Q and A: How do I prove my SEO work contributed to company sales?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’m a past graduate of Search Engine College (Class of 2009, Woo!) and I’ve been working with a few different companies since then. I’ve recently started to take on private clients so that I can move towards setting up my own freelance SEO business and things are going well.

One of my private clients is an affiliate company that works mainly off lead generation. I’ve been tracking the SEO work I’ve done for them in Google Analytics and produced reports showing a marked increase in traffic from organic search results. They’re happy with that, but the CEO wants me to show a dollar figure of how much SEO has contributed to the company’s bottom line.

I can get the monthly affiliate sales figures from their marketing team and I can set up funnel tracking to see the path taken by organic search referrers towards the shopping cart, but all the purchasing is actually done on a 3rd party shopping cart site and I don’t have access to that information. Also, those figures don’t take into account the brand exposure my work provides for the company by continually getting their name in front of eyeballs. Some of these people may go directly to the shopping cart site later after comparison shopping and buy as a result. How can I track these post-search sales?

Thanks
Louise

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Hi Louise

Tracking the effectiveness of SEO activity for ecommerce and lead generation sites can be tricky. I also have ecommerce sites as clients and I feel your frustration!

Is each customer sent to a *thank you for purchasing* page after purchase? If so, you can add Google conversion tracking code to that page and set up each visit to that page as defining a single conversion, even if that activity happens off the main site. Then you can accurately measure conversions within Google Analytics. Measuring conversions that happen later should also be possible, depending on the way visitors are tracked and cookies stored. Integrating Google Analytics asynchronous tracking code will make that job easier.

Juggling the shifting priorities of various stakeholders aside, most clients just want to see that the money they are channeling into SEO or Pay Per Click efforts is justified. Often, preparing detailed Google Analytics reports and financial spreadsheets can be a waste of time because few staff will look at them. You want to be able to prove, quickly, that your work is cost-effective and making a direct impact on sales.

Ian Lurie of Search Engine Land has written a brilliant article on this very topic this week, called The Challenge of Justifying Enterprise SEO. In the article, Ian tackles the problem of justifying SEO for lead generation sites. He says you just need to know three things to report for such sites:

To make this work, you need three pieces of data:

  • The number of Web leads that become customers.
  • The average lifetime value of a customer (LTV).
  • The referring source, even if it’s a phone call.

Then, Ian says, it’s just a matter of math and a very simple graphic. Read the article for the full story and let me know if it works for you!

Kalena

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Q and A: Do search engines announce when they make algorithm changes?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve been slowly teaching myself SEO for about 2 years now and I think I am finally getting quite good at it. The only time I find myself completely out of my depth is when big algorithm changes like Panda hit my client web sites and they lose ranking. Then I find myself clambering to work out what’s happened and how I can fix it.

I can usually claw things back a little bit, but my clients are understandably confused as to why the drops occur and why I wasn’t prepared for them.

Do search engines like Google announce when they are about to make algorithm changes or provide a list of tweaks and fixes like software companies do after a new version is released?

Thanks
Galen

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Hi Galen

It’s not in the interests of search engines like Google to reveal full details of their algorithm adjustments, as this would not only impact the security of their servers, but also affect their shareholder price! Search engines need to keep vital parts of their technical infrastructure private as they form a large chunk of intellectual property. Apart from that, they need to protect the quality of the search results from hackers and black-hat SEO operators who would seek to compromise them for their own benefit.

That said, Google DO provide a monthly blog post on algorithm changes called the Search Quality Highlights Series. The first post in the series was published shortly after the Panda II algorithm tweaks were made last November (which caused a fresh round of frustration and confusion for webmasters). The latest post in the series was made earlier this month and features detail of 17 new quality improvements made to Google’s algorithm in January 2012.

The blog series is part of Google’s ongoing effort to be more transparent about how search works and to share the methodology and process behind their search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes.

I’m not sure if other major search engines offer a similar algorithm news service, but if anyone knows of any, please post in the comments.

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Congratulations to our first Search Engine College graduates for 2012

On behalf of all staff at Search Engine College, I’d like to express warm congratulations to our first round of graduates for 2012.

All students named below have successfully completed a course at Search Engine College and attained official certification status (requiring a passing grade of 70 percent or higher.)

Search Engine Optimization 101

  • Sean Jonfiah
  • Tiffany Minder
  • Rachel Haber
  • Jamie LeRoy
  • John Cullen
  • Robert Garvie
  • Brant Skogrand
  • Eric Rosenberg
  • Anne-Sophie Forget
  • Yocheved Weinberg
  • James Kelly
  • Birgitt Olsen
  • Keith Rowe
  • Leona Miller
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Robert Rosier
  • Ruben Remy
  • Diana Timmons
  • Narada Olaranont
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Gavin Echterling
  • Robert Mosley
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Lesley-Anne Slisko
  • Susan Steele
  • Linda Ashley
  • Marion Knight-Dixon
  • Paula McQuade
  • Matthew Beyer
  • Josie Rae
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Kathleen McGowan
  • Leroy Bennett
  • Valerie Pedigo
  • Jenny Ng
  • Tammy Guimond
  • Ryoichi Atsumi
  • Munazza Shaheen
  • Sonia Chen


Search Engine Optimization 201

  • John Cullen
  • William Smith
  • Robert Garvie
  • Tiffany Minder
  • Shane Cummiskey
  • Tiberiu Vaduvoiu
  • Nicolae Postelnicu
  • Marius Florigoanta
  • Ryan Cote
  • Cosmin Sandu
  • Wendy Ertel
  • Ruben Remy
  • Diana Timmons
  • Brant Skogrand
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Anne-Sophie Forget
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Darlene Sojka
  • Linda Ashley
  • Matthew Beyer
  • Simon Cote
  • Josie Rae
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Jenny Ng
  • Nichole Simms
  • Kathleen McGowan
  • Tammy Guimond
  • Munazza Shaheen
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Sonia Chen


Pay Per Click Advertising 101

  • John Cullen
  • Shane Cummiskey
  • Kindra Cotton
  • Darlene Sojka
  • Robert Garvie
  • Toni Jackson
  • Rachel Haber
  • Wendy Ertel
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Linda Ashley
  • Denise DeVaney
  • Brant Skogrand
  • Josie Rae
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Jenny Ng
  • Tammy Guimond
  • Ryoichi Atsumi
  • Keith Rowe
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Sonia Chen
  • Diana Timmons


Pay Per Click Advertising 201

  • Sharda Dewal
  • John Cullen
  • Robert Garvie
  • Rachel Haber
  • Jayne Henry
  • Ajay Nair
  • Wendy Ertel
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Kindra Cotton
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Linda Ashley
  • Denise DeVaney
  • Josie Rae
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Leroy Bennett
  • Sonia Chen
  • Tammy Guimond
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Brant Skogrand

Web Site Copywriting 101

  • Jacqueline Christian
  • Rachel Haber
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Kindra Cotton
  • Tiffany Minder
  • Andrew Jarachovic
  • Tammy Guimond

Web Site Usability 101

  • Steve Ollington
  • Brandon Bergmann
  • Linda Le
  • Samina Ghory
  • Wendy Ertel
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Dino Basaldella
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Diana Timmons


Link Building 101

  • Ignacio Rojas Martínez
  • Anne-Sophie Forget
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Brant Skogrand
  • Dave Lobo


Article Marketing & Distribution 101

  • Linda Ashley
  • Matthew Beyer
  • Josie Rae


Copywriting for PPC 101

  • Leroy Bennett
  • John Cullen
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Sonia Chen

Certified Search Engine Optimizer

  • Nicholas Fokianos
  • Steve Ollington
  • Ignacio Rojas Martínez
  • Dino Basaldella
  • Anne-Sophie Forget
  • Tiffany Minder
  • Jenny Ng


Certified Pay-Per-Click Marketer

  • Tiffany Minder


Certified Search Engine Marketer

  • Linda Le
  • Robert Garvie
  • Jacqueline Christian
  • Rachel Haber
  • Wendy Ertel
  • Jumana Sweis
  • Suzanne Stripsky
  • Frank Anthony Schieber
  • Kindra Cotton
  • Linda Ashley
  • Josie Rae
  • Patricia Christianson
  • Sonia Chen
  • Lesley A. Slisko-Cooper
  • Leroy Bennett
  • Tammy Guimond
  • Brant Skogrand

Congratulations to you all! Please contact your tutor if you are still waiting to receive your hard copy certificate, Status Page or certification seal.

Also, don’t forget to fan of our Facebook page and follow our Twitter profile @secollege for College announcements such as lesson updates, press releases, new courses, events and milestones.

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