Determining the value of SEO ROI (return on investment) can be tricky. The metrics used to track SEO success don’t provide ROI in themselves, but rather lead on to opportunities for profit, such as increased traffic and visibility in the SERPs.
While it can be challenging, it’s important to determine your ROI because that’s what sells SEO to prospective clients.
But beyond that, how do you convey the return on investment that SEO can provide to prospects during a first pitch? While you might understand the impact of SEO, your clients may need more help.
The issue can become even more complicated when pitching to local businesses — prospects might not see the value of SEO when their customers are already based within their physical catchment area.
In this piece, we touch on the key metrics of SEO value and look at a few ways you can convey this ROI value during your pitch to clients.
How do you measure the value of SEO?
SEO value can be measured against any number of elements. There are hundreds of metrics available to monitor, but when pitching SEO value to clients, it’s important just to focus on a few.
This lets you build up a picture of your site that is more manageable and easier to understand — rather than looking at lots of metrics, focus on the important ones that make a big difference.
Organic traffic is one essential metric to focus on (example above), but Search Engine Land cite a few examples of key metrics that can help you measure SEO (and what to focus on during your pitch):
- Organic traffic: this is all the traffic you get as a direct result of your SEO strategy.
- SERP (search engine results pages) visibility: this lets you check whether your site is appearing in the right search queries.
- Click-through rate (CTR): this indicates how enticing your site looks within the SERPs, particularly your page titles and meta descriptions.
- Keyword ranking: this shows where your site ranks for its related keywords, essential for driving traffic.
- Page speed: as well as being an important ranking factor, a good page speed also keeps visitors onsite.
- Domain authority (DA): sites with a higher DA perform better than those with a lower score and appear higher in search results.
Ultimately, the metrics you focus on will vary depending on your client and their needs. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at how to track SEO success for different types of businesses.
How to measure SEO success and performance
There are two broad routes we can go down when measuring SEO ROI, and each depends on the purpose of the website in question.
The metrics you look at will vary depending on whether you’re tracking them for an eCommerce business or a lead generation-based business that doesn’t offer online purchases (like a service-area business).
Local businesses that sell products online can easily determine how much money they make from sales.
Service-area businesses, however, offer less tangible conversions. Someone signing up for a product walkthrough or consultation won’t necessarily result in a purchase, for instance, and so you need to assign an estimated monetary value to that action.
These can still be tracked, of course. You just need to ensure that your goals are set up correctly in Google Analytics in order for them to be monitored.
When you’re pitching your SEO services to prospective clients, it is important to bear this distinction in mind. How you refer to ROI and how it relates to your prospect’s situation varies, and you should pivot your proposal to match.
What follows is a very brief overview of how you should approach metric tracking for eCommerce and lead generation.
For eCommerce, you should start by setting up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics.
This lets you see metrics such as conversion rates, average order value, number of transactions, and so on. These are hard stats that make it easier to determine ROI from SEO.
For service-area businesses or non-eCommerce businesses, however, you need to determine what actions your prospective customers might take, and what monetary value they should be assigned.
Potential actions include:
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Completion of a form for more information
- Time spent on website
- Product demonstration sign-ups
These are just a few examples and will again vary depending on the business in question.
Once you have set these up, you can continue to analyze and calculate your conversions in your usual way.
How to communicate SEO value to your prospects
SEO isn’t the only tool in the box when it comes to success online. PPC, social, email, and more all vie for a place in a brand’s digital strategy.
But out of them all, SEO is one of the most valuable and sustainable — and you need to convey that. Here’s how:
Provide a calculated forecast for your SEO ROI
Honesty, transparency, and a realistic approach to SEO ROI will set you apart from your competitors.
Over-promising will only lose you clients in the long run as they discover you cannot deliver their expected ROI, and under-promising indicates a lack of confidence and belief in your own ability as an SEO agency.
In short, accurate, tangible data that demonstrates will win out over empty promises and expectations.
When it comes to ROI, being able to provide a solid, data-backed forecast of expected results is essential — SEOmonitor’s guide to SEO proposals outlines a granular approach to forecasting that is worth delving into here.
For instance, the guide posits that you should translate ranking increases into tangible successes that matter to your prospect, namely clicks and conversions.
Articulate the results of SEO improvements into understandable and quantifiable KPIs (such as sales, sign-ups, and so on), taking account for variables in search volume and year-over-year trends, and so on.
By doing so, you can build a data-driven ROI forecast of your SEO pitch that actually matters to prospective clients and taps into their own desired goals as a business.
SEOmonitor also suggests that, beyond predicting existing, projected, and additional traffic and conversions based on your SEO proposals, you should highlight a forecast where they don’t implement your suggestions.
This doubles down on your sales pitch, reinforcing the value of your strategy and its expected ROI. It’s a simple addition, but one that can really sell your SEO’s value.
Go granular to sell your SEO value
There is a difference between your SEO strategy and your SEO tactics.
Strategies are broad and general, while tactics are specific and detailed, and it is this latter option that really communicates the value of your SEO to clients.
As such, to really sell the value of your SEO strategy, you need to go granular.
Telling your prospect what their website needs in broad terms doesn’t always help support your goals.
For instance, if your prospect’s website is struggling to rank its money pages for competitive terms, you need to tap into the top of the funnel by writing informational content and targeting low competition keywords — specific actions for specific problems.
Address potential ranking increases, where that content sits in the funnel and expected conversions as a result — specifying the value of SEO on this granular level helps sell it with greater impact.
Highlight the ROI of SEO in this specific context. The more granular you get, the better you can sell the ROI of your SEO business.
Acknowledge that the ROI of SEO takes a while to see
SEO is a long game.
There are numerous differences we could talk about, as outlined in the table below, but crucially, unlike PPC, which typically offers quicker results but with less sustainable results, SEO takes time to take effect.
While you know this, prospective clients are less au fait with the concept. Consequently, it might be worth making on-page SEO improvements the focus of your pitch.
The results of on-page optimizations typically offer quicker results than off-page practices such as link building, for instance.
This can be helpful for a foot-in-the-door approach.
Offer your prospect a shorter contract with a focus on on-page improvements to give them a chance to see its ROI, and then use that as a jumping-off point for a longer contract with a wider SEO focus.
Client pitch checklist
When it comes to pitching (and selling) the value of SEO to prospective clients, there’s a lot to bear in mind. Here are a few essential points to remember:
- Focus on a few key metrics to build up a manageable, actionable SEO report.
- The way you measure SEO success hinges on your site’s purpose: eCommerce or lead generation?
- Lean on calculated, tool-led forecasting to provide a data-backed SEO proposal.
- Avoid broad SEO recommendations in favor of specific actions tailored to your client.
- Set realistic expectations about when prospects can see results from your SEO implementations.
Even if you understand the value of SEO and its ROI, your clients may not. It’s essential that you break it down into easy-to-understand points and make it integral to your sales pitch.
Use the points above to lean on SEO ROI during your pitch and help your prospects get the same understanding of SEO value that you do, and your pitch will surely succeed as a result.