Measuring SEO ROI

As a digital marketer, you know the value of search engine optimization (SEO) and how it can boost the overall reach of your marketing efforts. However, sometimes, you and your team may not speak the same language.

What every team manager, business owner, CEO is likely to ask is “what kind of return will we get from our investment?” Defining this in concrete terms may not be as easy as it is with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or other efforts that have built-in analytics. The ROI value may not be as simple as calculating revenue vs spending.

Why measure SEO ROI?

In this analytics-heavy age, it can be difficult to hear that numbers don’t tell the whole story. But, when it comes to the particular nuances of the big search engines, this is often the case.

Web marketers often rely on search engine ranking as the strongest indicator of success for an SEO campaign. This is often called search engine ranking pages (SERPs). It is the digital equivalent of having a strong position on a real estate property that is highly valued based on its good location.

But like real estate, this can be difficult to define concretely for your team members if they don’t understand the fundamentals of search engines any more than laymen have an understanding of real estate.

The world of the digital marketer can be an insular one, and there is a lot of “inside baseball” or esoteric phrases that are meaningful to you but may completely go over the head of your team that is worried about their marketing budget for the next fiscal quarter.

The 1st-page placement for your short-tail keyword may be cause for your office to pop open the champagne but your superiors are more likely to wonder what the fuss is about.

They often need results that they can take back to their bosses and are fretting over how to turn these numbers into a chart that will really do well in a PowerPoint presentation. It’s very important that you can clearly communicate the ROI of SEO efforts, but in order to do this, you may need to change the way you think about SEO ROI yourself.

How to really measure SEO ROI

In order to really measure the impact that SEO is having on your marketing campaign you still need to take some analytic data into consideration. The SEO metrics and KPIs that can be gathered from digital sources such as Google Analytics are one solid measure of how your optimization efforts are moving the needle. The most useful of these include:

  • Determining referral sources that are improving page placement
  • Monitoring conversions from incoming SEO/organic traffic
  • Measuring total through traffic to pages from Google

Use the information along with other data gathered from analytic suites to create your own report that highlights the way that your SEO strategy is affecting performance.

While you may be able to calculate revenue based on conversions by comparing data from Google to your revenue from conversations, don’t be disappointed if it isn’t as clear a 1-1 comparison to PPC ads.

For example, traffic to an eCommerce website may come from so many sources that your keywords may only account individually for a fraction of the total revenue that is tracked. However, that is not the only value of SEO as total through traffic can be as sticky as completed sales. In other words, focus on the traffic and defining how this is improved.

The metrics that indicate success in an SEO campaign

To answer “how effective is SEO?”, you must use the right metrics to calculate the ROI in a way that your team will understand. Sometimes you just need to speak the language in cold, hard numbers.

What your superiors are primarily concerned with is costs and what they are getting back to justify the expenditure. It may help to break down the example of what can be learned from the SEO performance of a single keyword.

For example, your team will understand that the ultimate goal is to have your website rank number 1 on Google’s first page. If they are a computer repair service in the Miami area, they might be impressed if you are able to achieve this placement with the keyword “Miami Computer Repair.” But what will really catch the eye is Google’s report on how many individuals search this particular phrase every day.

This may be numbered in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands depending upon the query. You can take this in tandem with the normal conversion rate of their website and project how much this organic search result placement will increase their sales in pace with the increased traffic even if their click conversion rate holds steady.

To further evaluate, this keyword may also have a strong placement with close variants (i.e. Miami Computer) that may provide a first-page placement. Paired with the conversion rate and click-through metrics you should be able to calculate how many additional sales this close match will put on top of the keyword match.

Even if you can only forecast a certain number of additional monthly sales you will have a steady and dependable revenue number to use for your ROI calculation. Even so, this may take a great deal of analysis of vast amounts of the available data and even a little guesswork to come up with a number that you can feel confident delivering to your team.

The importance of SEO as a strategic channel for growth

If it can be so difficult to correctly calculate the exact ROI you can expect, who is to say whether or not SEO is the right investment to make in a digital marketing campaign? The truth is that you would be surprised how essential SEO really is.

When done right, SEO defines the visibility of a company online and drives organic traffic to boost business at virtually no cost. Through a combination of SEO keyword research strategy and applied content, an SEO team has the ability to create a massive shift in the awareness of a brand and its relationship with the public in the online space.

The very best SEO elements may require extensive knowledge of system engineering, web design, and the talent to create content that engages as well as informs. The cross-functional approach of this strategic channel is constant sustainable growth. Even steady marginal growth is an indication that a current SEO strategy is creating leverage that will eventually reach a tipping point that will far exceed the investment that you have made.

The importance of applying search engine optimization strategically in the course of your marketing efforts cannot be emphasized enough. There may not always be a 100% clear ROI forecast, but one thing is for sure: failure to invest in SEO is the equivalent of leaving money on the table, missing out on online traffic and sales revenue.

Are you ready to take the next step and apply expert SEO to your own digital marketing campaigns? Learn more about our top SEO services and request a free consultation today.

For more SEO resources, visit the Segment SEO Blog.

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