Calculating the value of an SEO course

In today’s digital age, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for businesses of every conceivable size. With the right SEO strategy, you will improve your online visibility, attract more traffic to your website and ultimately achieve your business goals.

As a website owner or SEO specialist, you obviously want to be able to measure the results of your efforts. However, effectively measuring and calculating your SEO efforts is not so easy. How do you know if your SEO strategy is really working? How can you accurately measure the ROI of SEO? And how can you predict and optimize your SEO performance?

In this article, I will give you clear answers to these complex questions. I’ll tell you about different methods for calculating the value of SEO. From simple traffic estimates and conversion calculations to more advanced methods such as keyword value and lifetime value. I’ll also tell you how to set up a comprehensive tracking setup for your SEO journey and how to deploy essential tools. Here you can think of Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

After reading this article, you will have valuable information and tips to get the most out of your SEO efforts. Both beginners in this field and seasoned professionals will be able to take their results to an even higher level as a result. Let’s get started!

Can you predict the ROI of an SEO project in advance?

If you already know a thing or two about SEO, you also know that numerous variables affect it. For example, consider the current state of your website, the competition within your niche, content quality, website speed, mobile-friendliness and a host of other technical and content aspects. Therefore, predicting the exact return from an SEO course is very difficult. Moreover, unpredictable factors, such as algorithm updates and changing search behavior, are also influential.

Factors that make predicting SEO ROI difficult

  1. Unpredictable algorithm updates: search engines like Google constantly update their algorithms. They do this to constantly provide users with the best search results. Sometimes those updates can cause sudden changes in your website’s ranking. That makes the predictability of the results of an SEO project more difficult.
  2. Competition: SEO is a dynamic field in which you compete with other websites for the highest possible ranking in organic search results. In addition to changing search engine algorithms, changes in your competitors’ SEO strategies can also affect your ranking and traffic to your website.
  3. Changes in search behavior: users’ search behavior is also subject to change. Trends, seasonality, market changes and various other factors may underlie this. Changing search behavior affects search volume for your most important keywords.
  4. Time to see results: SEO is a long-term strategy. This means that it can take up to months before the full effects of your efforts become apparent. Making direct predictions becomes more difficult as a result.
  5. Technical issues: technical problems with your website, such as slow load times, broken links and mobile optimization issues, can reduce the effectiveness of your SEO efforts(1).
  6. Quality content: one of the most crucial aspects of SEO is creating high-quality content. This content manages to not only attract visitors, but also retain them. However, it is difficult to predict how well a particular piece of content will perform(2).
The value/ROI of SEO.

The above, as well as other factors, make SEO a long-term investment. Just because these things affect your ranking and make it difficult to make predictions, however, does not mean that SEO cannot produce stable results. Quite the contrary, in fact. Using SEO data and trends, you can make strategic decisions that take your visibility and findability in search results to a noticeably higher level.

Calculating the value of SEO at a glance

No time for a full article on calculating the value of SEO? No problem. Watch the video below for a summary.

Calculating the value of SEO.

Different ways to calculate the value of SEO

Now that you know what factors like affect the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, it’s time to move on to the ways to calculate this value. There are several methods for this. Some common ones I have listed for you below:

  1. Traffic estimation: with tools like Google Analytics, you can track how many visitors to your website come from organic search. This gives an indication of the direct value of SEO in terms of traffic.
  2. Conversion rates and value: if you keep track of conversion rates for organic search traffic, you can better understand the financial value of SEO. Imagine you run an e-commerce website. In that case, you’re looking at sales that come directly from organic search traffic. For other types of websites, the conversion value may again be the number of leads or subscriptions generated through organic search.
  3. Keyword value: when using tools such as Google Ads, you can find the estimated cost per click (CPC) for your most important keywords. When you then multiply this cost by the number of organic clicks you receive, you can estimate how much you would have spent if you had paid for those clicks through PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads.
  4. Customer lifetime value (CLV): if you know the CLV of your customers, you can use this to estimate the value of SEO. Imagine you know that an average customer you attract through organic search has a lifetime value of €1000. If you attract 100 such clients per month, you can say that the SEO value based on the CLV for that month is €100,000.
  5. Ranking: although not directly expressed in financial terms, the position of your website on the search engine results page (SERP) is also an indication of the value of your SEO efforts. When you achieve a high ranking for relevant keywords, it brings you more traffic and ultimately more conversions.
Customer-Lifetime-Value-(CLV) - calculating the value/roi of SEO

However, I do want to add a comment to the above. In fact, you can use the methods I mentioned to make useful estimates. However, they may not always reflect the full value of SEO. With search engine optimization, for example, you can also build brand awareness and trust. This in turn provides indirect benefits such as repeat purchases and word-of-mouth advertising. These things are harder to measure.

Formulas to calculate the value of SEO

MethodFormulaAdvantagesCons
Traffic estimation(Total number of visitors through SEO)Easily measured with analytics tools.Provides no insight into traffic quality or final conversions.
Conversion rates and value(Number of conversions via SEO) x (Average value per conversion)Provides a direct financial value of SEO.Depending on the accuracy of conversion tracking.
Keyword Value(Number of organic clicks for a keyword) x (CPC of that keyword)Provides an estimate of the value of organic traffic compared to paid traffic.CPC can vary and does not always reflect the actual value of a click.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).(Number of new customers through SEO) x (CLV)Provides long-term value from SEO.Requires accurate CLV calculation and customer segmentation.
RankingNo specific formula, but it is about the position of the website on the SERP.Provides insight into website visibility.Provides no direct financial value.

Note that although these formulas help you get an efficient estimate of SEO value, they are by no means exact measurements. Indeed, the actual value of SEO depends on several factors, including the nature of the industry, competition and the quality of SEO efforts.

What formulas can you use to predict SEO traffic?

Predicting traffic numbers from SEO can be complex because it depends on several variables. These include search volume, ranking position, seasonality, and competition. Still, there are some methods you can use to make a reliable estimate. I briefly explain them below.

  1. Using historical data and trends: if you have access to historical SEO data, you can identify trends and patterns. You then use these to predict your future performance. Linear regression or time series analysis can be useful statistical techniques here. These terms may sound complicated, but the formula is easier than you think.

Formula: y = mx + b, where:

  • y is predictable traffic
  • m is the growth or decline over time
  • x is the unit of time (for example, months or years)
  • b is the starting point (traffic at t=0).
Use-of-history-data-and-trends
  1. Keyword Volume and Click-Through Rate (CTR): you can combine the average search volume for a particular keyword with the average CTR for your current or target ranking position. That’s another way to estimate potential traffic.

Formula: SEO traffic = Search volume x CTR

Keep in mind, though, that CTR varies depending on your position on the page. Typically, the higher the position, the higher the CTR.

Keyword-Volume-and-Click-Through-Rate
  1. Predicting growth with SEO efforts: if you plan specific SEO efforts, such as publishing more content or building backlinks, you can also estimate their expected impact. You do so based on experience, case studies or industry benchmarks.

Formula: Projected growth = Current traffic x (1 + expected growth rate)

Again, I want to emphasize that while these formulas can be useful, SEO can still be unpredictable. Thus, the results of these calculations remain estimates. Moreover, results may also be affected by factors beyond your control, such as search engine algorithm changes and changes in search behavior.

Growth-predicting-with-SEO-efforts

What do you need to measure the value of an SEO journey?

If you want to best measure the value of your SEO journey, you can use a variety of tools and systems. I list a few below that are among the most essential:

  1. Google Analytics: this tool measures traffic to your website. It gives you information such as total number of visitors, source of traffic (organic, paid, direct, etc.), user behavior on the website and conversion rates(3).
  2. Google Search Console: This tool gives you insight into how Google sees and indexes your website. It gives you information about what keywords people are using to find your site, how many clicks and impressions you get for different keywords, the presence of any crawl or indexing errors on your site and more(4).
  3. Google Tag Manager: this tool allows you to manage code snippets or “tags” on your website without having to modify your website’s source code every time. This is especially useful for setting up advanced tracking, such as event tracking or conversion pixels.
  4. SEO Tools: various SEO tools can assist you in conducting keyword research, competitive analysis, link building, technical SEO audits, and more. Examples of such tools include SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz(5).
  5. Conversion Tracking: sometimes you want to be able to track specific conversions. You can think of purchases, newsletter signups, lead form submissions and more. In most cases, you can set this up with Google Analytics or through other tracking tools such as Facebook Pixel (for social media conversions).
  6. CRM: If you generate leads or customers through your Web site, you probably want a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. In fact, this system allows you to manage these contacts and keep track of which of them were generated through SEO.
  7. Heatmap Tools: tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg give you insight into how users navigate your website and where they might get stuck.
  8. A/B Testing Tools: if you plan to run A/B tests to optimize different elements of your website, you may also want to install a tool such as Optimizely or Google Optimize.
CRM

What does such a tracking system look like in practice?

Setting up a tracking system for your SEO journey can be an extensive process. In doing so, you need to take several steps and use a variety of tools. Below, I give you an overview of what such a path could look like for you as well:

  1. Define your goals and KPIs: before you start installing tools and collecting data, you need to be clear about what you want to measure and why. What actions on your website are most important to your business? These may include purchases, newsletter subscriptions, downloads, form submissions, etc.
  2. Installing Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the foundation of any good tracking setup. The tool gives you insight into your Web site traffic, the source of that traffic, user behavior on your site and more.
  3. Setting up Google Search Console: Google Search Console gives you insight into how search engine Google sees your website. It alerts you when it detects problems that might negatively affect your ranking in organic search results.
  4. Installation of Google Tag Manager: Google Tag Manager can help you manage various tracking codes on your website. There is then no need to modify the source code every time.
  5. Set up conversion tracking: using Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager or a combination of both, you can set up goals to measure specific conversions on your website.
  6. Install SEO tools: tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz can help you perform keyword research, competitive analysis, link building, technical SEO audits and more.
  7. CRM integration: if you use a CRM system, you need to make sure you integrate it properly with your website and tracking tools. That way, you can track which customers or leads are generated from SEO.
  8. Install heatmap and A/B testing tools: you may also want to install tools to create heatmaps of user behavior or perform A/B testing.
  9. Data Validation: once you have your entire tracking system set up, it is important to verify that your data is collected and reported correctly. A testing period of several days or even weeks may be necessary.
  10. Ongoing monitoring and optimization: after installation, it is important to regularly monitor and analyze your data. Based on your interim findings, you can take immediate action and make adjustments as needed.

Using the roadmap above and the rest of the information in this article, you’ll have a good idea of how to measure SEO value. However, each of these steps requires a significant amount of time and expertise. Therefore, it is often advisable to hire an experienced SEO expert or agency.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.