How to Measure Organic SEO Traffic

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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direct trafficIn my opinion, one of the best ways to measure to overall success of your SEO campaign is to look at your organic SEO traffic. Rank just isn’t a good SEO metric for a variety of reasons including the increased personalization of search, the impact of social signals on the search results, the effect of local SEO on search results and more. A site’s rank changes too frequently to be a viable method of measuring your long tern SEO success. Looking at your organic SEO traffic, however, can give you a much better idea of what is going on with your website, marketing efforts and SEO program.

How do you measure your organic SEO traffic that is a direct result of your SEO efforts?

1. Start with a traffic overview.

Using your analytics tool (I prefer Google Analytics because you may as well get the data directly from the horse’s mouth), start with an overview of all the traffic that has come to your site in a given period including SEO traffic, PPC traffic, direct traffic, branded traffic and so forth. This number is the total amount of visitors that have come to your site. Google Analytics does a good job of breaking it down into traffic sources so you can see exactly which sources are sending the most visitors to your site.

2. Segment down to organic traffic.

Now the trick is to weed out all the non-organic SEO traffic, so the next report you should pull should be strictly search traffic. It’s important to make sure that you are only looking at non-paid traffic so you aren’t lumping PPC visitors in with your SEO visitors.

3. Remove branded keywords.

BrandAt least in Google Analytics, when you zero in on the SEO traffic, the report also pulls a list (up to 500) of the most used keywords to find your website. You can export this data into an Excel spreadsheet and organize it alphabetically by keyword. In order to determine your true organic SEO traffic, it’s important to remove any and all branded keywords from your list. While SEO can definitely help build your online brand and introduce it to whole new audiences, pure SEO traffic comes from non-branded keywords that drive visitors who have never heard of/interacted with your site before over.

4. Determine what you can measure.

In order to determine how effective your traffic is, you need to keep track of your stats. First, you should measure conversions using Google Analytics. What’s your conversion metric? If it’s leads, how many did you get? You can also track your phone numbers to gather the data that you need. Other things you can measure besides leads include increase of non-branded traffic over time and rankings. However, since rankings do fluctuate, it’s important not to get too hung up on it. It’s still an important thing to track, but as long as you follow a consistent white hat SEO program, your rankings should increase over time.

5. Understand your organic SEO numbers.

The keywords and numbers you are left with once you perform your analysis are your organic SEO traffic numbers! In order to determine if your SEO is working, you can compare these keywords/numbers to the same time period in the previous year before you launched your SEO campaign. In addition to sheer percentage growth, it’s also worth comparing your keyword lists. What new keywords, either ones directly targeted on the site or long-tail variations of them, are popping up in the new data that weren’t there last year? Every new keyword that drives visitors is a results of your SEO efforts.

6. Know your sales pipeline.

checklistOften, people focus too much on hard statistics. At the end of the day, all that really matters is how well your sales pipeline is working. Depending on which industry you’re in and how long your sales cycle is, statistics won’t tell the whole story. Other factors to consider include how well your industry is performing overall and any industry trends that may be occurring (such as seasonality). The main thing to understand is that if you have a lot of potential business waiting in your pipeline, that is a good indicator that your SEO efforts have been successful, especially if this potential business was generated as a direct result of your B2B SEO program.

In other words, as long as your efforts are converting as well as you expect, the hard statistics don’t matter as much. This also means that you need to give your SEO program enough time to work. If your sales cycle is one year, for instance, you need to give SEO at least two years of consistent effort before you determine if it’s working. If you abandon the program, all your hard won’t pay off because you’ll lose the momentum.

It’s important to mention that Google has been increasing the amount of “Not Provided” data in Google Analytics, so the SEO traffic data you pull might not be 100% accurate. You won’t be able to see what keywords those users searched for to find your website, so you have to take your numbers with a grain of salt.


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