As search marketers, we get hung up on the rank of campaign terms and goals of being in the top few search results. While this is undoubtedly an important metric of SEO success, rank now more than ever only tells part of the story. For an industry built around analytics and black and white data, understanding that rank is an unreliable SEO success factor can be uncomfortable at first. While basic, the following should help those who want to understand the full picture of how SEO can impact a site beyond just your target terms and rank.

Traffic From Campaign Keywords
While looking at campaign terms and their corresponding rank, it can be easy to overlook the value of terms that are not ranking on the first page. The question that needs to be asked is, are these terms in fact not ranking on the first page? With the search engine’s continual focus around relevancy, personalization, and local results, a general SEO rank report can be misleading. What we have found through testing with client campaigns is that campaign terms can rank on the first page for some users and the second or even third for others. The population of users is likely smaller for seeing the campaign terms on the first page, but the value should not be overlooked. To measure rank alongside website traffic, we really like the simplicity of SEOMOZ’s automated software.

Volume of Traffic from the Search Engines
Along with measuring website traffic from all campaign terms, look at all traffic coming from the search engines. This is where derivatives of campaign terms can truly shine through. Undoubtedly, a successful SEO campaign will have a trickle down effect on a site and the universe of terms it ranks for through optimization. A simple measurement for this is to run a comparative traffic report for non-paid search terms from a recent month and the same month the year prior. For clean data, be sure to eliminate branded terms that likely have not been of focus for your SEO campaign.

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