Creating an SEO Baseline and SEO Storytelling

Baseline SEO Data

Demonstrating the growth and value of an SEO campaign is a vital part of client retention in digital marketing. And the only way to demonstrate growth and value to clients is to establish a baseline.

Organic SEO, specifically, is a long game. It can take at least 3 to 6 months for organic SEO efforts to gain traction and move the proverbial “SEO needle”.

During that time your client has a business to run, a life to live, and moreover, has entrusted in you that you’ll deliver the results.

SEO Ground ZERO – The Data

There’s no SEO unless you know. Huh?

It’s true. You can’t SEO unless you know.

The know is what data you track. Prior to any SEO’ing stuffs, an SEO strategy can’t be developed until you know what data you’re tracking.

SEO Ground ZERO can be established in Google Analytics (GA). Do your due diligence and set your baseline data in GA based on the expectations of your client.

You’ll meet the expectations of your client head-on by establishing accurate goal tracking. Goal tracking often includes form-fills, phone call tracking, product purchases, or any specific user interaction on the site that’s meaningful to your client’s bottom line.

Google Analytics Goal Types fall into one of 4 types:

  • Destination
  • Duration
  • Pages/Screens per session
  • Event

Currently, both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are available. But if you’re new to goal tracking in GA, or haven’t yet dabbled in GA4, I recommend starting with GA Universal Analytics goal tracking.

Baseline SEO DataEstablishing an SEO Baseline

When a new client comes on board everyone is energized, engaged, and excited to get the SEO ball rolling.

However, the energy and client engagement can subside quickly. The SEO campaign doldrums have set in. Now is the time to establish your SEO baseline.

The baseline will define where the campaign began, benchmark measurable results, and potentially reveal additional opportunities of improvement you can share with the client.

Moreover, you’ve established a baseline to measure against your SEO efforts in the coming months, or years, if you’re demonstrating the value your client expects.

What SEO Baseline Data Should You Track?

Short answer, all of it!

Yes, baseline all the data and metrics that are relevant to your client’s SEO strategy. SEO strategies often include a wide variety of efforts including:

  • Link building and referring domains.
  • Keywords and rankings for keywords.
  • Overall organic search traffic.
  • Landing pages.
  • Search analytics (clicks, impressions, CTRs, avg. ranking positions, bounce rate).
  • Technical SEO.
  • Page speed.
  • Content strategy.

Not all SEO efforts are going to move the SEO needle month-to-month. Leverage the SEO efforts that will help tell a story of success and will resonate with your client–meet their expectations head-on!

SEO StorytellingExamples of SEO Storytelling

For example, the first 90 days of your SEO strategy might focus on keyword research, content strategy, and local SEO. All three of these effective strategies take time to gain traction in organic search.

But if you’ve established an accurate baseline, you can use your baseline data to begin telling a story. Start from where the campaign began and demonstrate where you’re at now.

An Organic SEO Story – The Short Game

When your client came on board they currently ranked for only a few non-relevant search terms in search results. Their website’s organic traffic was only a few visits a day. Metadata such as title tags and meta descriptions have been neglected. They weren’t tracking form-fill leads or phone calls produced by organic traffic.

Fast forward a few months later, rankings in search are up and SEO results are improving. The website is seeing a 10 – 20% increase in organic traffic. Goal conversions for form fills and phone calls are attributed to organic traffic improvements.

What a story to tell, right? You’ve demonstrated how your SEO strategies have met your client’s expectations. You’ve used your baseline data to validate and compare and contrast how your client’s website was performing prior to them working with you.

An Organic SEO Story – The Long Game

The SEO team has been relentlessly working on on-page and off-page SEO improvements and correcting technical SEO issues to help Google crawl the site optimally.

The content team is producing new Service and Product pages and publishing engaging blog posts.

A golfer driving a golf ballThe Dev team has been evaluating CRO and tweaking the site’s design and UX all along the way.

However, there are inevitable doldrums in any SEO campaign.

Form fills and phone calls have gone stagnant. Organic traffic has plateaued. The SEO campaign is 12 months along. The client is questioning the value of your efforts and if it’s worth continuing to continue paying for SEO.

Now’s the time to revert back to your SEO baseline data and tell the long game story. According to Forbes “You’re never done improving SEO.”

“SEO is a project with no end date. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is to rest on its laurels once it reaches high rankings on the SERP. If you want your SEO to continue its upward trajectory, you have to keep working at it.”  

But, the only way to convince your client to ‘keep working at it’ is to share the data and tell the long game story. One year into an SEO campaign is the perfect time to put the campaign efforts into perspective for your client.

This is the time to share all the data; not all the details in the data; but, put all the year-long efforts into perspective so the client gets the big picture.

SEO year-over-year (YoY) data is immensely effective for telling the long game story. It’s a time for both you and the client to ‘get out of the monthly reporting weeds’ and put this campaign into perspective.

Share the successes of the past year. Be transparent of any shortcomings. Check the pulse of your client and their expectations for moving forward.

Address any pain points such as declining leads and organic traffic plateaus or downward trends. Demonstrate how your team will continue to improve on the efforts and success they’ve worked so hard to achieve this past year.

The long game story can be very effective for client retention. It will also re-energize both your marketing team and your relationship with the client.

SEO ValueIt’s Time to SEO Baseline

Demonstrating the growth and value of an SEO campaign is a vital part of client retention in digital marketing. And the only way to demonstrate growth and value to clients is to establish a baseline.

To establish an SEO baseline and help with your ongoing SEO storytelling:

  • Establish Goals in Google Analytics that align with your client expectations.
  • Gather all the SEO data you’ll be reporting on in the next few months to several years (links, search analytics, organic traffic, keywords and SERPs, technical SEO issues).
  • Share the successes and the shortcomings of any/all SEO efforts.
  • Always demonstrate the value of your SEO efforts.

There you go. Rinse and repeat.