Scott suggested I do a blog post talking about the ROI of SEO. I think most people approaching this topic would talk about either the “literal” ROI of the SEO (profit) or mention the various manifestations of SEO such as rankings and visibility and show how that would translate into increased business.
However, I’m going to take a different tack entirely.
The ROI of SEO is the value of having a trusted advisor partnering with you to make your website more visible and profitable.
Gone are the days where savvy search marketers could “game” the system for their clients and poach high search rankings through technical wizardry. Google’s recent updates have had the effect of “evolving” SEO’s from technical wizards who knew little about marketing into marketers who happen to have technical expertise.
SEO isn’t a destination…it’s a process.
SEO isn’t just about getting keywords ranking at the top of the search engines…that’s still important but that’s only one component of the engagement.
SEO is about making sure that the website is generating natural search traffic from the sorts of keywords that will be most likely to generate conversions for the business.
SEO is about making sure the site architecture is viable for not only the search engines but website visitors.
SEO is about making sure that the website has the best opportunity to convert search engine (and non-search engine) traffic into sales and leads.
SEO is about making sure that the page code is compliant with web standards and is as “light” as it can possibly be.
SEO is about making the site attractive enough so that another site would link to it.
SEO is also about creating the sorts of relationships with others that lead to linking.
SEO is about publishing targeted web content on a regular basis that attracts targeted customers, people that will link to it, and search engines who might rank it well.
SEO is about tracking and monitoring the various social signals of the business as they relate to the site and its rankings.
For brick and mortar (local) businesses, SEO is about managing their local search listings and monitoring ratings / reviews.
Now can one SEO be an expert at all these things? Heck no.
But an SEO can know their field well enough to be able to take a tactical / strategic look at all the components and know what needs to be done to increase the viability of the business as it relates to all things online.
The SEO’s who can reduce the client’s online business initiatives into a series of tactical forays in cyberspace managed by relevant specialists are worthy of the same level of trust and respect as the company lawyers / accountants. At the trusted advisor level, SEO is about high-level partnerships and relationships…knowing what process should be performed, when it should be performed and who the best person is to perform it.
Unfortunately, many SEO’s still think tactics and business necessities are mutually exclusive. These people will never become trusted advisors and any ROI they might achieve is incidental and likely short-lived.