To start at the end: the simple answer is that a combination of factors, outlined below, combine to help you understand what impact SEO can have for your business.
We’ll use a made up business and work on a funnel for “Joe’s Gardening Service”.
The key to understanding SEO’s impact on your bottom line is to build a revenue funnel. Building this requires an understanding of your what revenue your website currently generates through organic traffic.
You’ll notice a few of the metrics in the screenshot above are in a different colour. These are distinct metrics in that they are things that one can impact directly. The Enquiry to Sale conversion rate, if you’re working on SEO for your own business, is something that you could impact too, but we generally focus on the 3 that we can impact directly. We like to refer to these as the 3 levers.
An impression is when your website appears as a search result for the keywords we’ve analysed.
This lever is pulled by improving rankings. You can calculate the available extra impressions you could achieve with a ranking analysis of keywords relating to your services.
You should also perform an analysis of your competition’s online authority (more on this later) to understand what amount of work is required to outrank them.
The clickthrough rate is the rate at which users click your website when appears on a search engine results page (SERP).
This lever can be pulled by improving your average ranking position (higher rankings = higher clickthrough rates) and by optimising how you appear in SERPs, through optimal website page titles, meta descriptions, page URLs and so on.
Your conversion rate is the rate at which a visitor completes a primary conversion action, such as filling in an enquiry form.
Improve this by optimising your UX, or User eXperience. This involves (among many other factors) tweaking the appearance of your contact forms, buttons, images, optimising the menu navigation and site structure, ensuring there are sufficient trust-building factors visible on the site, and ensuring a smooth mobile experience.
While increasing impressions and clickthrough rates can (depending on competition) take some time to bear fruit, a special mention must be made for work on a website’s conversion rate by optimising user experience, due to the speed with which the impact of the work is felt.
All the other metrics in the revenue funnel are outputs of the above metrics (i.e. traffic = impressions multiplied by your clickthrough rate), or are outside of our control (i.e. your lead to sale conversion rate).
The reliability of forecasting of SEO’s impact on your bottom line is closely tied with how clearly you understand your website’s impact on your business. You’ll need to know things like your lead-to-sale conversion rate, your average lead value, which channels (organic search, paid search, social media users, etc) are contributing the most leads, and so on.
For lead-based businesses, it’s essential that you use a CRM (we’re big fans of Hubspot) – they’re essential to complete the picture of which channels are contributing leads that become sales.
We also highly recommend Call Tracking – this further completes the picture for all businesses of which online channels are contributing to actual closed leads.
Understanding the competition
An understanding of your company’s competition and their online authority is essential to calculating SEO’s impact on your bottom line.
You need to understand the competition to understand how much work (and in turn, what investment) is required to overtake them in rankings.
An initial step here is simply identifying the competitors. You need both an understanding of the “real world” market competitors in your area, as well as who your “search engine” competitors are: often information portals outrank you, who we still need to outperform online to outrank.
Your domain authority is a score out of 100 that is directly tied to how highly you rank for the keywords you target. This score is primarily a result of how many websites have links that point to your own.
Links are a signal that search engines look at for authority: the more websites that reference (link to) your website, and also the more authoritative those websites are who link to you, the more certain search engines are that they can trust you to provide relevant information.
Understanding your competitions link profiles is key. This means understanding how many links they have, from which websites, and to what content. This adds to our understanding of the gap between you and the competition, and can also reveal ideas for emulation or for improving on to attract links for your website.
As you can see, much goes into the calculation of what impact SEO can have on your bottom line. That’s why we do it for our clients as part of the earliest phase of a working relationship. With an understanding of the opportunity available and the investment required to beat out competition and capture the opportunity, we can then set off with a target in mind.
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