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Ways To Think About The ROI Of SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), you shouldn’t expect results overnight although we’ve seen it happen.

If you’ve done SEO for your business, you know you’re in it for the long haul. But when your revenue is down and business is slow, it can be hard to be patient with your SEO strategy. You might start to wonder if your strategy is working or if it’s even worth the time and money.

Consider this: it’s estimated that 53% of search traffic on websites comes through organically. Organic search can be an essential part of your buyer funnel, which ultimately leads to conversions and purchases. This organic traffic is brought to your website by a good SEO strategy. SEO can be crucial for your brand.

So…what is your SEO strategy? And how do you know it’s working? Follow these ideas to not only understand more about SEO, but how you can measure its ROI for maximum effectiveness.

What is SEO?

Let’s take a step back. It’s important to know exactly what SEO is and what it does for your business. You’ve likely heard a lot of buzzwords when it comes to SEO. Put simply, SEO stands for search engine optimization.

You could have the most beautiful website in the world. But if no one ever sees it, what’s the point?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to allow greater visibility and traffic on search engines. By making your website more user-friendly and adding technical elements on the back end of your website, you allow search engines like Google to crawl and index your site better.

At the end of the day, SEO is about giving your customers a great user experience when they find you through a search engine. Basically, it increases the likelihood that you’ll get customers right where you want them…to your website of course!

The ROI Of SEO Means It Should Pay For Itself

Now that you have a better idea of what SEO is, it’s time to reconsider how you can make it work for your business. You wouldn’t just guess that your revenue is growing when it comes to your sales strategy. So, you shouldn’t guess when evaluating your SEO efforts either. Ultimately, your return on investment is dependent on your organization’s goals.

Ask yourself what your business goals are. Now make sure your SEO strategy matches that. Maybe you want to increase revenue for your e-commerce business by $25,000 in Q3. So, your SEO strategy should support conversion actions. You decide what you want most out of your SEO strategy.

And if your executive board asks about your newfound SEO strategy, you’ll need some answers. Measuring ROI allows you to justify spending money on an SEO agency. Even if you’re a small business owner and you only have to answer for yourself, you’ll want to know where your money is going. ROI allows you to do just that. There are a few KPIs you’ll want to consider.

Key Performance Indicators Of SEO

Of course, there are a few common indicators of SEO success. Once you’ve determined your business goals, ensure that you track these KPIs to support the SEO strategy you’ve implemented.

Visibility Score

Some SEO tools such as SEM Rush aggregate data to form what they call a visibility score. This is a score that allows you to know if your site is trending up or down. It’s essentially a simple way to track how things are going with your search engine optimization.

Watching your rankings can be like watching the stock market. There are sometimes drastic ups and downs that don’t always make sense. It’s important to keep a cool head as you ride the trends.

Organic Traffic

Traffic is an obvious KPI. It’s a measurable way to see you’ve increased your visibility online. This is an important KPI if you want to increase brand awareness. You’ll likely be able to tell when more people are coming to your site. But clearly, you’ll want to keep track of your traffic from an organic source. Use Google Analytics to watch where your traffic is coming from.

Leads or Conversions

Depending on your business and website, you’ll want to also measure your conversion actions. If you have an e-commerce store, conversions will be product purchases. Or if your website collects emails through form fills, you’ll want to track those leads. We’ll discuss tracking later.


This is the ultimate metric to watch. At the end of the day, if SEO isn’t making your business money, it should be reexamined as to why or stopped altogether.

Depending on the size of your company, you may need to work with your sales team and determine when you started your SEO efforts. Sales can also be tracked through Google Analytics 4 under Ecommerce > Revenue.

While it’s important to develop the right KPIs for your business, using a single measure doesn’t always make sense. It’s also important to look at all the factors involved in a business interaction as well.

For example, we did SEO for a local plumber that specialized in water heater repair. After a few months, he let us know that he wasn’t getting any calls. When one of our staff experienced a busted water heater, he called the client who never returned his call. From our perspective, everything looked great, but if you’re not returning calls, that’s a serious issue with your business.

A Simple Way To Think About The ROI Of SEO

Simply asking, “What’s your average client worth to your company” starts a conversation about the possible return on investment of SEO.

If your average client nets a profit of $500 and you’re paying $1000/month in SEO, then you only need SEO to bring in 2 clients to break even and 3 to make money.

We use this approach to help clients see the value of search engine optimization and why they should consider adding it to their marketing mix.

Equation To Determine ROI of SEO

SEO requires a lot of work, but determining its value isn’t difficult. You can easily see the fruits of your SEO labor by calculating how much your SEO campaigns have earned you in revenue minus how much you have spent on them. From there, you’ll divide the costs to figure out the return on your SEO investment.

The formula would look like this: (SEO Conversion Value – SEO Campaign Investment)/SEO Campaign Investment.

For example, say you spent $20,000 on an SEO campaign through an SEO agency. Their efforts paid off and it made you $120,000 in revenue.

Using our formula, you’d find ($120,000 – $20,000)/$20,000 = 5

In this scenario, your SEO return is $5. Meaning, for every $1 you spent on your SEO efforts with an agency, you made $4 back in revenue. That’s well worth the money!

Using Google Analytics to Determine ROI

If you’d like more in-depth data on your SEO efforts, Google Analytics can help you get more details on your SEO strategy’s ROI.

Tracking Goals

If you sell products, you’ll likely get a notification when someone purchases a product. As wonderful as purchases are, not all goals on your website will be as obvious. You can set up custom goals through Google Analytics to see how your SEO efforts are helping customers navigate important touchpoints on your website.

For example, if you’re collecting form fill leads for your contracting services, you’ll want to set up a custom goal to track this important action. If your form fill leads to a thank you page, a destination goal is an easy way to track it. Set up a custom goal in Google Analytics with a destination type. Add the thank you page destination URL so Google knows to record if a user gets to that page.

Once you record more data, Google will classify where users came from when completing that goal. You’ll be able to see which users came to your website through organic traffic and submitted a form.

Conversion Paths

It’d be nice to know how every paying customer found you through the Internet. You don’t have to wonder thanks to Google Analytics. You can create conversion paths right in the platform.

Say you’d like to know how people who purchased your product are finding your website. The conversion path section can show you early, middle, and late touchpoints based on the conversion channel. See exactly how organic traffic is benefitting your sales funnel. You can even filter to just view organic traffic alone in this section.

Ready to Start Your SEO Journey?

You know how important SEO is for your business, but it can be daunting to do it alone. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency to help you establish your business goals, KPIs, and SEO strategy, look no further than Make It Loud.

At Make it Loud, we believe we’re not successful until you are. So, let’s create an SEO strategy that works for you and generates an incredible return on investment for your business.

author avatar
Cliff Tillery COO
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 15 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to interns and new employees, business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.
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