What is the ROI of SEO for Your Small Business?
You’ve likely heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for your small business, but to utilize it, you need to figure out what it is and how it works. It can take a lot of time to learn about every new marketing tactic, and SEO can seem pretty confusing — especially if you don’t understand how it works.
Don’t worry. In this post, we’ll break down what SEO is, how it can help your business, and what kind of results you can expect.
What Is SEO?
Let’s start with the first question: what is SEO? In its simplest form, SEO makes your website more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs).
You may think, “I don’t need my website to be visible in SERPs. My customers find me just fine without all of that.”
But remember, most people use search engines like Google when looking for something new, like a new restaurant, product, or service.
If your potential customers can’t find you online, they may go to one of your competitors instead.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO works by helping search engines find and index your site and by making your site more appealing to searchers. There are several ways to do this, which we’ll explore in more depth below. But first, let’s start with the basics.
Every time you perform a Google search, the search engine scours the internet for websites that match your query. Once it finds these websites, it ranks them in order of relevance. The highest-ranking websites appear at the top of the search rankings, while the lower-ranking websites appear further down the page.
The goal of SEO is to get your website to rank as high as possible in the SERP for relevancy for the most search queries that will help your business get organic search traffic and then convert those searchers into buyers.
After all, if your website doesn’t appear on the first page of results, there’s an excellent chance that potential customers will never find it. If they can’t find it, they can’t use your products or services!
Conversely, appearing at the top of the SERP gives you a chance to stand out from your competitors and gives potential customers a reason to choose you over them.
Why Your Small Business Needs SEO
Now that you know what SEO is, do you even need it to succeed?
The short answer is yes.
In an increasingly digital world, small businesses compete with other brands in several ways, most crucially in search results.
Since organic traffic is cheaper than paid ads, SEO becomes a vital tool for small businesses to maximize their online visibility and have higher chances to improve their sales funnel and bottom line.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of why SEO matters for small businesses.
Drives More Traffic to Your Website
One of the main reasons you need SEO is that it drives more traffic to your website. When your website appears higher in SERPs, prospective customers are likely to click on it.
A 2020 study by Sistrix showed that the first result on Google’s SERP gets 28.5% of the search traffic. Additionally, according to BrightEdge, organic searches are responsible for 53% of all site traffic, compared to only 15% from paid ads.
That means if you want people to find your website, you need to make sure it appears as close to the top of the search engine rankings as possible — and good SEO performance can help you do that.
Attracts the Right Audience
Another reason your small business needs SEO is that it helps attract the right audience — people interested in what you offer.
You can attract the right audience by including relevant keywords in your website content. That way, when people search for those keywords, your website will appear in the search results.
For example, say you own a pet store. If you include relevant keywords like “pet supplies” and “pet food” in your website content, people who search for those terms will be directed to your website. Since they were searching for those terms in the first place, chances are they’re interested in what you have to offer!
Speaking of attracting the right audience, you should be speaking to only a few people with your website content. To stand out, you need to have one or two specific buyers in mind. Write helpful content for those people and watch your leads increase. To get laser focused on what type of buyer you're trying to talk to, you need to create a buyer persona. Click the image above to generate one in just a few minutes!
Improves User Experience
Finally, good SEO can improve user experience — the overall experience someone has when interacting with your website.
A big part of user experience is ensuring your website loads quickly and is easy to navigate. Good SEO can help with both of those things!
For example, if someone searches for “pet supplies” and lands on a website that takes forever to load or is difficult to navigate, chances are they won’t stick around for long — and they may never return.
On the other hand, if they land on a website that loads quickly and is easy to navigate, they’re more likely to stick around and even come back in the future.
Website load time is hugely important. If your website takes ages to load, your bounce rate will increase. What's a bounce rate, you ask? It's anytime someone arrives to your site and leaves before they engage. In other words, the higher the bounce rate the poorer your website is performing.
By improving user experience, good SEO can help turn one-time visitors into lifelong customers!
The Importance of Measuring SEO ROI
One of the most common questions we get asked here at Agency Jet is, “What’s the ROI of SEO?”
We could go on (and on and on) about how SEO provides:
- Long-term sustainable growth for your business by building equity in your website
- Growing organic traffic
- Leads and sales generation
However, we understand that sometimes you need to see some cold hard numbers to make a decision.
Here are some reasons why you should measure your SEO’s return on investment (ROI).
Helps You Set Goals and Benchmarks
The first step in any successful marketing campaign is setting goals and objectives.
What are you trying to achieve with your SEO efforts?
- More traffic?
- Increased conversions?
- More brand awareness?
Once you know what you want to achieve, you can set realistic benchmarks and track your progress with real numbers. This information will be vital in measuring your SEO ROI.
You already know your business goals, right? So now you're wondering how that fits into the SEO timeline. It takes a long time but it's worth it. Here's a humorous take on how long it takes.
Holds Your Team Accountable
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
It can take months — even years! — to see the results of your efforts. This can be frustrating for business owners who want immediate results from their marketing campaigns.
SEO is all about incremental growth that sets you up with consistent qualified traffic and leads down the road (think 1 year or more). If you need more instant success, and that's hard to come by, check out digital advertising or social media advertising.
But by tracking metrics and ROI, you can hold your team members accountable for the progress they are (or aren’t) making.
This will help keep everyone focused on the long-term goal and prevent them from becoming discouraged.
Helps You Make Data-Driven Decisions
One of the most significant benefits of tracking ROI is that it allows you to make data-driven decisions about your SEO strategy.
- Do specific keywords generate more traffic than others?
- Do certain pages have a higher conversion rate than others?
By understanding which methods are working and which aren’t, you can adjust your approach accordingly and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Without this data, it would be impossible to know whether your efforts are paying off.
If you're not monitoring how your website is performing via Google Analytics, how the heck do you know if it's doing well? Monitoring your organic performance is just as important as creating the content to get found in the first place.
Lets You Know When To Adjust Your Budget
As with any marketing campaign, there will always be room for improvement — which means there will always be room for increased spending.
How do you know when to invest more money in SEO? Measuring ROI will give you a clear picture of what’s working and what isn’t so that you can make informed decisions about where to allocate your budget.
If something isn’t working, there’s no point in throwing good money after bad. But if something works, investing more money will help you see even better results down the road.
How To Measure ROI of SEO
Calculating your ROI from SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.
As long as you know a few key metrics, you can easily calculate your ROI and ensure your SEO efforts are paying off.
How do you measure SEO ROI? We’ll explain that below.
Thinking of "saving money" by doing SEO yourself? Unless you're an expert, it'll cost you more than hiring an agency. But if you're determined to give it a go, avoid these common mistakes.
Calculating Your SEO Investment by Tracking Your SEO Cost
The first step is to track your costs. This is the most significant challenge in measuring your ROI because SEO costs differ wildly.
Here are the three most common ways of spending for a small business SEO strategy ROI.
1. In-House SEO
The first option is to handle your SEO in-house, which means hiring one or more experienced individuals to manage your website’s SEO strategy.
The most significant advantage of this approach is that it gives you complete control over your SEO budget — you can choose how much to spend and where to allocate those funds.
However, it can also be the most expensive option, as you’ll need to pay salaries and benefits for your in-house team.
You’ll also need to ensure you have the space and resources available to support a full-time SEO team.
2. SEO Agency
The second option is to hire an agency to handle your SEO.
This has the potential to be the most cost-effective solution compared to in-house SEO, as you’ll only need to pay for the services you use (rather than salaries and benefits for full-time employees).
However, agencies can vary widely in quality and cost, so it’s essential to do your research before committing to one.
Ask for recommendations from other businesses in your industry to find a reputable SEO agency.
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential agencies, ask for case studies or examples of their work.
Finally, be sure to get everything in writing before signing a contract — this will help ensure that there are no surprises down the road.
3. SEO Tools
The third option is to use tools to handle your SEO & content marketing for you.
Hiring an agency can be more cost-effective than in-house SEO. Unlike agencies, tools don’t require any upfront payments — you can typically pay as you go, which gives you more flexibility in budgeting.
When choosing an SEO tool, look for one that offers a free trial so that you can test it out before committing. You should also make sure that the tool integrates with any existing marketing software you’re using (such as Google Analytics, Keywords Planner, and Ahrefs) so that you can easily track your results.
Lastly, check out online reviews from other users before making your final decision.
Tracking Your Conversion Values
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar store or an online shop, understanding your conversion rate is essential to the success of your business.
Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who take the desired action — such as making a purchase — compared to the total number of people who visited your store or website.
In other words, it tracks how effectively you turn prospects into paying customers.
Tracking E-commerce Conversion Values
If you’re running an e-commerce business, tracking your conversion rate is even more critical. Many moving parts are involved in an online sale, and if even one of those parts isn’t working correctly, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Fortunately, there’s a tool that can help you keep track of all those moving parts and understand where improvements need to be made: Google Analytics.
To get started, you’ll need to create a Google Analytics account and install the tracking code on your website.
Not sure where to start with Google Analytics? Watch this video to get set up in 3 easy steps.
Once that’s done, you can start tracking your conversion values by following these steps:
- Go to the “Conversions” tab in Google Analytics
- Select “Ecommerce” from the drop-down menu
- Set up your e-commerce tracking by entering your sales revenue, currency type, and tax rate
- Save your changes
- Navigate to the “Reporting” tab and select “Ecommerce” from the left-hand sidebar
- Click on “Overview” to see a summary of your e-commerce data
You can also track conversion values by product by clicking on the “Product Performance” tab. This will show you which products are selling well and which need improvement.
For more detailed insights into your conversions, click on the “Source/Medium” tab. This will show you which traffic sources generate the most sales for your e-commerce business. In this instance, you’ll want to check the organic traffic for SEO.
Tracking Lead Generation Conversions Values
Unlike e-commerce businesses, tracking conversion goals can be more challenging if you’re a business that heavily relies on leads to measure the impact of SEO.
However, you can still use Google Analytics to track the impact of SEO on your business.
- Create a new goal in Google Analytics by going to Admin > View > Goals > New Goal
- Select “Custom” as the goal type and click “Continue”
- Name your goal and select “Destination” as the goal type, then click “Continue”
- In the “Destination” field, enter the URL of the thank-you page that people see after they complete the desired action on your site (e.g., fill out a form, make a purchase, etc.) and click “Save”
- Start tracking conversions under Conversions > Goals > Overview
You should be able to see a report showing you how many conversions you’ve had and the conversion rate for each day over a given period.
To track your SEO ROI precisely, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. This report will show you how much traffic each of your campaigns is generating and the conversion rate for each campaign.
Armed with this information, you can now decide which campaigns are working and which aren’t worth your time and money.
If you’re not happy with the results you’re seeing, change your campaigns or try new strategies. The most important thing is that you’re constantly striving to improve your results so that you can get the most out of your SEO efforts.
The ROI Formula
After you’ve gathered all the data you need, calculating your SEO ROI is quite simple.
You can use the following formula:
(Value of Conversions – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
This will give you a clear idea of how much money you make for every dollar you spend on SEO.
If your ROI is positive, your SEO campaign is profitable; if it’s negative, it costs you money.
What Is the ROI of Search Engine Optimization: Can You Maximize Your SEO’s ROI?
TL;DR: Yes, you can maximize your SEO’s ROI — but only if you approach SEO as a long-term strategy and commit to putting in the work required to see results.
SEO is an ever-evolving process. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, Google tends to update its algorithm (which it does several times per year), and everything changes again.
If you’re continually adapting and evolving your SEO strategy with Google, you will stay caught up. That’s going to cost you both leads and revenue.
Want to know what Google's changing? Click the banner above to see the history of their major algorithm changes.
It takes time to see results from SEO.
Even if you’re doing everything right, it can still take months — or sometimes years — to see a real return on your investment. That’s because SEO is all about building trust and authority with Google. It takes time.
But here’s the good news: even though it takes time and effort to see results from SEO, they tend to be very consistent and sustainable once you start seeing them.
In other words, once you start ranking well for your target keywords, those rankings will stick around for a long time — provided you continue doing what you’re doing and don’t let your SEO efforts lapse.
Working With an Agency as an SEO Partner
Finding an SEO partner can be daunting, and it’s a vital part of ensuring that you get the most out of your SEO investment. As we mentioned, there are several ways to spend on SEO. But what most people need to realize is that agencies offer the most value in the long run.
Here are two reasons why working with an agency is the best choice for small business SEO ROI.
SEO Can Be Cheaper in the Long Run
One of the biggest benefits of working with an agency is that, over time, it can become cheaper than doing all the work yourself.
Here’s how: when you start working with an agency, you’ll likely see an uptick in your website’s visibility in search engines.
This means more people will be able to find your site, and you’ll likely get more views.
But here’s the thing: those views don’t cost you any extra money each month. You’re still paying the same monthly fee to the agency.
In a sense, each view is becoming cheaper as time goes on because you’re getting more bang for your buck.
Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to SEO. But if you see consistent results over time, working with one of the affordable SEO companies can help save you money in the long run.
They Bring Expertise and Experience to the Table
Another big benefit of working with an agency is that they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table that you might not have access to otherwise.
Sure, you could learn all about SEO on your own. But chances are it would take you months, if not years, to develop the same level of expertise as an experienced agency.
During that time, your competition will be making strides and taking advantage of all the latest trends.
When you work with an agency, you gain access to their team of experts who can help guide your campaign and ensure you stay ahead of the competition. They can also help identify new opportunities for growth and expansion so you can continue expanding your reach and bringing in new customers.
If you want to improve your website’s visibility without becoming an expert yourself, working with an agency is a great option. Make sure you research and find an experienced team that you can trust.
Get Real Results From Your SEO With Agency Jet
It’s essential to understand what your small business is trying to accomplish before you start shelling out money for SEO — one company’s ROI isn’t the same as another’s.
As we mentioned earlier, even if you decide to pay for an SEO program, always try to get something for free in return.
It’s essential to partner with an experienced and reputable SEO company like Agency Jet, which can help increase traffic to your site and boost those all-important ROI metrics.
It just so happens that Agency Jet offers a 100% free and educated website assessment for small businesses.
Request your free website assessment here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does ROI Stand For?
ROI stands for “return on investment.” It’s a financial metric used to measure the profitability of an investment.
In the context of ROI of SEO campaigns, it is usually calculated by dividing the total revenue generated by a website by the amount of money invested in SEO.
This tells you how much money your website has made due to your SEO efforts.
ROI can be used to make decisions about whether or not to continue investing in SEO. For example, if you’ve increased your traffic by 50%, but your ROI is only 10%, then it may be best to pursue other marketing channels. However, if you’ve increased traffic by 50% and your ROI is 100%, it’s worth continuing to invest in SEO.
What Is a Good ROI for SEO?
A good ROI is subjective because every website is different and many factors go into calculating ROI.
However, a good rule of thumb is to aim for an ROI of at least 100%. This means that for every $1 you spend on SEO, you should earn at least $2 in return.
How Is ROI Calculated in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics can help track and measure your ROI for all your marketing campaigns, including SEO initiatives. By tracking clicks, impressions, and conversions from organic SERPs, you can see how much traffic and revenue your SEO efforts are generating.
You can also use conversion tracking to measure the effectiveness of individual SEO tactics, such as increasing click-through rates (CTRs) or improving site engagement.
Does SEO Generate Revenue?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the actual SEO ROI will vary depending on the industry and competition.
However, SEO is a great way to generate leads and traffic for your business, which can lead to increased organic revenue.
SEO involves optimizing your website and content for search engines so that you rank higher in search results pages for key search terms for your business.
When someone searches for a term related to your business, you want your website to show up as one of the top results. This increases visibility and drives organic traffic growth to your site.
How Long Does It Take To See ROI From SEO?
It takes time to see ROI from SEO, but the results are long-lasting.
SEO is a long-term investment and often takes 6-12 months for results. However, unlike other short-term digital marketing strategies, SEO provides a high return on investment that can last for years when done correctly.
It’s essential to partner with an experienced SEO agency that understands the ever-changing landscape of Google and can help your business achieve its goals through white-hat techniques that will not penalize you.
Feel like SEO could be right for you? Read our definitive cost comparison of SEO services to learn more about how much you should be investing to see ROI.