Many business owners remain on the fence about the value of search engine optimization.
On the one hand, it’s an expensive, time-consuming process. On the other, they are told it can bring in qualified traffic, as well as increase brand authority and awareness.
Is SEO worth it?
This article aims to prove that SEO is an essential revenue-generating channel. It’s not some shady tactic whose ROI can’t be calculated.
It’s the process of creating high-quality, well-optimized content that will be served to your audience precisely at the moment they are looking for it.
You shouldn’t underestimate it if you haven’t yet seen results from it. Nor should you assume most SEO experts are frauds, even if you have been burned in the past.
Here’s how much SEO is worth.
How much is SEO worth?
SEO's worth will depend on your average selling price and cost of implementing an SEO strategy for your website. It will also depend on your conversion rate, brand credibility and keyword rankings.
One of the main reasons people have reservations about SEO is because they aren’t sure how to determine its value.
So how much does SEO cost?
Here’s one formula you can use to calculate how much SEO is worth.
Let’s assume your current average order value is $50. Let’s also assume that you see 500 visitors on your website a day. Finally, let’s assume your conversion rate is around 3%.
This means that you currently earn around $22,500 a month, based on this formula:
500 visitors per day * 30 days * .03 conversions * $50.
Let’s now add SEO to the picture.
Imagine you suddenly started seeing a 50% increase in traffic from search engines. That would mean you now have 750 visitors per day * 30 days * .03 conversion rate * $50 = $33,750 per month.
This formula only factors in a traffic boost. You are also likely to see an increase in conversion rate and average order value, if you blend SEO with CRO well.
Another formula you can use to calculate the value of SEO is this:
Total monthly searches for a keyword you want to rank for * estimated click-through-rate * (estimated value per visit * your average conversion rate)
Here’s what that means.
The first position in Google search results gets an average of 39.8% of all clicks.
The second position gets 18.7% of clicks. The third one sees 10.2%, and the fourth one 7.4%.
Imagine you want to rank for the term “seo service”, which gets 18,100 searches per month.
Imagine you rank number two. Say you convert 1% of all your visitors, and that the average conversion value is $1000.
This is what that looks like,
18,100 searches * 18.8% CTR * 1% * $1000
Using the formula above, we can determine that you’d earn $33,847 from ranking at number two.
You can also use customer lifetime value, also called LTV or CLV, to gauge the value of SEO.
CLV is the total net profit you are expected to generate from a customer throughout their relationship with you. It is calculated by multiplying customer value with the average customer lifespan.
To calculate customer value, you will need to multiply average order value over a period of time with the average number of purchases over that same period of time.
For example, if your average order value is $70, and the average customer makes 4 purchases a year, your customer value will be $280.
If the average customer lifespan is 2 years, that means your CLV will be $560.
Note that you can have several tiers of CLVs, as some customers may be worth more than others.
Customers who keep coming back are a sign you are meeting their needs and are providing quality goods or services. The larger the CLV or LTV, the less you will need to worry about acquiring new customers.
CLV should be used to calculate how much you are willing to invest in maintaining a relationship.
For example, if a customer’s lifetime value is $300, it isn’t worth spending more than that on the relationship.
Since SEO prices can range from $80 to $150 per hour, or from $1000 to $3200 for a monthly retainer, you need to figure out how much it would make sense to pay to achieve a certain result.
We've deliberately stuck with simple calculations for the sake of demonstration but prices will vary.
Is SEO worth it for you will depend on a multitude of factors.
Your niche, your CLV, your current revenue, your competition will all play their part.
Now that you know how to calculate the potential value and cost of SEO, use your own example to reach an estimate.
These metrics are not set in stone and will vary by season, product and campaign. Adopt a conservative approach so you have room for error.
As a business owner or marketing manager, it's crucial for you to determine your SEO cost and how far your marketing dollars go.
Does your website rank?
One question you need to ask yourself when considering whether SEO is worth it is “does your website rank on the first page already?”
If the answer is yes, then you need to consider whether you are happy with these organic rankings. Could you improve them?
Is it time for an SEO audit?
Should you rethink your keyword optimization strategies and perhaps look for new topic clusters to target?
If you are not currently on the first page, SEO might be the next logical step to take.
You may (not) be surprised to learn that 90.63% pages don’t get any traffic from search engines. This is partly due to the fact that 75% of searchers never make it past the first page of Google's search results.
If you want to capitalize on search engine marketing, you want to show up there.
The websites that do see traffic get 53% of it from organic search results.
This means that SEO is potentially more effective than paid ads, email marketing and social media advertising combined.
If your URLs are not currently ranking, a tool like Surfer Audit can help you uncover low hanging opportunities.
Getting to the first page of the search engine results can transform your business.
Based on the formula’s we’ve shown you above, you can calculate exactly how much revenue you could potentially generate from a page one ranking.
Don’t forget that SEO tactics are not just about improving click-through rates. They will also help you raise brand awareness and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
This will translate into more revenue in a less obvious manner. You can see an increase in your conversion rates, an increase in followers, more calls and emails from customers or clients.
Are customers looking for your services?
The other question you need to ask yourself when considering the value of SEO is “are your potential customers looking for your services via search?”
If they are not entering any search terms related to your business in a search engine, SEO may not be worth your while.
Considering that 4.3 billion people use Google to find something, chances are a large chunk of your target audience is among them.
Research shows us that 79% of people take a relevant action on their phone prior to making a purchase. They compare prices, read reviews, look for discounts.
76% of people also use their phones to look for something nearby, and visit a business on the same day. 28% of these searches result in a purchase.
If you are a brick-and-mortar store, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to show up for these searchers when they need you the most.
A strong web presence can lead new customers to your offerings.
It is important to learn what your audience is looking for. Depending on where they are in the marketing funnel, they may be ready to shop, or they may just be looking for information.
This is where SEO services can help you the most.
By creating content that solves your audience’s problems, you can generate awareness about your product or service. This will allow you to capture new leads and nurture them to conversion with quality content marketing and the help of a web designer.
Tools like Surfer can help you discover which search terms your target audience are typing into the search bar.
Uncover personalized suggestions for new keywords to cover so your target audience can find you on the internet.
Delegating SEO tasks to AI-powered tools will ensure that your time is better utilized in growing the business.
Activities like AI powered keyword research can help streamline your efforts so you only target queries that are likely to drive traffic and conversions. This is how good SEO can significantly enhance your marketing strategy.
Success with SEO
If you aren’t yet fully convinced, let’s take a look at three case studies that demonstrate the power of SEO.
Saramin, a job platform in Korea, was able to increase their year-over-year organic traffic by 102% by implementing a simple on-page SEO strategy.
They looked at their Search Console reports, fixed crawling issues, improved meta descriptions, and implemented structured data.
These seemingly small changes have resulted in unprecedented growth.
Surfer Audit can help you identify and fix issues like this on a web page.
Weather.com has more than doubled their number of indexed pages by implementing video markup on all relevant pages.
Since they produce video content every day, it was important for them to speed up the indexing process.
By following Google’s guidelines for rich results and using the Search Console Video Indexing Report, they were able to significantly increase traffic.
Kirbie's Cravings, a food blog, started out as its owner's hobby.
Today it is her full time job and main source of revenue. The website increased its click-through-rate by 79% by implementing quality meta tags.
This has helped drive more website traffic, increase page views and increase the site’s total revenue.
These three cases show how the simplest SEO efforts can have a massive impact on not just organic traffic, but revenue and reach.
Are SEO companies worth it?
Yes, SEO agencies are certainly worth it because their experience and knowledge can help you reach wider audiences at lower costs.
Of course you can also do SEO yourself but unless you are an SEO professional, there is a steep learning curve.
SEO is time-consuming and consists of several moving parts. Learning to understand how they combine will be challenging, and you don’t want to waste months on trial and error.
Doing SEO yourself can be cheap but you may not have the expertise or time to do your own SEO.
Hiring an in-house SEO can be a way to retain control over the project. However, you will have to manage them. Unless you understand SEO yourself, you won’t be able to effectively oversee the quality of your new employee’s work.
A more reliable approach is to pay for SEO services from an SEO provider.
Partnering with an SEO consultant or SEO company lets you tap into their expertise and resources. You can see results quicker, and you don’t have to worry about management or oversight.
The key is to find an agency that offers paid SEO services in your industry. And has a track record of results with companies that offer similar products to yours.
As a business owner, it can feel overwhelming to pick the right SEO agency.
Browse through the portfolios and testimonials of several agencies before you start interviewing them. You want to feel like you can trust your new partners.
You want to look for repeated evidence of success before choosing a new partner.
Unfortunately, because of its sheer size, the SEO industry attracts a string of folks promising to deliver SEO results that will blow you away.
If you think they are overpromising or if they don’t sound credible enough, keep looking.
SEO doesn't have to be expensive, especially if you run a small business. You can hire an SEO expert for a couple of months and then scale your efforts once you see a positive return on investment.
You can also use leverage AI tools, especially if you are new to search engine optimization or want to try it for yourself before hiring an agency.
These can do the heavy lifting for you in a matter of minutes, and often cost far less than the average agency or hire.
Thus, using SEO tools can leave you room for a far greater ROI from SEO.
Surfer's tools don't require you to understand how SEO works, or even what to do. Our tools tell you which topics to write about, and even write them for you.
Here's an example where Surfer's Keyword Research tool suggests this topic to cover, "easiest instrument to learn" for a website in the musical instruments industry.
The topic has a monthly search volume of 14,630 and the expected number of visitors is 5236. That's pretty good from one blog post!
I used Surfer AI to write the entire article in about 20 minutes. I spent a little more time reading it and then hit publish.
SEO vs. Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing campaigns cost more than online marketing. A print ad can run for anywhere between $2000 and $160.000.
Paid search advertising like Google ads can cost a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the competition and niche.
But unlike SEO, the leads stop once you stop running campaigns.
Traditional marketing like print and TV campaigns are also less targeted than online marketing. A TV or newspaper ad is also often geographically limited.
Measuring the ROI of traditional marketing can be quite challenging. You will rarely be able to tell whether or not someone has made a purchase because they have seen your print ad.
Analytic platforms allow you to track various SEO metrics, like impressions, traffic sources and conversion rates .
You can identify where your best customers are coming from, and which pages led to the highest conversions.
SEO can help you reach people who are already looking for precisely what you have to offer. All you need to do is make sure they find you by employing SEO best practices like keyword research and content writing.
While you can do local SEO, you can also target the entire globe, depending on the area you are able to serve.
50% of digital marketers believe that online marketing has an edge over traditional marketing.
You can have numerous touch points with a lead online. They can see your ad, visit your social media page, read a blog post. They can get to know you before they choose to spend any money.
The average conversion rate is 14.6% for SEO compared with 1.7% for traditional marketing.
Most companies today are investing less in traditional marketing channels, and more in digital ones. This has been especially noticeable since the pandemic.
Instead of spending more money on less targeted traditional marketing campaigns, consider SEO. It can become the main revenue-generating avenue for your business.
- There are a couple of ways to calculate the ROI of SEO, including measuring customer lifetime value
- Your goal should be to rank among the top organic search results, as this is all most people look at when googling
- It is crucial to match searcher intent and align your content with the stage of the sales funnel they are in
- SEO is more cost-effective, has a wider reach and better ROI when compared to traditional marketing
- You can choose to do SEO yourself, hire someone in-house or outsource to an SEO consultant or agency
Before you start investing in SEO, it’s important to determine how people are already searching for things related to your business. Doing so will ensure that you start on the right foot and for your SEO efforts to pay for themself.
It is highly likely that your audience is already searching for your products and services. The sooner you start implementing SEO to reach target users, the sooner you will start to see a positive return on investment.