Weekly Wisdom with Ross Tavendale: KPIs and Measuring SEO Performance

Ross Tavendale

Nov 05, 20196 min read
KPIs and Measuring SEO Performance
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Modified Transcript

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Weekly Wisdom. Today we are going to be talking about something that is very close to my heart, my lungs. No, I am only kidding, that is a terrible dad joke. Today we are going to be talking about KPIs. How many times have you been in your, say, agency, or maybe you work an in-house job, and someone has come up to you and said, "Hey, I would like 10 DA30 links this month.", and you are just like, "Ugh, kill me now."

Or they are maybe like, "I would like number one rankings for this particular keyword." And you are like, "Well, that is not a thing." And all these ridiculous known SEO-based requests that are not actually going to make any difference to their business whatsoever.

That is why having a solid reporting and KPI structure is really important. Today what we are going to do is we are going to go on the iPad, and I am going to write out the exact KPI structure we use at Type A Media and some of the metrics we use for reporting, so hopefully, you don't have all those awful conversations about blank metrics and DA and all that good stuff. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Further reading: Essential Marketing KPIs for Agencies and Businesses

The Upside Down Triangle

Okay. This is a marketing talk. What do all marketing talks have in common? They have an upside-down triangle in them always. Okay. Once we have our very well done upside-down triangle, we need to split it into sections.

Essentially, what we are doing here is using this as our sales funnel and attaching it to some sort of KPIs. Okay. We are going to split it into three major areas; conversational, informational, and then transactional. Each of these are at different stages of the sales pipeline.

Conversational, Informational, and Transactional

At the start with conversational, we are going to be thinking about KPIs that are just getting people in and starting to get them interested in your product or your service. Informational is where we take them out of the paid acquisition funnel and do something like email or some sort of subscribership to social. And then lastly is transactional, when we physically get them to buy something.

Conversational KPIs

Okay, let's talk about conversational KPIs. These are essentially all the things that your clients typically ask for but don't really have a huge bidding on the day-to-day. Think top of funnel things that are important because it shows movement, but ultimately we can't take it to the bank. Let's go in and have a think.

The first one would be impressions. Impressions, as they go off, and as they grow, that means good because we are getting a higher search footprint. Now, this is a slightly controversial one, so seeing that rankings are conversational, not actually that important of a KPI. When we work in SEO, a lot of people might disagree. However, with a number one ranking, you can't pay your mortgage with that. It is transactions that you can pay your mortgage with. Let's put that way back in the priority, and let's have a very grown-up conversation that rankings are a flag and an indicator, but not really a hardcore metric to live and die by.

Let's have a very grown-up conversation that rankings are a flag and an indicator, but not really a hardcore metric to live and die by.

 A couple of other conversational metrics are going to be things like time on site, potentially bounce, depending on the type of organization you are working for. If you work for a publisher, then bounce doesn't matter at all because if they jump on, read the article and leave, because they have come from social, that is absolutely fine. We are not really bothered.

But, should it be a lead gen site or an eCommerce site, time on site, and certain pages visited matters. Are they adding to a basket more often? Are they going to the checkout page more often? Are they going to your sales page more often? All these are good conversational metrics so that we know that we are doing a good job without having the hardcore cash in and bank metric showing up.

Informational KPIs

Okay, the next step is informational. Think of informational as taking them out of the paid acquisition. And when we think of bought, owned, and earned media, this is where we really look at earned media. A couple of things I cared about here. I care about email subscribers. Perhaps if you are an eCommerce website, you get some sort of competition mechanic, or something that you want them to do that is not a purchase.

Or maybe you are one of those websites that have got quite "high consideration" purchases; there is quite a long lead time from discovery to actual purchase itself. You probably want them to subscribe to social, so you can continue messaging without having to pay to reach.

Other examples of informational KPIs will very much depend on your industry. If you are in something like publishing, things like time on site actually comes out of conversational and into informational because that is a prerequisite to you monetizing through ads. If it is a lead generation site, things like clicking a call-back form or something like that, are more like your informational KPIs. It is not money in the bank, but people requesting a call-back and going into your CRM database. That is getting them to a good place where they are about to transact, but we call that our informational KPIs.


Okay. The last one is transactional, and this is the one that most people care about. But let's not be completely blind to what transactional may mean based on your business and based on your KPIs.

I was speaking to a really good friend of mine, Nick Wilsdon, who is the SU at Vodafone. And when I asked him, "What should major can a transactional KPIs, it must be new sign-ups and all that sort of stuff." He said, "No, the main KPI we care about is downloads of the app cause you already have huge market penetration and lots of monthlies coming in." Just because you think that money in the bank feels like the thing to go for, check with your CEO, check with the C-suite, make sure that you are completely aligned with the people who are giving you the budget to run the digital campaigns. But let's go into what those KPIs typically look like.

There are usually three different types of transactional KPIs. It is usually leads, if you are lead gen. money if you are eCommerce, and downloads if you are some sort of SaaS business. Actually, there is a step outside of transactional. It is after purchase or post-purchase care.

If you are a SaaS business, it is things like stickiness and lifetime value. If you are an eCommerce business, it is how often someone comes back and repeat purchases. Because we are an SEO, which is typically an acquisitions channel, it is unlikely you are going to need to do any sort of secondary CRM type reporting. However, it is very good to keep that in mind when you are talking to people so that you know what they care about as well as what you care about as a digital guy.


Okay. Just as a recap, there are three major types. We have got our transactional, our informational, and our conversational, and typically, they all connect together and one marketing funnel. Bear in mind, when you are speaking to your client, they are going to want to care about rankings and things like that, which is very much conversational top of the funnel, we don't really care. Try and make sure that inside your reporting, you have got all these different bases covered so that at any point in the relationship, you can show the value of your work.

Well, that is everything for this week. We hope you have enjoyed it. Please tell me in the comments down below how you do your reporting and until next time, we will see you later.

Author Photo
Ross is the Managing Director at Type A Media, an independent search agency that work with FTSE250 companies and mid-sized brands to help them find the optimal way to talk to more people online. When not obsessing over his clients rankings, he hosts the Canonical Chronicle, a weekly web show watched by 100k people every month. If you want to ask him a direct question you can find him @rtavs on Twitter.