How To Create Search Engine Optimization KPIs for Lead Generation Websites

SEO Aug 15, 2013

In a previous post, we talked about Key Performance Indicators and how using them will help you make the right decisions for your Search Engine Optimization strategy and tactics.

You’re tracking this stuff, right?


Right, about that…

Basically, you want to track specific KPIs and work improving them.

No one ranks websites just to rank them for the fun of it, obviously. 

Given Google’s mood-swings, that’s a pretty masochistic way of living and working.

There should always be a business goal tied to any SEO activity. 


Image credit: Unlilytics

For most websites, you’re looking at generating activity that turns into cold hard cash — whether through sales (e-commerce), leads, pageviews for advertising, converting visitors to email subscribers, or something else.

What, exactly, you end up tracking depends on your website and what the ultimate conversion goal is for visitors.

So, settle down children, today we’re going to talk about Key Performance Indicators for lead generation and e-commerce websites.

Break out your pen and paper…

Key Performance Indicators For Lead Generation Sites

Above anything else, the ultimate conversion goal of a visitor is to turn them into leads.

This is either as a phone call or through some kind of submission form.

Most of the time, turning those leads into actual customers happens online, and that’s cool.

For a site like this, we’re not looking to make actual sales — we want to generate leads.

Your site might have other duties, too, like customer service, provide information, branding, and even online sales. But we’re going to focus on the lead generation aspect and related KPIs.

Figuring this out will help us gauge the performance of our SEO activities and campaigns — are we seeing a positive ROI or not?

Given the almost infinite possibilities of sub-metrics, numbers, and tactics, we are looking at top-level metrics used to determine SEO and ROI goals.

These metrics can be expanded into more details if you wanted, but the whole point of KPIs is to not have too many of them, and only measure the most important metrics.

So, here they are:

The 2 Most Valuable SEO KPIs Categories For Lead Generation Websites

These indicators need to be measured, attributed correctly, and given the appropriate weight.

And we’re looking at 2 broad categories that have a lot of room for more detailed KPIs — which ones you adopt depends solely on what you’re looking for and need, to see ROI and effectiveness of your SEO campaigns.

1. Targeted Organic Non-branded Traffic


Image credit: eConsultancy

Often used as the go-to metric for tracking and understanding your website traffic. This would exclude branded traffic and PPC clicks. That means you filter out keywords that contain your company and website name — someone already searching for you is not the result of SEO.

You should still rank for your own terms (or your competitors will) and cover your bases for modifiers like “review” and even “scam”. Just make sure you exclude them in your analytics to get a true sense of organic traffic, and thus, the effectiveness of your SEO.

Branded, Non-branded, Semi-branded…What?!

Another way of tackling this is to look at semi-branded organic traffic, which are keywords that mix branded and non-branded terms. You usually come across this if your brand is associated with a specific keyword or phrases, and people are searching for your brand and the related keywords because, in their mind, they go together.

If you ever find that you’re ranking pretty well for terms that simply have little to do with what your website is all about, you want to narrow down and filter for targeted non-branded organic traffic.

For example, let’s say you for some reason rank pretty well for “caffeine free drinks”, but that’s not what you website is actually about, nor would your leads use those terms to find your site.

That means you’re getting un-targeted traffic. Create a segment that excludes this kind of traffic.

Also, you do want to keep track of referral traffic, and this would usually be from websites that link to you. If you’re using guest posting and article marketing, then this will matter even more.

If you’re executing on your SEO right, you should be seeing an increase in inbound links. The sole purpose of these links is to send traffic to your site — whether that happens directly (which is better) or helps boost your rankings.

Obviously, you need to analyze your backlink data to be able to truly understand what your links are a result of.

The True Indicator Is Quality

All this to say: quality of traffic matters. This is the kind of indicator that you’re looking for: targeted non-branded organic traffic.

As a spin-off to that, any kind of engagement metrics will help you determine if your SEO is, indeed, attracting targeted visitors.

Those engagement metrics would be bounce rate, downloads, social shares, comments, time on site, subscriptions and more.

You can use Advanced Custom Segments in Google Analytics to start segmenting your traffic and filter for the targeted, non-branded organic traffic.

Since you want to measure the success or failure of your SEO efforts, this would be a great KPI to have in your arsenal.

2. Lead Value And Conversion


When you think of leads, you’re probably seeing visions of contact or request forms for either quotes or something else.

People will contact you through a variety of ways, which is not always using a form on a website. There might be a phone call or email involved, too.

This can get a bit tricky in terms of attribution.


How do you know that the phone call you just got was a result of someone coming across your website through an organic search?

This is where a discussion moves away a little from pure SEO and onto marketing and sales processes.

Let’s stay with what we can actually track for now, so if you have different forms on your website (and you should), set different goals for them (yes, we’re talking about using different conversion goals and funnels in Google Analytics).

If you have a clickable email address, using the ‘mailto:’ HTML code, then set up Event Tracking for that type of a link.

Since you’re probably using Google Analytics, make sure you look at visitor behavior and their path throughout your website. You can easily spot what keywords brought them to what landing page, and where they went from there.

While it can be slightly difficult to properly attribute lead generation to exact SEO efforts and channels, it’s not impossible.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

First of all, you have to make sure you segment and filter your traffic to track sources and quality.

Secondly, you then need to properly attribute leads to a particular SEO channel. This is where the rubber meets the road.

A goal completion (for us, that’s generating a lead) can either be considered an assisted conversion or last interaction conversion.

For assisted conversion, that happens when someone finds your site through a search, visited you again through some other channel (like an ad or directly visiting your site) and contacted you (or filled out a form) on the second, third, fourth or other visit.

A last interaction conversion is more straightforward: someone finds your site through search (using a non-branded keyword, for example) and fills out a form on the same visit.

So, how can we properly attach these possible scenarios to SEO?

Well, you don’t focus on the number of leads from SEO (that’s too basic and primitive).

Instead, you want to measure the total value of leads from SEO traffic.

Weigh Those Leads Right Or Else…

The number of leads means absolutely nothing if they’re of poor quality. It’s not that quantity doesn’t matter — often a general increase of leads can lead to better quality, too.

But we want to hone in on KPIs that will help you make informed decision on your SEO activity.

The likelihood of a sale is one element of lead quality, and so is the value of the sale.

For example, it’s more easier for your SEO to generate leads for low-value services or goods, as they generally don’t require a long period of consideration, multiple returns to your website, a lot of information consumption, or speaking with a sales rep.

Those purchases that require a longer sales cycle and higher level of consideration may be trickier to attribute to particular SEO activity.

So, quality of leads also depends on the type of lead and source of lead.

The type of lead could be either an email, phone call, or contact form. As I said above, you should have different forms that you’re testing, and from different pages of your website. Have a contact form for the contact page, another form for a product or service page, and so on.

For the type, you want to determine close rates and revenue from each type of lead.

The source of lead is where you can draw easier connections to your SEO activity. You will also find that the source matches up quite nicely with an assisted conversion.

This is really a more in-depth discussion on multi-channel attribution than we have time and space for here, but Google Analytics can handle that, too.

For the sake of this blog post, as your website generates leads you’ll find that some channels simply perform better than others, and that the leads they generate have a higher value than others, as in of better quality, higher close rate, more revenue, and so on.

How’s that for a deep-dive into possible KPIs for your SEO efforts?

Don’t Lose The Forest For All The Trees

Look, I know, this is some pretty detailed stuff and might overwhelm you right off the bat.

It’s easy to get dazed and confused by all these details and possibilities.

The good thing is that, in order to connect your Search Engine Optimization campaigns to a set of Key Performance Indicators, you don’t have to look further than what the primary goal of your website is.

In this post, we’ve talked about lead generation specifically.

The trickiest part is to properly attribute those leads to the right SEO activity.

While a bit of a challenge, it’s not impossible — and you do have to accept a certain level of bleed in those numbers and funnels.

However, by pin-pointing your KPIs and tracking through your analytics tool, a larger picture should emerge, something that looks like this:


It’s simplified, I know, but in reality it doesn’t have to get much more complicated than this.

With Advanced Custom Segments, proper use of link attribution, several different lead generation forms, and tracking visitor behavior, you’ll get a good sense of what your Key Performance Indicators are and how they’re related to your SEO activity.

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