allowances on query rates? The big G is getting too cocky now! If clients want rankings we have a responsibility to show them where they are in the SERPS, conversion data is great, but how can you focus on a content strategy in the hope for increased conversions?

Mike Bender

03/14/2013 06:22 pm

And to take it a step further, I'd point out the acquisition cost of generating those conversions over the organic channel.

Dario Petkovic

03/15/2013 04:16 am

Very timely article for me as rankings are all over the place and I can't/don't guarantee rankings any more. I educate clients but if they're not happy, let them go - cant keep them all

Search Driven Labs

03/15/2013 07:13 am

What is the better way to get rank back? We have dropped out the ranking from last two weeks. What is the solution for this?

kevin Gallagher

03/15/2013 08:53 am

Never a truer statement. If your clients are still fixated on rankings. We believe it is our job to educate them.

Link Juice

03/15/2013 11:18 am

I think it was Aaron Wall who said "I only report to the bottom line" - meaning conversions - and I've been using that line ever since. Clients can moan all day about their lack of rankings for generic high traffic vanity keywords but they can't argue with a conversion report that shows positive ROI


03/15/2013 05:44 pm

Completely on board with this statement, but I still provide a ranking report to satisfy their demands.

Josef Holm

03/15/2013 09:58 pm

No rankings = no conversions that's never going to change. Of course conversions are the goal but keyword rankings are the means to achieve the goal. You need to look at both to see the big picture.

Creative Edge

03/17/2013 07:43 am

I agree. A friend of mine was able to get ranking for all keywords on the first page ended up in front of the marketing head who wanted to know why their lead generation is still not increasing. The problem was actually the marketing head who had not created a marketing plan. Just ranking may not translate into lead generation. Good marketing plan should have identified the USP for the business and ensured that people do get to see the USP right upfront on the target pages.

Ron VanPeursem

03/22/2013 08:55 am

Those conversions and decisions to download a White Paper or sign up for alerts are not strictly an SEO measurement. Sure; these things DEPEND on good SEO to get the visitor close enough to "convert". But that visitor is not going to convert simply because he came to your site from a #3 rank at the SERP! He's going to convert because, once he gets there, he sees excellent content that genuinely answers his questions and demonstrates authority. If SEOs are going to measure conversions, they better have a voice into the content marketing side of the company, or the SEO will end up carrying the bag for something he can't control.

website seo

03/25/2013 01:15 pm

clients just want their website on top and its tough to make them understand the value of work we do.

Thomas Kane

04/04/2013 10:57 pm

Completely agree. If you are selling people, you are giving them the information they are looking for. You are educating them & inspiring them to make contact, which is what every site should do.

Spook SEO

02/02/2014 04:24 pm

Yes, I also agree that SEO performance should be measured on search conversion. In this way we can measure the value of SEO work. Have a nice day to you Barry!

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