SEO is about making decisions and adjusting strategy based on data, and that data is, ideally, a key performance indicator (KPI). Simply put, taking action is much easier when its effectiveness can be measured with the correct data.
A KPI should be used as a measurement of success. In most cases, a website’s goal is to bring in traffic, specifically through targeted queries. This is still the case for business to business (B2B) companies, but unlike a content based-site, or even an eCommerce B2C site, B2B websites are designed with long lead-times in mind. Users aren’t there to shop, they’re there to educate themselves or others before making a decision. Often times multiple decision-makers need to be consulted before any monetary transaction takes place.
In this case, what types of metrics should be considered KPIs and be analyzed to help define success?
SEO B2B KPIs that are less important than you’d think
Sessions / Visits
Visits are good. They are required for a page to make a conversion, but while visits are important, it is illogical to think just bringing in traffic will also bring conversions. If visits were the most important aspect of a successful site, the content focus could be about any pop culture trend of the time. A “get visits up” proclamation can lead to negative consequences as an outcome of working with a specific objective at the expense of actual quality.
It is important to remember that a content strategy can only be as good as your products and the solutions they provide. There’s a limit to the amount of pain-points that can be solved. If visits start increasing at a slower rate, or worse, become stagnant, expanding to high volume, less relevant (and lower quality) keywords doesn’t qualify as success.
We all know higher rankings mean more impressions, but there are many ways to generate traffic without being well-ranked. When a client asks for a ranking report, as opposed to a leads report, it is difficult to explain why the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Looking at isolated rankings versus reporting the keyword volume and the quality of traffic it’s bringing in means that you could have ten keywords ranking within the top five positions, but the total search volume is only 100 per month.
In addition, a higher ranking does not beget more leads. One way to explain this is with specific examples, such as the prominence via search engine saturation and social media. Search engine saturation results from finding ways for your page to stand out among other results by occupying more space, or multiple results on the search engine page.
The 6 Most Important B2B SEO KPIs
The word “free” gets thrown out when discussing organic traffic, but tracking resources in developing content and assets should always be compared to the revenue they drive. A huge project focusing on specific content cost money to create. If that content does not bring in revenue, directly or indirectly, it should not be considered successful.
For example, by ensuring there is a way to capture a lead from the content or provided asset, usually through a form fill, there can be a value associated with that particular page or whitepaper, and a return on investment can be established.
2) Total Conversions to Revenue
For most websites, the goal is to make money. Tracking the amount of organic leads that convert to sales, or visitors straight to sales, allows you to assign a value to these types of conversions, which in turn helps you to focus on specific content to help build those leads. A page that both converts goals well and brings in lots of organic traffic, yet DOES NOT convert sales, is unsuccessful.
3) Total Conversions / Goal Completions to Sales
Total conversions are one of the most important KPIs. Ask yourself this question: Is a page that acquires 2,000 visits and has converted 250 of them to leads “superior” to a page that receives 8,000 visits and converts 95 into leads? Well, it depends. Did more of the leads from the less-visited page convert to sales? If yes, then the page with fewer visits is of higher quality.
The page that has more conversions is simply more valuable in this sense.
4) Goal Value
Goal value is a monetary value assigned to each specific interaction. This value is usually the average of the revenue produced, divided by the total amount of leads for that specific goal. The higher this amount, the better that asset’s or page’s quality. For example, 41 organic whitepaper sales / 1054 organic leads = .039. Multiply that by $5456 of revenue generated and you have a value of $212.78 per lead.
5) Goal Conversion Rate
Goal conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who are turned into leads or sales (depending on your model). This KPI gives SEOs insight into which pages need which types of on-page optimizations. No page will convert 100% of visitors, but there is always an opportunity to improve conversion rate (through conversion rate optimization, a/b testing, etc.) when higher search engine rankings are unattainable or outweigh the cost of creating content.
6) Inbound Links
Measuring inbound links is much less implicit when assigning a value, but we can measure some indicators such as the total amount of links and the PageRank/Page Authority/Domain Authority of those links. We know there is a direct correlation between the quality of the inbound link profile of a site and its search engine rankings, but unfortunately a direct effect is difficult to quantify. These metrics do give a good idea of the quality of the links and the domains these links are coming from, and this information helps to target future link outreach efforts, which does ultimately contribute to your page’s search engine rankings.
KPIs are significant only if you use them correctly. Take the data and make a decision based on that data to improve KPI metrics, which will increase revenue. Managing KPIs can prove difficult or costly if the KPI isn’t set up correctly or assigned a proper value, but if applied correctly, they can improve your website and vastly increase your bottom line.