A common question we hear at Web Presence Solutions when discussing SEO is “What is the ROI for my SEO investment?” Put another way, how does a small business identify and quantify SEO ROI and what is the value derived from the time, energy and money put into search engine optimization and web presence development?
All valid questions. The Reality is that SEO ROI is not a cut-and-dried metric. In a perfect world we would like to have a clear, concise answer to the SEO ROI question. However, a short answer would not provide much real information. Context is important and the that well-worn phrase, “it depends” comes into play.
Another factor is that SEO has evolved rapidly in the last few years. So looking at SEO ROI is really a matter of the ROI of the broader area of web presence development. Along with what has traditionally been considered SEO, this can include social media, content marketing, email marketing, and website usability and performance. For the sake of simplicity in this article I will lump all this into the term SEO.
When looking at SEO ROI two important factors need to be included in the full picture:
- Timeframe: The benefits of SEO have a longer term payoff. SEO is not meant as a quick fix solution. An ongoing, consistent SEO effort that adapts to the frequent changes on the web is key.
- Customer Lifetime Value: It is important to look at the lifetime value of a customer (LTV) and not a single sales event when calculating ROI and value.
As part of the research for this article I’ve collected a few links that provide a range of useful insights on SEO ROI. The links also include some tools and information on methods for performing ROI calculations:
“What ROI Can I Expect From SEO?” This is an article by Jason Demers on Forbes. He is a top notch writer and is very knowledgeable about SEO, social media and digital marketing. Read more here…
“How to Calculate the ROI of Your SEO Campaign” This article is by Neil Patel from his Social Sprout website. He explores real metrics and works at deriving tangible SEO ROI numbers. He digs down to calculate items such as Customer Life Expectancy, Lifetime Customer Value, SEO Cost Per Conversion, and Cost per Acquisition. Read more here…
“Estimate the value of SEO for your project with SEO ROI Calculator” A well-developed introduction into the SEO ROI calculator tool developed by the people at Promodo. Read more here…
The SEO ROI tool from Promodo can be found here: It is an interesting and useful tool. Play around with the parameters to see how they affect the results.
A Broader Perspective on SEO ROI
Statistics indicate that over 85% of people search the web when looking to purchase a product or service. The visibility and findability of a business on the Internet is essential to generating contacts and capturing new sales leads whether it is through a website, social media or other forms of digital marketing.
SEO and the Sales Process
SEO ROI also shows up within the sales process. A well performing and optimized website with a structure that is easy to navigate and use, combined with high quality, informational content will capture prospects at an early point in the sales funnel. Targeted content and information will help move the prospect along in the sales process. An effective website user experience has the potential to speed up the sales process by removing sales barriers and answering buyer’s questions.
This will be true for prospects coming to a website from search engines, referral websites, email campaigns or social media properties such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest.
A quality website experience provides other potential business benefits such as lower customer service requests and lower levels of pre-sales support requests. This can lead to higher conversion rates and more repeat customers.
SEO ROI Through Email Marketing
A strong web presence built through SEO work also directly feeds email list growth. A growing email list will grow website traffic, conversions and sales. Email marketing research will often cite an email list drop off rate of 20% – 30% per year. This can result from factors such as:
• Contacts changing email addresses.
• Contacts leaving a company where they had an email address.
• Contacts no longer interested in your products, service or information.
• Your emails being erroneously flagged as spam and being automatically moved to a spam folder.
• Contacts may not actually unsubscribe, they may just stop opening your emails.
A strong and diverse web presence through consistent SEO work builds new contacts and creates new sales prospects. This will help to replenish and expand an email marketing list on an ongoing basis and provide another area to measure the return on SEO, website, and web presence development investment.
Many Areas Where SEO ROI Can Occur
SEO ROI shows up in many different online areas. The areas mentioned above included sales, customer service and email marketing. Some areas are easier to identify than others and the areas of greatest impact and return will likely vary depending on the given business and marketplace.
How do you measure your search engine optimization and digital marketing ROI? Leave a comment based on your experiences.
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