Getting the most out of SEO is low-hanging fruit to drive qualified leads into the top of the funnel. You may think you have SEO covered, but is your team really driving success, or just activity?  I have put together the top three KPI’s to measure SEO success (Sign-up for the Make the Number tour to receive a copy of our SEO KPI Tracker template here). This post serves as a tool for you to understand the top three KPIs, why they are important to you, and context to provide your team SEO direction to drive more leads.


Buyers have changed, but has your SEO strategy?

Today you are likely used to seeing activity reports with vast amounts of data that seems to point to success. However, simply measuring SEO by tracking your rankings is an out dated practice. Search engine rankings today are different for every searcher due to search engines advancement of personalized and social search results. Knowing how you are performing and setting yourself up for success is best started with measuring the KPI’s below. This will help you a gauge how well your SEO program is performing.


TOP 3 SEO Growth KPI’s That Drive Leads


1. Quantity of Website Pages Receiving SEO Traffic

Don’t get lost in the chatter of focusing on the quantity of pages indexed by search engines. This is a leading indicator, but not success. Track those pages receiving traffic from search engines and validate it’s the right kind of traffic. Your content marketing strategy should be leveraging every piece of content and ensuring that it is optimized content. That content should be optimized using keyword search terms that your buyers actually use to search and the content is quality, as well as written in a way that speaks to them.


Often when auditing your website content, you will find several, if not dozens or hundreds of pages that can be improved. Think of growing the number of pages receiving SEO traffic as incremental net new traffic that convert to leads. This is where the total website traffic from “long-tail“ keywords (collection of multiple variation of keywords outside of your top keywords) can produce even more traffic than your top 10 keywords.


2. Organic Keyword Traffic by Brand vs. Non-Brand Keywords 

When you measure traffic from organic search terms, you must measure Brand vs. Non-Brand Keywords. Brand Keywords are the search terms that include your company name, slogans, key personnel names or proprietary product/services names. Non-Brand Keywords are search terms that do not include any of the brand terms identified above. 


Below is an example report reflecting the ideal B2B mix of branded vs. non-branded keywords. Be concerned of reports that show heavy branded keywords (Unless you’re the brand manager of Dove Dishwashing Soap).


brand vs nonbrand seo keywords


The reason you measure Brand vs. Non-Brand Keywords separately is because brand terms can easily mask problems with non-brand keyword growth. Brand keywords are practically effortless to rank #1 and often represent searchers that already decided to find your company. Also, these brand searches could be driven from other marketing efforts such as email, conference events or news.


Non-Brand Keywords represent a richer source of net new leads of prospects searching by an area of interest. Not separating the reporting of these two types of keywords can leave you clueless of true impact. Also, you could be losing Non-Brand Keyword traffic and not even realize there is an optimization problem or that a new competitor joined the space. Worst yet, a member of your team could ‘optimize’ for lower cost and essentially de-optimize your entire effort by pulling out of the most valuable non-branded keywords.


Focus your KPI’s on tracking and optimizing Non-Brand Keyword growth. This is where new buyers find your company to begin the process of becoming a new lead. The website traffic from Non-Brand Keywords is what fills the top of the funnel. Shift the focus to measuring Non-Brand Keyword growth separately for true success.


3. Natural Link Growth

Search engines rely on links from other websites as a reliable barometer of quality and authority. Links pointing from other sites to your website represent a major factor in determining your ranking. The belief by search engines is that quality content is a page that acquires links.


The KPI here to monitor is the number of natural links and linking domains. In particular, monitor the “anchor text” of those links (your team can monitor with SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer) to appear natural and are not being over optimized by target anchor text keywords. When I say natural, I mean that the actual text in the link that points to your site is largely made up of your  brand name, URL, or even the word “click here” that points to your website. If a large percent of your anchor text consists of your target keywords, you are going to be seen in the search engines eyes as manipulating their results and dinged in the algorithm.  Tracking natural links places your team on a path to SEO success.


In Summary

Search Engine marketing is where prospects begin the process of their buyer’s journey. The best way to know if your demand generation program is getting your company in front of these new buyers is by measuring your SEO program with the KPI’s above. 


Get a copy of a template to measure these top SEO KPI’s at SBI’s 6th annual Make The Number Seminar Here. At this event, you can see the 2013 Lead Generation Strategies of World-Class CMO’s. If you want to set yourself up for a great year, attend this limited time no-cost seminar that can be attended virtually or at your own headquarters.