The True Cost and ROI of SEO – 10 Questions You Should Ask Your SEO Person Today.

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The True Cost and ROI of SEO – 10 Questions You Should Ask Your SEO Person Today.

Years ago, we added up the cost of each legitimate SEO program we were running and analyzed their results to get their cost/acquisition. In all cases, the cost/acquisition was higher for Organic SEO programs than for paid online programs. As a result, we stopped doing SEO work and focused on paid online media.

When clients find out we don’t do search engine optimization work, they always ask for recommendations. The reality is, it’s been a long time since we’ve encountered an SEO firm that could legitimately deliver any game-changing search engine result improvements for less than a $15,000/month retainer. Why? Because unlike 10 years ago when SEO was a new and untapped resource, it takes extraordinary effort to do legitimate SEO work today.

Why write a blog post about organic SEO when no one at SmartClick even does search engine optimization work anymore? We’re tired of seeing our clients literally being conned by SEO people who don’t report on results, but behaviors (i.e. “Look at all the directory sites I submitted your site to!”). Also, these questions may lead you to realize that the resources you’ve been devoting to manipulate search engine results could have been so much better focused on a firm doing actual paid online media like SmartClick.

Here are a few important questions to ask your SEO firm:

1. What specific keywords are you using to try and get my website a better rank?

If your SEO agency doesn’t provide you with a specific, mutually-agreed-upon list of keywords they’re going after, they can simply do whatever they want. Without a list, you can’t even begin to set goals or measure impact of the agency’s performance.

2. Collectively, how many monthly searches do those keywords you’re working on represent?

The oldest trick in the book is for any agency to come up with a big list of long-tail keywords that no one ever searches. They’ll then show you results of how they got high ranks for those keywords. It’s easy to rank on keywords no one searches. If you want your SEO efforts to have any impact at all, you’ll want to focus on keywords with at least 5,000 searches per month.

3. How many monthly visits was my brand getting from these monthly searches before you started doing work for me?

It’s critical to make sure you have Google Analytics or some other web analytics package set up, so you can see the monthly visits from organic searches (collectively as well as page by page) on your site before anyone starts doing any SEO work for you. Otherwise it’s impossible to measure any improvement.

4. Have you achieved any ranking improvements for any non-branded keywords for my site?

While SEO purists may say that ranking reports are a little outdated, it’s still helpful to use a tool like to measure keyword rank changes. Again, you’ll want to set up that measurement tool before anyone starts doing any SEO work for you.

5. Which, if any, of these keywords have you achieved a number 1 or 2 keyword rank on Google?

On the search engine result pages of most categories, only positions 1 or 2 show prominently enough to drive much traffic to your website. Focus your efforts and the efforts of your SEO agency on those keywords that are both high traffic and that you can get to position one or two.

6. What is the aggregate monthly search traffic for the keywords for which you’ve achieved a number 1 keyword rank on Google, and the keywords for which you’ve achieved a number 2 keyword rank on Google.

Your agency should be able to tell you the total search volume of all number 1 keywords you’ve achieved, and number 2 keywords as well. Again, it’s easy to get high ranks for keywords that don’t get very much search traffic.

7. How many monthly visits is my brand getting from monthly searches on keywords you’re been trying to get my site to rank on?

You can get a very rough estimate for traffic from search results by using this formula: If you have a number 1 page rank, you’ll get a 5% click rate on searches for that keyword. If you have a number 2 result, you’ll get a 2% click rate. This means if you have achieved a number 1 rank on pages totaling 20,000 searches a month you’ll get 1,000 clicks to your website for that month. If you achieve a number 2 rank on pages totaling 20,000 searches a month, that means you’ll get 400 clicks. Click rates may be slightly high in non-competitive categories but Google has been so successful at monetizing pages that organic clicks are way down.

8. How much incremental traffic are you driving each month from organic search engines to my site?

Simply look at the total monthly traffic you were getting from organic search engines before SEO work began and compare that with the total monthly traffic you’re now getting from organic search engines. This should tie somewhat to the results you’re estimating with question 7.

9. How much monthly revenue does the incremental SEO traffic you are driving to my site represent?

Look at your web analytics for the actual revenue or leads generated from search engine traffic before SEO work began and after. This will give you your incremental monthly revenue. Even though a lead isn’t actual revenue, you can assign a revenue value to it based on your close rate. Your close rate is generated by estimating how many of your leads turn into actual sales.

10. What is the monthly return on investment your SEO Services have achieved for my site?

Calculating return on investment or ROI is simple. First, add up all the costs you’ve paid the SEO firm along with any additional costs you’ve incurred including sending products to bloggers or paying them for reviews and links back. Then take the incremental revenue the SEO program has driven, subtract the total of all SEO costs, and divide that number by the total of all SEO costs, and you’ll have an ROI% number. Likely this number will be shockingly low or even more likely, it’ll be negative.

There’s no way to game the system and legitimately manipulate Google search engine results without exposing yourself to some sort of “grey hat” gimmick that Google may catch at some point and will likely blacklist you for. Because of this, it’s become expensive to do SEO right. Hopefully, by going through this exercise, you’ll realize the true cost of your SEO work, the actual value of the results of your SEO work, and you’ll give us a call at SmartClick today (303) 641-7201.





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