How to Use Keyword Value to Evaluate the ROI of SEO


The mechanics of organic search can be hard for search marketers to explain to marketers but what’s really crucial for them to understand are the benefits. The myths about the practice need to be debunked. Otherwise, the relationship between the two will be shaped by the constant need to justify search budgets if they are to make their brands stand out in the digital world. For e-commerce websites, measuring the financial gains from SEO is fairly straightforward, considering every product page has a price. However, quantifying the ROI for an informational website that focuses on brand building, lead generation or the promotion of a certain product or service is more complicated. Yet, it can be done.

One of our clients, a restaurant chain, was in the process of launching a new website and was looking to evaluate and revise its existing SEO strategy. The client team were looking for the best method to quantify and benchmark their organic website performance, based on their SEO efforts to date. After examining the traffic and engagement metrics, we saw an opportunity to run a cost analysis. Below, I go over how we went about the process.


We began by comparing the potential ROI of the keywords being optimized with the actual ROI achieved. The comparison provided greater clarity on the strategies that were working while also highlighting new growth opportunities.


We did this by looking at the full list of keywords the website was ranking for, and then derived the aggregate keyword bid value (as provided by Google AdWords). Thus, we found that the value of the keywords the website was ranking for equated to roughly $85K – an amount that would otherwise be spent on SEM without gaining (1) long-term organic rankings or (2) high user engagement from targeted content developed over the years.


When analyzing the overall keyword search opportunities, we found that the website was performing at 14% of its overall opportunity, meaning it ranked for only 14% of all its potential search terms. Therefore, the launch of the new website was a perfect time to implement several technical, content and usability improvements, all while leveraging the existing performance to ensure that rankings and traffic did not dip.


We then looked at all opportunities to maximize the website’s ROI, including comparing costs of all the keywords the website could potentially rank for with those currently ranked. Using the 14% benchmark, we compared the site’s potential ROI with what was achieved ROI. This helped us to paint a realistic picture, highlighting the revenue value organic traffic was bringing in, while showing that there was more work to be done.

In the end, this exercise helped us build a case to elevate the brand’s website activities. Rather than making the occasional tweak and fix, this highlighted the urgent need to build more content around their keywords, in order to leverage them to the maximum and widen their paid search audience profile. By monetizing the organically ranking keywords, we were able to make a reasonable comparison with the paid search ROI and build a case on how investing in organic search could affect the brand’s bottom line.

If you’re interested in learning more on how to optimize your SEO strategy and boost your business performance through search, get in touch with us.


Category: SEO