Measuring the Success of Search Engine Optimization

The term success describes the achievement of a set goal. So you can only measure the success of your search engine optimization if you have set yourself appropriate goals. In this way, key figures help you determine whether you are on the right track to achieve your (SEO) goals. In this article, I would like to help you to better assess key figures that you can find in various tools such as Google Analytics, in the Google Search Console or in SEO tools such as Sistrix or Searchmetrics. The restriction I have to make here of course is, I don’t know your goals.

What are the 5 most important metrics to get started in SEO?

Depending on your requirements, you only need a few simple key figures to start measuring the success of your search engine optimization. In a YouTube video on “What are the 5 most important reports in Google Analytics” I tried to focus on the reports that could be the core of your analyzes in Google Analytics. We are now doing the same thing with the topic of SEO. When developing relevant key figures, I always like to start with an end-to-end view. End-to-end means from the first impression on the user (impression) to the final conversion. So we start with metrics from the Google Search Console as a basis. I now always combine that with a few important angles from which you should look at this data.

The following guides are important in understanding the topic of SEO.

What is SEO: The Basics Guide to Search Engine Optimization [2021]

The ABCs of Search Engine Optimization: What You Should Know About SEO

Relevant key figures for acquiring your users

  • Question: How did your impressions develop?
    • Metric: impressions
    • Dimensions : directories, pages, search queries, countries, devices (mobile, desktop, table), time periods
    • Tool: Google Search Console
    • Factors & measures: change in demand, more relevant content, more top 10 rankings
  • Question: How has your CTR developed?
    • Metric: CTR. Impressions * CTR = clicks
    • Dimensions : directories, pages, searches, time periods
    • Tool: Google Search Console
    • Factors & measures: Rankings, optimization of snippets (title, description or structured data?
  • Question: How did the positions develop?
    • Metric: position
    • Dimensions : directories, pages, search queries, time periods, possibly countries
    • Tool: Google Search Console
    • Factors & measures: improve rankings (through better content, high-quality links, etc. =)

Relevant key figures when converting your users

  • Question: How do your users react to your content?
    • Metrics: classic engagement metrics such as bounce rate, pages / session and session duration
    • Dimensions : source / medium (comparison with other digital marketing channels) and then restriction to organic sessions (medium == organic), device category, landing pages, country and location,
    • Tool: Web analysis tools such as Google Analytics
    • Factors & measures: better UX, such as relevant content, good information architecture, page loading speed, clear presentation of USPs, etc.
  • Question: Do your users achieve the first intermediate goals that are important to you (micro-conversions)?
    • Metrics: qualified sessions, PDF download, dealer searches carried out, newsletter registrations, product video views, etc.
    • Dimensions : source / medium (comparison with other digital marketing channels) and then restriction to organic sessions (medium == organic), device category, landing pages, country and location,
    • Tool: Web analysis tools such as Google Analytics
    • Factors & measures: Establishing trust elements, clear and helpful call-to-action elements, etc.
  • Question: Are your users achieving the first main goals that are important to you (macro interactions)?
    • Metric: sales, transactions, contact requests, registrations, ticket sales, online applications, conversion rate (CVR)
    • Dimensions : source / medium (comparison with other digital marketing channels) and then restriction to organic sessions (medium == organic), device category, landing pages, country and location,
    • Tool: Web analysis tools such as Google Analytics
    • Factors & measures: Building trust elements, good forms, clear and helpful call-to-action elements, etc.

SEO success between visibility and target achievement

In this first approach, I wanted to give you the first helpful key figures for your search engine optimization. But if you take the second step and want to perfect your SEO reporting, there are many other relevant key figures (always depending on your goals). The complexity in the success control lies in the fact that you can have different understandings of relevant key figures in an SEO process. So not just the achievement of goals, as shown above, but additional aspects that are not yet considered in your SEO reporting above, such as competition, specific UX key figures, effectiveness metrics. So you can ask yourself questions like:

  • How do I look to the competition?: Example key figure: Visibility index or SEO visibility
  • Am I doing the right thing ?: What role does search engine optimization play? Example key figure: Share of sessions / sales from the organic search
  •  What do i do first? Sample key figure – analysis of visibility
  • Am i doing things right?  How well do the implemented SEO measures work? Example key figure: Development of page loading speed
  • How successful are we with the things we do? Development sessions, conversion rates or sales.

Challenges in search engine optimization: In addition to the understanding of user needs and basics of optimization, the biggest challenge is to identify from a detailed analysis of their own domain in the competitive environment, the appropriate measures to implement and analyze then detail the progress and relevant indicators at every level to define.

Is the budget of $ 25,000 too much for search engine optimization?

The big difference between press work and search engine optimization lies in the measurability. For many companies, press work is still a question of faith (how many new customers have we got through our PR work?), Since search engine optimization follows the principles of performance marketing to achieve measurable reactions and / or transactions with the user. An evaluation of search engine optimization takes place through the achievement of certain goals with a certain budget.

Even if the outcome of an optimization is uncertain, on the basis of the costs I can define goals that I must at least achieve in order to ensure the efficiency of the measure.

KPIs for search engine optimization

Usually, a few KPIS are used to assess performance marketing in order to assess its efficiency. In particular for the topic of SEO KPIs, this could be:

  • Percent of search terms in the top 10 positions
  • Percent of search terms in the top 3 positions
  • Number of pages indexed
  • Share of brand keywords to general keyword
  • Conversion rates of search engine visitors

However, KPIS only help when goals are defined

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) help when goals have already been defined. The KPIs serve as a benchmark for checking whether your goals are within or outside the set corridor.

Case study – commissioning an SEO consulting project

The following is an example of what such a project could look like and how one could arrive at a target definition for measuring the success of the project:

Offer SEO Consulting project scope 25,000 $

Procedure for SEO Consulting Step 1 – Analysis of the current situation

In order to assess the efficiency of an optimization, I first need the status quo of my previous SEO measures. The status quo includes, among other things:

  • Number and volume of search terms under which the website is found. (Derived from SEM numbers – however, this is the most complex part of the analysis and has some variables that are difficult to calculate – e.g. seasonality of KW, position of KW)
  • Volume (click rate of users) of previous traffic from search engines
  • Conversion rate of users who came to the website via search engines
  • Cost of previous optimization

Procedure SEO Consulting Step 2- Offer SEO

An offer from an SEO agency could look like this:

SEO analysis of the existing website under aspects such as

  • OnSite analysis
  • OnPage factors
  • Link popularity
  • Domain popularity
  • Competitor analysis
  • Positioning on search engines, especially Google, Yahoo and MSN, under given search terms
  • Scope: 3 man-days


  • Discussion of the analysis
  • Do’s and don’ts with search engines – Google and Yahoo
  • Suggestions for optimization
  • Deriving measures
  • Scope: 3 man-days

Implementation measures

  • Definition of action plan
  • Set-up reporting
  • Consulting in the implementation of the OnPage and OnSite factors
  • OffPage Factors – Building a Link Building Campaign
  • Volume: 14 man-days

Total project: 20 man-days

Approach SEO Consulting step 3- Definition of goals and success measurement

The main levers for optimization are made up of:

  • Increase in the addresable search volume (e.g. through better indexability, more optimized search terms)
  • Increase in the click rate (e.g. through improved positions, better titles and descriptions, improved snippets, etc.)

Success measurement – actual analysis project search engine optimization – SEO

  • Current SEO costs = $ 6,000
  • Addressed search volume = 1,000,000
  • Click rate from search traffic = 2.5%
  • Conversion = 2.5%
  • Maximum cost per acquisition (CPA) = 60 $
  • Budget for SEO consulting contract = $ 25,000

Success measurement – results project search engine optimization – SEO

The result of the SEO project after the given time leads to the following results

  • Increase in clicks from 25,000 to 39,688
  • Costs per extra sale of $ 75.36
  • Extra sales of 367

Video by Neil Patel: How to Measure Your Search Engine Optimization Efforts

Success measurement – evaluation project search engine optimization – SEO

The number of clicks has to increase by at least 77% to cover the costs of the SEO project. In the assessment, the campaign was unsuccessful under the given objectives.

Comments on the model – the model is intended to support understanding and discussion

The model is mainly used to:

  • Determine or discuss quantitative and qualitative optimization options with the SEO consultants.
  • Establish a target corridor
  • define corresponding KPIs

When assessing the model or the results from an SEO project, situations will arise again and again that cannot be explained or controlled. Influencing variables could be, for example, the following:

  • Google changed the relevance rating
  • A hot summer leads to a reduction in total search queries
  • Current issues lead to a change in search behavior
  • Current marketing measures of the company change e.g. the click rates of the company in the search engines
  • It’s holiday season
  • It’s the Olympics
  • The national team plays on television

The aim of this model is not a 100% reflection of reality, but to support the understanding and discussion of the results achieved.

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