What’s a conversion when it comes to SEO? The documentation on Google analytics is typically Googe vague and says it’s “[a] completed activity, online or offline, that is important to the success of your business.”

The definition that the majority of SEO’s consider conversions is the completion of a trackable event that signifies the visitor to the website wants to be connected with the good or service being offered through the site.

E.g. Someone filled out a form, and it forwarded that session to a “Thank you” page and your Google Analytics was actually configured to track that page view as a “Goal Completion”.

While it’s not some “hallejah moment”, many seem to be treating that “conversion” as the Holy Grail at the end of the SEO quest. However, he that looks no further than raw form submissions you could say that…

Leading Leads Beyond Just Leads

Okay so you do your little victory dance when you get that form submitted, or you get that phone to ring and see that number show up in your Google Analytics as a goal completion! However, it’s what happens NEXT that really matters.

No, of course most SEOs aren’t also the sales person, the secretary or administrator who either picks up the phone or responds to the form submissions. However, knowing the OUTCOME metrics of that conversation is KEY to really fine tuning your website.

So what do we call the metric that represents just how many website generated leads turn into sales?

Lead To Sale Rate

I’ve heard from other talented SEOs like Scott Hendison who said “Lead to sale rate sounds right, or Converted conversions”, Rachel Di Martino said “I typically call that the sales rate. But I don’t know if that’s the correct term or not.”.

Joe Hall said “I call it close rate. Especially if we are taking about lead gen.”

Carolyn Lyndon had the most detail saying “For a software company, it goes All incoming leads > MQL (those qualified leads that marketing passes to sales) > [here some people have SAL which is sales accepted leads–leads the SDR team accepts to work to qualify even more for the AE team] > SQL (those that sales qualified to work–often if there’s also an AE team) > then closed won”

Here’s some terminology and metrics from this process, understanding how and what process your client business is using can ensure that you know the true number of site visitors that become paying customers.

  • Close Rate
  • Closed Won
  • Converted Conversions
  • MQL
  • SQL
  • SAL

But I’ve Got An eCommerce Site?!

Of course I know that eCommerce sites are a different animal however, the concept actually applies in a bigger way! When you’ve got an eCommerce site, you’ve got the “Cart Abandonment” metric that levens your conversion rate. Here’s how it works, you’ve got your “Add to cart” action, but then the user may add multiple items and not actually input their billing and shipping details.

Since there are actually mitigating steps you can take to reduce that “cart friction” and improve your site’s revenue it’s important to keep that “cart abandonment” metric in mind when reviewing your site’s performance.

Revenue Per Sale & Recurring Revenue

There’s been only a handful of projects I’ve worked on where Analytics was configured correctly to let the SEO and marketing team know exactly how much revenue was actually be generated for the business from the website’s reach.

It’s a matter of identifying which forms sent leads, did they close the sale and how much revenue did it generate. But going further, it may be worth exploring how much money a single customer, once gained, represents for the business.

  • Do they make multiple purchases?
  • Do they get upsold or simply establish a relationship that is easier to return to than find a new source.
  • Do those secondary purchases happen directly with the salesperson or a return purchase through the website?
  • Is there a subscription, and how long does it usually last?

Jeremy Rivera

Jeremy Rivera started in SEO in 2007, working at Advanced Access a hosting company for Realtors. He came up from the support department, where people kept asking "How do I rank in Google" and found in the process of answering that question an entire career. He became SEO product manager of Homes.com, went "in-house" at Raven Tools in Nashville in 2013. He then worked at several agencies like Caddis, 2 The Top Design as an SEO manager and then launched a 5 year freelance SEO career. During that time he consulted for large enterprise sites like Smile Direct Club, Dr. Axe, HCA, Logan's Roadhouse and Captain D's while also helping literally hundreds of small business owners get found in search results. He has authored blog posts at Authority Labs, Raven Tools, Wix, Search Engine Land. He has been a speaker at many SEO conferences like Craft Content and been interviewed in numerous SEO focused podcasts.