I was having a casual conversation the other day and someone said to me, “You know I just never see the ROI with SEO.” I didn’t say anything in that moment (although I answer this issue all the time), but the statement rolled around in my head for a while after that particular moment. In this post I would like to take the time to flush out SEO ROI in a couple different ways.
How Much it Would it Cost to Buy PPC?
When you look at the organic traffic your website has, it is always important to keep in mind how much that traffic is worth. Think to yourself, how much would it cost be to buy that same traffic. For example, if you have 300,000 organic visitors a month and it would cost $2 a click on average from Google AdWords for that same traffic, your traffic value is $600,000 a month. If you pay an SEO company between $3,000 and $10,000 a month, and they consistently maintain and even grow your SEO traffic by 5% to 10% each month, it’s a pretty good investment. By the end of a year, if they have grown your traffic by 50% then they have increased your traffic value by $300,000.
Quality Traffic is Worth More
One thing that is very important is how high quality is the traffic? That is why keyword selection is very important. You need to select keywords that, should you get ranked well for, will result in big revenue for your site. But another thing to keep in mind, SEO traffic is some of the highest quality traffic online. These people are searching for information, services, products, etc. that align directly with what you are trying to sell. That quality traffic can mean big revenue. I know sites who do over $800,000 in sales a year alone from one keyword. That’s pretty impressive.
Revenue in Google Analytics is SEO ROI Proven
One thing that always throws me off is when people say they don’t know how much ROI they are getting from their SEO, you can see the exact revenue numbers in Google Analytics. I don’t think that person I had the conversation with really knew much about the organic reports. Those reports tell you everything you need. For example, I was happy to show one of my clients we did 1 million in sales through organic revenue last year. Back out our fees and all other costs, there is your ROI.
Focusing on a Few Keywords Makes No Sense for ROI
In this particular situation, this person had always tried to rank for a few keywords and that was the extent of the campaign. In almost every SEO campaign I work on, we go after hundreds, thousands or millions of keywords. We go after the top money terms, location terms, service terms, informational terms, we try to own the internet for that niche. When you are only looking at ranking reports for 5 keywords to determine SEO ROI that makes no sense. You need to look at real numbers.
The Liability that Type of Traffic from Organic can Bring to a Company
There’s always something in life, right? You know how they say ‘more money, more problems’? Well, more organic search more problems, kind of. Let me explain, you make more sales, you have to order new products or deliver more service, you need to staff up, your organization grows, this is all what you want right? But the thing is, once you get hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors a month that becomes a pipeline that you need to maintain (just like any other in business). You cannot simply get to 4 million visitors a month and let it sit there. SEO changes every day, so you need to constantly be improving your SEO just to maintain traffic at that level, let alone grow it. I don’t think a lot of people realize this in SEO. There are thousands of websites online going after the term “coupons.” If I get you ranked number 1 the first year (by the way I have worked with 2 different companies that have been ranked #1 for “coupons” nationally at some point), then keep you there the second year, that happened because of hard work and continued dedication to that keyword. So when looking at SEO ROI you need to look at the maintenance goals that were achieved as well. It only makes sense, because rankings go away if you don’t keep working.
SEO ROI and Projections go Hand-in-Hand
When we do a large SEO project, we generally do projections for the client. This can give them an idea of what traffic they can expect to get. We do this based on experience, industry research and by using a variety of tools.
How Poorly was the Website Set Up for Conversions?
One other thing to keep in mind is that good SEO companies, like ours, also do CRO. Just last month we helped a client increase their SEO sales by over 35% by running a split test on a mobile home page and picking a winner. This increase in revenue directly correlates to our ROI.
At the end of the day, this wasn’t a situation where I could stop this person and tell them how it really was. But it made me realize, knowledge is power. It is dangerous to categorize and dismiss things when you don’t completely understand them. I believe if this person would have invested in SEO they would have easily seen 30% year over year growth, which would have resulted in about 100k more in revenue a month.