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Planning for 2017: Estimating $ Return for SEO

How do you estimate return for SEO plans?

     
7:44 pm on Oct 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hi all,

My boss has given all of us a task. Our goal for 2017 is to bring in 15% more revenue than in 2016, and all of us are supposed to present our initiatives for next year, and how much revenue we expect each to contribute.

I'm in charge of SEO, and I'm finding this task fairly difficult. How do you all predict revenue increases for SEO measures? Obviously there are some smaller pieces that are somewhat predictable. For instance, if I expect to drive more traffic to a page that converts at x% with an AOV of $x, I can come to a reasonable conclusion about how much more revenue that will produce. However, if I intend to invest in a tool that will allow us to better track keyword positions, how can I seriously expect to tie a dollar amount to it? Especially with a large site, or even a group of properties?

Thanks,
Andy
8:20 am on Oct 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Andy, that's exactly correct, it's tough.
Driving traffic is one thing, but conversions is the big one to aim for, so i'd also look at the effectiveness of the page you're driving traffic to.

The resources you require are not an expense, they are about doing your job. You, if you're salaried, are not an expense, you're a resource. So, if you need some tools to do the job, it's another resource. Analogy: If you are digging holes in the road, the tool might be a shovel. If you can show that you'd be more efficient by using a compressor with a jackhammer, and the shovel, you'd get the job done quicker. The result is that you can dig more holes.
Simple example, I know.

Put forward your ideas on how to achieve the goals, show the tools that you require which will make your job more efficient, and go for it. You may even exceed the goal!
1:22 pm on Oct 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You can't all present intitiatives in isolation, the targets have to support each other.

You cannot provide a $ value at your end, all you can do is provide the raw material from which people further up the food chain to extract the $$$
8:08 pm on Oct 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Ah, but how many more holes could you dig, engine? That's essentially the question being asked.

Agreed with both of you. I think that this may be a case of outdated management thinking. All part of the SEO's job, I suppose.

Thanks,
Andy
8:39 pm on Oct 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As long as you're not digging your own hole theotherandy! Hehehe

Do remember to ask for additional resources as it works both ways.
9:29 pm on Oct 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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One way to approach this would be to look at the overall traffic you have now from organic search and assess what it's contributing to revenue. Would it be reasonable to aim for 15% growth in organic search traffic, as SEO's contribution to the growth target?

Identify star pages and make sure you understand -why- they are stars. Sometimes a page is a star for reasons that aren't easy to scale.
10:19 pm on Oct 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If you know you can bank 22.3%, pocket that 7.3% "extra" for next year's unreasonably random goal. Hahaha!
5:22 am on Oct 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Your boss's request is an example of one of the worst trends in SEO, which is that everything can be measured. PPC can be measured to the penny. One can apply metrics to SEO but those metrics rarely correspond to ranking results. Which is why this forum has an abundance of questions asking why rankings don't happen when domain authority is high.

Your boss's mindset leads to SEO activities such as requiring that all links be a minimum of PageRank 4 or a specific level of DA. Those kinds of requirements are an attempt to apply PPC style measurement to something that is not PPC. A link's ability to influence ranking is far more complicated than a PageRank level or a third party metric such as DA. There's far more going on. Not to stray too far but your boss's mindset leads to bizarre SEO practices such as relying on third party metrics for making business decisions instead of putting all of that aside and considering how certain practices may have a positive influence on ranking. That kind of understanding flies way over the head of the average SEO that expects the process of ranking to be distilled into ten actionable steps, like a pancake recipe, so that you can estimate the exact ROI.

That the request is unrealistic (as in has no basis in reality, like unicorns) because the results depend on a third party that ranks websites in a manner that is unknown. You, as an SEO, can only apply your best judgment but you cannot claim to know the algorithm and be able to manipulate it at your will and give an estimate of monetary ROI. Nobody can. That's applying PPc analytics to something that is radically not PPC. Your boss has a misunderstanding and you will be walking into a Dilbert cartoon should you choose to answer a question that is unreasonable and unrealistic.