There’s a long standing debate about ranking reports as an KPI (key performance indicator) for the success of an organic SEO campaign. Obviosly, we like ranking reports 🙂
This post will go into a few reasons why they are necessary, and valuable data to have. Lots of people have weighed in on the topic …
We’ll be the first to admit, with the advent of WikiSearch, localization and personalized search it’s getting more complicated to measure performance within organic search results, but that doesn’t mean organic ranking data are useless.
Success of any campaign should be measured by conversions. Conversions though, are at the end of the funnel. The journey to a sale begins far before anyone even visits a website, and it often (on the web) begins at search. There are lots of pieces to the puzzle, having those pieces is the first step to success.
Some people say you need to use analytics to measure success. This is one piece of the puzzle and if you have a very large website, with lots of content, organic traffic is often the easiest initial KPI to measure. If you can make sweaping changes to the site that benefit the way search engines view and spider content then this kind of indicator is great.
The majority of sites out there aren’t large. The issue with organic traffic as an indicator for small websites, is that they’re small. New or small sites don’t get a lot of traffic from search, if any. So, how do you know if the changes you’re making to your site are working or not? How do you know if the topics you’re blogging about are being seen as authoritative to search engines? There’s no way to tell unless you monitor rankings.
Rankings as an indicator are especially important if you’re trying to learn SEO. Optimization is about feedback, and getting feedback as quickly as possible. With search, feedback can be painfully slow. The first thing that your efforts are going to change, however, are rankings. Using this information to adjust some of the things you’re doing will improve rankings and therefore improve everything else as well, provided you’re targeting relevant keywords.
This post on the Bruce Clay blog has some amazing information on other organic SEO performance indicators (page was removed). But, if you aren’t fortunate enough to have the traffic, data, or the time to get into these quite yet, rankings are a perfect place to start. In fact, search is most likely going to be the first place potential customers encounter your brand.