There inevitably comes a time for marketing managers, and in-house search-engine optimization (SEO) practitioners for that matter, when pressure regarding natural-search performance starts to build from the higher-ups on the corporate ladder.

They start asking questions, probing for more information about their natural-search channel—and they want answers.

Measuring your natural-search performance is definitely a good idea. However, establishing goals for your natural-search program is what will help communicate direction for the program and serve as a guide for measuring overall success.

The challenge lies in establishing realistic goals in an achievable timeframe.

Data Collection

Most marketing managers are interested in growing traffic to their Web sites and ultimately converting that traffic to a sale, whitepaper download, or the like. Measuring traffic and conversions is relatively straightforward using the myriad available tools such as Enquisite ( or Google Analytics.

Understanding the metrics that can be used in growing your natural-search performance is imperative: For the purposes of determining natural traffic-growth potential, focus on analyzing the nonpaid keywords that are currently driving traffic to your site and their respective traffic referrals.

Measuring Keyword Opportunity

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John Thielmann is a Search Program Manager/Analyst at Netconcepts ( located in Madison, WI.