In a previous post we tried to drive home the point that while not completely unimportant, search engine rankings are not the KPIs you should be using to gauge the success of your SEO efforts. In a dynamic industry that sees hundreds of algorithm changes a year and offers so much opportunity to boost your online presence using alternative methods, a focus on rankings is at best short-sighted and at worst, harmful.
If the only goal is to obtain rankings, companies often use risky tactics to service this goal, which leaves their websites susceptible to Google penalties and unprepared for algorithm changes. This goal also does nothing to ensure any semblance of a long term plan, as search engine rankings are merely a reflection of a single point in time.
But if rankings aren't the key performance indicator of a successful SEO strategy, what elements should you be looking at?
Organic Search Traffic Volume
Tracking the performance of particular keywords that are driving traffic via organic search allows you to discern how you generate website traffic. Furthermore, you can gauge the performance of these terms over a long period of time and understand seasonal differences, peaks, drops and patterns.
However, the ability to do this will likely soon be eliminated, given that Google is in the process of encrypting all keyword data, apart from paid search.
This means that you will no longer be able to measure traffic by individual search terms.
Closed-loop marketing software allows you to quantify the effectiveness of your digital marketing and gain insight into the number of leads and sales you were able to generate through organic search.
This is the ideal solution to measure your SEO efforts because it conveys the impact of your SEO efforts on your company's bottom line; something that tracking search engine rankings can't do.
Track Your Content
Unless you've been extremely inattentive, you'll know that any talk of SEO now emphasizes the importance of high-quality content creation.
Less discussed is the critical role that measuring content plays.
Content performance is a good indication of SEO performance because you can discern, for example, how your content has impacted lead generation and even how the leads you capture are translating to revenue.
You can also get a pretty good idea of what topics are generating the most interest and driving the most traffic or conversions.
SEO requires an abundance of time and resources. Today, it is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you focus solely on rankings as the key performance indicator of your SEO efforts, you are missing other important elements you should be measuring. Yes, you can keep an eye on rankings, but don't let them control you.
Instead, focus on other KPIs like the ones mentioned above; they will not only give you a better indication of how your methods are performing, but will allow you to make the necessary improvements to your entire SEO strategy.
Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.