7 proven ways to explain the value of SEO


SEO is the most underrated marketing channel.

Compared to PPC or TV advertising, the budget is very small.

And then it has to struggle to justify its existence.

No longer.

In this article, you’ll learn seven proven ways to explain the value of SEO.

Why most SEO reports need to be torn apart

Resource-constrained search marketers rarely do themselves any favors. They deliver data-rich reports that lack context.

Many read more like financial statements, with numbers everywhere, up and down arrows. However, these reports do not take into account any business-related key figures.

For example, data traffic could be down. However, thanks to a change in the SERP structure, there could be trouble for everyone in the industry.

Or what if you are a seasonal company? Your report shows a drop that is not your fault.

In general, SEOs give their clients too much data that they neither value nor understand.

It’s time to change that model and give stakeholders data they understand and care about.

Treat sales data with caution

It’s common for SEOs to start promising all kinds of sales results.

It tends to ignore the company’s brand, product, social media, PPC, email marketing, and any other type of marketing.

In reality, search – and customer acquisition – is a complicated business.

My parents are in their 70s and have just made their first purchase on Amazon. It needed a gift card.

Fine if an SEO expert at Amazon wants to include my mom’s purchase in their analytics gains.

But it’s a lie. Gift cards triggered a navigational search and enabled a risk-free purchase.

SEOs tend to focus on competing for budget with other channels and we grab all sorts of hits.

Even if you can show sales, this is not your default value.

People buy for a variety of reasons. They abandon the cart for many others as well.

So show conversion data in your reports, but make sure the customer clearly understands that this is website performance, not necessarily SEO performance.

Many factors affect sales, and it’s rarely all down to website traffic.

This leads us to the metrics that show the value of SEO.

1. Comparison of the traffic volume of the closest competitors

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Search is a marketing channel, a space that other brands occupy.

Comparison will be your greatest weapon in proving the value of SEO.

By pointing out how your client’s competition is performing in search, you can show the value of SEO by leading them to and overtake the competition.

The comparison can be made in many ways.

However, for this initial assessment, create a chart that shows your client’s website traffic compared to a competitor.

The one they compete with the most.

I think use a simple bar chart. There’s nothing better than a target to aim at.

As you pass them, you keep changing the competitor. This will help the client focus on short-term gains.

2. Share of search interest

Search share is a metric proposed by Les Binet and the IPA as a cost-effective way to measure brand performance. It’s also a fairly easy metric to determine.

With Google Trends, you can measure your brand and competitor interest, and calculate your share of search interest.

Percentage of searches

This isn’t perfect for SEO as search is displayed as a channel. That means all of your marketing contributes to this number, but it’s a good metric to use to:

  • Show how your marketing impacts your business.
  • Issue an alert, especially when the percentage of search interest decreases. With this data, you can identify changes in business performance six months in advance, giving you time to take action.

3. Share of search volume

The search interest percentage tells you how interested people are in your brand (compared to the competition), but what if you’re a small brand? And what about pure search traffic?

Luckily, some search volume is here to be saved.

You can now easily see this with tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Sign up with any of them, list your organic competition and see how your organic search share compares.

While I’m not aware of any SEO testing in this area, I believe (based on my experience) that search volume tends to follow a similar path as search interest.

If you see a drop in traffic on your informational, branded, buyer intent, or non-branded searches, it’s probably an indication that you need to take marketing action.

4. Branded Search Traffic

You get two types of traffic for each business: branded and non-branded.

However, increasing brand traffic is unlikely to be your credit.

Depending on your business, tracking can be part of the SEO task.

There are, of course, many ways to do this, and it is beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about them.

By capturing as much brand traffic as possible, make sure you’re visible to shoppers.

Branded search traffic is a great metric to show key stakeholders. It can also be used to inform other marketing channels and to help plan marketing activities.

This is one of the reasons your SEO team should be present at every marketing meeting. You have data that helps everyone.

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Google has historically covered the messy part of search. It’s a model of how people use search engines to make purchases and make decisions.

To paraphrase their research, people research a topic, do research, and then evaluate their choices.

This means showing up during the client’s research journey is beneficial to your business.

Therefore, showing up during the client’s research phase and answering important questions is a valuable SEO tactic.

And one that you can prove with analytics.

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You can use a custom regular expression to generate these metrics or a tool like SEOTesting to extract the data.

GSC organic search data

Now, you don’t want to give your clients a spreadsheet (unless they want one), but a simple screenshot of Search Console data will do.

Alternatively, you can use spreadsheet reports to create a better looking chart.

6. Increased physical availability

Physical availability indicates how easy and convenient it is for a customer to buy from your brand.

And yes, those are your buyer’s terms you’re probably bidding on and paying a fortune in PPC.

You can track these and show them to the customers you rank for. Once you rank, you can start experimenting with reducing PPC spend to lower CPL.

I recommend having the PPC keywords for your client and then tracking organic rankings. Create this in a monthly chart so the client can show your organic rankings for those terms.

7. Acquisition of new visitors

Perhaps the most controversial yet most valuable metric to ignore is new visitor acquisition.

New users

New visitors are the lifeblood of any website and it’s important to show where that traffic is coming from.


Because it shows that your business is being introduced to new prospects, and that’s how you build a brand.

Cover reports: Your new best friend

Just because Google gives you analytics data doesn’t mean you have to use it entirely for SEO reports.

To most, the data looks like a series of numbers, which confuses customers. Their expertise is there to interpret this data in a meaningful way for customers.

Give them the numbers of course, but I advise you to provide your clients with a coverage report.

A simple one-page report highlighting what I’ve shown above (or any metrics).

Not only does this reduce your reporting time, but it also underscores your expertise in selecting relevant information.

We are SEO specialists. We need to ensure that this expertise touches every part of Search Engine Optimization, including reporting.

And by putting your data in context, you increase your perceived value.

In other words, if your reporting calls aren’t interesting to customers, find a way to make the data far more relevant, and it will be.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. The authors of our employees are listed here.

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