Organisations around the world spend significant sums of money on search engine optimisation (SEO) every year, in the hope of improving their rankings in the search engines for relevant terms – which in the process, they will expect to help generate heightened awareness, traffic, and revenue.
How much money are we talking about? Well, it has been reported that companies in the United States spent $73.38 billion on SEO during 2019, which made up about 9.5% of the $776.30 billion spent on digital marketing as a whole that year.
At the same time, though, it seems that the overall proportion of small businesses investing in SEO isn’t as high as many people might presume. It was reported last year that almost half (47%) of small firms didn’t have SEO efforts at their businesses, with cited factors in this delay in SEO investment including the intricacy of SEO strategies, and the fact that SEO campaigns don’t tend to deliver tangible results immediately.
The complex problem of determining ROI from SEO efforts
You probably already know what ROI stands for; it refers to “return on investment”, which Shopify has defined as “the money an investor in a business earns for the injection of financial capital.”
There are various accepted ways to calculate ROI, with the most common of these being to divide net income by the total cost of a given investment. The resultant figure would then be multiplied by 100 to convert it into a percentage, which is how ROI is most frequently expressed.
So, is the process this straightforward if you wish to measure the return on investment you’re enjoying from your SEO efforts? The short answer is unfortunately, no.
One major issue with the task of calculating ROI from SEO, is that SEO doesn’t tend to have the fixed costs associated with it that would allow a marketer to easily attribute specific investment to a specific time. As an organisation launching an SEO campaign is having to earn organic search traffic, there are not fixed and predictable costs for the clicks and conversions it generates as a result.
All in all, there is an inherent complexity to SEO that can make it trickier to calculate an accurate ROI. However, it is still important to measure SEO ROI, which tends to be done through the measurement of performance, by looking at such factors as organic traffic growth and conversions.
So, what are some of the indicators that will drive SEO ROI for your organisation?
At this point, we should probably introduce the term “key performance indicator”, or KPI. KPIs are quantifiable measures of performance over time, which can be invaluable for determining how effectively your organisation is achieving important business objectives.
With so many factors impacting on the ROI that any given SEO campaign delivers, it can quickly become a complicated process to try to account for them all. So, let’s pick out just three high-level factors that will help you in assessing the ROI from your own SEO investment.
- Conversions from web traffic
We mentioned conversions above; a conversion can be defined as – in the words of MarketingSherpa – “the point at which a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action”.
If that sounds quite broad as far as definitions go, that’s because it reflects the broad range of actions that can be considered to be conversions. And the exact things that you choose to track as conversions will likely depend on your organisation’s present stage of growth and development, and what your objectives were in launching your SEO campaign in the first place.
One example of a conversion could be someone who visits your site from a search engine results page (SERP) buying something from your organisation – “converting”, in effect, from a mere visitor into a paying customer.
But a conversion doesn’t have to be a sale. Especially during the earlier stages of your SEO campaign, you might be anxious to track other, smaller conversions, such as visitors to your site signing up for your email newsletters or booking a demo of your product.
Indeed, it’s probably worth noting that a specific focus on converting your site traffic into paying customers would be starting to venture outside the obvious boundaries of SEO.
If your site is attracting high rankings in the search engines for relevant terms, and drawing in relevant traffic as a result, your SEO campaign can be said to be working. However, if you seem to be struggling to convert that traffic into sales, it might be a good idea to engage the services of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) experts.
- An increase in organic traffic
It might seem almost too obvious to mention, but if you are seeing higher levels of organic traffic to your website, this is another indicator that you are getting meaningful results from your investment in SEO.
One other element that you might consider alongside this, is keyword positions. The positions that your site is achieving in the search engine rankings for certain terms you have optimised for shouldn’t be regarded as a primary indicator of your site’s SEO performance. However, it is still wise to track keyword positions at a high level for a handful of primary keywords that you know are of major importance to your organisation.
Nonetheless, the difference that your rankings make to the organic traffic your site receives is what is especially important – not simply whether you rank inside or outside the top three on Google for a particular keyword.
- Link acquisition
Finally, your website’s backlink profile – in other words, the situation of what sites from elsewhere around the web link to your site – will also make a big difference to what kind of ROI your SEO campaign will be delivering.
It is crucial that the backlinks your website attracts are good backlinks, which are the ones that will most help to push your site up the rankings. If you can attract a good number of backlinks from sites that Google already ranks highly in its search rankings and regards as reputable, this will help ensure Google puts your site high up in the rankings, too.
By measuring your site’s effective “cost per link” over an extended period of time, you can measure link acquisition and improve the decisions you make for future link-building efforts.
Are you ready to help drive up your site’s ROI from SEO by joining forces with an SEO agency in London that you can trust? If so, please don’t wait any longer to get in touch with the Mr SEO team, so that we can explore the possibilities for how we could work together.