How to Show Clients SEO ROI

How to Show Clients SEO ROI
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • Keep track of deliverables on a weekly or monthly basis

Showing your clients SEO ROI is the subject of lengthy discussions and often raises ethical and credibility questions. Achieving high-performing organic search results is one of the holy grails of digital marketing. Ranking a site organically in the search results is the goal for many companies — especially for businesses that can’t afford high-cost pay-per-click ads.

We hear from many business owners who have been doing SEO for some time, and a lot of them use digital marketing agencies who specialize in search engine optimization and digital marketing. One of the biggest concerns these business owners have is that they just don’t know whether their SEO efforts and investments are paying off.

What does this mean if you provide SEO services? If your clients feel this way, then they are questioning the value of your services. So you should be prepared to answer questions that your clients may ask about how the SEO services you provide gives them real value and show the impact SEO has to their bottom line.

So how can you ensure that the work you’re doing can be turned into something tangible and valuable for your clients?

Provide Data That Matters to Your Client

The task of providing data that matters to your client is wonderfully captured by Joy Hawkins in one of her recent Moz articles. It’s so easy to simply forward your client tons of confusing reports and other analytics data in an attempt to overwhelm them with information so that your services appear more significant. But your client doesn’t really care about the details. They don’t really care about how many pages of their site are now being indexed by the various search engines or any minor search engine ranking position changes. They want to know what impact of all that data and all those numbers have on their business.

They want to know “how much additional traffic has been generated and is it valuable?”

Talk to your clients as business owners – not like SEO enthusiasts. Explain how the extra traffic that is generated because of your organic search ranking achievements impacts their site visitors. Tell them what that traffic is doing on their site that makes it all worthwhile. This is what they really want to hear.

Plan and Track Tangible Deliverables

This applies more in the early stages of SEO or a new SEO services relationship. We know that organic SEO takes time. You need to explain that to your clients so their expectations are realistic. The SEO efforts you take today could take months before they have a noticeable impact on the business. Clients need to be educated on this process.

So in the absence of hearty traffic generation-based results to share at the beginning of an SEO campaign, make sure that your client is aware of what work/tasks you’re doing. Explain how this SEO groundwork will help them in their quest for top industry ranking glory. Keep track of deliverables on a weekly or monthly basis so they can see work is taking place against their spend with you.

  • Did you get new backlinks this month and how many?
  • How many new pages of content or keyword-rich blog posts have you added to their site?
  • How many of the technical errors from the initial SEO audit have been cleared up?
  • Did you get your client listed on online business directories/citation sites? Which ones? Send them a screen shot of a few listings so they can see for themselves.
  • Have you optimized your client’s Google My Business (GMB) listing? Add a photo or video? Update the description?

Don’t be overly data heavy at this stage of the relationship. (You don’t want to overwhelm them with a bunch of technical SEO jargon.) Just show them that you are working towards the really juicy stuff.

Show Them What They Really Want to See

Your clients are business owners and not SEO lovers. After you’ve done your initial SEO tasks, make sure you keep track of rankings, backlinks, technical issues fixed, etc.

The real fun is when you can show your client that they’re ranking higher than some of their competitors on Google for important keywords. Sending them image screenshots of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is more impactful than a ranking report. You just don’t get the same excitement from reading an Excel ranking report. (However, BrightLocal’s ranking reports are very visual and clearly shows clients how their site is moving up the organic search rankings. Be sure to include a BrightLocal Ranking Report with your screenshots.)

BrightLocal Ranking Report
BrightLocal Ranking Report

Go one better that that but showing how performance has changed in their local area over time with a grid tracker like Local Search Grid. This literally puts rankings on the map and includes a timeline that makes it easy to see share of visibility for any keyword over time.


Return on investment is what your clients truly care about. How does your SEO work give them more customers, more leads and ultimately more sales?

If your client feels secure that what they’re spending with you is or will have a positive impact on their business, then they will feel justified allocating that budget to you. Appropriately managing how you report your progress and delivery of SEO services to your clients will ultimately define how they feel about your ability to deliver for them.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts

How do you go about showing ROI from SEO services to your clients? Do you have any tips, techniques or strategies that really work? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Sherry Bonelli
About the author
Sherry is the former Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She led BrightLocal's Research and Content programs and championed the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications.