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SEO ROI: Benchmarks and Optimization

SEO Blog
Seo Roi Tn

Understanding the ROI of an SEO campaign is a deceptively difficult task. While the ROI formula itself is simple, complexity increases quickly as teams understand their need to correctly attribute SEO leads and use benchmarks to understand how best to optimize their SEO campaigns. To help you learn how to make best use of your SEO ROI statistics, in this article, we:

  • Provide an explanation of how to calculate your SEO ROI
  • Share industry benchmarks for both SEO ROI, and expected time to break even on an SEO campaign
  • Discuss ways to improve the ROI of SEO campaigns

We first begin with the basics: how SEO ROI is calculated.

How to Calculate SEO ROI

Simply put, SEO ROI refers to how much income is generated from an SEO campaign, divided by the total costs of that campaign, as shown in the formula below:

SEO ROI Formula

For example, if you spend $120,000 on your SEO campaign that generates $720,000 in new sales, your ROI would be 600%. Another way to look at this is that for every dollar spent on SEO, your company makes $6.

At a basic level, this is a straightforward calculation but in actual practice, determining if a lead—and eventually, a closed sale—was the result of your SEO campaign is more difficult. The process of determining which sales originated from or were impacted by SEO, and what percentage of credit should be assigned to SEO, is called SEO attribution.

SEO Attribution

For some sales, attribution is simple. For example, if you run an ecommerce website and a visitors reaches your site through Google and immediately makes a purchase, you can safely attribute 100% of that sale to SEO.

Most of the time, however, the picture is less clear, especially when it comes to B2B industries with longer sales cycles, in which customers are touched by multiple marketing channels before a sale is made. There are three models that marketing teams use in such situations:

  • First touch attribution, giving all credit to the first channel that a lead touched
  • Last touch attribution, giving all credit to the last channel that a lead touched
  • Hybrid attribution, using a custom model that divides credit across two or more channels that a lead touched

The below table shares the pros and cons of each:

Once you’ve assigned attribution to each channel, you should use the same percentage of revenue as the percentage of credit you assigned in order to make the ROI calculation. For example, if you closed an $10,000 sale and assigned 30% of the credit to SEO, you would include $3,000 as income from SEO when calculating ROI.

SEO ROI: Industry Benchmarks

Knowing your SEO ROI calculation can be a useful way to understand the relative performance of your marketing channels, but this knowledge is most valuable when you have industry-specific SEO ROI benchmarks to use as a comparison. Below are SEO ROI benchmarks for 12 industries:

SEO ROI by Industry (3-Year Average)

Industry ROI Time to Break-Even
B2B SaaS 702% 7 months
Biotech 788% 8 months
Construction 681% 5 months
Financial Services 1,031% 9 months
Industrial IoT 866% 7 months
Commercial Insurance 758% 9 months
Manufacturing 813% 9 months
Medical Device 1,183% 13 months
Oil & Gas 906% 10 months
PCB Design & Manufacturing 1,101% 11 months
Pharmaceutical 826% 9 months
Real Estate 1,389% 10 months

To see more in-depth coverage on SEO ROI benchmarks, and to see statistics from a wider array of industries, check out our guide on SEO ROI statistics.

Optimizing Your SEO Campaign for ROI

The most important way to increase the ROI of your SEO campaign is to create the best possible content that responds to searcher intent. Doing so is an art in and of itself, which we discuss in much more detail in the two previously linked articles.

Over the course of the past 13 years performing SEO for a variety of businesses, however, we’ve noticed three adjustments that will improve nearly any SEO campaign. These are:

  • Targeting more highly transactional keywords with SEO content
  • Improving the skimmability of your content to quickly capture reader interest
  • Including clear conversion pathways to convert visitors to leads

Targeting Transactional Keywords

Many marketers new to SEO make the mistake of targeting the broadest, highest volume keywords in their campaign. While search volume is indeed an important metric, these keywords are highly competitive and a large percentage of searchers aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. Instead, targeting keywords closer to the transactional side of the search intent scale shown below will lead to higher conversions and faster sales.

For example, consider the two keywords “small business accounting” and “small business accounting services”. While the first is a more general research-oriented keyword that could serve the needs of many groups that aren’t interested in signing a contract at all, the second is geared toward a business owner that is actively in the market for accounting services, and therefore a higher percentage of those searchers will become paying customers if you run an accounting firm, resulting in higher campaign ROI.

Improve the Skimmability of Your Content

The best ways to improve the quality and skimmability of your content to meet the needs of both the Google Search algorithm and your readers include:

  • Including a readable, relevant table or graphic that summarizes the main points of every piece of content
  • Breaking up the article in a way that makes it easy to identify target information using headings, bulleted lists, and other formatting
  • Frontloading the information the reader is looking for so that they do not have to scroll to find the answer to their query

These efforts will ensure that a higher percentage of readers that land on your content find the information they need before returning to Google’s search results, improving both your search rankings and the overall lead generation potential of each piece of SEO content.

Optimize Your Website for Conversion

Marketers often focus on the organic traffic that SEO brings to a website, but traffic is only valuable if it converts to leads and actual sales. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to conversion optimization that can be found here, but three best practices are:

  1. Include easily accessible contact forms on every page of the website
  2. Link to relevant conversion-focused pages like shop pages, demo signups, and landing pages from each blog article
  3. Use heatmaps to see what pages are losing the attention of customers, and which are moving them further through the sales funnel

Optimizing your website for conversion is vital to ensuring that your visitors actually become valuable MQLs for your sales team.

Getting Help Improving Your SEO ROI

Optimizing your SEO ROI can be a difficult and resource-intensive process for marketers that are less familiar with SEO. As a result, many businesses choose to work with an outside partner while building their internal team’s experience.

First Page Sage has more than 12 years of experience providing SEO services for clients in countless industries, specializing in combining SEO with thought leadership content for lead generation. We offer both full-service SEO campaigns and strategic SEO consulting services. If you’d like to know more, schedule a call here.

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.