Justifying SEO with hard data

You can read examples of how some businesses have justified an investment in SEO purely through investigating their website visitor analytics. These companies, sadly, are unlikely to be the type that you or I work for. Firstly, they’ll be companies that sell large volumes online, so they can track their visitors’ source/medium through to sales and get significant data. Secondly, the volumes will be so large that the tiny amount of keyword data that Google provides is enough to extrapolate to something meaningful.

So if we don’t sell much online (if anything), how can we start to justify SEO? The key is to accept the market valuation for search adverts, and compare natural search traffic. For example, let’s say the going rate for a Google Ads click – excluding brand related terms – across our product range is £3. Assume that’s the correct value to get a positive ROI. Now, we can work out how many natural search clicks we get in a month which aren’t brand-related (e.g. ‘blue widgets’), using Search Console. Let’s say it’s 200. That means if we can increase natural search traffic by 10%, we’re going to get 20 extra clicks, which the market has deemed are worth £60.

If it’s a permanent increase, that’s £720/year, for the foreseeable future.

This could be applied to a single search term, if we wanted to focus our SEO (and measurement) on that. If ‘supersize blue widgets’ – and all variations on it – get us 50 clicks a month, a 10% increase in clicks for just that term is worth £15 a month, or £180/year. But of course a 10% increase is very little, maybe a couple of places low down the page. A really good SEO effort on a specific search term could have a much more sizeable impact, perhaps hundreds of percent.

Sure, this all makes a few assumptions. But if we’re looking for justification to spend time or budget on SEO, and we’re in an environment that values KPIs, it is one way we can measure things.