For some reason calculating the value of SEO is not simple or standard.
Organic Search is the largest driver of traffic to websites and SEO is the work of improving and increasing traffic from this channel. Together, they are a vital part of any organisation with an online presence.
Despite this, there is a huge disconnect when determining the actual value of SEO work. This has led to underinvestment in SEO – if an organisation can’t see the value of SEO then why would they spend money on it?
To address this problem, we have created a simple SEO Value Calculator which includes an SEO ROI Calculator.
SEO Value Calculator
This calculator will tell you in the simplest terms how much monetary value Organic Search brings in. If you are an SEO, then this is the number that you are responsible for.
- To measure the ongoing value of your SEO efforts (or the value generated from a specific project), track your SEO Value over time. I recommend recording your results for each month on a spreadsheet to monitor the effects fully.
- To work out your CPC across multiple platforms use our CPC calculator.
- If you have not run any Paid Search activity before, then run your top 10-25 Organic Search keywords through Google Ads Keyword Planner tool. Use the Avg. CPC you get from that in the SEO Value Calculator.
- If you have a calculated the monetary value of non-revenue conversions (such as newsletter sign-ups etc), then add that to your revenue.
- I highly recommend splitting out brand and non-brand keywords as they will very likely bring in very different levels of value. Do this by filtering keywords by your brand name and recording results, and then by excluding your brand name and recording results.
- You can use either clicks or sessions for the above. I recommend sessions simply because not all clicks actually make it to the landing page. By using sessions you are more directly capturing the value of Organic Search.
Where Can I Find These Figures?
If you have connected Google Analytics to Search Console and Google Ads, and are using the eCommerce module then you can get all the data from Google Analytics. If not you’ll have to go to each platform separately.
For the amount spent on SEO make sure to calculate it for the same timeframe as the rest of the figures. If you are using one month of Organic Search traffic, you should also only include one month of wages, and one month of the cost of any tools/services you use.
In Google Analytics
For Organic Search Sessions and Revenue from Organic Search go to the channel report. To find this go to the Acquisition report, then All Traffic, then Channels.
For Paid Search Avg. CPC go to the Google Ads report just below it.
Why Are the Value of Clicks Included In This Model?
For the Total SEO Value, we have combined the revenue you earn from Organic Search with the amount that traffic would have otherwise cost you. This is the value SEO is creating.
Getting people to come to your site is a big step in marketing. A physical shop will pay more to be in a place with more foot traffic because of the potential customers that generates. It is the same with internet traffic – the potential itself is valuable.
Think of it this way – if you calculate the ROAS for Paid Search and include the value of clicks as above then you are starting from a ROAS of 100%. A ROAS of 100% says you are getting exactly what you paid for. This is the honest truth – you’re buying search traffic and you’re getting search traffic.
What you do with it afterwards is up to you, and that is the true value you create from that channel.
What Isn’t Included In This Model?
Many other SEO value models include CTR and Average Position in their calculations. These are both secondary metrics. Both imply that you should be getting better results from your SEO.
However, cutting right to sessions and revenue directly measures SEO Value, so I have not included these secondary metrics.
SEO Value Formula
This is the equation we used to calculate the value of SEO:
Click to enlarge
SEO Value = (Organic Search Clicks x Paid Search Avg. CPC) + Organic Search Revenue
Use this formula to calculate the value of Organic Search traffic. You can consider the entire value of Organic Search as being the value of SEO, at least to start with. Once a site is over a year old, however, you should track this value over time and consider the change in value to be the value of your SEO work.
Why SEO Doesn’t Have A Standardised Value
The main problem when valuing SEO is the lack of a direct correlation between expenditure and results. You can’t spend $10,000 on SEO directly and then measure what that brings back in.
The money spent on SEO is always indirect – on tools and on staff. The results from SEO work are also generally not directly attributable back to that SEO work.
This is because there is often a delay built into SEO results while the internet and algorithms catch up to things you’ve done. On top of this, other channels affect your Organic Search traffic – a good ad on another channel can drive people to search for your site and thereby generate more search traffic.
There are also endless external factors that are entirely out of your control. Other organisations doing their own SEO, world events changing what people are searching for, and of course algorithm updates by the Search Engines themselves.
Altogether this means that it is entirely possible to do no SEO work and see results improve. It’s also possible to do great SEO work and see results get worse. So saying X investment in SEO resulted in Y results is difficult.
Is An SEO Really Responsible For All Organic Search Traffic?
What the above all misses out is that basically all channels have the same issues, just perhaps not all at the same time. Offline channels find attribution hard. Any sort of brand advertising has a built-in delay for results. Algorithm updates affect how social media marketing, display advertising, Paid Search, etc, work.
World events and competition from other companies affect everything. How other channels perform has a halo effect for… well all channels.
SEO sits in this weird bubble where it takes all these things personally. The fact that Google searches out websites and lets people find them regardless of what you do is neither here nor there.
If someone runs a paid social campaign that does well, they take responsibility – even if Facebook’s algorithm did most of the heavy lifting. SEOs might not cause all Organic Search traffic, but they can improve it and are certainly responsible for it.
If you’re an SEO then you should put a value on your work and take responsibility for it. The value of Organic Search traffic is one place where your answer should not be “it depends”. Demonstrating that your work has value will likely help you get more funding and in return better results for your organisation.
Advanced Use Case – Combining Organic Search with Paid Search
There is a paradox built into this SEO Value Calculator. If you optimise your Paid Search to get a lower CPC then the value of your SEO also goes down. This might seem annoying, but this is the honest truth – if you can get that search traffic for less then it is indeed not worth as much.
Similarly, if you rank highly with your organic results and start running Paid Search ads on the same keywords, then you will drive your SEO Value down. This is because fewer people will click on your organic results. It is also because running ads on results where you rank highly in Organic Search has been proven to reduce CPCs.
However, it has also been proven that having both a Paid Search Ad and a top Organic Search result will drive more traffic than either one alone. Therefore if you are running a lot of Paid Search, I would recommend using the SEO Value Calculator on your Paid Search activity too, as well as running it on both your Paid Search and Organic Search combined.
By recording all three results over time, you will be able to see more directly how your Paid Search affects your Organic Search and vice versa. This can help you plan your Paid Seach budget better, especially if you split these results down by keyword. By finding an equilibrium you can see how much you should spend before you start losing the value you were already earning from Organic Search.
Do you have any feedback on this tool? It’s a new idea so I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to improve it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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