In the first article of this series, we discussed what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were and why they were particularly important to a company’s overriding goal. Identifying the proper KPIs is crucial; however, each department may have a different perception of which are the most important and relevant, just as there may be a different departmental perception of what the primary goal of the organization is. Even though perceptions may fluctuate, there should always be a primary strategic goal for any organization that acts to rope in all departmental milestones and goals; otherwise, progress will be fleeting no matter what KPIs are tracked or how much they improve.

There might be three or four KPIs that are company wide, and then each department may have there own key performance indicators to support them. The question becomes, how do you select the proper KPIs to track? To delve further, let’s say that you are working with a search marketing firm and are looking to establish the Key Performance Indicators for your online SEM campaign.

How do you know which metrics to measure?

What should your KPIs be?

Well the first thing that you should do is provide your SEM firm with a list of site goals - everything you are looking to accomplish with your new online campaign. Is it to increase traffic, generate leads, increase online sales, drive offline sales, etc.? The goals need to be specific, and most importantly, need to be measurable. You need to consider the needs of your target market and what they are looking for, and you need to understand the outside purpose of your site. What does your market come to your site for, and what do they pull-out of your site? (Attacking any new marketing campaign, online or offline, without tailoring it to your specific audience and organizational goals is doomed to fail before it begins – it is like giving a motivational speech in German to an audience that only speaks Chinese and happens to be nihilists.)

Know Your Site Goals

  • Determine your site goals first and foremost
  • Ensure they are realistic (it is one thing to reach just beyond your grasp and another to blindly aim for the stars)
  • Ensure that they are measurable

Understand the Purpose of Your Site

  • Is your site an information portal?
  • Is your site a lead generation site?
  • Is your site an e-commerce site?
  • Is your site a self-service or support site?

Levels of KPIs

As mentioned earlier, there may be various levels of KPIs within an organization. There may also be different degrees of importance for your Key Performance Indicators. There can be “basic KPIs,” such as visitor traffic to your site, or there can be more important/defined Key Performance Indicators, such as real online sales. Understanding and prioritizing your Key Performance Indicators will help ensure that you are measuring the success of your business (or from a SEM point of view), the success of your online campaign.

Examples of Key Performance Indicators

Depending on the type of site that you have, there are various performance indicators that you may want to track. These performance metrics may include:

  • New account sign-ups
  • Contact Us form completions
  • Number of PDF or brochure downloads
  • Article views
  • Press Release Views
  • Case Study downloads
  • Online Sales
  • News Letter Signups
  • Page Views
  • Returning Visitors

Upcoming articles will describe more specific examples of key performance indicators as they relate to the various types of sites. The next installment of this series will deal with measuring Key Performance Indicators accurately and using those measurements in strategic forecasting.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.


June 7, 2006





Search Marketing Strategist. Search Engine Positioning by Searchengineposition. Enquiro Full Service Search Engine Marketing





Search Engine Guide > Jody Nimetz > Determining Proper Key Performance Indicators