What you’d be looking for here is marketing incrementality—the lift the channel brings on top of a specific outcome that happens anyway.
Let’s say the outcome we want to monitor is conversions, so we’d be looking at how many conversions we’d still get if we halted specific marketing activities.
The problem with SEO is that you can’t just turn it off. Or well, you can. But no sane marketer will ever deploy noindex robots meta tag on the whole website.
Organic search is simply one of the most important channels for many businesses, and sabotaging your own SEO can have long-term detrimental effects.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t run SEO experiments and tests. You absolutely can. There’s been quite a lot of development and coverage about SEO testing in recent years.
But for the purpose of measuring incrementality and ROI, it is close to impossible for the vast majority of websites to come up with a good hypothesis and valid testing scenarios.
6. Forecasting future ROI
Last but not least, as SEOs, we’re often asked about the expected outcomes and ROI of certain SEO activities. This can get even more complicated, as SEO forecasting is a discipline on its own and can clash with all the aforementioned challenges as well.
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Don’t try to beat around the bush. Instead, face the uncertainty head-on. Setting up SEO objectives and making sure we’re on the right track to achieving them is a crucial part of our job. Having good communication skills is another.
A good way to approach this is to consider the following factors when coming up with specific numbers:
Past SEO performance of the page(s) or a website and its competitors
Compounded traffic potential of the content in question
Estimation of an average conversion rate (can be applied just to the bottom-of-the-funnel content for simplicity’s sake)
For SEO performance, a good start is to look up your website in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, head over to the Performance chart in the Overview report, and add all your relevant competitors:
Site Explorer overview of ahrefs.com
You can also check the traffic value (estimated monthly cost of traffic from all keywords a site is ranking for if paid via PPC):