Why the SEO industry needs to get better at understanding both the cost and return of SEO work
Some years ago I had the good fortune of being part of a team of incredibly talented marketers and data scientists that supported an enterprise apparel brand on SEO. In order to have our technical and content recommendations even be considered for implementation by their engineering team, we had to conduct a thorough "opportunity sizing" and present them with our findings. If our forecasts couldn't demonstrate that a proposed project of ours would result in enough of an incremental lift in website visits or revenue, that project had approximately zero chance of being implemented.
Approaching SEO recommendations with the concepts laid out in this article can absolutely increase their utility, and likelihood of being implemented. And I think it can also motivate one to advocate only for SEO tactics whose effectiveness can be proven with data, rather than pushing for certain SEO efforts because they're commonly accepted "best practices".
Thank you for the great article!
I was interviewed by a tax firm in Los Angeles who spend close to 1M on paid ads. I recommended they take a deep look at SEO and organic ROI, I asked them if ever measured the ROI of SEO, they said they never considered looking from that perspective because paid ads gets them 6M from 1M spend. I asked them what if they invested just 50k on SEO and measured it? They thought that would be a waste of 50k. To them it was a gamble, but they are happy to spend twice as much on paid ads. I should have shown them this article. If you don't measure the ROI of SEO how will your company know its true costs? It blows my mind that C-Suite folks are this narrow minded.
Hi Tom. Have you looked at any of Miracle Inameti-Archibong's Statistical Forecasting for SEO? She theorizes that using linear regression and exponential smoothing with historical data you can train your data to forecast SEO ROI.
She says to highlight the SEO things that haven't happened and use the trained data to provide a revenue implication. One of her magnificent talks (Statistical Forecasting for SEO) is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udM4jIHRkFA
It is not easy or quick, but it is possible to establish a approximate ROI for SEO efforts.
Hi Tom - just trying to truly understand the overall message here. I do agree that organic traffic is very difficult to measure, especially as compared to the metrics that paid ads can provide. But are you saying that SEO isn't worth the investment, or that we just need to be more realistic about the base costs so we can provide more accurate ROI data?
How do you make an investment plan for SEO?
Great insight - all SEO customers someday indeed have to choose which one to select, and only clever ones make the proper selection = mix!
SEO is good only if you capture leads
publishing content to have visitors is worthless
I personally don't bother anymore with SEO for a matter of resources
paid is more measurable and better according to me
when you have a system in place paid is very predictable at the exact cent that you spend
SEO is always a gamble with google algos and stuff...of course it works but I think the scalability is limited
AI content generation might change that a lot
SEO is more gut feel than anylitics
Wow, great article addressing issues and ideas we've been trying to communicate to clients forever.
Thank you for this article, It's everything that I always try to say to most of my clients. Awesome job!
Hey Tom, this is a great post! I wish more people were aware of the costs/benefits of good SEO.