How To Prove SEO

In the summer of 2009 I spent $5,000 on a number of SEO contractors for a website I was running. 3 months later, I had a giant spreadsheet that was out of date and my bank account was 5 Gs lighter. I had no idea if the money I spent was actually worth it. Welcome to ‘SEO Mistakes 101’where I teach you how to prove SEO results to you and your website!

I resolved to never again spend money on SEO without having clear metrics to accurately and easily measure results.

Here’s how I do it today:

1. Define the baseline metrics

Getting a baseline to measure against is key. I keep it fairly simple and just measure 4 metrics. I know if these 4 metrics move in the right direction, conversions and revenue follow them.

  • Organic Traffic to the target URL
  • Organic Traffic to the main keyword (if there is a keyword target)
  • Google Ranking of main keyword
  • Bing Ranking of main keyword

2. Check in on the SEO metrics over time

Sometime a specific SEO event (a link from NASA!) will impact my metrics right away, but often the results take weeks, not days. So it’s very important to check in and record the metrics at different times. Something that may work in the short term, but not in the long term, is an important correlation to measure.

Likewise, often tactics take time to show results and it’s important to measure the long-term success of any SEO tactic.

I like to check in on my metrics after:

  • 1 Week
  • 4 Weeks
  • 8 Weeks
  • Since the campaign started

That way I can get a sense of if the campaign or tactic is working on the short term, long term, or both.

3. Use the Correlation results wisely

When you setup these 4 metrics be careful about noting other changes that may influence your metrics. If Google makes a large update during your test, there’s a good chance it may not have been your campaign at all. So take correlation results like this with a gain of salt. This type of SEO measurement can be very revealing to show which tactics are working for your site.

Prove SEO to win more budget, clients & revenue

With a model like this you can prove your SEO results to clients, your boss, or just yourself. I integrated this SEO testing model into the rank tracking system at and it’s saved me thousands of dollars since 2009.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

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21 thoughts on “How To Prove SEO”

  1. sapna says:

    HI John

    At the end of the day it is the organic traffic that really matters and the metrics you have suggested is the best way to judge that.

    Thanks for sharing these.


  2. I. C. Daniel says:

    I work online and these pieces of informations are very useful for me.

    I would like give a Big THANKS to you because you really deserve them.

    Best regards from Romania 😀

  3. Hey Rampton,
    These are impressive SEO tips. Most of us are still struggling with SEO.
    Is yahoo search not a measure search engine? You are limited to Google and Bing. 😉

  4. Exactly – very big challenge proving ROI on SEO especially at the beginning – asking client to keep paying you for 3 months to only then see results is a huge leap of faith.
    I personally try and guarantee results, not easy though. Cheers for the good content.

  5. hey John,

    thank you for sharing your SEO mistakes (and how you overcome the challenges) with us, so we don’t have to spend hundreds and thousands to reach to the same conclusions 🙂

    By the way, wanted to ask you: what role does Bing (rankings) play in your overall marketing… I mean, how much traffic do you receive from them on a monthly basis if you could share?

    I’ve read somewhere else that Yandex is somehow beating Bing at user numbers… did you hear something about that too?

  6. Hello Rampton,

    I agree with you. The metrics you have mentioned above is great way to track the results.

  7. Having a proper worked out plans to prove SEO is good tactics. We need to maintain consistency and be regular with our work to improve SEO.

  8. khadeer says:

    I’m a blog-beginner and This info is very useful to me, And I got great information, Thanks for this post…

  9. faisal says:

    quite complicated but surely helps.

  10. Pawan says:

    Hi John,

    Nice tips, thanks for sharing. ROI should always be good.

  11. I control my keywords every week to different applications and for different countries. It always gives me different results, but I can read the 95% place in the serp and how many visitors to the keywords I get.

  12. Thanks for sharing your experience of getting burned by these SEO clowns.
    Most bloggers will try to conceal their “growing pains” thanks for sharing.

    These SEO companies are hilarious.
    They are so awesome at ranking for any keyword but they just need your $99/month.


    Yeah right if they could rank #1 for ‘Buy iPhone’ they wouldn’t just do that instead.

  13. A very informative article. I think I would follow it to the point.

  14. It’s all about meaningful data. Simply highlighting rankings for specific keywords lacks substance. As shown here, working on specific pages of your site and seeing them generate more traffic in your content reports in analytics to me is a much clearer and more substantial…

  15. Great post John! Measuring your success in SEO is essential. I would advise keeping a week by week record of key words and the number at which they are ranking too. Thanks for this share!

  16. Touch Point says:

    I agree, John, that in SEO, it’s all about metrics and measurements. Of course, it’s hard to prove ROI when it’s early in the game. But that’s the beauty of digital marketing–it can be measured like no other type of marketing can be. Thanks for the tips.

  17. These data are very useful information that you post here.

  18. Excellent advice John – anyone running their own business should take an active interest in all aspects of it (even slightly impenetrable ones like SEO and metrics)

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  19. Neil Kilgore says:

    I am a new reader and so far have found your blog to be very useful. This post has some very useful information. Thanks and I look forward to reading more!

  20. sjotorp1950 says:

    Thank you, I will discuss how to implement these strategies myself.

  21. Excellent article. Also, followed the author link to Discovered a new resource 🙂 Thanks

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