SEV: What Is This Mystery Term?

This might get a bit wordy, but hang in there...this is important.

Search Engine Visibility, also known as SEV (yup, another 3-letter acronym), is a scoring system designed to illustrate the overall organic visibility for a given category of keywords.

In the early days of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), reporting was accomplished on a keyword-by-keyword basis. SEO reporting was often just a list of keywords with a number next to them. Not much context and not much use. But it was the only way SEO firms knew back then (incidentally, if you’re still working with a firm that gives you those types of reports every month, be wary).  

Time has proven this keyword-by-keyword method to be too myopic and not fully representative of a client's progress. Given the nature of search engines to show a website for a variety of "halo" terms similar to the core tracked keyword, the SEV more accurately represents organic visibility by grouping keywords into categories. To use an example going back to my days working with car dealers, the SEV Category "ford dealership" would include "halo" keywords such as:

  • nearby ford dealership
  • ford dealer
  • ford dealers
  • ford dealer in [location]
  • [location] ford dealership

This method of reporting has become increasingly necessary as search engines continue their personalization of results based on location and search history. Have you noticed that? If you and I both search for “ford dealers” we would get different results. Crazy, right?

So if I tell you that your website is #1 for “term awesome,” it’s possible you will get excited, do a search for “term awesome,” and find your site is actually listed in the third position. That’s why we have to take a wider view of organic search results, which is exactly what SEV does. Here’s an example of what a SEV score would look like:

Search Engine Visibility

If you’re unsure how to read this table, look at the Murfreesboro column as an example. There are 136 keywords in the category “Murfreesboro,” and 43% of them are showing up on the first page in search engine results. A bit more helpful than knowing that you rank #27 for “Murfreesboro widget retailers,” isn’t it?

Note: We'll dive deeper into SEV reports in a future post, "SEV: How It Can Save You."

What about you? Are you getting helpful reporting from your SEO company? Are they explaining trends in various categories? Or is your monthly “SEO report” all about individual keywords? If you feel you’re not receiving the attention, explanation, and reporting you need to make business decisions, let us know. We’d be happy to review your website needs with you.