It is easier than you think to estimate the ROI of SEO improvements for eCommerce websites.

In this article, we’re going to show you how we do it.

We Recently Improved Our Method

We recently improved the way we calculate the expected ROI of new SEO improvements for our eCommerce clients.

In the past, when talking to a new client, we used our years of experience working with hundreds of eCommerce clients to give our best guess about the ROI they could expect in three to six months.

We called this the “eyeball method,” and it’s still a part of the method we use to calculate ROI (as you’ll see below).

Essentially, we’d say, “We believe your organic traffic will grow by 10%, 20%, or so on.”

That was fine, but it didn’t demonstrate for clients the revenue impact SEO improvements would have on their business.

Now, with the addition of data, we see much better buy-in from prospects considering our services.

If you need to sell someone on the value of improving organic traffic to your eCommerce site, this is an ideal way to present the opportunity in a way that better demonstrates its direct impact on revenue.

Note: We’ve worked with dozens of eCommerce companies to increase conversions based on organic traffic. We can create a custom SEO strategy for your business. Contact us here.

Calculating the Opportunity

The first thing to calculate is the opportunity available if you improve rankings across a set of keywords you’re targeting.

When we’re investigating a new client’s account, we start by using a tool like SEMRush to determine how a site is already ranking.

Use SEMRush to determine how a site is already ranking.

Using SEMRush, we’d filter down the list of keywords they’re ranking for on the bottom of page one (slots 7-10), as well as pages two and three. These represent their top opportunities for SEO improvements and new conversions.

We then add up the average monthly search volume based off of those keywords, which represents the majority of the traffic and revenue potential for improving your rankings.

The Eyeball Method

Now that you know the opportunity that’s in front of you, the next step is to estimate how much of that opportunity you can capture.

For this step, it will help tremendously to be working with an SEO expert with experience working with other eCommerce sites.

When a new eCommerce company is interested in working with us, the first thing we do is review their site’s current and past performance, including:

  • Rankings for target keywords
  • Organic traffic
  • Revenue from organic traffic

This gives us a good idea of how the site is doing overall and what impact we believe we can make on the site.

We give each prospective client a detailed breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses we find in their search ranking performance. When assessing a site, we label different opportunities with red, yellow or green lights based on some of the factors listed below. This light system helps us set proper expectations around time to results and is one of the elements used in eyeballing and communicating the final ROI expectations.

We estimate the impact we expect our SEO improvements to have on rankings, traffic, and revenue.

From our experience, we estimate the impact we expect our SEO improvements to have on rankings, traffic—and ultimately, the most important factor—their revenue.

We’d say something like: “We expect to increase your organic search traffic by 30% over the next three to six months.”

Because our team has been doing this work for so long, we tend to get extremely close with our estimates.

What we’ve changed is what we do with this assessment.

It’s good to tell a new client that we expect to increase their organic search traffic by 20% or 30% over the next few months.

But something was missing.

Stats.

Adding the Numbers to Demonstrate the Revenue Opportunity

When a company is going to invest in something like SEO services, they want to know how it’s going to pay off for them. They want to see the numbers. And our “eyeball method,” didn’t cut it.

So we began developing a new method that more strongly tied potential new revenue to an increase in organic search traffic.

Because seeing the numbers can help you grasp the realistic potential behind your SEO work.

When we look at the SEO of an eCommerce website, two of the most important metrics are:

  • Annual revenue from organic traffic
  • Average revenue per session

For example, a typical eCommerce client might have numbers that look like this:

ROI of SEO: Sample numbers of a typical eCommerce client.

Using those numbers, we can estimate what monthly revenue would be if we increased the number of monthly sessions that occur from organic traffic.

ROI of SEO: we can estimate what monthly revenue would be if we increased the number of monthly sessions that occur from organic traffic.

Impressive numbers right?

We still tell prospective clients that we expect to increase their average number of sessions by 30% in six months, etc. (By the way, when we pick a projected increase and timeframe, we make our estimate conservative.)

The difference is that now they can see what it means in terms of increased revenue.

If we increased sessions by 30% for a client with numbers similar to those shown above, we’d increase their monthly revenue by $249,999.

Subtract our fee, and that gives them an ROI they can take to their boss or whoever needs to sign off on committing resources to SEO.

It’s Not an Exact Science, But It Can Get You Approval to Move Forward

When you’re working with your boss or an executive—hoping to get approval for SEO improvements to your site—don’t be vague.

Find those keywords where you rank in positions 7-10, as well as on pages 2 and 3 of the search results, then work with an experienced SEO specialist to calculate the numbers as we describe above.

That way you’re taking a number to your boss that’s directly tied to revenue, instead of just a traffic number that may or may not be meaningful to them.

None of this is an exact science of course. Some of those keywords might not convert; others might not be as relevant as you thought they were.

But in our experience, this method is better than any other for demonstrating the eCommerce opportunity to decision makers without having to spend countless hours doing detailed keyword research and complex ROI calculations.

Note: Want a custom in-depth assessment of your search ranking performance? Contact us to get started.