Selling a business on the benefits of SEO sounds easy in the short term. You can climb the search rankings, get more traffic, and make more people aware of your brand. However, the patience of many business owners can run thin when they aren’t able to see a direct correlation between SEO and sales.
Does a great SEO strategy lead to an increase in sales? While there may not be a clear-cut solution to answering this, here are four questions you can answer for yourself right now to determine the impact of your search engine optimization efforts.
The primary reason that businesses implement an SEO strategy is to see an increase in their organic search rankings. As the SEO score of your website improves, search engine algorithms place a higher value on your domain, therefore, placing you closer to the top of search engine results pages.
A study by Ahrefs indicates that the first result on a search engine results page gets the most traffic just under 50% of the time. If Google relegates your domain to the second result page, there may be only a 0.78% chance that someone will click on your link. Ranking even further back makes it statistically unlikely for you to receive any web traffic from organic searches.
Comparatively, the clickthrough rate for a paid search advertisement with Google Ads is only about 3.17%. Even if it takes some time for your website to climb the rankings, the boost in web traffic as a result of SEO is undeniable.
It’s the logical conclusion that if a strong SEO strategy leads to an increase in rankings, then it will also lead to an increase in sales. You can only deliver your sales pitch if a customer walks into your store in the first place. The more you improve your search rankings, the more opportunities you have to convert prospects into paying clients.
However, there is much more that goes into a sale than web traffic, which leads us to our next question:
While an increase in web traffic allows for more prospects to interact with your business, can we prove that it leads to a rise in sales? The truth is that web traffic in many ways can be seen as a vanity metric. Many inexperienced marketers have a habit of selling business owners on the promise of seeing this boost in clicks, but ultimately receive very little return on their investment.
This is because SEO efforts that lack a comprehensive marketing strategy to support them do not necessarily qualify your leads. In other words, 1,000 new visitors a month may sound great but ultimately matters very little if all or most of those clicks are from customers that aren’t ready or equipped to purchase.
With this in mind, let’s revisit our statistics regarding paid Google Ads. The average clickthrough rate is just 3.17%, but the average ROI is about 8:1. This is because a paid ad better matches the search intent. If a user clicks on a paid link as opposed to an organic link, there is an intent to purchase loaded within the click. In this sense, the volume of traffic does not matter nearly as much as getting traffic that is already highly qualified.
For this reason, you should be setting up multiple types of conversions on your site to monitor what your traffic is doing after you get them to visit your website. This can include clicking on promotional videos, filling out forms, or clicking on call-to-actions. These micro-conversions can give you a better understanding of how to further improve your site in a way that coincides with your SEO strategy to ultimately provide you with traffic that actually leads to sales.
Even if an SEO strategy is generating more traffic and sales, it’s not worthwhile if you’re spending more than you’re earning.
Thankfully, SEO is one of the most affordable marketing strategies you can implement to increase your traffic and conversions. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, which can detect website issues and help correct them, are free to use. A strong SEO strategy primarily will cost you the initial time investment. From there, it’s a matter of upkeep and producing quality content to keep your site fresh.
With that said, no marketing strategy can be called a worthwhile investment if it’s not getting you results. If your marketing team is reporting increases in vanity metrics like traffic but does not have a proportional amount of conversions to match, your current SEO strategy simply isn’t cutting it.
Fortunately, the cost-effectiveness of your SEO strategy is incredibly easy to measure. First, determine what your primary goal is when implementing your SEO plan. In our case, we are focused on sales, but others may primarily be focused on traffic and brand awareness. You can then view traffic origin by channel and see exactly how many clicks come from organic searches.
You can also track which keywords were used to perform those searches. Your analytics will then provide you with the volume and average cost-per-click for each keyword used to discover your site. Understanding and utilizing these metrics appropriately will allow you to customize your SEO strategy in a way that better helps you to achieve your unique business goals.
After asking all of the previous questions, you are now left to ask whether or not your business is seeing more sales as a result of your SEO strategy. The truth is, there is no way to decisively attribute new sales to actions taken by an SEO specialist.
However, this is not unlike offline sales. While your advertising may get consumers in the door, it is ultimately up to your sales personnel to implement a sales strategy that drives your audience to become customers. Likewise, improving your SEO can get more qualified visitors to your website, but you still need to implement a solid strategy that will reliably convert those leads into sales.
The best way to approach SEO is to understand that it is a long-term investment. By planting and nurturing those seeds now, it provides the potential to bear fruit reliably over time. Business owners often make the mistake of passing over SEO in favor of strategies such as paid ads as PPC campaigns can give an immediate boost in numbers that feel more rewarding at the moment. However, paid ads will cost more and will stop providing you with sales as soon as you stop paying.
An SEO-optimized website will always be there to provide benefits for your business as long as you maintain it. Google will continue to rank your website highly for years to come so long as it’s fast, mobile-friendly, and complete with content that is relevant to those using the search engine. It’s a low-cost marketing strategy that requires a minuscule investment that can ultimately pay dividends down the line when implemented in a way that aligns with your business goals.
With that in mind, don’t make the mistake of dismissing SEO if you don’t immediately find your website at rank one on Google with a boost in sales to back it up. Remember that your competitors are also implementing their own SEO strategies to achieve the same goals that you are. If, over time, you are still not satisfied with the ROI on your SEO plan, take a close look at your website analytics to see how you can improve and tailor your strategy to drive the types of conversions you need to see.
By asking the right questions, you should be able to get a better idea of whether or not your existing SEO strategy is making you money. More importantly, you can determine what types of results your plan is earning you, while also identifying the areas where you need to improve.
Search engine optimization can have both a direct and indirect impact on your level of website traffic and sales. If it wasn’t effective, then website and business owners wouldn’t put forth the amount of time and effort they do into ensuring that their website is sleek, fast, and loaded with engaging content. However, getting there is not something that will happen overnight, and you will need to account for how long it will take to connect your content to the relevant audience.
In the meantime, ensure that your strategy accounts for the basic elements of any great SEO strategy. Use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to locate areas where you can improve. You can also rapidly detect errors on your site with the help of Google Analytics and Google Search Console. The latter can also help you crawl and index your website faster so that the latest optimized version of your site is always active in SERPs.
Next, always remember that content is the king of marketing. Whether we’re discussing organic or paid marketing, compelling content is the key to reeling in clicks and driving them to convert. Uploading fresh, educational content can also drive more organic search clicks to your website, while also giving you material to share on social media for additional impressions.
Finally, be sure to do extensive keyword research and ensure that your SEO strategy is focusing on the ones that make the most sense for your goals. While aiming to rank for the sexiest relevant keywords might seem appealing, the competition may be too fierce and result in an ROI that just isn’t worthwhile.
In this regard, don’t discount alternative options such as long-tail keywords, which innately tend to attract users that are already browsing with the intent to buy. While ranking for these may net you a lower search volume, you’ll be spending less to compete and gain more qualified visitors at the same time.
Your SEO plan will help your brand make money, but it requires constant commitment to evaluate and improve. With time, dedication, and a little creative thinking, SEO can be your greatest ally for long-term marketing success.