From Traffic to Sales
The traditional approach of opening a local business by placing local ads and hosting a grand opening event is no longer sufficient nowadays. The widespread use of search engines, particularly on smartphones, means that potential customers instinctively turn to these platforms to find local businesses and services. Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) ensures that your business appears prominently in search results, increasing the likelihood of attracting customers.
While you may recognise the importance of SEO for your business, you may have concerns about how best to proceed, including whether to invest time learning it yourself or partnering with an agency and which agency to choose. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the investment required for SEO, what you need to know before pursuing it, and how to predict and calculate the potential returns on your investment.
Table of Contents:
1. Investing in the Elements that Drive Results.
Understanding the ROI from SEO.
When investing in SEO, it's essential to understand that, unlike paid advertising campaigns, you're not directly paying the platform, such as Google, for website visitors. Instead, you compete with other businesses and websites to appear in the top search results.
Effective SEO can increase your brand's visibility when potential customers search for relevant terms, thereby increasing the chances of attracting visitors to your website, Google Maps, or smart speaker responses.
While you may not be paying directly for traffic from search engines, investing in SEO involves paying for several critical elements that come together to optimise your website's performance in search results.
These elements include:
content creation to familiarise audiences with your business and convert them into customers,
building relevant and authoritative links,
optimising your website's user experience to improve conversion rates,
technical SEO to ensure proper crawling, indexing, and ranking,
the use of analytics and strategy to measure performance and identify areas for improvement.
2. Dispelling SEO Myths and Avoiding Shady Service Providers.
As a small business owner, you may find yourself inundated with cold calls and emails from offshore companies promising overnight success with minimal investment. But how can you tell if these so-called SEO experts are the real deal or just trying to make a quick buck off of you?
One way to spot a suspicious SEO provider is if they need to use SEO to reach you in the first place. If they actually had the skills to rank other businesses in search results, they should be ranking well for relevant searches themselves.
But that's just the beginning. A reputable SEO agency or freelancer won't promise instant results, claim to be "Google Certified" for SEO services (because no such certification currently exists), and will have testimonials from previous SEO clients.
Stay aware of the myths and empty promises. Learn how to spot the warning signs and choose an SEO provider that delivers real results.
3. Comparing DIY, In-house, and Outsourcing Options.
SEO Investment Strategies.
The common misconception is that one can obtain an SEO certification or degree from a college or university. However, due to the ever-changing nature of search engine algorithms, it is unlikely that such a degree or certificate will ever exist. The value in investing in SEO lies in the experience and expertise of professionals who have already acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to optimise websites for better search engine rankings.
As a business owner, you have a few options for addressing your SEO needs: investing your own time to learn SEO, hiring an in-house employee, engaging a freelance SEO consultant, or partnering with a digital marketing agency that specialises in SEO.
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
Investing time to learn SEO can take away from running your business. Technically, anyone who can write an email could do SEO. However, it's similar to assuming that anyone who can use a screwdriver or watch a Youtube video can fix a car... Naturally, that leaves you with a question: "Is it all worth it?"
Hiring an in-house SEO specialist should complement your existing marketing strategy and team. Hiring a dedicated freelancer or agency can be time-consuming and requires careful consideration of the specific skills your business needs to succeed.
4. Valuable Techniques to Predict ROI of SEO.
Let us explore two potential methodologies for calculating your return on investment for SEO.
4.1 Predicting SEO ROI by projecting a change in traffic.
This process involves obtaining the revenue generated by organic traffic to your website over the last 30 days and multiplying that by the percentage increase in organic traffic you anticipate achieving after implementing the proposed SEO campaign.
This will provide a rough estimate of the potential value the campaign could add to your business, which can be compared to the cost of the campaign. If seasonality impacts your business, it may be necessary to use average monthly figures for this calculation.
Please note that it is essential to ensure that your Google Analytics is configured accurately to capture your website's visitors and identify search engines as the traffic source that directs the visitors who make a purchase on your site. Additionally, the actual sale and sale amount must be tracked, which is typically easier for eCommerce sites since transactions are usually recorded and designed to be incorporated into your analytics program.
4.2 Predicting ROI from SEO by utilising specialised tools.
The second method of calculating SEO ROI involves utilising a specialised tool, such as Semrush, to construct a list of relevant keywords for your business and determine their associated search volumes. To generate this list, you can gather input from various sources, including sales personnel, receptionists, and support emails, to identify terms and phrases that potential customers may use to find businesses like yours.
To estimate your potential organic traffic, you will need to take your list of relevant keywords and enter it into your chosen SEO tool to obtain the corresponding monthly search volumes. You can then record each keyword and its search volume in a Google or Excel sheet, which represents the approximate number of searches for each phrase in the preceding month.
Next, you will need to estimate your site's organic click-through rate (CTR), which reflects the percentage of clicks your site will receive for each search result it appears in. Since multiple options are available on the search results page, the total search volume will be divided among all the URLs, with the highest share going to the top-ranked result.
5. SEO ROI
Determining Potential Conversions, Sales, and Revenue.
It is common knowledge that not all website visitors will become paying customers. In fact, on average, only 2.5-5% of visitors convert into clients. This number can be used as a placeholder if you still need to configure your analytics system to track your conversion rate. However, if your conversion rate is available, input it into the next column and use a simple formula to multiply your traffic (from the previous step) by your conversion rate.
If your business has a sales team taking leads from the site, you will need to determine the percentage of leads they convert into customers. This is referred to as the "sale rate." Input this rate into the next column and multiply your leads by it. This step can likely be skipped if your business is purely an eCommerce store.
Lastly, you will need to add the revenue per sale for the given keyword. This value can be an average amount or a projection of the lifetime value for acquiring this type of customer. It's up to you, but ensure consistency with your value measurement.
Multiply the number of sales you obtained from your conversions to determine your potential monthly revenue.
Naturally, achieving top rankings for every target keyword is not a realistic expectation for any SEO campaign, no matter the quantity or quality of content produced or backlinks acquired. Therefore, how can we create a reasonable estimate?
Add up all the values obtained for your chosen set of keywords and generate a chart based on the following scenarios:
If I ranked first for 50% of these keywords,
If I ranked first for 25% of these keywords, and
If I ranked first for 12.5% of these keywords.
Doing this allows you to develop a reliable projection of your potential SEO ROI based on relevant data that reflects your market potential. This projection should then guide your investment decisions for your business.
Example ROI Calculator:
Combined monthly search volume
Average click-through rate %
Conversation rate %
Average order value
Annual SEO cost
Annual profit estimation
6. The SEO ROI for Small Business Owners - Summary.
In today's digital age, it's almost impossible for small businesses to thrive without a solid online presence. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a powerful tool that can help enterprises improve their visibility and drive website traffic.
However, knowing the potential return on investment (ROI) before investing in SEO is essential. With the forecast generated through the methods outlined above, you can estimate the potential benefits of your SEO investment.
Whether you decide to tackle SEO in-house or hire an agency to help, understanding the possible ROI of SEO is crucial to making an informed decision and maximising the benefits for your business.