August 29, 2023

How To Accurately Measure the Success of Your SEO Strategy?

SEO teams often feel like mad scientists sitting in the corner. Even with all the technical know-how, they struggle to put their expertise into action. Their biggest problem isn’t constant algorithm changes, quality link building, or intensive keyword research, but how to secure cooperation from different teams and get the work done. 

  • How to get the marketing team to create keyword-focused content?
  • How to get the engineering team to fix redirects?
  • How to get the copy team to create new landing pages?

The endless “how-tos” often handicap the SEO teams, who can’t conduct a successful SEO strategy without inputs from different teams.

Ask anyone on your team about SEO, and they’ll barely say more than “Um, the SEO folks do something and we start ranking high on Google.” Marketing executives and CEOs are no exceptions. For them, it all boils down to SEO in and revenue out. There’s a black box in between, where no one understands what exactly is happening.

When different teams are already juggling multiple tasks and working on their KRAs, it’s hard to convince them to contribute to something they hardly understand or see value in. 

The bottom line is:
SEO success depends solely on the implementation of the work. Implementation requires the entire team – product, engineering, and marketing – to see value in SEO and therefore do their bit.

We invited the king of SEO, Tom Critchlow, to help us communicate the importance of SEO efficiently and ensure that everyone on the team understands how it works, in and out. 

Who is Tom Critchlow, our SEO expert?

Tom Critchlow is the Founder of SEO MBA and Strategy Consultant

Tom Critchlow, Founder of The SEO MBA and strategy consultant

Tom has over 15 years of experience in SEO and digital media. He has helped many large organizations restructure and build new SEO teams. He also worked at Google for a few years and has been running his own consulting business for the last 7 years.

“The biggest skills gap in the industry is the ability to get things done and operate at the executive layer of an organization. So, it’s no surprise that the number one frustration for SEO professionals is getting things done.”

Here is a point-by-point breakdown of the session. Watch the video or read the blog. Either way. don’t forget to keep a notebook handy.

Follow these 3 steps to predict the financial gains of SEO

Educate the business/executive teams about the necessary tasks and the significance they hold. Bring things to the level of awareness and understanding of the entire team. This also increases your chances of getting higher budgets and team bandwidth for your projects. 

At its core, SEO is a communication and coordination role. The moment you translate your efforts in terms of potential revenue, you’ve won the battle halfway. 

However, it’s difficult to predict the success even before the launch. Fret not, there are a few steps you can follow to get a ballpark estimate of the potential financial gains of SEO.

Step 1: Decide on the 3 levers of your SEO strategy

Let’s start with the basics. Identify three key levers that form the foundation of your strategy. These could include:

  1. Coherent content creation
  2. Strong technical foundations
  3. Strategic digital PR

Each of your actions should align with one of the pillars. Ensure that these pillars are transparent to the entire team, especially Marketing executives and the CEO.

Pro tip: For better resource allocation, communicate your strategy and the subsequent actionable steps beforehand. This could be as simple as stating, “By next month, you’ll need 15 to 20 content pieces.”

Step 2: Report your progress

Implement your SEO strategy by breaking it down into projects with clearly defined actions and tasks you need to do. Tom refers to these actions as input metrics. He advises against using metrics like traffic, revenue, or impressions as markers of success. Instead, focus on the input metrics that outline the work you’ve done to move the needle. For instance, consider the number of optimized pages or pieces of content created.

Take a proactive approach and establish visibility at the executive level. Keep them in the loop of your actions and progress, month-on-month. However, these metrics may not resonate with executives unless you attribute potential revenue to your actions. It’s essential to connect your input (your actions) with the output they expect (revenue).

It is challenging to predict the revenue at the start. Experiment with the input metrics until you’re confident about the revenue that your actions will yield. Confidence lies in the details. Ask yourself, “What is the closest measure of this action that will lead to the result I want?” Your answer might be, “20 blogs exceeding 2000 words, each with 4-5 backlinks.” 

It’s difficult to come up with this detailed metric right away. Reiterate and see what works best for you. Manufacture the right input metrics that you’re sure will bring home the big checks.

In certain cases, it’s almost impossible to map out revenue immediately. Therefore, it becomes important to track a leading indicator that signifies progress. Remember, if a task is worth doing, it is worth measuring. If monthly reporting isn’t feasible, consider conducting a one-time measurement for the project. 

For example, if you’re running a TOFU campaign, your success metric can’t solely be conversions or revenue. Tom suggests analyzing the before-and-after surge in traffic and conversions to attribute some of these conversions to the campaign’s impact. Or, run a post-purchase survey to determine if customers found you through your content.

Step 3: Translate the value of SEO from reports to financial gains

At the end of the day, every action is measured by its impact on revenue. SEO is no exception. SEO forecasting sheds light on the potential financial gains your input metrics will yield. When you attribute revenue to your actions, everyone on the team understands the significance of input metrics, which drives internal efforts to pull the three levers discussed earlier.

Making bold revenue claims might be intimidating. Follow these steps to get a more accurate estimation:

  1. Figure out the objective of the forecast

Before you start creating spreadsheets and running calculations, understand who you are forecasting for. SEO forecast has different use cases for different teams. CEOs, for instance, use the forecast to gauge the size of the opportunity to decide whether it is worth investing in. CFOs prioritize the project’s overall expenditures and its trajectory in the coming months. Meanwhile, marketing executives use the forecast to allocate the team’s bandwidth efficiently to the project.

  1. Find the right balance between complexity and legibility

While you may be tempted to testify against every small detail, don’t. Every layer of complexity turns the black box blacker and makes it harder for the execs and your team to understand. Keep it simple.

  1. Present diverse potential outcomes

Executives love to choose; it’s a power play. The moment you offer different possibilities and hand over the baton, they feel in charge of the project. Present two to three distinct scenarios, each based on a range of verticals or varying input metrics that will yield different results. Have them choose the outcome they like the most and reverse-engineer your actions. 

How to start your SEO forecast: quick wins or hard fixes?

It’s a delicate trade-off between quick actions and immediate results versus time-consuming work that’ll move the needle for the business. Recognize the dangers of quick wins that lead you to cherry-pick easy tasks. Ideally, focus on hard wins that require more bandwidth. Start reserving resources for the hard wins and meanwhile, address the quick wins.

Need more SEO tips?

Feel free to reach out to the SEO MBA guy himself, Tom Critchlow, if you have any unanswered questions. 

It’s difficult to make bold claims about the potential revenue of a project you’re spearheading. One derailment, one mishap, and the foundations start shaking. Executives get restless and ask questions that you’ve no answers for. 

That’s why you need a trustworthy partner who’ll make your SEO project a success. From technical SEO to content upgrades, Spear Growth helps you every step of the way. 

We combine your industry expertise with our SEO chops to make sure your revenue forecast is spot on. Invest 30 minutes of your time and get on a free consultation call with Spear Growth founder, Ishaan Shakunt.

Contributors

Tom Critchlow profile pic
Author
Tom Critchlow
Strategy consultant at the intersection of content, commerce and culture

With over a decade of experience in digital media, leadership, and growth, Tom is the Founder of The SEO MBA and a strategic advisor and consultant for leaders who want to gain clarity about their strategy and develop new initiatives.

His clientele includes The New York Times, Google, Dotdash, Gartner, Etsy, and Seatgeek.

Kirti Baheti profile pic
Co-author
Kirti Baheti
Freelance B2B SaaS Writer

Kirti is a passionate marketer and B2B SaaS freelance writer. She loves coming up with new ideas and connecting the dots while writing. When she isn’t working, she is probably painting or baking.

Navin Israni profile pic
Content Editor
Navin Israni
SEO Strategist & Content Editor

Navin has 14 years of cumulative writing experience and 5 years of dedicated experience as a freelance B2B SaaS Writer. At Spear Growth, Navin is responsible for maintaining the highest-possible content quality, managing the process of all long-form content initiatives, and creating SEO strategy for Spear Growth’s clients.

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