Is SEO in Marketing ‘Dead – Last September, Marketing2Business published a post about how important search engine optimization (SEO) has become in marketing. However, we still hear the chatter, “SEO is dead. It’s too hard and expensive since Google updated the algorithms. We should use our budget on Pay-Per-Click (PPC) instead.”
How can something be so critical to marketing while so many are claiming the SEO heyday is over? It really comes down to one of the biggest and more persistent myths in search optimizations: that SEO return on investment (ROI) is hard to come by. One of the reasons for this myth, ROI is constantly evolving, and the tools we have to measure it are adapting with it. We can see a broader picture of how A impacts B than we did, say five to ten years ago.
And when it comes to paid advertising, almost nothing beats SEO combined with PPC. They compliment each other in so many ways to increase ROI for both. In this article, we’ll show you how to calculate your ROI plus give you three ways to leverage SEO to pivot in the digital marketing world and win.
How to Calculate Your SEO ROI
To calculate your SEO ROI, you should:
Take Stock of Your Resources
These likely include the cost of an in-house SEO person or SEO agency, other contract or agency services, and software as a service (SaaS) tools for research, content optimization, tracking, automation, reporting, etc. These count as your investments of ROI. For demonstration purposes, let’s say this number is $20,000.
Track & Analyze Conversions
You don’t need expensive tools to do this. You can do it by learning about the more advanced features in Google Analytics (for free). This includes, but isn’t limited to tracking:
- Incoming traffic from search.
- Percent of visitors who convert. Note: a conversion may lead you to nurture through email marketing, remarketing, or a salesperson. It represents the consideration stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
- Track revenues generated. Google doesn’t see how much your customer spends with you, so to provide a reasonable estimate of the revenue generated, you enter the average customer lifetime value (CLV). You could also enter annual customer value or average order value (AOV) if you don’t have CLV data. But note that this ROI will only represent the short-term ROI, not the long-term where SEO ROI pays you back.
You can also use more advanced paid tools to understand SEO ROI better, but this will give you an excellent place to start. After you set this up in Google Analytics, you determine that $100,000 in revenues came from organic search achieved through SEO.
Calculate Your SEO ROI
So $20,000 is how much you spent on SEO in a given period (your choice). $100,000 is the revenues generated. To get your SEO ROI, you have ($100,000 – $20,000) / $20,000 = 4. In this scenario, for every $1 you spend on SEO, you get $4 in revenue. That’s a 400% ROI.
Simple, right? But there’s something else to know here, and it will lead us into how SEO and paid advertising work together. The average target customer will visit your website about ten times before becoming a customer. According to more recent data, around 40% of web traffic comes from a click to the organic search results, and then 28% now goes to paid search.
You can set up multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics to better represent and understand this relationship. When you do this, you can split ROI between the channels to better represent each’s contribution. However, the more harmonious the relationship is between SEO and paid, the higher your overall ROI will be. That’s where the real payoff is, and below you’ll see how to do it.
3 Way to Leverage SEO
First, paid advertising is usually expensive. Instead of getting a 400% ROI like the one above, you might get 120-180%. In other words, around $1.20 for every $1 you spend. It’s hard to make that kind of margin up in volume. What paid advertising has going for it is it gives you instant visibility in search. SEO has a much higher ROI — you can see it when you track it. But it takes longer to become visible in organic results, so some ROI is delayed. Consider this relationship to leverage SEO to pivot in the digital marketing world.
Combining PPC and SEO achieves the best of both worlds. You can have instant visibility with PPC but lower your costs over time with SEO. Investing in both gives you the agility you need to pivot and maximize your ROI.
Using SEO to Improve Paid Ad Performance
Modern SEO is nothing if committed to user experience. An SEO website is fast, easy to understand, gentle on the eyes, and simple to navigate. It helps people find what they’re looking for quickly while at the same time encouraging them to stick around and explore.
Use the data you collect about how visitors are navigating your site to:
- Improve your landing page relevancy and increase paid conversion rate
- Reduce bounce rate (when people click and leave your site without doing anything)
- Improve the overall website performance, so it’s a more inviting place
- Lessen page load time to avoid losing people before the page even comes up
At the same time, leverage your PPC data to improve SEO. Discover new keywords you need to target and better understand your target audience.
Dominate Search to Increase Trust
Search ads can increase brand awareness, but when a person searches for something in Google and sees an ad, they may click the competitor they know instead. However, something special happens when you have an ad and an organic search result for the query. It builds instant trust with strangers.
Some other ways you’ll dominate when you leverage SEO include better targeting a keyword phrase and understanding customer intent, getting clicks from the many people who intentionally do not click ads, and providing more relevance to customers. Search results can display extras with your website. For example, you can show your Google review rating, building instant trust.
Use SEO to Slash Ad Costs
SEO cuts ads cost in many ways. It can:
- Increase your Quality Score in AdWords. The higher this score, the less you pay for search ads.
- Give repeat visitors another way to get back to your site. This is without clicking an ad, which costs you.
- Identify high-cost PPC words that also get organic traffic. Save money by reducing spending on those expensive keywords while maintaining visibility in that search.
So, Is SEO in Marketing Dead?
To sum it up, SEO is alive and kicking. It’s as important today as it ever was, and you can get more out of both SEO and paid to advertise when you use them together. But remember to be patient with SEO. It takes some time to achieve higher rankings in search. Seo can begin improving your PPC ad performance almost immediately, so be strategic and invest in ROI-focused SEO to succeed!