When it comes to marketing, the only thing that matters to most business owners is ROI.  They want to know that their marketing dollars are producing a profitable return for their company – and rightfully so.  What makes search engine marketing (SEM) unique from many other traditional marketing techniques is that there are several ways to determine a campaigns success in addition to ROI.  At times, these other measurements can actually be better indicators of success than focusing solely on ROI, particularly for a new website, brand, product, etc.

Below are a few ways to track the success of your SEM campaign other than ROI.  Keep in mind that search marketing is a subset of traditional marketing and can be thought of as a long-term investment, and the measurements below may be indicators that your investment is on the right track.  Be patient, and success in the following areas can lead to a positive ROI for your business.

  • Traffic – This one is pretty self-explanatory.  If you’re site is experiencing an increase in traffic, then your SEM campaign is doing something right.  More visitors mean more potential leads and sales.  Having a steady up-swing of visitors to your site will also improve your site’s popularity and go a long way in building your presence on the web (this could be huge for a brand new company).
  • Rankings – Having your site consistently rank well in the search engines for terms related to your product, service, industry, etc. is another way to measure SEM success.  Often times, high rankings can translate to higher traffic, which means more eyes on your products.  Ranking well will also help create top-of-mind brand awareness for your business among web users, as they consistently see your website and brand name near the top of the search engine results.  An improvement in long tail rankings, rankings for keywords around 3-5 in length, is also a good indicator for newer sites.
  • Time On Site – This is a great way to determine if the traffic you are getting is actually looking for what you offer.  A low time on site (and/or a high bounce rate) is a good indication that the people coming to your site are probably not qualified visitors, and will most likely not be purchasing customers.  However, if your visitors are staying on your site for an extended period of time (3-5 minutes are greater), you are attracting the type of people who are interested in your business and are more likely to buy. There are instances where a high bounce rate would be good, say if you run an affiliate based website and want to sent visitors to your affiliates…
  • Indexed Pages – The number of indexed pages your site has and the ratio of indexed to actual pages is a reflection of your brand’s reach on the web and the trust engines place in your site, respectively.  An increase in indexed pages means that your web presence is growing, and shows that search engines view your site as relevant and up to date.  You can think of indexed pages as "tickets" in the search engine "lottery"- the more tickets you have, the more potential traffic you can expect to receive.
  • Contacts/ Calls – If you’re getting calls or emails contacts via your website, you are definitely on the path to SEM success.  More contacts means people are aware of your business, have come to your site, and are interested in making a buying decision.  People contacting you directly is most likely a hot lead that is ready to be closed.



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Jason K. • 9 years ago

Great post. The difficult thing as marketers or for the company, is to attribute specific values to these. There almost has to be an ROI analysis at some level. All of these comes back to ROI. For example, if time on site increases, what does that mean? Well, it means someone is probably clicking on more pages which means your impressions will increase and so could your potential advertising revenue.

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Mike Shannon • 9 years ago

I would say that the above metrics are just general indicators of a successful campaign and not necessarily indicators of ROI itself.  E.g. you could have a site with tons of pages indexed or many dominant keyword rankings but ends up making no sales due to a lack of any call to action.

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Bob • 9 years ago

Zac, Rankings (Google and Alexa) are not only a good indicator of SEM success, but the more discriminating websites (which tend to be higher quality sites) look at rankings before linking to a website. So not only do a large number of quality inbound links end up pushing a site further up in the SERP's, they also provide more traffic and contacts/calls. The rich get richer.

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San Diego Vending • 9 years ago

For every person who fills out the contact form, I have notice that I get about 3 phone calls. It's harder to track these incoming calls since I can't put analyics into it. But I was thinking of using some type of VOIP system for tracking purposes.

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