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?



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!



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