Managing the process of evolving SEO Campaign KPIs

8 Feb

tape-measure-handThis is a subject I’ve wanted to do a post on for a while and after seeing Cyrus Shepard’s white board Friday post the other day (highlighting how traditional ranking reports should become a thing of the past and what key metrics and KPIs we should be reporting on) I thought I’d try and provide a bit of an insight from an agency background.

As part of this insight I wanted to focus on outlining:

  • Where we are currently at
  • How we are trying to manage client expectations
  • How we are going about presenting data to the client
  • Most importantly, how we are communicating the change in KPIs that we want to focus on.

Changing the perceptions of what the best KPIs are to measure SEO against is not going to change overnight and I find clients are changing their positioning towards new required SEO KPIs at varying rates. Hopefully though I’d like to think that we will have all clients aligned to modern SEO campaign KPIs by mid 2014.

To implement this change we are looking to go through the following process:

Internal Education

Before we can educate our clients we need to make sure that everyone within the business understands what KPIs our SEO campaigns should be measured against and to instil belief in our client service teams that it may take some time but eventually the mindsets of our clients will change in relations to the KPIs we propose.

The important thing is to start the education process now with clients. This may result in some difficult conversations however it’s better to have these now rather than 6 months down the line if we’ve been constantly on the back foot with just keyword ranking KPIs.

Identifying client misconceptions

Having spoken to different people in the industry I get different answers as to where their clients are in understanding what good SEO KPIs are to them. Some are moving away from rankings KPIs, others still see it as the be all and end all.

In my experience it’s often specific industries that have more of a focus on keyword rankings, especially when the search tail breadth is narrower.

This seems common in industries such as:

  • Niche Insurance
  • Casino
  • Bingo
  • Mortgages


I’m still hearing of challenges being faced at the moment such as:

  • Being provided with requests in RFPs to provide a breakdown of forecast traffic by a large numbers of generic keywords
  • Clients challenging campaign teams saying they’ve dropped 2 places on term “x” which is not very good and what are you going to do about it
  • Asking to be provided with keyword ranking position forecast on where you think we’ll be for these terms in “x” months

The feeling is that it will be easier to educate new clients and new campaigns on what the best SEO KPIs should be but the older the relationship, the tougher it may be to change the campaign perceptions of those who you have legacy campaigns with.

The client communication piece

Something as concise as possible to outline what new SEO campaign KPIs should be provided stating why the old KPIs are not feasible any more (including a mini SEO history lesson of the last 12 months). This also provides the opportunity to outline how a campaign will become more page focused which naturally provides an overlap with CRO elements.

Infusing the new KPIs into client reporting

This was very much the core message is the Moz Whiteboard Friday I mentioned at the start.

A few ideas to include in a new reporting format could be:

Demonstrating Keyword Group Performance

Keyword group reporting using dashboards on software such as BrightEdge that provides average keyword ranking for a group.


To gain more accurate keyword group performance for long tail you could perhaps create a keyword group based on the a to z of the main generic keywords using Google suggest. I quite like Keyword Researcher as a tool to help make this task more efficient.

Maybe correlated keyword insights from GWT could be aligned in this section as well.

Demonstrating Content Marketing Value

If you are contributing to the website blog (or an external related blog) as part of the campaign you can provide content insight. This can also be done at a landing page level within a specific section of the site if there is a content marketing focus that is wider that just a blog.

Using GA dashboards is an effective way of tracking this and presenting the data to the client.

Integrating assisted conversion data correlated to specific content focused landing pages is something that can really add value to an inbound marketing strategy and help demonstrate the additional value of your campaign efforts.

Highlighting “Endorsements”

Endorsements may become a new buzzword now Moz has used it, probably. Hopefully I won’t find myself using it in a meeting and subsequently start to cringe inside!

Whatever these campaign elements are referred to as it’s important to use the right term that your client will understand.

I could list a number of third party tools that Moz used but that would be quite a long list. Whatever tools are used the important thing is to ensure you provide a good visual representation from the tools to be provide a clear perception of the benefit they’ve had on the campaign.

For example highlighting social amplification is likely to have some empathy with the client and presenting data through visuals  such as Google+ Ripples and other alternatives for other social networks provides a compelling story. I quite like Mentionmapp to visualise Twitter amplification for example.



Putting KPIs front of mind

Having KPIs at the top, first tab, (however you present) is crucial. This should include what the KPIs are, where the campaign is at versus the KPIs and the key strategy and tactics employed over the reporting period to achieve the KPIs that have been put in place.


Patience is a virtue

Something that is often not used enough in SEO campaigns, although the majority of clients are already on board with the new approach required to measure SEO campaign performance and this approach is something that will continue to evolve in 2014 and beyond. A key part of any campaign will be to provide good education and insight to clients in relation to the continuing evolution of SEO campaign metrics used.

One thing I’m quite looking forward to seeing is the next Econsultancy UK SEM Benchmarking report where we can gain first hand insight into the the perspectives of clients and agencies on how SEO KPIs are currently viewed.

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