SEO: Where’s the money? How to measure and take charge of your search engine strategies [Interview]

Contributed to this article
Cosmin Negrescu
SEO monitor CEO

Believe it or not, a few years ago (eons in internet time), Search Engine Optimization was all about optimizing for profit. Back then, most companies built websites just because everyone had one, Google Analytics did not exist and managers did not know what SEO stands for. Can you imagine or remember?

To sell online services we needed to speak the language of business owners: money. We needed to convince them that by optimizing their website for Search Engines (we really did optimize for multiple search engines) they would increase their business by that much. We needed to justify costs.

What changed? SEO got mainstream. Everybody knows and talks SEO nowadays. Vanity metrics got invented by agencies to justify costs easier. Google Algorithm changes have friendly names (Penguin, Panda anyone?). SEO projects now focus on things like: “optimize for Penguin”, “increase number of inbound links and social media shares”, and, to my surprise, business owners buy into them.

So, where’s the money? I wasn’t able to find the answer by myself so I invited Cosmin Negrescu from SEOmonitor, a company I am sure we will hear more about in the near future, to help us answer this question.


Q. Where is the money in SEO, Cosmin? Have vanity metrics become more valuable than profit?

The only metrics that business owners and marketing specialists should invest energy in collecting are those that help them achieve their business goals. Unfortunately, the majority of data available in most analytics packages are these Vanity Metrics: the total number of visitors, page views etc.

Most of the times, people invest money in SEO in order to increase these metrics but there is no easy-to-use tool or method that can determine the real impact of these actions on revenue. This is why we’ve been very determined in developing a tool that can help managers better understand the impact of search engines on their business.

Q. I know you are working on a project that you label as SEO for Managers. I assume the main focus is on how profitable are search engines for each business. How profitable are they for the average business and how profitable can they become?

We noticed the need for business owners, online entrepreneurs and marketing specialists to understand the real impact of search engines on their business, discover new opportunities and effectively manage SEO strategies, so we decided to develop SEO monitor App.This is actually the first SEO tool specially designed for managers.

Enterprises or well established brands gain traffic from brand related searches. The average business obviously does not have the same advantage so it relies a lot on organic (non-brand searches).

For them, search engines, such as Google, can have a great influence on their overall success. SEO monitor App is a very efficient tool for them because it shows their current status (in terms of visibility in search engines) and, most importantly, their potential to maximize visibility with affordable efforts.

For example, you are a business owner and you assume that by increasing visibility in search engines for a certain keyword you could boost online sales. You can invest efforts in SEO for that keyword and expect to see what happens or… you can just access our app, check the keyword in the “Discover” module and the application automatically estimates your revenue if you reach top 3 in search engines for that specific keyword.

Q. What is the benefit of putting a $ sign in front of every organic keyword? How do you calculate the value of a keyword?

Let’s just say that hope is not a strategy anymore, thanks to that $ sign. It shows users whether it is a good idea or not to invest time and effort and financial resources in a SEO strategy to increase a website’s visibility in searches for that keyword.

The indicator is calculated taking into consideration variables such as: expected traffic, average conversion rate, search volume for that keyword etc.

Q. Google started hiding keywords from website owners. Is that a blow to SEO and calculating profit? How do you deal with it?

Google decided to hide in statistics – Google Analytics – the searches made by registered users in order to protect their privacy. Their activity is now shown as Not Provided data and reaches about 40 to 50% of the overall traffic of a website.

Clearly this affects managers and business owners, since they have no exact data on things like: how many visits were generated by non-brand searches? How much of their revenue was generated by non-brand searches?

After a lot of time and energy spent on research and testing, we have managed to split this Not-Provided data and now we can show with high accuracy, without affecting the privacy of Google users, the information marketing managers need to evaluate: visits and income generated, and influenced by non-brand searches.

Q. If you have goals and ecommerce tracking set up in Google Analytics, you will have reports on the number of conversions brought by search engines. Is that not enough?

First of all, there is the Not-Provided information that does not allow a clear analysis of the traffic source, especially if you are interested in evaluating your SEO campaign (visits and income generated by non-brand searches).

Furthermore, Google Analytics shows the conversions that were generated directly after an organic search. And this is perceived as the only impact of SEO on revenue. But people rarely buy immediately after an organic search. Google is mostly used as a “discovery channel”: people research products or services they are interested in by performing non-brand searches.

A new client can discover your website through Google searches, closes the website, and returns later to buy, maybe through another channel (such as PPC). This purchase took place because of the website’s visibility in Google, but it is shown in Google Analytics as a PPC generated conversion.

Thank you Cosmin for the interview. Indeed what I love about your app and I haven’t seen this in any other application is that you managed to translate the not-provided information and other technical concepts into clear and easy to understand metrics for managers. They can now evaluate the SEO campaign performance and invest money wisely.

Interested in early access to SEO monitor App? We have 10 invitations to share. Let us know via the comment section below and we’ll make sure they get to you.

SEO: Where’s the money? How to measure and take charge of your search engine strategies [Interview] by
  • Poxa

    Yes! I’m interested and would love to see how the not provided issue is approached by this app. So allow me to reserve invitation no 1 :).

  • profesional web design

    Nice post. Without accurate tracking you are driving blind and it’s virtually
    impossible to know how well your individual keywords are performing.
    Yes, you may be able to work out if you are getting more business from
    the campaign (increase in enquiries or phone calls), but not what is and
    isn’t working.