At Digital Hothouse, we measure the success of our work with clients based on the ROI – for every dollar a client spends with us, how much do they get back from organic traffic? Return on investment is a key metric for any business, however, it can be tricky to assign an ROI for clients that are not e-commerce.
Measuring the ROI of SEO activity, therefore, involves two key factors: KPIs (key performance indicators) and the cost of your current SEO activity. In the main, we work on a retainer-based relationship with our clients, however, SEO activity can include one-off campaigns which can also be measured as long as you put KPIs in place.
Without KPIs, it makes it very difficult for a client to assess whether or not the work we are doing for them is adding any value. Sure, they can get a sense that traffic to their site is increasing or the number of sales calls have picked up, however, without a KPI in place, they can’t be sure about the cause of the increase in traffic or sales calls so it will always be just a “feeling” rather than a fact.
Most clients like to have an understanding of the return they can expect from SEO and also measure how this changes over time. For us, ROI helps us to see the impact of the work we are carrying out each month and optimise our strategy based on these results, as well as make informed recommendations to our clients.
So, how do you measure the ROI of your SEO activity? Google Analytics is your friend.
GA gives you the ability to set clearly defined goals, whether you are an e-commerce business or not, and by assigning a value to specific activities (KPIs) that visitors carry out on your site, you can assign an ROI to the work you do to drive those visitors to your site.
Let’s take a close look at some of the KPIs you can put in place to help measure the ROI of your SEO activity.
First up, let’s take a look at how you can calculate the ROI of SEO activity for e-commerce websites.
1. Page Value
Page value is a great metric for e-commerce as it allows you to assign a value to the actions that people take on your site, which in turn, allows GA to calculate a value for the pages on your site.
Page value assigns an average monetary value to all pages viewed in a session where a transaction took place. Specifically for e-commerce sites, it helps assign a value to non-transactional pages such as articles and landing pages. This is useful to understand because although a blog didn’t necessarily produce revenue, that doesn’t mean it didn’t contribute to a customer’s buying decision in the future.
This one is particularly useful for SEOs who place a strong focus on content and content strategy. We work with a wide range of clients, creating content to help to improve the overall topical authority of their websites for keywords and topics we are targeting.
Often, this type of content can be seen as a “nice to have” – something that helps to drive visitors to the website but is not necessarily contributing to the overall sales and revenue of the business.
We, however, understand that supporting content goes way beyond being a nice to have and using page value, we can showcase that the supporting content we are creating is contributing to the sales and revenue being generated online, helping to show an ROI for that activity.
2. E-commerce metrics
If you are an e-commerce business, it is important that you turn on the e-commerce settings within Google Analytics so you can accurately track sales, orders, billing locations, revenue and average order value.
If you are using an e-commerce platform such as Shopify or WooCommerce, it’s important that you also set up tracking on those platforms so that they can communicate with Google Analytics and pull all the relevant data into one easy-to-manage platform.
E-commerce metrics within GA are our main source of information when it comes to measuring the ROI of SEO activity for our clients and it provides us with valuable insights to help to analyse the overall effectiveness of our SEO activity as well as showcasing trends over time such as seasonal spikes and dips and growth patterns.
3. Customer behaviour
The way customers engage with the content on your website – the way they “shop” can tell you a lot about your SEO strategy. Are you focusing your efforts on the best performing products? Are customers moving through the purchase stages as you would expect? How many people are landing on a page and not purchasing? How many people are abandoning their carts with items in them?
It’s important to understand which keywords are the ones driving visitors to the product pages on your website. You can use Google Search Console to identify keywords and match these to the landing pages on your site to help you to connect certain keywords with sales.
These insights can then help you to focus your efforts and provide insights into which keywords you need to target. To deliver ROI from your SEO, you need to focus on keywords that have purchase intent – those that drive visitors to the bottom of the funnel, not the top.
As well as identifying areas to focus on from an SEO perspective, tracking the way visitors engage throughout the purchase funnel can also provide insights that can help to improve your overall conversion rate.
Whilst these three tips are aimed at e-commerce websites, you can still calculate an ROI for websites that do not have an e-commerce focus such as B2B or marketing agencies).
4. Engagement events
If you are not working in an e-commerce environment, this doesn’t mean you can’t measure the ROI of your SEO efforts. Both e-commerce and lead generation sites can make use of engagements events in order to assign an ROI to specific events that take place on your website. These typically include things like:
- Contact form submission
- Newsletter sign up
- Adding to cart (e-commerce)
These goals might not have a monetary value, however, they do give you an insight into how people are interacting with pages and sections of your website, how well you are presenting calls to action (such as “download” or “contact us”), and how engaged they are with the content on your website.
Interesting insights can be found from engagement events such as the pages that drive the most contact enquiries, case studies that receive a lot of downloads or clicks on specific links on your site.
Google Analytics has so many interesting insights that you can dig into, however, ROI is a key metric that is relevant to both your clients and your agency as a key metric to measure performance. Use the reporting available in GA to set KPIs that can be measured against spending on SEO and use the results to improve performance.