Most of the information in this article first appeared in a July 2, 2012 article by   on ClickZ.

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Why Measure the Effectiveness of Your SEO Strategy?

Search Engine Optimization is a process to establish your website’s visibility on popular search engines and also to improve quality traffic using organic results. SEO is not a magical trick to improve your website’s search engine visibility. Rather, it is a process that requires dedication and commitment to get better ROI.

If you are using search engine optimization as a key component of your marketing to maximize clicks to your site, you are probably aware that SEO is more expensive than ever.  Therefore, you will want to analyze and adopt the best optimization techniques at affordable costs. This means  measuring, monitoring and adjusting your SEO strategy.

Forget Ranking Reports

With video results, image results, and social results are all blended together in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), how can a ranking report really help you to judge the success of each strategy? For instance,  rankings with clicks over 30 days for the phrase “Google plus local” from Google Webmaster Tools are shown below. But does this report tell you anything about which of your strategies worked and which didn’t?

Position in
search results
 6 to 10  21
 5  6
 4  35
 2  60
 1  70
 3  35
 2nd page   < 10
 3rd page+ < 10.

Track The Thing You Want Them To Do

Ranking is not important of itself, but is just a means to an end. The end results you are looking for includes influencing people to take action with regard to your brand, such as:

  • Engage with your site.
  • Sign up for your newsletter.
  • Buy something online.
  • Fill out your online form.
  • Contact you.

1. Segment, filter, and compare

Google Analytics can help you measure success, if you segment your traffic using the built-in advanced segmenting reports in Google Analytics. First, segment on your “non-paid search traffic.”


Then compare your non-paid search traffic with another time period, for example, month-over-month, or, better, year-over-year to filter out seasonality.


Filter out as many of your branded phrases as possible. Anybody can rank for their company name (with various key phrases attached to it) and product names. Use the filter tool to get rid of all that branded stuff when you are in the “Search/Organic” area of Google Analytics. Like this:


This report is will provide a valuable snapshot of how you are doing overall for non-branded organic search.


No. 2: Google Webmaster Tools “Traffic/Search Queries”

You can also create a filter here to exclude branded phrases and you can also star phrases so you can easily come back to those.


This data shows you impressions and clicks in interesting ways. Since, you can’t compare search query data to another time period in Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll need to integrate it with Google Analytics data as shown below:

No. 3: Integrate Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics 

You can use the “Search Engine Optimization” data by linking your Webmaster Tools data into your Google Analytics data. The data is useful and special.

You can also use the explorer tool within this tool:


You can find this report by clicking on the three-circle icon on the right side of the screen after selecting “Queries” within the “Search Engine Optimization” section of Google Analytics.

You can break down this data in many visually informative ways. A “play” button lets you track your top key phrases dynamically according to average ranking, impressions, or clicks over a specific time period.

No. 4: Use Goals within Google Analytics

You should insert some goals into Google Analytics, such as how many people have filled out a form, or using events to track downloads of PDF files. To follow your goals from a segmented perspective, you can use the “Goal Flow” report:


Within the Goal Flow report, you can segment your traffic by non-paid search traffic and then you can look at that traffic by keyword, providing you a comparison in data from one period of time compared to another.

No. 5: Show the big picture

The big picture that executives want to know is: Is SEO working for us?

A simple high-level custom report can shows all organic visits, comparing one time period to another time period, and then show total goal completions and goal values. You want to give each type of goal a monetary value because not all goals are created equal. The report will look like this:


This report shows organic results across a wide array of search engines.  This can show your CEO if your numbers are going up. This reflects the results of all the work you’ve done creating good keyword-rich content on your site.

If you would like that custom report for Google Analytics, click here.

Snap! principle of SEO measurement 

Measure the results of what you do.