7 SEO Performance Metrics That Matter to the C-Suite

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It is no secret how significant SEO can be to a digital marketing program. According to a recent report from The Manifest, 36 percent of those surveyed planned on investing more in SEO next year.

Perhaps more importantly, increased investments in social media, content marketing, and broader website initiatives, which all can have significant positive impact on SEO, were also top channels identified.

Despite this knowledge, it is still critical for B2B marketers to demonstrate how SEO investments improve business results. The tie to lead generation is top on the list. According to another recent survey from Spiceworks, the majority of those polled (57 percent) claimed that their top goal was to influence revenue through new account acquisition.

Sales-oriented benchmarks represented 4 of the top 5 B2B marketing objectives.

While lead generation is critical, in B2B markets, the full realization in how SEO impacts sales and revenue can take long periods of time. Most senior leaders realize and also look toward performance benchmarks that illustrate incremental improvements as well.

In this post, here are six additional performance benchmarks that we see C-level executives get excited about. Their excitement leads to continued trust and investment in SEO as a top performing digital marketing program.

Period over Period Organic Traffic Growth

Growth in Organic Search Traffic

First and foremost, it’s critical to demonstrate period over period growth in organic search engine traffic. Depending on the client, that might mean month to month, quarter to quarter, or year over year improvements site-wide.

In other cases, it might be more important to illustrate how certain website content marketing assets, or specific web pages and site sub-sections improve based on the implementation of on-site SEO recommendations. This could include keyword optimization, cross-linking, or new content development.

Buyer Journey Alignment

B2B Buyer Journey

Keyword strategy is more than figuring out what search queries might generate the highest volume of organic search traffic. Senior leadership and marketing teams are also interested in how keywords align with the various phases of the B2B buyer journey.

Successful SEO programs take into account the type of content required to be successful in achieving specific keyword visibility and seek to educate clients and leadership in how B2B buyers search, from discovery to the validation of vendor capabilities.

Brand Insulation

Branded Search Engine Optimization

While most B2B marketers assume their organization appears prominently for branded keyword search results, they need to consider the full breadth of organic results that appear for branded keyword searches, both organic and paid.

Concise navigational architecture and organizational web page optimization, accurate Knowledge Graph results, optimized third party vendor listings, and even comprehensive branded PPC campaigns all support organic search performance for brand-specific SEO.

Achievements in Blended Search Results

Google Answer Box Example

As Google Answers, and “People Also Ask” results continue to increase for a range of informational and transaction search queries, being able to demonstrate success in obtaining visibility in these results becomes even more important for senior leaders.

Success here helps demonstrate how a SEO program builds brand awareness, credibility, and trust for a B2B organization. This is in addition to incremental traffic gains in organic search.

Beyond answer boxes, it can also be valuable to showcase wins in achieving visibility for video marketing assets and images and graphics that appear prominently in targeted organic search results as well.

Keyword Visibility

Example Keyword Comparison from Google Search Console

Almost every SEO professional I know has a disdain for using keyword ranking as a benchmark. I’m not going to dwell on the reasons why this is a bad idea. That said, ignoring the C-Suite’s attention to performance associated with business-critical keyword targets is a mistake.

Instead of focusing on specific keyword rank, consider using Google Search Console’s keyword performance report as a mechanism for showing period over period performance for a given keyword target and its related search phrases.

By illustrating applicable keyword-specific traffic improvements, the total number of related keywords that drive organizational visibility, and the opportunity to continue to improve, we have often been able to overcome the argument for focusing solely on keyword rankings.

High Quality Inbound Links

Buzzsumo's Inbound Link Report

Just like keyword rankings, you are probably making a mistake trying to quantify the value of specific inbound links acquired for SEO purposes. That said, senior leaders get excited when they see their organization linked or (better yet) featured in relevant, trusted third party publications.

In other words, don’t ignore an opportunity to showcase when link building efforts turn into references from well-known publications and third-party websites. Use these wins as opportunities to educate leadership in how these acquired links can benefit SEO performance in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Lead generation and the connection between marketing and sales are the most critical performance benchmarks for SEO. But along the way, there are several additional performance indicators that build faith and support for ongoing investment in SEO.

Key observations such as period to period traffic improvements, demonstrated visibility for primary keyword targets, and illustrating how SEO builds an organization’s trust and credibility online all matter as well to C-level executives.

What performance benchmarks have you seen as critical in demonstrating the value of SEO? I would love to read your perspective and feedback via comments below.

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