You've put an SEO program in place—but how can you tell if it's working? "Ultimately, the only factor that determines success is the bottom-line; like any investment, we do not think that our services are truly successful unless we can provide positive ROI," writes Taylor Cimala at the Renegade Search blog.

But there are ways to gauge short-term gains along the road to a boosted ROI, and to know you're making positive progress.

Here are three questions to ask as your SEO efforts unfold:

Does your rank improve for targeted keywords? The speed with which a ranking improves depends on a number of factors like your budget and the strength of your competition. You won't see a major change in traffic and sales if your ranking goes from 90th place to 55th place—but you'll know that you're moving in the right direction.

Is there an increase in non-branded organic search traffic? As your rankings improve, and you shift resources to searches that don't include the name of your company, product, or service, you should see more traffic arriving via generic search terms. "For most sites, this should be seen as a victory in and of itself," notes Cimala. "[M]ore people interacting with your site means increased brand awareness, as well as many more chances to make a sale."

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