What is the ROI on SEO and How to Measure it…

6 min read(Last Updated On: December 22, 2017)

This Ask Hoz session is all about knowing what to look for when it comes to search engine optimization return on investment. So let’s dig in and find out what is the ROI on SEO.

First of all, let’s get rid of some common perceptions:

  • there is no one-size-fits-all SEO ROI formula because your goal is part of what needs to be measured
  • likewise, we can’t really have an average ROI on SEO unless everybody has the same goal
  • it’s also pointless looking at SEO ROI statistics because failure to hit key performance indicators by one SEO is not a reflection of other SEO’s abilities

So let’s get granular. Let’s individualize this question. Let’s make it about one person only: you.

Measuring the ROI of SEO

The answer here can vary depending on whether you’re the one providing the SEO or whether you’re the client being provided with SEO.

So let’s hit both points of view.

ROI From the Point of View of the SEO

If you’re the SEO, then the first thing you need to do is clarify with the client what ROI means to them.

What it is that they want to see improve?

You really need to do this before you start the SEO campaign because otherwise, things will go pear-shaped.

In many cases, ROI is ranking. At least initially and especially with brand new clients who perhaps have never done SEO before.

Typically, these clients approach an SEO and the first thing they want to do is get more visibility to their website. And that means ranking.

So, on that note, the first task that you need to do as an SEO is to set up a rank tracker so that you can track the rankings of the pages that you’re working on.

But here’s the thing: the reason I said you need to clarify the goals and be very specific with the client right before the campaign is because many clients think that ROI is sales.

A lot of clients go to SEOs – especially clients who have never done advertising before – and when they ask for optimization what they’re really thinking is I need to make lots of sales and lots of profit.

And that’s why things go pear-shaped if you don’t get specific right from the start.

Ranking does not equal sales. It just means more visibility, more potential to make sales.Click To Tweet

The sale is dependent on a lot of things, including:

  • what’s the product or what’s the service that is being offered?
  • what’s the price point?
  • what’s the copy on the page (the words, the headline, the description, the words that are used to close the deal)?
  • how effective is the design of the page?

Design is a major factor when it comes to conversion. If you land on a page that looks a bit spammy or it looks outdated, then you’re probably going to bounce right off it. You’re not going to trust it.

Branding is another big factor. If you have a really cheap looking logo then that’s going to come across in the design and this is going to affect conversion.

As the SEO, if you’re been paid to increase rankings, then all the things I just mentioned are out of your control:

  • the offer is not yours; it’s the client’s offer
  • the price point is down to the client – you don’t tell the client how much to sell their product or their service for
  • the copy on the page may be something that you do have control of, but you’re only going to deal with it if you’re being paid to do that
  • the same goes for the design of the page

Most SEO work – unless the client is paying for it – does not involve design changes and the branding is almost always out of the remit of the SEO.

If the client is paying for none of the above, then you’re really just getting paid to increase visibility. If this is the case, you need to make the ROI about ranking.

ROI From the Point of View of the Client

If you’re the client and you want to know what is the ROI on SEO so you can track your marketing investment, then you need to be clear on what you want to achieve.

What is the ROI on SEO for You?

If your ROI is making more sales and more profit, then be aware that this involves a lot of things.

Things like:

  • more visibility; you need more traffic
  • you need good copy on the page you’re marketing
  • you need professional branding
  • you need a good design
  • you need to accept that you have to go through a period of testing different elements in order to improve your conversion, including:
    • testing the price point
    • testing variants of the offer
    • testing various benefits and features of the offer
    • testing anything and everything to see what converts better

All these things do not happen overnight, and all this is not typically cheap. So if you have a small budget and you go to an SEO and you say something like: I just want you to save my business, then you’re going to have to be realistic.

Your small budget is typically going to pay for one thing only and the first measurable ROI element should be ranking.

Get traffic to your website, get people on those pages and then see what happens.

It may be that you have a good offer at the right price and it may be that your design is good enough, but you’re not going to know any of those things unless you get traffic to those pages.

Therefore, when it comes to figuring out what is the ROI on SEO I recommend that you get clear on your goals and then make sure your budget supports those goals.

Particularly if you’re starting out, the first ROI element that you should measure is ranking. Get people to the website.

If you have a lot of traffic and nothing is converting, then you have a conversion issue. That’s a different ROI element.

Measuring the Return on Investment of SEO is not Hard if You do This…

If you’re the client, then you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by this process because a good SEO should be able to tell you what the ROI to be measured is after having spoken with you.

Use this fact as part of your criteria when choosing an SEO. Have a conversation with the SEO, let the professional tell you what’s what, and take it from there.

Then you’ll know what is the ROI on SEO is for you at that point in time.

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