Before hiring SEO agencies, companies should assess the potential benefits they can get from search engine optimization. While reaching the top of search engine rankings is an alluring proposal, you can never be certain that this marketing strategy will actually be worth the money.

Another issue is that website engagement metrics tend to be misleading. Even if you can reach the top spots in search engine results, you might struggle to make sales. What’s worse, SEO experts often don’t help with conversion as they tend to focus on their primary tasks (increasing search visibility, links, and content quantity).

This is why business owners should be meticulous when assessing the impact of search optimization. Aside from defining goals, they need to properly interpret complex data to understand potential benefits.

3 Main considerations when analyzing SEO value

When measuring the value of SEO, a business owner should focus on 3 main things:

  1. Return on investment

Return on investment, or ROI, is a basic yet vital metric for assessing the potential results of any business endeavor. With it, a company owner is trying to predict how much money a marketing or SEO strategy could generate for a brand. While the model is usually unreliable, especially when measuring the SEO impact, it’s the best approximation we have.

Analyzing ROI is crucial for two reasons. First, we use it to determine how much money we can get in return for each dollar spent. Secondly, after analyzing SEO value, you can compare it with the ROI of other internet marketing strategies. That way, you can make sure search engine optimization is the best channel for your brand.

  1. Place within budget

Even if SEO strategies might seem worthwhile, there are cases in which you won’t implement them. For example, certain companies prefer using their money to invest in machines and inventory. The others need stable cash flow to maintain their primary operations.

Whatever the case, SEO value should be analyzed based on potential returns but also their place within a business’ budget. Most notably, you should always remember that optimization is a long-term process, and brands usually need several years to break through. So, if you already wish to invest in this strategy, make sure you can endure the financial burden for several years.

  1. Secondary effects

SEO doesn’t have to generate direct sales to be considered profitable. Just by implementing this strategy as a part of a larger marketing framework, you can gain numerous secondary benefits. For example, even if you have low organic search conversion rates, you’ll still manage to build brand awareness.

Your SEO efforts can also prove to be invaluable for other marketing channels. During an SEO audit, you’ll tackle different issues plaguing your site. Link building can provide traffic from secondary sources, while every blog post can be repurposed for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Ideally, your SEO team should work together with other departments to maximize the impact of every promotional campaign. If you did everything right, optimization should eventually start generating returns for your business through a trickle-down effect.

Biggest issues in predicting and analyzing SEO performance

Here are a few problems you’ll encounter when analyzing a provider’s SEO performance:

Lack of initial data

When analyzing the potential impact of optimization, entrepreneurs rely on Google Analytics and Google Search Console data. These tools can give you valuable insights into keyword search volume, website rankings, user experience, links, paid advertising, and other relevant digital metrics.

The biggest problem is that this data becomes available only after you start implementing SEO. For the first time, you’ll have little understanding of how optimization can help your brand. In other words, your ability to predict ROI will be limited at best.

Provider-related issues

Many companies try to predict the future optimization value by analyzing the provider’s track record.

It’s common for a marketing provider and a client to have a call before signing a contract. During that time, the service provider will share previous clients’ Google Search Console data to showcase their performance. Unfortunately, these numbers can often lead you to the wrong conclusions.

First off, some SEO experts pursue irrelevant keywords or use gray hat techniques to make their performance seem better than it actually is. What’s worse, even if you have some marketing knowledge, you might not be able to detect these things.

Besides that, there’s no telling if this particular SEO strategy will work in your industry and for your business. So, even if metrics seem fantastic on the surface, you can never tell what you’ll get from a campaign before starting it.

Misleading data

As if that wasn’t enough, you can make many false presumptions due to misleading data. Marketing information rarely works in a vacuum. So, to understand your performance, you need to couple several KPIs together.

If you want to have a better understanding of SEO’s impact, you should only use this promotional approach. Otherwise, there’s a chance that using other channels will muck up the true impact of optimization. For example, your business growth should be accredited to your SMM team, not your SEO experts.

12 Methods for measuring SEO value

The best way to accurately predict and analyze SEO results is by hiring a reputable company such as MiroMind. A good provider will always keep your best interest in mind, focusing on conversions instead of empty stats.

We will make a breakdown of the most important website metrics and how they correlate to the value of SEO services. Furthermore, we’ll talk about common data misinterpretations and how marketers manipulate the data. That way, you’ll know what to look for, so you never get scammed!

  1. Sales and conversions

There’s no better way to analyze SEO value than by checking your website sales. If this is the only promotional channel you’re using, you can accredit all your marketing-generated revenues to the optimization team.

Then again, this rarely happens in practice. Most brands have a strong real-world presence, so the sales might be a result of their regular daily operations. Even if a person comes via search engines, there’s a chance they were browsing for your brand online after visiting your brick-and-mortar store.

  1. Organic traffic

Brands commonly use SEO traffic to assess the marketing team’s performance. In the end, generating leads from Google is the reason why a provider was hired in the first place.

Marketing experts aren’t dummies and are well aware of the fact that their clients judge them based on the site visits. As a result, some of them implement shady strategies to drive irrelevant traffic. Even if a keyword might be relevant to your business, there’s a chance provider targeted it because it’s easy to rank, which usually indicates either low volume or low conversions.

  1. Keyword rankings

The metric shows you how web pages rank within search results, and it’s one of the better indicators of overall SEO efforts. To gain as much traffic as possible from search engine results pages, you should rank in the top five spots. Otherwise, your SEO investment will be for naught, given that spots from 6 below provide slim traffic, at best.

Keyword rankings are a nice metric but should be used in conjunction with other KPIs, most notably traffic. For example, an SEO professional can get achieve several high search rankings for irrelevant phrases that generate no visits whatsoever. We also suggest you analyze the visibility for more comprehensive insights.

  1. Number of ranked keywords

This KPI doesn’t tell you much about the work quality but is a great indicator of work quantity. If a site is ranking for numerous phrases, this means, regardless of their placement, this means that an SEO provider made an effort to create as many pieces of content as possible.

  1. Search visibility

Visibility shows the percentage of traffic you get from total traffic for a particular query. For example, if a keyword gets 1,000 clicks per month, and you get 100 visits from that phrase, your visibility is 10%. The metric is calculated on a website level, and the higher, the better.

For the most part, visibility is a good indicator of your overall search engine rankings. Sites that have high visibility have higher average positions in Google, as people more often click on these results. The metric is hard to manipulate and is usually a much better indicator of performance than the keyword rankings or organic traffic.

  1. Click-trough rate

Click-through rate, or CTR, is the percentage of people who click on your result after seeing it in search rankings. Unlike search visibility, which correlates to your placement in search engines, you can get high CTR regardless of your positioning. In other words, even if you rank on the bottom of the second page, you can still have a CTR of 20% or more by using best practices.

High CTR is usually a result of a great title, title tag, and meta description. People are provoked to take action by clicking on your link and visiting the site. It’s one of the main things search engines consider when allocating relevance to a page.

Unfortunately, CTR doesn’t give us full information on SEO performance or value. While driving visitors is vital for your conversions and revenues, you can increase this KPI by simply using spammy and misleading titles.

  1. Average time on page

Average time spent on a page is one of the main considerations for search engine algorithms, but also for client companies. This metric is the indication of content creation efforts. Unlike some other stats, it’s very hard to manipulate this KPI. If content fulfills the search intent and provides quality information, people will remain on the page for a long time.

When assessing the expertise of an SEO agency, we always recommend you start from this KPI. Furthermore, there’s usually a high correlation between average time on page, several page visits per session, and conversion.

Unfortunately, like other metrics, you shouldn’t interpret this one in a vacuum. Marketers can boost their average time on the page by prioritizing easy-to-rank queries, where most content is of poor quality. By having the only good article on the topic, you can easily reach the top of the search result page.

So, don’t forget to analyze revenue metrics and traffic in conjunction with the average time on the page.

  1. Pages per session

As the name indicates, this metric tells you how many pages a person reads during a single visit. For most sites, the metric ranges between 1 to 1.1. In the best-case scenario, every 10th person wanted to read more than a single page.

Pages per session is an even better indicator of quality content than average time on page. As most people land on a site wanting to read a specific article, they rarely have the inclination to keep on reading. The only exception is when they wish to learn more about a topic or want to purchase a product or a service.

Pages per session tells you that a person not only liked the landing page but wanted to learn more about a topic. High scores are usually common for top-tier sources.

  1. Bounce rate

Unlike previous KPIs, having a high bounce rate can sometimes demonstrate negative SEO practices. The metric refers to situations where people leave the website immediately after landing on a page (they “bounce”). This commonly occurs when the content hasn’t suitably covered the topic or when the title or meta tags are misleading.

  1. Backlinks

Inbound links were, and still are, one of the critical SEO metrics. Getting as many links as possible from reputable sources helps build your brand in the long run. These links can also drive direct traffic from reputable blogs and increase your brand exposure, and, as such, they are an important piece of the marketing puzzle.

While backlinks don’t have the same correlation to sales as traffic, they will eventually help your website, even if you initially don’t notice their impact. Make sure that the links provider built are relevant to your business and won’t get you in trouble. Otherwise, you might receive a Google penalty setting back your site and profitability several months back.

  1. SEO metrics

Back in the day, most people struggled to determine the impact of links but also other optimization efforts. This is why the companies developed metrics such as DA, DR, and Trust Flow. These KPIs provide performance scores that tell you more about your overall website and page authority, link profile, content quality, and relevance.

The metrics aren’t perfect, but they can help you quickly determine what kind of an impact an SEO expert had on your brand.

  1. Technical optimization

Lastly, we need to briefly mention technical optimization.

Despite its complexity, technical audit is often a neglected part of the process, yet it can have a major impact on your rankings. Basically, sites with too many errors, broken links, slow speed, or use keyword stuffing commonly struggle to get high traffic from Google. This is because people are dissuaded from interacting with the site and its content.

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