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Measuring SEO Success - Rob Garner - iCrossing - SES Chicago 2011

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"Measuring SEO Success" as presented by Rob Garner, VP, Strategy, iCrossing at SES Chicago 2011.

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Measuring SEO Success - Rob Garner - iCrossing - SES Chicago 2011

  2. 2. 2 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  3. 3. Jumping right in…a few thoughts and challenges
  4. 4. Paid vs. SEO: The 90/20 Search Budget Conundrum • 90% of search channel budgets go to paid media • Paid media supplies 20% of returns from search channel • 10% goes to SEO, while it returns 80% of all revenue from the search channel The reason?... 4 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  5. 5. Paid search is easier to measure, and it’s harder to look long term and tie direct ROI back to specific SEO engagements…
  6. 6. …but SEO is easy to measure in aggregate and at the keyword level once a balanced program is in place.
  7. 7. The biggest opportunities for marketing in the search channel are in natural search.
  8. 8. Challenges of tracking SEO ROI on the client side • Disconnect between legacy systems in tracking performance • Using last-click attribution • Larger companies measure value as “what have you done for me lately” – natural search benefits tend to be longer term • Not maintaining search performance history going back years • Bad analytics and tracking • Analytics utilize algorithms too – make sure yours is sophisticated in the search tracking space • Educating those holding the budgets for natural search @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  9. 9. Some tough questions for SEOs; most don’t have a simple answer 9 “How much is a link worth?” “How much is a link development campaign going to return?” “How much is domain authority and trust worth?” “How much is SEO maintenance worth?” “What is the ROI on implementing meta descriptions?” “What is the ROI on reducing duplicate content?” “Why should SEOs perform any work that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line?” @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  10. 10. A longer term view of natural search is needed • Natural traffic is earned and eventually owned, and becomes a traffic generating asset • Maintenance costs for SEO are a realistic expense • Looking at what you gained over the long term should be a realistic expectation 10 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  11. 11. How to think about measuring SEO
  12. 12. Four key measurements needed for meaningful SEO metrics • Value of search equity for the site being optimized • Media value of natural search traffic • Value of various action across the site • Both individually, and in aggregate • Value of the stress and time costs on your organization • You can do it now ten times easier than if you to do it later 12 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  13. 13. Building a business case – a few questions • How much is invested in search? • How much is spent on SEO activities? How much equity has been earned by SEO activities? How do you protect what you’ve already done? How much sweat and pain has been invested? • How much is a conversion worth, and how much will search modifications be worth? • What values do we place on various actions? • How do we measure lift in natural search metrics? • Project traffic lifts based on increase in content and relevant theme of pages against keyword search stats (visibility and traffic) • Link development – measure lift in rising keyword ranking against traffic, against conversion • Create a natural search event (more on this later) • How much opportunity may be lost without an SEO plan? • What is the value of current traffic, and how will site redesign impact this traffic? • Compare current internal traffic value against relative keyword CPC’s in major search engines @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  14. 14. Ex. Establishing the market value of a search click • Calculate anticipated traffic lost or gained in natural search • Determine the average CPC in a themed area of one of your campaigns • This is the market value that a marketer is willing to spend on relevant traffic, based on actual spend • Multiply the average CPC times the amount of SEO traffic to quantify its media value • Ex. 100,000 additional clicks in natural search per month times an average CPC of $2.53 is valued at $253,000. In a year, the media value of that traffic is $3,036,000. 14 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  15. 15. Outlining what could be lost in a site redesign without SEO • Natural traffic: Estimate potential traffic loss or gain, and multiply times the media value, or actual conversion rate of this traffic. Ex. 25,000 new visits from search X $3.50 CPC value is $87,000 worth of traffic per month • Link equity: Time is money. Changing domains could shed 15 years of link development that is almost priceless. Also quote how much it would cost to build up 1,000-1,000,000 quality links on a new site, and use this estimate as a value for saving money. • Natural search equity and history: For sites with positive equity, there is a price on trust and authority. The cost is in years of waiting and rebuilding. Most often, this is priceless because it can’t be reproduced. • Costs for fixing technical mistakes: If your developers are building out a site all in Flash or AJAX, quote the cost of going back ex post facto to create a mirrored, page-based site for search engines. Not cheap. But cheaper to consider SEO in redesign mode. 15
  16. 16. Outlining what could be lost in a site redesign without SEO • Cost for recreating containers for content: Trying to add in video hosting or RSS feeds into an enterprise sites can become costly, and in some cases jot at all possible. • Sales, actual monetary returns. Look at conversions in aggregate from the natural search channel, and calculate the risk or gain by percentage points. So if you are getting $1,000,000 a year in sales from natural search, and 50% of the content is removed, expect sales to decrease by 30-50% as well. • Trophy rankings: Think of the costs involved when your boss’s pet trophy ranking “Tulsa Oklahoma widgets” goes away. • Sum of long tail rankings (and subsequent traffic, media value, and conversions) 16 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  17. 17. C A S E S T U D Y Banking site re-launched on renamed URLs, with no redirection plan Site relaunched with new URLs in mid-month Media and conversion losses attributed to not investing in SEO 404 errors spiked, and the site never fully recovered. Losses included: - $1,500,000 in actual revenue per month - $600,000 per month worth of media (based on avg. CPC of over $4 per click)
  18. 18. Marketers must place a monetary value on actions to help SEOs quantify results • Marketers spend lots of money on media, but they don’t often place a value on actions • Not placing an educated value on actions from natural search (or any media spend) is spending blindly • When marketers spend blindly, they don’t know their most effective channels, and they don’t know where to reinvest • Sample metrics and $$$ targets that marketers (not the SEO), should place on actions: • Value of a lead • Lifetime value of a customer • Value of an engaged visitor • Value of a returning user • Value of a new email subscriber • Value of a new hire obtained through search • Value of new content generating users for marketers who host communities • Etc. 18 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  19. 19. Sample forecast Directional data, at best 19 Conservative estimates were applied to CTRs based on analytics data, and also comparisons to Google impression data @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  20. 20. Create a natural search “event” to measure lift • The benefits of natural search grow holistically in many ways, and positive ROI for a large-scale enterprise is often the sum of many factors of optimization • Marketers still tie specific optimization actions directly to ROI performance. • Separating out some implementations can make it easier to see lift, and reflect a spike on the analytics end • Use analytics data to show lift for core metrics 20 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  21. 21. Create a natural search “event” to measure lift Natural search impact on new optimized page launch of six pages • Six pages measured: Charleston Widgets, Minneapolis Widgets, Columbus Widgets, Indianapolis Widgets, Sacramento Widgets, Salt Lake City Widgets 21Copyright iCrossing - Proprietary and Confidential - Total generated from natural search since implementation: $19,320 - Average full calendar month, natural search: $5,493 - Five-year projected return in natural search alone: $329,580 - Current ROI, July-Nov (based on $3,000 development cost): 6.4:1 - Projected 5-year ROI: 109.8:1 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  22. 22. Rankings as a metric have passed the tipping point Focus more on traffic and revenue • Ranking measurement still has directional value in terms of visibility, and shows overall progress of natural campaigns • They have become too chaotic to use as a primary measurement of success • Google personalization, geo-targeting by IP, and search customization, have moved us from a world to where everyone sees the same result for #1, to a world where everyone theoretically sees a different #1 • This doesn't mean that rankings measurement and optimization do not have value; only that they must be viewed in a different way • Using analytics is a common sense way to measure natural performance • Move away from viewing of ranking metrics as the primary indicator of performance, and focus on deeper analysis of traffic and revenue from the natural search channel. 22
  23. 23. Break out the historical trending data to show lift • Compare your data against the same period in previous years, rather than the previous month or quarters. • Comparing over previous months can create an inaccurate picture of performance, due to the seasonal aspects of search. • Comparing your data against the same time over the previous year (or years) is a nice balance, and can help show lift from current search efforts. 23 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  24. 24. Example reporting
  25. 25. Natural Search Sessions, Year-over-Year (YoY) Trending 25 @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  26. 26. 26Copyright iCrossing - Proprietary and Confidential Directional Visibility: Non-Branded Terms/Position One Rankings @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing
  27. 27. THANK YOU Rob Garner VP, Strategy @robgarner 214.676.2089 27