Many CEOs have a limited comprehension of SEO, which can impede the success of an SEO campaign.
Here’s a typical viewpoint:
Assumes the SEO team is the main driver of success, neglecting the dependencies of the campaign. As outlined in “Is SEO Worth It,” SEO is a cross-functional effort with most of its accomplishments arising from activities beyond the SEO team.
Lacks measurability – the only aspect considered is “doing SEO.”
In this article, we will examine how input metrics can obtain buy-in for our endeavors while offering executives a better grasp of how SEO operates.
Rethinking Reporting to Improve Understanding
We might unintentionally reinforce this limited perspective by exclusively reporting on outputs and results. It is vital to measure not just what has happened but also what is happening. Rankings, traffic, and revenue are lagging success indicators. We must identify leading indicators that inform us of our current performance and can impact future success.
Decoding Input Metrics
Amazon bases its operations on input metrics instead of outputs. “Working Backwards” offers an in-depth exploration of this idea, but in summary, input metrics represent actions, while output metrics signify outcomes or results.
Input metrics fall into two categories:
True input metrics: entirely within your control, e.g., “number of pages published this month.”
Mini lag metrics: not entirely controllable but directly measurable and responsive to our actions, e.g., # pages crawled in the last 30 days or # of outreach responses.
The objective is to choose input metrics that are measurable, responsive to our actions, and predictive of success.
Examples of SEO Input Metrics
To demystify the limited understanding, we must pinpoint key factors that we can control and that lead to SEO performance. Basic input metrics might include:
Links + content = SEO
Customize these metrics to suit your specific situation and goals. For instance, a content program might use:
Select input metrics that align with your strategy and business requirements.
As we advance, we can group and chain these metrics together, making abstract intentions like “improve content quality” measurable and understandable for executives. This helps to clarify the “do some SEO” mindset.
Input Metrics Enhance Comprehension
Reporting on input metrics enables senior stakeholders to better understand how SEO functions and the various levers the company can use to influence success. Mapping out team responsibilities for different input metrics highlights the cross-functional effort needed for SEO success.
Input Metrics are Not Neutral
Input metrics are not neutral. By carefully selecting them, you communicate which metrics will have the most significant impact. They require subjective expertise and are cross-functional, meaning they might involve aspects beyond the control of the SEO team.
Input Metrics Improve Measurability
Input metrics allow you to report on progress even if results aren’t yet visible. They also often require metrics not readily available in Google Analytics, which can lead to valuable work in finding ways to measure them over time.
Managing an SEO Program with Input Metrics
With a solid mental model of how metrics interconnect, you can link all initiatives to measurable metrics, creating a comprehensive SEO program view for executives. Input metrics should evolve over time as you gather more data and refine your strategies.
By incorporating input metrics into your reporting and communication, you can help bridge the gap in CEOs’ understanding of SEO, demonstrate the cross-functional nature of SEO success, and improve the measurability and predictability of your SEO campaigns.