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We are starting up a new meetup group in 2017 that will be tied to our new digital publication, http://elevatestl.com . We have leaders from the Best St. Louis SEO companies heading this group, including Alex Wolk from INSITE ADVICE (http://www.insiteadvice.com/st-louis-seo-company/). We strive to be the resource for digital marketing in the St. Louis community. We want to feature guest speakers and events from leading firms, and the opportunity for those interesting in digital marketing to share their experiences and network within our city.

The group was started by businesses that want learn how to elevate their businesses by meeting business owners and other people looking to grow their in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing, Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

The St Louis SEO and SEM Meetup was developed as a platform to enhance and grow St Louis businesses.

Additionally, allowing members the chance to meet business owners and SEM professionals will be a major priority. We will be brining on influential speakers to the meetup so everyone can take away actionable advice during every session.

Organizer Content Links:

business2community.com (http://www.business2community.com/author/alex-wolk#kelIDiG6fmZDekkS.97)

tech.co (http://tech.co/author/insiteadvice)

business.com (http://www.business.com/author/alex-wolk/)

lifehack.org (http://www.lifehack.org/author/alexinsiteadvice-com)

Article: SEO Standards and Finances

People often have commented to me about their dislike for the lack of transparency from search professionals they’ve worked with. Unfortunately, a proliferation of shady tools and consultants were sucked into the vacuum many years ago. It has always bothered me that SEO has a less than sterling image. By not employing any kind of agreed upon standards, SEO itself has experienced some unnecessary VERY bad publicity. Many industry leaders took it as a changing of the tide against our industry when “SEO Moz” became just Moz. The name change likened to a symbolic tightening things up. It’s like when Justin Timberlake’s character in The Social Network movie suggests going from ‘The Facebook’ to just ‘Facebook.’ It’s cleaner.

To ensure SEO provides the value that it’s absolutely capable of delivering, search marketers can learn from and adapt established standards, controls, and practices used in accounting, IT, and public relations.”Establishing Program Standards

Many people believe that W3C, Web standards or SEMPO are the governing bodies covering SEO practices, but that’s not necessarily true. Those organizations only create guidelines that are not mandatory. Standards are different than rules. Standards exist so that there’s a process to ensure what will be happening is actually happening. With the rise of mega conglomerates in tech our standards and guidelines are now being dictated by them. From Apple’s Retina display standards to Google’s project AMP, we’re being led into a weird direction. It’s unclear who’s setting the standards for search performance as a whole, so we now run by the engine’s rules. It’s cowboy times, but that’s OK. We’ll get there.

Best practices for an industry are simply recipes others have successfully used before you. Standards are paramount for any website or marketing program. Standards help SEO plans stay in touch with the market over time. At the end of the day, the goal of an audit is not to punish or determine rightness, it’s to provide guidance and oversight. Audits can range in size from individuals to large corporate audit departments with many full-time auditors. Independence is also important, in larger organizations the same person shouldn’t necessarily be doing the work and also reviewing the work.

In 2014 SEMPO sought to establish a code of ethics, but not much came of it. Many who participated came out opposing the code of ethics citing that it wasn’t needed and could even open SEOs up to legal risks. People also felt that adhering to ethics could mean potential penalization by search engines themselves, because ethics do notgenerate revenue for the engines. This is a flawed line of logic. Measuring a piece of software might not generate any money, but not doing so costs even more in the end. By operating in the shadows, SEOs can risk their own reputations. The industry’s reputation has suffered due to the lack of standards.

Continuing to let giant companies dictate all of the upcoming web performance standards is a dangerous road to go down. Perhaps we’re already there? Collaboration for formation of standards vastly improves it. Philosophically the standards discussion almost always takes me back to the mid 1990s white paper, Cathedrals and Bazaars.

Linus Torvalds’s style of development—release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity—came as a surprise. No quiet, reverent cathedral-building here—rather, the Linux community seemed to resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches (aptly symbolized by the Linux archive sites, who’d take submissions from anyone) out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles. The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock. As I learned my way around, I worked hard not just at individual projects, but also at trying to understand why the Linux world not only didn’t fly apart in confusion but seemed to go from strength to strength at a speed barely imaginable to cathedral-builders.

-Eric Steven Raymond, The Cathedral and Bazaar

Although changing our approach seems scary sometimes, it vastly improves results to have more discipline; raising the bar for all of us.Any industry with very little or soft standards also experiences the risk of becoming complicit in fraud.

I propose a voluntary ethical best practices for organic search professionals:

Never promise what cannot be delivered, such as guaranteed search rankings.Never knowingly harm a client site by violating the published search engine guidelines.Report data thoroughly and accurately to the best of your ability.Do not obtain information dubiously and pass it off as credible.Be transparent about any use of paid advertising or paid endorsements.Do not share working documents or data from other projects to 3rd parties without permission.Do not employ any methods of tracking for a site that violates the user’s right to privacy.Never take credit for increases in search traffic that weren’t verifiably related to your actions.Always maintain as much impartiality in reporting as possible.

I’ve inherited too much work over the years from colleagues who have misrepresented capabilities or simply not done anything at all. One of the worst cases was when a prospective client paid tens of thousands of dollars for what amounted to the creation of a free Google maps listing. There’s nothing wrong with maps listings, it’s basic business acumen, not SEO. It takes five minutes or less to update a Google maps listing, but that’s not the most egregious issue. The promise made to the client by the shady consultant was to “get them to appear on page one." After a week of investigation I could not find any other actual work performed towards SEO.The maps listing was the consultants’ cheeky way to technically claim credit the client’s appearance on page one.

Content and performance are the two areas of guidelines that SEO is missing. The problem with not having standards is that so many things can happen when you hire someone for SEO. Practices could be long outdated. There are industries where standards mean survival, and SEO should be one of them. Each state in the United States has a board of accountancy, which is different in every state. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA (http://www.aicpa.org/Pages/default.aspx)) operates nationally and they have adopted the Generally Accepted Audit Standards (GAAP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generally_accepted_accounting_principles)), which is the way that the quality of audits is governed. There are no SEO standards within International Organization for Standardization (ISO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization)) audits, which typically cover many other aspects of information technology (IT).

You may be asking yourself what ISO stands for (but probably not). It is an international standards consortium operating in Sweden, founded in 1947 to introduce industrial and commercial standards.

The generally accepted audit concepts laid out by AICPA are as follows:

The auditor must maintain independence in mental attitude in all matters related to the audit.

The auditor must have adequate technical training & proficiency to perform the audit themselves.The auditor must exercise professional care during the performance of the audit and the preparation of the report.

The above standards give us something to think about. Quite often the consultant performing the SEO audit also stands to benefit if more work is needed. This is not the ideal situation for the person doing the hiring.

One of my very first consulting jobs many years ago proved a bit dramatic, because I immediately uncovered evidence of willful wrongdoing. It was clear the person hired as an SEO was not performing any type of optimizations or updates to the site. There was no change management procedure, which could be as simple as using server logs. This person was also acting as gate keeper to website changes and spinning all sorts of tall tales as to why changes needed to take a long time. The title of the homepage was “home,” it was not even branded with the company name. No changes showed in the server logs for weeks at a time. The company had a primitive, but simple CMS anyone else could’ve used to make their own updates. This was in a time before CMS was really a thing. What we really had was a bridge and a troll guarding it for power.

Clearly I was onto something juicy because the SEO called in sick the second day of the project and she resigned the following week, suddenly. It was probably that hair-raising project that clenched my desire to become a full-time independent SEO. It became my passion to help companies knock down what stands between them and revenue. Sometimes helping a site means drawing boundaries and making rules about how things get done: it’s not always fun. Most businesses websites are directly tied to some aspect of generating or maintaining revenue.There needs to be processes in place so that a website can be updated as needed, so that revenue isn’t lost. Another term for this is corporate governance (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporategovernance.asp), which is known as a system of rules, practices and processes under which a company is governed.

Because the standards vary so greatly from expert to expert, the vision never quite matches up. Some experts are very tied to certain tools and so they will insist on switching due to their own comfort. Switching tools arbitrarily due to comfort when there’s no concrete business reason to do so is poor decision making.

What one SEO sees as a hot button issue another might see as lower priority. Ofttimes I’ve seen that the data from different tools doesn’t line up, because data (that’s relevant) often lives in the eye of the beholder. So what do we do in this situation? We call upon shared principles.

In business, GAAP is most often applied when publicly traded companies’ generate financial statements for the shareholders. The auditors follow the standards for reports so shareholders and investors can compare multiple companies in the same way and then make decisions. It would be amazing if one SEO could leave information intact in a way that set it up for the next one. Institutionally speaking, documentation is the strongest way to retain information. Annotations are allowed in most major platforms and can be used generously for purposes of reporting and making decisions. It’s not a bad idea to have a discussion about power structure, to clearly define the stakeholders for any given search program and flow chart it out.

Whether standards become established or not, most sites are not going to start out doing an ISO 9001 SEO audit, if such thing even exists (it doesn’t). Regardless, it’s advantageous to be familiar with the groundwork for compliance frameworks, in case anyone asks during an acquisition or round of investment. It’s also serious self-preservation for an SEO to be able to exhibit definitively how much revenue he or she is bringing to a company.

DIRTY DATA GETS EXPENSIVE

Attribution is never going to be 100% for all of a department’s marketing activities. If subdomains or other sophisticated setups start to cause cloudiness in the funnel, spend the time to clean them up.

Data that’s unattributed leads to a lack of actionable insights. Tracking URLs for campaigns are a must and they take seconds to generate.

Countless times I have been called upon to demonstrate for companies (or their board of directors) where revenue is coming from, precisely. Passing on revenue information is sacred and must always be handled with the care it deserves. Information you’ve provided about revenue may go upstream to other departments such as accounts payable, which could then possibly trigger an audit.

It’s judicious to think of revenue growth in terms of Pearson’s law (http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/742598.html):

“That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”

- Karl Pearson, Mathematician and Statistician

After speaking to and observing legions of teams operating websites I’ve noticed that most organizational dysfunctions reflect themselves on the website itself. Let me help unpack that- I once helped a startup that had several development teams in several different countries running independent WordPress installations for the same top level domain (TLD). One section was the corporate site, the other one was an elaborately tricked out blog.

Both teams truly believed they were “running” the same site, even though they were doing so separately. It was like two organizations were living separate lives under the same roof. Numerous development efforts and resources were duplicated as result of the separate CMS, tracking and tool installations. The party kept on going as we uncovered duplicate tracking scripts, hosting charges, etc., which was becoming detrimental to reporting and therefore the financial health of the site. A united team is always the strongest.

I’ve seen so many institutional issues bring dysfunction to a website; writing over each other’s website changes because people are making updates from their own local copies. Many smaller organizations do not have GUI monitoring tools, release schedules or site versioning.

Standards & Goals

Review the data. Staging servers and weekly release schedules are signs of a healthy organization following best practices. Too many procedures, however, can be onerous and actually prevent business from getting done. Part of a technical SEOs job is to determine the proper blend of running vs. walking when it comes to development. It’s sometimes easier to deploy a subdomain because the tools are easy to use for a blog, but then you can easily turn around and find that you’re maintaining multiple tools and systems.

Just as there are no guarantees in development of what you will get when you hire a developer, the same is true for SEO. It would be ideal if a developer could just look at a site and adhere to standards for search efficacy. Wild variances in professional practice can lead to misunderstandings, disappointment and heartache. If search professionals unite in adhering to a code of ethics, the industry could move forward and make a considerable impact. Corporations have essentially started governing standards and that my friends is onedangerous precedent.

Suggested standards for the SEO audit are as follows:

The SEO audit is performed by someone who does not benefit financially from the results, regardless of what they are.The audit includes study of the search engine traffic, specifically.No more than 20% of dark or direct (unattributed) traffic can be counted towards the SEO’s efforts.SEO effectiveness can be judged by the increase in non-branded traffic. This means the SEO may not take credit for traffic coming from brand search, unless other marketing activities are at play.Data must be correlated with another source for ecommerce.

The first step you have to begin before compliance is defining what “in compliance” means. Scope has to be defined up front. There are many types of audits, varying by size and scope. However, if you’re up for sale or about to close a round of investment, you could be called upon to defend your revenue numbers and even your conclusions. Even worse you get audited by the IRS. The worst place to be in an audit situation is to be bereft of information.You need to know what to expect and hire a CPA if you’re having any issues.

Sometimes this context is indeed the reason for getting an outside contractor. In startup world, a lot of the time they just don’t have the staff or expertise to assign more than one body to the task. If this indeed your use case, you probably really want to have an in-depth knowledge of this side/aspect of the business.

An IT general control demonstrates that the organization has a procedure or policy in place for technology that affects the management of fundamental organizational processes such as risk management, change management, disaster recovery and security. IT application controls, which are actions that a software application does automatically, should demonstrate that software applications used for specific business processes (such as payroll) are properly maintained, are only used with proper authorization, are monitored and are creating audit trails.IT controls are a subset of the more general term, internal controls.

TYPES OF AUDITS

There are all kinds of audits, and they range in size and scope. This is only a partial (and overlapping) list of types:

InternalExternalBest PracticesComplianceSecurityITData IntegritySOXISO 9001

Audit Trails

In accounting, an audit trail was originally the sequence of paperwork that validates or invalidates accounting entries. In computing, the term is also used for an electronic or paper log used to track computer activity. For example, a corporate employee might have access to a section of a network in a corporation such as billing but be unauthorized to access all other sections. If that employee attempts to access an unauthorized section by typing in passwords, this improper activity is recorded in the audit trail. In addition, the completeness of an audit determines how to reconstruct “what should have happened.” In such cases the transaction can be fixed or rolled back.Think about it in terms of a risk control. What’s the risk of being wrong? It’s a system, after all so there can be no single point of failure for a search program to truly work perfectly.

Scope creep is a real thing! The pain is real, because stakeholders need to converge, not diverge from solutions.

Separation of Concerns

Whether publicly traded or not, there has to be a way within an organization to run marketing programs with integrity. The accounting profession has invested significantly in separation of duties because of the understood risks accumulated over hundreds of years of accounting practice. By contrast, many corporations in the United States found that an unexpectedly high proportion of their Sarbanes-Oxley internal control issues came from IT. Website marketing absolutely falls under the IT umbrella, but often it’s kind of a rats nest.

Separation of duties (SoD) is commonly used in large IT organizations so that no single person is in a position to introduce fraudulent or malicious code or data without detection. Role based access control (RBAC) is frequently used in IT systems where SoD is required. RBAC is leveled by role exclusions. It means that roles that exclude each other cannot be assigned to the same user at the same time.

Strict control of software and data changes will require that the same person or organizations performs only one of the following roles:

Identification of a requirement (or change request); e.g. a business person Authorization and approval; e.g. an IT governance board or manager Design and development; e.g. a developer Review, inspection and approval; e.g. another developer or architect. Implementation in production; typically a software change or system administrator.

This is not an exhaustive presentation of the software development life cycle, but a list of critical development functions applicable to separation of duties. To successfully implement separation of duties in information systems a number of concerns need to be addressed:

- The process used to ensure a person’s authorization rights in the system is in line with his role in the organization.

- The authentication method used such as knowledge of a password, possession of an object (key, token) or a biometrical characteristic.

- Circumvention of rights in the system can occur through database administration access, user administration access, tools which provide back-door access or supplier installed user accounts. Specific controls such as a review of an activity log may be required to address this specific concern.

AVOID SCOPE CREEP WITH CHECKLISTS

If you want to get projects done, start out with a big list and check things off. When you’re done, you’re done. Make a checklist and have one of more officers of the company sign off on it, and have the list reviewed and rechecked periodically.

Agree on the timeline beforehand. Is it monthly? Annually? This can be tricky since too often busy people will want to abandon the procedure, and after too long people can forget.

Signatures mean commitment when accompanied with a report. Simply asking: “is that what you mean? Would you mind signing here, then?” can tell you heaps about their feelings. Don’t use this as a control too often as it could potentially freak people out.

People need to standup for what they are reporting to. Reporting is how we maintain credibility.

Arlette Hart, Data Scientist, FBI

It would be awesome if everyone embraced hard core logic and understood it easily, but that’s not the world we live in. There are different methods to inform colleagues in an organization without confusing. A key method to maintaining integrity is visualization, which helps organizations to begin parsing information for all parties involved. Oh yeah, I’m talking flowcharts! To enhance understanding of data, it is useful in providing a graphical overview of the key elements in the process. These charts do not show how the data flows, instead showing what the data is and what to do with it. This can aid in understanding and/or provide a common language between different stakeholders or departments.

In the real world each case is different, and your results may vary. Having said that, most cases are more similar than they are different. Each CEO wants to think his or her data set is a special thing, but ofttimes this is not the case.

You can tailor the methodologies to the real world, but pay careful attention not to just be rubber stamping things just to get a passing grade. The numbers won’t bear out in the long run.

Let’s say you’re conducting a site audit, one good thing to do at the beginning is to decide on some Agreed Upon Procedures (https://www.aicpa.org/research/standards/auditattest/downloadabledocuments/at-c-00215.pdf) (with the client) going forward. This allows you to “delete things from your memory bank as you go” so to speak, because once you’re done with one phase of the project and it’s documented, it’s doesn’t have to be revisited. This sidesteps one potential obstacle that can bog down an audit.

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Canute the Great was a King in Denmark during the late 900s whose subjects literally thought he could part the waves of the ocean. The story goes that he demonstrated that no man, even a King, can turn the tide by him/herself. It’s actually disputed historically how and whether this actually happened, but the lesson remains true nonetheless.

Like King Canute and the waves, the ocean will eventually win, and you will be worn down.

What do you do if someone is pressuring you to make the result unfairly match their expectations? You cannot cave in and help propagate bad expectations. Risking your reputation isn’t worth it.

Don’t tailor the data to get the numbers you want. Always show the date ranges. Always use units when presenting data. Damage control. Sometimes your theories won’t work out. Be realistic with the probabilities.

Information ebbs and flows all the time, but the Where, How and Why it passes through various parts of the system matters. While each practitioner takes a slightly differently flavored approach, there are some things that you can do to assist in getting to the desired outcome... Questioning your own methodology, Managing expectations, asking “what does the deliverable look like?”

Reporting becomes a giant time waster if it’s not mapped out and agreed upon from the outset. Rough and tumble reporting leads to unsatisfactory results. Fortunately there are frameworks to follow, the next section is meant to help you create the testing framework to ensure a high quality of data integrity.

LESSONS LEARNED

A lessons learned (LL) report is a great and encouraged way to neutrally document and archive what has gone right or wrong after a project, conference, or event for future reference. The LL should give a brief overview of the project, what went wrong and what went right. It stands to reason that if something within a previous project proved successful, then future projects could benefit from this institutional knowledge. Silly mistakes like “we all forgot to make backups before that site update” during the big launch can be noted. The LL seeks to prevent mistakes from happening again and again. Project managers often keep lessons learned documents as recorded blueprints coming down the pike.

When assembling your own lessons learned documents, the most important part to remember is that it is NEVER to be used as an instrument of blame.Remember to frame obstacles in terms of Problems, not People. You should equally accept input from all team members, regardless of rank. By keeping an open mind and accepting all input, the process should attempt to remain as unbiased as possible. If there’s even a whiff of punishment or retribution in the document, this will defeat the purpose by freezing out the useful feedback.

The CAVi(a)R Test

There’s an easy to remember mnemonic that I use to ensure the highest data integrity for every site. CAVi(a)R is the Gold Standard of data integrity. It covers the entire pipeline of methods to ensure (and most importantly) reproducibility for the enterprise. The test seeks to help prove data is complete, accurate, valid and restrictedand it’s fun to take out on the field.

You will always want to have a plan when verifying data integrity, but sometimes the tests do not work out. Reproducible results are salient, however, it’s not good to do Monday morning quarterbacking in real life. Campaigns can fail. Do not spend too much energy on the instant replay if something breaks down. You can’t replay ‘time’.

Complete

While manual data entry is sometimes necessary, most processes should be automated so the entire system will become complete and defined. “Complete” refers to the entire data flow of the applicable system or systems, not just one iteration of a process or a bunch of one-offs. When data integration is seamless between systems, reporting can become easier, more automated and therefore reproducible. The converse is also true, where if reporting is not reproducible, data integration will always be cast in doubt. No one can hit a moving target without the whole field of range in view. I cringe when I see SEOs filling in spreadsheets for weekly reports by hand.

So if piecemeal data doesn’t cut it, why not just sign up for an all-in-one solution like Salesforce or Mixpanel and be done with it? Sadly, unless you’re a larger company, the work involved in getting one of these systems up and running can often be more work than gains.Many toolsets now feature integration with other toolsets... Unfortunately, there’s not usually a good way to shortcut understanding the data involved. Strategic plugins can reduce friction and custom programming. As always, diagrams are your friend here, because the clearer the better.

Accurate

Programmers have a classic adage for this one: Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you can’t trust your primary data coming in, its extremely difficult to determine when your conclusions are incorrect: you begin looking for truth inside of lies. If the information you’re reporting is inaccurate, you can’t wave a magic wand to fix that afterwards. Indeed, sometimes by the time it is reported, it is too late.

Proceeding with inaccurate data is a fool’s gambit, to be sure; Never pretend. If you know that your conclusion may be unfounded because the data coming in or the methodology to compute the data are wrong, you have an ethical duty to your client to let them know.

Ask yourself the following:

Is your data accurate? Are your methods watertight?

Both must be true. You’d be shocked to discover how often this isn’t the case.

Validity

Passing the validity part of the test means someone must manually verify at least some of the data. This includes the output data as well as inputs. Humans must periodically review at least some of the results! We, as SEO professionals, also have to take part in this process. Correlation is one tried and true data verification method. For example, you have analytics telling you there were 500 visitors to the page in one day and 40 of them converted into leads. You’ll know that you can either check your logs for the visits or check your database for the leads, ideally both would be performed. Most developers I’ve worked with groan at the notion of pulling server logs and for good reason: most sites are not setup to wade through this information even if it has the data you desire. (Perhaps this will change in the future). .

Restricted Access

Everyone in the world does not and should not need to have access to your data

Protect your passwords by creating and following procedures. If you are maintaining user information or any type of payment or home address information this must be restricted, which can be super difficult in today’s ultra-connected environments. But that doesn’t mean you just give up. Always use protected mechanisms to store things that matter or things you’re working on in predetermined secured document stores (either local computers or cloud storage). Just as you would not leave the keys to your house or your car laying around, treat client information with precisely the same level as vigilance.

Chain-of-custody (COS) is the path that data (or any asset, really) follows through the organization in terms of “who owns it at any given time” (provenance). Data must come in from a known, trusted source. Each link in the chain must also be a known, trusted agent.

If this is true, then the chain of custody is preserved and the data integrity will not be compromised. If evenone link in the chain becomes broken, then the whole thing is broken and can’t be fixed. There is no half-brokenchain. The map of who will have responsibility of the data coming through the organization is also called the Chain-of-Responsibility (COR).

Financial integrity of a site is crucial to its health. Understanding where the money is being spent on a site can be the difference between making a profit and total failure. Fortune may favor the bold ... but luck favors the prepared.

MONEY MATTERS

If you’re bringing revenue into a company and they actively look for reasons to late-pay you or haggle after the fact, then move on from the project quickly. A very easy method to measure the future health of a project is to look at the company’s overall financial situation.

Is everyone working on the project being compensated in a timely way? If not, move on. The check is not in the mail. Intentions do not pay bills. People get fired, companies go under, anything can happen.

Assessing Value for Organic Traffic

There are rare cases when scandal breaks or news is made and then traffic soars. Who takes credit? It’s often difficult to assess the value of publicity. A question I’ve been asked many times is: how do you assess the value of just the traffic? Logically it’s not hard to understand the value organic traffic brings in terms of revenue, but what about when it’s mixed? When there is no e-commerce, it’s not straight-forward to assess the value of organic traffic. There are formulas I’ve adapted from our cousins in PR and devised a proprietary method to tabulate the value.

The first method to assign values to organic traffic is by making sure analytics is tracking commerce properly to calculate costs per lead or inquiry, etc. Design your KPIs and build your analytics reports to address those KPIs, i.e. a signup with the attached sourcing of that signup. In Google Analytics once a financial value is attached to a KPI or lead, then you can calculate from there.

The second method to assess the value of organic traffic is brand vs. non-brand. Tracking organic queries to the site will allow for this style of analysis. If revenue transactions are happening on the site from organic traffic, the reports will match the lead sources back to it.

The third and final method to assess organic value is the Public Relations standard. This method is ideal when there’s no e-commerce for the site or the site operator needs to assess value of traffic for a 3rd party. For decades PR professionals have assigned dollar values to the exposure they gain clients by equating eyeballs on the page to advertising value rates for the same placement. Online advertising rates are what a company would pay for traffic to their site, it’s only logical that views can be monetized. You can make educated guesses whether or not organic mentions are indeed more valuable than paid placement and apply multipliers. Some PR mavens take the value of advertising traffic and multiply 2.5 times for magnification.

Sometimes you can lookup a site or a tier of site and figure out the advertising costs, some even list it. Most publishers do not list their numbers, so it’s going to require a touch of sleuthing.

We must first assess the traffic for the sites based on data from analytics itself (or Quantcast). The total ad value number is the amount of circulation to compare against the value of paid placement for the same caliber of sites, CPM. Social mentions are quantified financially in terms of search engine display ads (Google), because that is essentially how they function. Google’s ad reach for certain types of ads are measured in a unit called CPM, or Cost per M (one thousand). The suggested bid is calculated by taking into account the costs-per-click (CPCs) that advertisers are paying for this keyword for the location and Search Network settings selected. The amount is only an estimate, and the actual cost-per-click may vary based on competition.

To calculate traffic simply lookup Quantcast or Alexa ranking data for traffic approximations. The total ad value number is the amount of circulation to compare against the value of paid placement for the same caliber of sites.

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