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Marketers usually discuss SEO and content marketing from a single perspective of driving key performance indicators, such as keyword rankings and internal and external links. But, too often, they don't tie those KPIs back to their overall goals. Why do keyword rankings matter? Has anything improved since receiving additional backlinks?

Basically, they stop short of asking the really important questions.

One real estate client we produced content for was struggling to see the value of our efforts. In response, we were trying to prove value by overwhelming the client with SEO-specific results about increased traffic and keyword rankings. After nearly losing some of the client's business, we performed a fuller-scale analysis alongside our paid media team and found a 10% reduction in cost per click for its paid search efforts. Subsequently, the client experienced a near-immediate increase in cost per click when it paused its organic content efforts.

Ultimately, we saw that it wasn't just the routine SEO KPIs we'd been sharing with our client that were most important for its overall goals. By identifying ways to measure success that were tailored to the client's specific objectives, we found that the organic content we were creating was having a direct impact on the costs of the client's paid search efforts. And that allowed us to prove our value.

Obviously, measurement is important; but there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

'There Is No Spoon'

In The Matrix, Keanu Reeves's character Neo has an epiphany when he's watching a child bend a spoon with his mind. Neo realizes the spoon doesn't actually exist: "There is no spoon," he says. I felt the same way when I realized there is no single right answer to which SEO metrics are the best for measuring results.

To be clear, I don't disagree that there need to be foundational, standard best-practices and metrics for success; I just believe that the way we discuss them is misguided. SEO and earned media should help you elevate your business in organic search, but what that looks like is different for every industry and every business.

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image of Joe Arduini

Joe Arduini is the director of SEO at Internet Marketing Inc. He has 9+ years of experience in online marketing.

LinkedIn: Joe Arduini

Twitter: @jaarduini