Measuring Year Over Year Organic Growth

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Now that January 2015 is well under way, it’s time to look at year over year organic growth and evaluate how much of an impact your SEO program had in 2014. This is especially important if you have a year’s worth of SEO work under your belt and can compare all of 2014 to all of 2013. Were there any surges of traffic? Any “big win” referral links that amounted to hundreds of visitors? Which blog posts did the best organically and socially? The more you know about how well your site performed in 2014 versus 2013, the better prepared you are for 2015!

Take a look at these numbers below. If I just looked at those high level numbers, 2014 was actually a down year overall (12%), but there was a 55% growth in Google organic traffic.

Traffic Overall

Organic Growth

That’s a huge win for SEO! But how can you have 200k more visitors from Google and still be down 12% overall? Well, when you look at the individual sources of traffic you see that a big chunk of that loss comes from fewer PPC visitors, which is directly related to the fact that our client slashed their PPC budget in 2014. Less money means less paid traffic, plain and simple. That’s why it’s important to not look at your SEO numbers in a silo; they all have an effect on each other! I’ve seen this happen many times with multiple clients. If you don’t figure out the WHY when numbers drop (or grow), you sometimes assign blame unfairly. Maybe it’s not your SEO program at fault; maybe there has been a shift in the market, a new competitor entered the field, a change in consumer demand, etc. Be careful to not lose the forest for the trees when it comes to measuring your year over year organic growth! You might be selling yourself and your SEO program short.

Meanwhile, traffic to their blog is up 16.58% (52,079 vs. 44,671) from 2013 to 2014, which is great considering we only took over their blog in August of 2014. But in that short amount of time we’ve written dozens of posts, some of which went from 0 visitors (being brand new) to over 2,300 visitors in just three months! Of those 2,300 visitors, over 1,700 of them came from Google; I’d argue that’s a real SEO win! Remember, each new URL starts from square one when it comes to organic value. That blog post has to earn its way up the SERPs by aging, acquiring links and social shares naturally, proving its value to the readers (and subsequently Google) and so forth. We can’t force feed a blog post into the SERPs and have it hit the #1 spot overnight. Sure, some things can and will go viral but you can’t pin your SEO hopes and dreams on one piece of content. While that one blog post is a nice thing to hang our hat on, obviously not every new post did that well, but even 100 new visitors contributes to the bottom line.

When you combine the 100s of visitors pulled to the new blog posts PLUS the thousands of visitors that are being driven to the older and more trusted posts, you can see how traffic to the blog can increase by almost 10k visitors in a short amount of time. Imagine where we will be in another year, especially once we dive into the blog posts that did really well and figure out what exactly it was about them that made people read and share and link. Again, you have to look at the big picture and see how one hand washes the other!

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