[UPDATED 11/3/10 or see the May 2011 revision, A Quick & Easy SEO Metric. -Ed.]
One of the best ways to generate leads on the Internet is through SEO (Search Engine Optimization), i.e., increasing the quantity or quality of visits from search engines – Google, Yahoo & bing – to your website. These visits are called organic search or natural search visits, to differentiate them from paid search, or Pay-Per-Click.
Quantity of organic search visits is straightforward to measure, whereas Quality is a little harder to measure. We’ll address quality in a separate post. A quick & easy benchmark answers the question: “What is a reasonable increase in organic search for my website?”
The answer is:
Your organic searches should be increasing by at least 1.3% every month or 12-15% year over year, otherwise something is wrong!
We think the increase in organic search visits to a website – either month to month or year over year – compared to the growth in overall queries made on all search engines is a good benchmark.
This graph shows the total number of search engine queries in the United States by month (Compete.com and comScore provide this information for free – see Resources at the bottom of this post).
If the growth in organic search visits to your website is better than the overall growth in queries, your organic search engine optimization efforts are paying off.
The graph shows that an absolute decrease in organic search visits indicates something is probably very wrong with your website or your business!
We calculated a benchmark using data from comScore and Compete.com:
Growth in U.S. Search Engine Queries
The following monthly growth numbers for both providers shows that there’s quite a bit of variation between their estimates, so use these numbers accordingly (don’t tie people’s bonuses to outperforming these benchmarks).
- Your business may be fairly different from the larger search engine universe which would make this benchmark less useful for your website.
- If your business is highly seasonal, you will want to compare year over year.
- This data is for the U.S. only.
Global numbers were made available by comScore for July 2009.
According to comScore, North America accounted for 22.2%, or about 1 out of every 5 searches, in July 2009.
Global growth did outpace U.S. growth. If the U.S. makes up a very small percentage of your website’s visits, this benchmark will be less useful. You can still use the numbers here as a benchmark – just know that if your website does not handily beat them, it is performing very poorly!
Growth varies by region. Global growth was 41% from June to July compared to 0% for “expanded search” (the number above) and a 3% decline for core search (as shown on our graphs above) in the United States.
comScore press releases
Compete.com press releases
Global Search Market Draws More than 100 Billion Searches per Month, August 31, 2009, comScore, Inc.