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Marketing Analytics: How to measure your SEO

March 25, 2013

Simon Fryer
Simon is CandidSky's Search Director, with strong roots in organic SEO and analytics, and a disturbing passion for spreadsheets.

Online marketing should start and end with analytics. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, every visitor, every action, and every penny spent can be accounted for and analysed. 

This is the first of a 4 part series on how to measure your online marketing efforts. We’ll post up links to the latest articles as we release them.

  1.  How to measure your SEO
  2.  How to measure your PPC
  3.  How to measure your blogging
  4.  How to measure your social media marketing


How to measure your SEO

If you’re engaging in organic SEO, it’s crucial that you measure your success on a regular basis. In order to analyse your SEO efforts you’ll need to understand 5 key metrics:

  • Keyword performance and rankings
  • Total traffic from organic search
  • Branded vs. non branded search traffic
  • Search terms driving traffic
  • Conversion rates from organic search


Keyword performance and rankings

“How well your web pages rank for your targeted search terms in the appropriate search engines.”

You should be measuring the performance of your keywords on a regular basis. This will help you understand any increases or decreases in organic search traffic in a given period. You should monitor where you’re ranking for your targeted terms, and see if they are generating traffic for your website. If you are ranking in the top 3 but aren’t receiving much traffic, perhaps you should revise your strategy to target better keywords. Be aware that rankings vary depending on personalisation and the location you’re searching from – never accept them at face value.

How to measure it:

You can monitor your keyword rankings with a vast number of different tools. Here are our recommendations:

Fat Rank 

This is a great free tool which will allow you to type a search term in to a Chrome extension to find out how well the website you are on is ranking. It’s great for spot-checks if you’re only targeting a few search terms, or if you’re checking out competitors.

Authority Labs

Authority labs offer a brilliant rank tracking system which starts at $49 a month. Great if you want to measure a list of keywords without any other tool functionality.

We Use:


Analytics SEO is a comprehensive SEO toolset which we use to manage campaigns. If you’re looking for a rank tracker that comes as part of a diverse toolset, this is the choice for you.


Total traffic from organic search

“The number of unique visitors who enter your site from a search engine results page (SERP).”

A good SEO strategy which makes the most of both ‘head’ keywords and ‘long-tail’ keywords should make up around 50% of your total traffic, although this can vary from business to business. If the amount of traffic you’re receiving from search is considerably lower than this, look for opportunities to target more keywords, increase the ranking of your current keywords, or create new content.

How to measure it:

Google Analytics is your one-stop shop for on-site analytics. In the ‘Audience Overview’ section, select ‘Advanced Segments’ in the top right of the page, then select ‘Non-Paid Search Traffic’.


Branded vs. non branded search traffic

“The percentage of search visits which come from brand related search terms (such as your company or product) versus non-branded search terms related to your industry or services.”

The importance of branded vs non branded traffic is completely overlooked by even the largest of organizations. It’s important to understand the difference between a branded search terms and a non-branded search term to help understand the difference between each visit.

A branded search term represents someone who already knows your business. They’re looking for you, and the branded search is how they find you. Typically branded search traffic will increase as a result of advertising. For example, running a TV advert would lead to people then searching for your brand name. It’s a great way to measure the effectiveness of any marketing which** increases brand awareness. **

A non-branded search term, on the other hand, is much more valuable in my opinion. This represents someone looking for something (ideally a service or product you provide). They know what they want, but not where to get it from – your goal is to make sure that they choose you by ensuring that you rank as high as possible for these search terms. Every click you gain from a non-branded term is a customer that your competitors aren’t getting!

How to measure it:

We use enterprise level tools to carry this out efficiently across a range of clients, but this can be achieved with a little bit of manual work.

Head over to Google Analytics and download the .CSV of search terms which brought in visitors to your site over a given period. You can then use the filter function in excel or Google spreadsheets to filter our your branded or non-branded search terms. If you need some help here feel free to ask!


Inbound Links

“The quantity and quality of hyperlinks pointing from other websites to yours.”

Because inbound links are a major factor in how search engines rank your website, your should aim to gradually increase the number of inbound links over time. You should target authoritative websites in your industry, as these will pass the most powerful links.

Unfortunately, link value doesn’t come immediately. First of all search engines need to find the link that points to your site, then they need to trust it. This can take a few days or a few months, depending on the link.

How to measure it:

Open Site Explorer

OSE from SEOmoz is one of best link analysis tools available. You can use it with an SEOmoz pro account, which will also give you access to their cracking set of SEO tools for $99 a month.


Ahrefs provides the exact same function as Open Site Explorer, but if you don’t want the rest of SEOmoz’s tools you can use Ahrefs at a lower $79 per month.

Google Webmaster Tools

It’s free, yay! The interface is poor, some of the data is patchy, and it’s not exactly quick and easy, but with a little spreadsheet management you can use WMT to monitor your inbound links.


Conversion rates from organic search

“The percentage of visitors who arrived at your site via organic search and completed a desired action, such as requesting contact or buying a product.”

At the top-level you want to know your overall conversion rate from organic search, but you should also investigate further to track conversion rates by keyword and landing page.

Knowing how well each keyword or landing page converts will help you fine-tune your strategy, allowing you to focus on areas that convert well, and cut out or improve those that don’t. This is the single most important part of SEO, after all, you want conversions, not visitors.

How to measure it:

Google Analytics

This warrants a new blog post to explain how. I’ll add the link in here when I get round to it. Watch this space!

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