Value of Search Engine Traffic

SEO firms often struggle with measuring and communicating the value of their services. Often times they give good qualitative reasons to go with their firm but ignore hard numbers that could help close the deal. As marketers become more accountable for ROI of initiatives such as SEO, it will be important for SEO firms to give accurate projections on how much value they can offer.

So what are the best ways to put a monetary value on natural search traffic? Is it enough to tell a prospective client that your firm can get them on the first page of Google for “xyz widgets”? They may be more concerned with how many new customers you can bring them or how many new leads they will get after doing SEO. Going forward, the discussion will be less about specific rankings and more about the actual ROI from natural search traffic converting into sales or leads.

SEOMoz has a great post on the opportunity gap which is the difference between the status quo and where they could be in terms of search traffic. It’s important to tell prospective clients how much money they’re leaving on the table by NOT doing SEO.

The first step is to figure out how your prospective client measures success – is it simply higher rankings on benchmark keywords, more conversions, more pageviews, or something else? The next step is to ask them specific questions about their current situation that will help you predict what you can do for them. For example, ask them what their current conversion rate is for their existing traffic. Also ask them what % of their overall traffic comes from natural search? If they are willing to tell you this during initial discussions, then you can give them a pretty good estimate on ROI.

The next post will walk through some very basic examples.

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    SEO is powerful as a means of generating that initial (largely unqualified) lead. It draws people into Roy H. Williams calls “the gravity well.” But the potentially overvaluation of SEO and other forms of lead generation must be measured against the potentially undervalued skilled of lead cultivation or nurturing. My research suggests that much more attention should now be moving further down the decision cycle — helping the buyer get closer to a decision and allowing the seller to produce a truly “sales ready” lead.

    Best, Britton
    Illuminating the Future

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    Now that I’m an in-house SEO, I understand why clients from my agency days saw so much value in the “shot in the dark” forecasts we used to deliver. At the very least forecasts are helpful to get organizations to think more about the impacts that SEO can have on a business, rather the strange marketing voodoo that most think it is. Just realize that when a client (or potential client) asks for a forecast that it’s an opportunity to showcase your SEO expertise as well as your business acumen (but NEVER give a guarantee and load that document with all the assumptions you’ve made).

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