SEO is a critical component in most B2B marketers’ traffic acquisition initiatives. According to the “2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing” report from DemandWave, 63 percent of B2B marketers surveyed indicated that organic search (and email) topped their lists as the leading channels for revenue growth.
Organic search also came in a close second for lead generation, trailing only email (70 percent versus 73 percent, respectively).
B2B SEOs and marketers in general must be able to demonstrate how their specific tactics with SEO impact broader business objectives.
However, these are only two of the many metrics demonstrating performance of B2B SEO initiatives.
So what are the SEO performance metrics your B2B organization should consider?
The following is a list of 20+ performance metrics and benchmarks we recommend that B2B marketing managers use to establish performance benchmarks for their search engine optimization programs. Unless specified otherwise, all metrics are assumed to be tracked on a regular (at least monthly) basis.
Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals
These performance metrics form the basis of almost every SEO program, even if they only indirectly impact specific B2B business results.
- Organic search engine traffic
The most fundamental of all performance metrics when measuring an SEO program.
- Percentage of traffic from organic search
This percentage varies based on the different online marketing strategies an organization utilizes in its B2B marketing mix.
- Unique keywords sending traffic
Now pulled through Google Search Console’s search analytics reports. If your organization is continually building new content (that is getting indexed by search engines), this number should increase over time. Note, however, that Google only shows 999 different phrases if accessed directly through GSC (and not via API).
- Landing pages receiving traffic
The number of web addresses found in search engine results that received traffic or impressions (found in Google Search Console and limited to 1,000 pages if accessed directly through the GSC dashboard).
- Branded versus non-branded organic search referrals
This metric can be also be found in Google Search Console and helps define both direct and indirect improvements to brand awareness and overall SEO success.
Search Engine Optimization Campaign Effectiveness
Once B2B SEOs have a handle on traffic growth and (potential) opportunity, it’s important to realize the effectiveness of these metrics in an effort to properly align SEO program initiatives.
- Conversions from organic search engine traffic
While there are various types of goals an organization may define as a conversion (white papers, webinar registrations, collateral requests, etc.), it’s important to track them regularly.
- Conversion rate from organic search engine traffic
Measure this in comparison to other online marketing channels to determine quality of traffic from organic search.
- Events created from organic search engine traffic
Event tracking is ideal for less sales-oriented lead generation efforts, like video views, and image or link clicks.
- Revenue from organic search engine traffic
Assuming this metric can (or should) be tracked, particularly with B2B e-commerce initiatives.
- Percentage of search traffic from non-branded keyword search referrals
Also detailed in Google Search Console’s search analytics reports and alluded to in the previous section, this information helps determine the broader, non-brand specific presence for a B2B organization.
- Percentage of search traffic from core keyword strategies
If a core set of keyword targets is defined, establishing the overall visibility of those themes, via Search Console reporting, is important.
- Keyword rank monitoring
Keyword rankings should not be the end-all-be-all, but there is certainly a connection between a better keyword position in search engine results and likelihood someone will click into your website.
Search Engine Optimization Productivity
While raw numbers do not necessarily translate into SEO success, establishing benchmarks (such as the below) for the creation of links, content, and deliverables executed helps to provide visibility to a search engine marketer’s plan of action.
- Inbound links researched, requested, and acquired (high quality given priority, of course)
- Social shares acquired per platform/program
- Third party contacts researched, contacted, and communicating with/added to network (via social media)
- Content assets generated, pages optimized, content reviewed and optimized (i.e., keyword strategy applied)
- Unique domains and total links linking to website (in addition to the overall link imprint, a list of websites linking is important)
SEO Trend Analysis
Trend analysis of key SEO metrics provides insight into how well your search marketing strategy has performed over time, and helps to establish goals and benchmarks for future campaigns.
Here four key guidelines to consider:
- Month-to-month improvements (declines) in organic search traffic, keyword referrals, and other performance metrics
- Month-to-month improvements (declines) in organic search conversions and conversion rates
- Year over year improvements (declines) in organic search engine traffic, conversions, keyword referrals, and other performance metrics
- Year over year improvements (declines) in keyword visibility, relative to an overall keyword theme (IE, combination of related keyword searches) as opposed to individual keyword rankings.
SEO Competitive Benchmarking
We would be remiss if we did not briefly address the need to benchmark against the competition. While it’s not likely a competitor will provide you access to their own web analytics tools, consider the following performance benchmarks as a first step:
- Pages indexed in Google (search query: site:domain.com)
- Inbound links created (via link monitoring solution like Buzzsumo, MajesticSEO or Open Site Explorer)
- Content marketing asset performance (as detailed via resources such as Buzzsumo in particular)
- SEMrush also has a series of free tools (in addition to premium packages) that B2B marketers can use for competitive benchmarking as well, which provide a broad range of scoring criteria and performance metrics (many listed above) for review.
If you are interested in learning more about these resources and others, take a look at my recent post highlighting eight essential resources for competitive analysis.
Final Thoughts on SEO Benchmarks
Have we hit every SEO metric possible? Absolutely not. But the recommendations above provide most of the broad-brush benchmarks B2B marketing managers should keep track of to establish goals and achieve long-term success for their SEO programs.
As SEOs realize there are finer points that may provide additional support or add value to a campaign, deeper analysis can (and should) be done.