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Why You Shouldn’t Always Pin SEO to an ROI Target

 Renew Marketing    Internet Marketing

Why You Shouldn’t Always Pin SEO to an ROI Target

As a business owner, it’s easy to think of everything in terms of ROI.

However, in some cases, ROI isn’t the ideal measurement tool for success. SEO is one such area where ROI isn’t always an effective measurement.

Here’s why you shouldn’t always pin SEO to an ROI target:

SEO isn’t a single, unified marketing tool

Ten years ago, SEO was seen as a marketing channel. You could put $1000 into SEO and measure the ROI from that investment.

Today, SEO isn’t a single marketing channel. Instead, it’s an integral arm of your business. SEO is made up of paid advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, and many other different marketing channels.

The goal of SEO is to increase your rankings on Google Search and other search engines. However, Google is simply a ranking mechanism that measures the relevancy of your site to potential customers.

Instead of seeing SEO as one marketing channel, you need to view it as a summation of all your other marketing tools. You can’t simply funnel money into SEO to increase search rankings.

Long-term growth and benefits

Spending $1000 on SEO today probably won’t bring your business $1000 tomorrow. It might not even bring your business $1000 next month or next year.

However, consistently concentrating on SEO will provide long-term growth and other valuable benefits for your business.

Your website may have a larger brand presence online and more website visitors, for example. Over time, these two benefits will result in more revenue for your business. Today, however, it’s difficult to put a valuation on something like “increased online brand presence.”

In other words, don’t fire your SEO firm after one month. The results may take time to appear, and when they do appear, they can transform your entire business.

SEO isn’t always an investment – it’s a requisite

Today, SEO is a required part of doing business – especially in competitive marketplaces. For that reason, many business owners don’t view SEO as an investment: they view it as a requisite.

Do you measure the ROI of your accounting department? Do you measure the ROI on human resources or your secretary? These are required parts of doing business which can’t always be tied to a specific dollar amount return.

The value of an investment can be measured using ROI. The value of a requisite can’t be measured the same way.


Paid advertising (PPC) is an industry where ROI reigns supreme. With paid advertising, the goal is to create a campaign that continuously generates a positive ROI for your business.

PPC and SEO are two distinct entities, however. The effects of PPC are seen in the near future – visitors arrive at your website and some visitors turn into paying customers. The amount you pay for each visitor should be outpaced by the average revenue generated by each visitor.

The effects of SEO may be seen in the near future or distant future, but they don’t always translate directly into increased visitor totals or more customers for your business.

You can still measure the ROI from SEO

There’s nothing stopping you from measuring the ROI from SEO. If you pay an SEO firm $5,000 per month and your online sales increase by 150%, then that SEO firm is probably doing something right.

The return you receive from SEO depends entirely on how you use it. You can pay a web developer $10,000 to create a website, but that $10,000 is going to be wasted if nobody ever visits your website.

Yes, you could measure the ROI from SEO. The ROI you produce from your calculations, however, will likely be inaccurate. SEO is growing more and more complex every day and it’s becoming difficult to predict a specific dollar amount return on your SEO.

For that reason, you should avoid pinning your SEO to ROI and instead focus on other measurement methods – like customer engagement, brand recognition, and website traffic.