SEO for Small Business: Return on Investment

SEO for Small Business - Return on Investment

If you have been following along with this series of articles on SEO for Small Business, you should now be fairly comfortable with the basics. You more than likely have a good picture of who your target market is and what you want them to do when they get to your website. You should know who your competitors are, and how backlinks are important to your search engine optimisation campaigns. In the last article, we had a brief look at Google Analytics and how you can interpret the numbers.

In this article, we are going to be looking at the return on your investment (ROI). If you decide to pay an SEO company to do the work for you then clearly your investment will be financial, however if you are working through these articles as a small business owner and learning the ropes yourself, your investment is time. Regardless of whether your investment is time or money, what’s the point if you don’t get a return for the cost of investment?

It is important to note the rate of return here. If you see conversions to sales as your ROI, you could be waiting a long time to see a return, depending on your industry, the keywords you are trying to rank top spot for and how many competitors you have all vying for that same rank. As such, I believe that there are also some alternative returns which should encourage you to continue with your seo campaign. This article will be looking at the following outcomes to the investment you put in:

  1. Financial
  2. Improved Rankings in Search
  3. Increased Volume of Traffic


As mentioned above, these articles are about giving the small business owner the tools and knowledge to get started with improving their online presence. This saves money but costs time and ultimately there is no substitute for having a dedicated team of SEO experts handle your digital marketing. Whether you pay someone or do it yourself, your end goal is obviously to convert website visitors to leads, and leads to customers. If you see an increase in revenue through your website following your investment into Search Engine Optimisation, it would be clear that you are getting a return on your investment and everyone is happy.

Improved Rankings in Search

Depending on your industry, location, products and services though seeing a direct correlation between investment into SEO and revenue increasing can take some time so there has to be another way of determining if things are working. One of the easiest ways here is to take a look at your rankings in search engine results for the keywords you want your website to be found for.

Using Google Search Console, you can look at the search terms which people are entering and your average rank in Google. Comparing this rank over time will give you an idea of how your website is improving (or not if things aren’t working) and you may see your website move from not ranking at all, to ranking at #56, then a few weeks later #32, then a few weeks later #25 and so on.

An improvement in rankings as illustrated above would indicate that what you are doing is working, so if there are no clear financial returns, you can at least be confident that they are well on their way. A top 10 result should be your first goal here and once achieved, work on getting top 3. Once that is achieved, go for broke making changes that will hopefully get you to rank #1.

Increased Volume of Traffic

Another return on your investment would be an increase in website traffic, especially if you don’t physically sell things from your website. Perhaps the goal of your digital presence is branding awareness, or to provide information to your potential customers. In these examples an increase in website traffic would show that your efforts are not in vein and result in achieving your goal.

One thing to watch here though is that you are looking for genuine traffic. If you increase the number of website visitors but they don’t stay on your website for long (i.e. the Bounce Rate increases) then your rankings will suffer and this will eventually result in a decrease in traffic making the return on your investment short lived.

Use Google Analytics to track the number of visitors, and make sure that the Bounce Rate is decreasing and the Visit Duration is increasing. If these three indicators are moving in the right direction, you can consider this to be a return on your investment.

Interestingly these three returns all flow on from one another. If you work on making your website more relevant, you will see an increase in visitors, a decrease in bounce rate and an increase in visit duration. As this happens, you will then start to see an improvement in your rankings. As your rankings improve, you will then start to see more genuine traffic which increases the chances of conversion to a financial return.

Trust and Your Return

As a small business owner you have no doubt heard the phrase “people do business with people they know, like and trust”. I don’t remember who first came up with it but it is very relevant in the digital world – perhaps even more relevant now with the amount of scams around.

All the time and money you can throw into your search engine marketing campaign is useless if your website is not up to the task of converting your traffic to customers. With your competitors being just a click away online, you have a split second for you visitors to choose to look at your website. Once they have chosen to look, you then have just a few more seconds for them to find what they are looking for. Assuming the website visitor likes your website and has found what they are looking for, you then need a clear and simple way to take them through to becoming a customer.

Your website needs to look professional and interesting to grab the visitor’s attention the second they see it. Your website needs to be simple to use on any device and be easy to find what the visitor wants. Your website then needs to use clear calls to action, taking into account colours and positioning of elements to walk them through the process without even thinking about it.

When you have a website that promotes trust from the outset and is appealing and relevant to your website visitor, you will see your return on investment – be it financial, rankings or traffic – improve.

Then and only then, you will know that your time and money have been well spent.