When I worked agency side, I was fortunate enough to work with some very big brands. I’m not sure if I can mention those brands, but they were household names. That said, I never contemplated the impact a salient brand name could have on SEO performance.
I certainly never took the time to dissect the organic traffic that those websites were getting in terms of brand and non-brand but, since working in-house for a brand we all know, the impact of external brand influence has become very important.
For example, you go to any cinema right now and chances are, before your film starts, you’ll see that beautiful black horse running on the beach, and if you think that doesn’t result in an increase in organic and direct traffic, you’re mistaken.
We can put out a new tv advert tomorrow, and the day after our SEO traffic will increase. But me, myself and I hasn’t done anything to influence that. So how can an SEO understand and report on what he or she drives versus what external factors drive?
Non-brand organic contribution (NBOC) is a metric for understanding the impact of an SEO person, team or agency, whether internal or external.This is not complicated or groundbreaking. It may already be used as a reporting metric but if so I’ve never seen it. It was something I completely overlooked in the past, and I therefore wanted to share in case it helps others. It works as follows:
As an example, let's say category A got 1,000 total organic clicks and 250 of these were from non-brand keywords. The contribution of non-brand SEO to overall SEO for that category would therefore be 25%.
You now have an irrefutable number which shows the impact of your SEO efforts for whatever time period you choose. As you track your weekly or monthly organic traffic, your total SEO traffic will change, along with your non-brand SEO traffic and your NBOC percentage. However, you now have a metric to understand the performance of your non-brand efforts in a landscape where, historically, this has been extremely difficult to demonstrate.
This may be tough to visualise so let’s give an example:
In the above table, we see a starting NBOC of 20% in January. In February, our overall SEO traffic improved but our non-brand clicks remained the same, meaning our overall contribution was lower.
By March, our overall clicks were the same as February, but our non-brand clicks grew meaning we contributed more to total SEO, and our NBOC became 25%.
Now in April, we launch a huge TV campaign, which massively increases our total SEO traffic, but we also further improve our keyword positions and clicks. So while our NBOC dropped by 5%, we were still contributing as much as we were in January.
In May, we continued to get high overall SEO traffic on the back of the TV campaign, but we’ve again improved our non-brand SEO clicks, meaning our NBOC grows to 25%.
Finally in June, the traffic from the TV campaign starts to reduce, but the improvements we’ve made to our non-brand clicks remains, meaning our contribution to overall SEO is now higher than ever.
In conclusion, I hope you can see the merit of this approach and I hope it helps with proving the value of your SEO efforts.