The Internet is growing and search engine competition is gradually becoming more cutthroat. So, it is no wonder why search engine optimization (SEO) has really made a name for itself in the past two decades.
The benefits of SEO can be immeasurable. By that I don’t just mean that you can’t put a price on the benefits, but I also mean that sometimes SEOs have trouble determining the specific value they add to a business. This is especially true when calculating return on investment (ROI).
Today, I discuss why SEOs have difficulty with gauging ROI. A big thank you to Phil Rozek, a specialist in Local SEO and owner of Local Visibility System for providing his own insights and expertise on the topic.
Playing field Is Constantly Shifting
SEO is a long-term investment; and, as is the case with most long-term things, it requires time. “It usually takes months or more to get significant work done and to see the needle move.,” said Rozek. “During that time, the business probably isn’t in stasis.”
Investment opportunities, management changes, new offices, and other internal factors will not only affect the business but will also affect the impact of SEO.
For example, imagine a new marketing campaign is launched and it’s successful. How can you tell exactly the contribution/ROI SEO had on the campaign?
Rozek stated, “Unless you’ve got no other marketing efforts, or you know for a fact they perform horribly, about all you can do is take a rough ‘before-and-after’ picture of how business has been after 6 months, 12 months, etc.”
This is not to mention the impact Google updates have on SEO. In the last month alone, Google made some waves for SEOs with what people are calling the Quality Update. These updates add to the difficulties of measuring SEO progress.
SEOs do not work in one-dimension, but a multidimensional galaxy in which several forces are continuously pushing and pulling one another. Sure, SEOs can get a general idea of their influence, but they can’t pinpoint it with absolute certainty.
How Can You Put A Value on That
Some of the metrics SEOs track include rankings, traffic, engagement, time on page, and bounce rate. It’s a good indication for SEOs to see these metrics improving; however, what does that mean for the client and business?
The hope is: if rankings increase, then traffic should increase; and if traffic increases, then (thinking optimistically) engagement will increase, which may lead to conversions and ultimately profit.
Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong.
These metrics, Rozek said, “may give you further Intel and a rough insight into ROI, but precise measurements, they are not.”
Rozek is right. Rankings, traffic, and engagement could all increase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the client is getting ROI if conversions remain unchanged or decrease. Conversions are one of the easiest ways to measure ROI, but even conversions have their problems.
“The conversion funnel is long, winding, and full of holes.” Rozek said. “Many customers will find you online and sleep on it…or they’re researching you months before they need your services…or you may have great rankings, but when they Google you by name and they see awful reviews.”
Conversions are an important metric in SEO and ROI. However, there is only so much SEOs can do in terms of turning a lead into a conversion. SEOs can’t force people to buy into a clients’ good or services nor can they can guarantee people will like a clients’ product.
That is not to say there is nothing more they can do. They can still help by having a…
What does that mean? SEOs should try to be more than just an SEO for their clients. It means there is something not strictly considered SEO that you can bring to the table.
“You need to have at least one superpower,” Rozek advised. “You’re a smoother designer or you’re trilingual or you develop tools or you write words people can’t stop reading or you have a big network of world-class pros.”
It’s as if you are applying to college all over again. What can you do that will add value to the group?
The Good News
Data is on your side. There is no need to panic. If you Google “ROI of SEO,” you will come across many articles with graphs that look like this:
Clearly illustrating that SEO can be one of the best returns on investments (ROI) for marketing if done right. So do it right! Put in the time and work. Improve metrics. Go for quality. Add a little something extra. And the payout should naturally ensue.