Often companies try to measure ROI for SEO for good reason. Because it’s often stated that the ROI on SEO is potentially higher than any forms of marketing online and offline.
But proving it is sometimes difficult without proper tracking. For PPC / SEM it’s easier (not easy, just easier), just measure what you spent vs what you get back. However for SEO it’s not exactly that simple. Things like “branded keywords” might be partially attributed to the overall marketing effort (some argue however that “branded keywords” are also due to the hard work of the SEO effort.
I’ll outline in short form what is the best way to reasonably keep track of SEO and the ROI associated with it.
Consider the nature of SEO. If someone clicks on your Google listing, it does not raise the price of your marketing effort one penny unlike PPC that you get billed per click. This is why SEO has often been labeled the most efficient marketing method possible. There is no direct additional costs for each additional visitor (bandwidth and servers not factored in, since that would be a factor in any marketing method). This means that any additional content that you post, ranks well and attracts potential customers is effectively free after the initial effort of making that content. So measure the “cost” of making that content, and measure how many conversions it creates over a period of time. This period of time should be measured in months or more. It is common for us to get clients from a post that we made 4 years ago. So these content pages though might degrade over time, by no means go away. Then you can measure how many people visited your site from that specific content page, and then came back to your site over the course of the next X months and converted.
Another line of thought is how much did that SEO effort cost you? Well that post did cost you something, you had to have someone (or yourself) sit down and write up that content, or photo, or video. Time is money. But that hour or two of effort can pay off the next day, the next month or even the next year. In essance you have to measure how much effort in a dollar figure that content cost you vs what it returned over the course of a year. Many clients see an ROI on some content they created to be something on the order of over $4,000 dollars returned for every $1 spent on SEO. We had a client that created a content page regarding the launch of a new mobile product. The article simply had the specifications of the device listed, battery life, and a few other items. This content was already published but not together or in a logical format. We advised them to create that page. Their conversion rate was literally over $4,000 return for every $1 dollar invested creating that page when measured over the course of the year. Creating that content page took several people about 6 hours (photos, people to take images, and a short video). They made a fortune from it. What happened was simple, the page ranked well. Was picked up by the technology section of Reddit and became a ROI machine. The point of this is that you can’t measure the success of content in days, it is something measured in months or longer.
The content rule, takes a short time to create content yet pays off continuously over an internet lifetime.