The top metrics & KPIs other teams care about for SEO
SEOs care about many metrics, often the wrong ones (rankings, DA, PA, you name it, etc.). What is often forgotten are the metrics that are important for the other teams/departments within their organization. In the end, building a company isn’t just done by one company. Over the years, it’s been clear that you work with many departments simultaneously on the same effort, and often they care about your channels’ metrics. Just not always the same ones, so in this blog post, I wanted to shine some additional light on what metrics you should think about for other departments. It’s the followup to this tweet that got quite the attention, and this post gives me the ability to go a bit more into depth on the whys?
This list is likely incomplete and is using some generic names. Your organization might have different names or have additional departments that might not be covered here. Hopefully, this gives you a better insight into how to think about various departments related to SEO.
Depending on what type of organization you work in and how broad your C-suite is, you are likely to report at some level into a COO/CMO that cares about the SEO metrics. But often in 100+ person companies, they don’t have the depth anymore to really deep dive into the SEO cases that you’re facing within an SEO team on a day-to-day basis.
- Revenue, average order value (this number should in most use cases not be too much different from the performance of other channels), and the number of Transactions.
- Sessions from organic search as an absolute number but also the percentage of total traffic. Primarily the latter as you want to keep a healthy/diverse balance for your marketing mix. Something that I blogged about before.
What is Product building that you can benefit from, and how are you working with Product to prioritize the most important changes to the product to drive additional growth from organic search. No product is finished so there is always something that you can help prioritize from an SEO point-of-view.
- Load time: There has been enough buzz about the importance of site speed for good reason.
- Number of Pages per Template
- Growth in Sessions
- Best Performing Page Segments
- Conversion Rate from Organic Search, etc.
Not necessarily in that order, but usually, metrics that are impacted with/by the Product organization.
Sitespeed, code velocity, sitespeed and load times. Well you get the point. It’s all about how fast the site is and how quickly you can work with an engineering team to get changes that you want fixed implemented.
- Load times/site speed, traffic to specific sections of the site.
- Velocity of tickets/items that you want Engineering to implement.
Metrics that show the potential for growth and the return on investment. In the end, in many companies, Finance is the gatekeeper of money flowing in and out. They want to get a better insight into what you’re spending and how that eventually contributes to the bottom line. Providing a simple version of a P&L for SEO will likely return a happy smile if you’re able to produce that.
- ROI % (how much have you spend on SEO resourcing: team, tools, other expenses for content) versus what will it return
- Budget Spend, Returned Revenue, and future growth.
Likely your closest allies in the ‘battle of SEO’ together with Product. Depending on the organizational structure, you probably find the SEO team itself here or in Product. So having enough impact on the metrics that your marketing team cares about is important.
📝 Content: Do you have a separate content team? They’ll likely care about the organic traffic coming to their pages, and they should care about the impact on those business metrics too. Besides that, any insight into specific keywords (volume, CTR) is always useful for a team like this to help optimize existing content.
- Impact on branded search terms: sessions.
- Increase/decline so you can measure the uplift of other brand awareness campaigns.
🧳 Sales & Business Development
At what scale are you still able to set up partnerships and does that actually fit into the scope of SEO at scale? Likely the answer is, no. That’s why you want to partner with a sales/biz dev team that can help you solidify partnerships and companies to work within your space. They have better skills and you can likely provide them meanwhile with more useful input on who to go after.
- The number of big partnerships.
- A shortlist of partners that you want them to go after, not just for dumb link building (preferably not, in my opinion). Instead, create lasting relationships that impact the industry, TAM (Total Addressable Market), and market presence.
📞 Customer Service
The better, faster, and more quickly you can answer your customers’ questions likely the better your business will thrive in today’s environment. Often this means that providing the answer directly in search (think featured snippets). You can’t just do this alone as an SEO team, you need the input from people in Customer Service, they’re the ones talking to your customers about the (mainly) negative and positive situations. The more you can support them with the metrics that they care about, the more comfortable both your lives might become.
- Organic Traffic to Support related pages, the number of calls/chats that you avoid by better-optimized pages, etc.
- The top questions that you can answer directly via featured snippets.
- The top 100 pages on your support portal, based on organic search segmentation.
When I was on the Growth team at Postmates the insane velocity that was produced there to grow faster was great to see. As SEO isn’t the fastest-growing channel often (especially not in the short-term, as I can throw 1M towards PPC tomorrow and create near-instant results) it’s important to show how it’s attributing to the mix of long and short-term initiatives of a growth team.
- Growth % of the SEO channel, compared to MoM, WoW or YoY.
- Long term contributions of growth, as lots of SEO growth is evergreen and at relatively low costs.
👩💻 Human Resources
Admittedly, this one is one of the most distanced departments from just SEO, but if you’re a big organization and recruiting for dozens or even hundreds or roles, how important it could be to help drive traffic to a Careers/Jobs section on a site. If that’s the case showing the importance of driving job applicants could be incredibly helpful to help understand what SEO can do for them.
- The number of job applicants that applied because they found the jobs via Search.
- Traffic to a specific segment of the site from Organic Search: Careers/Jobs.
- The number of pages marked up properly with structured data for Jobs.
What metrics are missing? What do you measure for your organization? There are so many different business models out there that likely this list is far from complete for; for example, B2B cases are likely to be missing here.