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Measuring the ROI of SEO Content

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
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Search engine optimization is a marketing channel like any other. The “ad” in the case of SEO is your own quality content and optimized pages.

But how can you measure the value of doing more SEO work compared to the more clear decision that ad campaigns offer? If an ad campaign costs $2,500 and delivers $10,000 in sales, you have a return on investment of 300%.

But how do you measure the value of a blog post when you have traffic coming in from multiple sources? How do you measure the value of the post when traffic comes in directly, from search engines, from referral sites, and from you own social media mentions of the content.

Steps to Measure the ROI of SEO Content

  1. Start simple – create a monthly spreadsheet and show your unique visitors from organic or natural search for the month.
  2. Create a column with your cost that month from creation of any new content pages and optimization of pages. Efforts in one month almost always contribute to visits in a later month, but if you begin a rolling monthly report, you can measure the impact of actions on your natural search traffic over time.
  3. Create columns with your other online marketing costs by channel and a column with the total.
  4. Create a column with your sales revenue by month from online sales. If you don’t know your revenue, consider a trackable phone number and make sure you have Google Analytics or another tracking service in place.
  5. Create a column called “pages.” Next For each new SEO content page you produce or optimize, give yourself a point. Each month, take the previous points and the new points and add them together for that month’s points for optimized or new pages.
  6. Track the performance for 3-4 months. Then select the columns for your costs by channel and your revenue. Insert a line chart. Then, select your optimized pages column and unique visitors from organic search traffic and insert a line chart.
  7. Over time, the lines will reveal correlation between activities and revenue. Correlation may lag by a month, but that is still correlation. Assign a percentage of weight to each channel based on the degree of correlation. Divy out 100 percentage points to each channel you are investing in based on the correlation. Start a new tab and show your revenue for the month times the weight you assigned for each channel. This is the revenue you ascribe to that channel. Show your cost for each channel in columns on the new tab. For example, if you are using SEO, paid search, and email and you see strong correlation between sending emails and spikes in revenue, you can assign a weight of .50 to email and spread the remaining .50 across your other active channels.
  8. Now, you have columns for your cost by channel and your weighted revenue by channel which you inferred through seeing correlation. Looking at daily site traffic may also give you a sense of the degree of correlation. For SEO, if you see your optimized pages total going up along with your unique visitors from natural search, then you can see correlation there. For traffic in channels that does not appear to correlate with rises and falls in revenue, you will have a lower weighted revenue score.
  9. Last, simply calculate the ROI for each channel using your cost for that channel and the revenue for that channel. Then, you have the relative ROI of each your online marketing cost areas. Create a new chart every quarter to consider re-weighting your channels.

It will take time to see correlation between activities and results. But if you track your performance each month, you will see that investment in one area or another has a visible impact while others don’t. Of course, there are more sophisticated methods of performance tracking, but weighting each channel through correlation is a directionally valuable measure to ensure that each of your costs is producing visible results.

Happy calculating!

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