Myth-busting SEO for the CMO: Myth No. 2 – You Can’t Measure SEO

Graphs to measure SEO.

“You can’t track SEO like you can track advertising.” This is a common mindset as brands explore SEO programs. But it’s the wrong way of thinking.

Yes, Google is not allowing organic attribution to the keyword. And yes, that is not fair since they show PPC data. But even with data missing, you can figure it out.

Even if it is true that you can’t track organic SEO to the keyword, that’s not taking into account the big picture.

Let’s myth-bust SEO measurement and look at the bigger picture that every brand should consider as they explore SEO.

Fact: You Can Track SEO and Here’s What You Should Be Analyzing

Let’s explore some questions that help reframe the mindset when investing in and measuring SEO. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the actual measurement part later.)

1. Does your target audience use a search engine?

The vast majority of people today use search engines as their primary access point to the web. Google Search alone generated 3.8 million search queries per minute in 2019.

So it’s not really a question of whether your target audience is online — of course they are. This question is moot, replaced by more important ones like: What are people looking for? Is it something you provide?

2. Does your competition have a strong website?

The next question to explore is whether your market competition has a website. Do you think they are investing in optimization?

If they are, it’s not so good for you if your brand is not. If they aren’t doing SEO, it’s potentially a big opportunity for your brand. How fast could you stake your claim on that market online if you were optimizing your website?

The second thought is who is your actual competition in the search results. Which websites are showing up for the information, products and services that you offer? Would you like to have a chance to show up, too?

There are approximately 1.3 billion websites out there. How many of them do you think are investing in SEO seriously? And out of those billions of websites, we need to compete to be on Page 1. You simply can’t do that without a quality SEO strategy.

3. What would happen if you stopped advertising today?

With search engine marketing (SEM) — pay per click ads, for example — you put a dollar in and you may get a couple of dollars back. Brands that invest in online advertising are used to the instant gratification of immediate results that are easily tracked.
But what would happen if you stopped your SEM advertising today? Stop putting those dollars in, and you’ll disappear from the search results entirely.

Let’s not sugarcoat it: SEO is a long-term investment. But once you invest in it, it’s yours. And sometimes the largest investments are upfront. Of course, you do need ongoing maintenance. But the work you put in can continue to get rankings and traffic long after you do it.

You should do SEM. And you should do SEO, too. They each serve different purposes, and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

“But SEO takes too long to see results.”

It can be true that it can take up to six months to get things humming after starting your SEO program. And, yes, impossible words just take longer. But it really depends on the niche and what shape the website is in to begin with.

Regardless, SEO is a long-term strategy, which is exactly why you should do it in conjunction with other digital marketing.

You must plan on investing in SEO for the life of your website. And don’t be surprised by the traffic you didn’t get for the SEO work you didn’t do.

OK, so how much should we spend on SEO and what results will we see?

Well, how long are you willing to wait until you beat your competition? This determines your budget. In general, businesses should allocate 5% to 10% of their revenue to SEO as a cost of advertising.

To me, a bigger question is: If I put in $1, do I get back $10? If yes, then I want a stack of ones.

Of course, there are all sorts of complex calculations you can do to figure out the ROI of SEO. Just see this, this, this and this.

Traffic is one of the main things you want to track. SEO is designed to drive traffic. And one of the ways it does that is by creating a quality site that has a good user experience that Google wants to rank.

Converting that traffic is your responsibility as a brand. But you’ll also be able to track conversions coming from the organic traffic channel, as well as their revenue.

If I put in $1, do I get back $10? If yes, then I want a stack of ones.

Of course, we know the results that SEO can bring. You can look at our case studies to find out for yourself the types of results businesses see. But those are the types of businesses that are really committed to SEO. Your brand must commit in order to see those types of results.

How to Evaluate SEO’s Worth

The bottom line is often not what you should be tracking when it comes to SEO, but what you are missing by not doing it.

It’s not really a question of if you should be on a platform used by almost the entire population of the U.S.

Rather, do you want to beat your competition online? Do you want to be a useful brand to the people who are searching for what you have? Do you even want to be in the game? Or out of business in five years?

For more SEO myth-busting, see these articles:

If you would like a free consultation on how we can help you achieve better returns with your website, contact us today.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
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One Reply to “Myth-busting SEO for the CMO: Myth No. 2 – You Can’t Measure SEO”

Thanks for busting the myths SEO is great and will always be evergreen.

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