This post will help you understand what costs factor into estimating an organic search engine optimization campaign as well as help you calculate the value of website traffic garnered from organic search engine optimization.

Understanding the Value of Organic Search Engine Traffic

Search traffic is usually the most common source of traffic to a website. Often, it can be upwards of 60-80 percent of all website traffic. Of this, traffic from Google usually provides 2/3 of all search engine searches with Yahoo and Bing making up most of the rest.

But what is important to understand about organic search engine visits is that they are highly targeted visitors to your website. Someone typing in, say “luxury apartments in Atlanta” is seeking exactly that—they are researching luxury apartments available in Atlanta.

Compare this to any other type of ad—where the individual is probably not interested in what you are offering except, perhaps, they fit a “profile” of your target audience. That’s why getting your website in front of that searcher is so important—they are actually asking to meet you and your product or service!

Types of Website Traffic Sources

There are three main kinds of sources of website traffic:

  1. direct, which include visitors directly typing in your URLs, bookmarking, and improperly or untagged emails and digital ads
  2. referral, which includes links from all other websites especially social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  3. search, which is traffic from a search engine like Google, is comprised of two subtypes—paid search and organic search

Calculating the Cost of Organic Search Engine Optimization

SEO isn’t free. Rather, it is more akin to “earned media”—you have to make an investment in order to reap the reward. There are several key cost factors to your search engine optimization:

  • number of domains you are seeking to optimize
  • degree to which your website code is search engine compliant
  • amount of content assets—blog posts, images, video—that can be repurposed for content marketing and link building
  • competition’s investment—the more they have done or are doing, the more you need to do as well
  • reporting and monitoring to understand how your optimizations are taking effect, what you need to change, and to what extent they are improving your bottom line

As you can see, there are a lot of cost factors that go into estimating your organic search engine optimization campaign; SEO costs can range from $2,000 to $10,000 month, and campaign terms can vary from 6 to 24 months. Ultimately, with organic search engine traffic being such a valuable part of your digital marketing mix, you need to feel confident that your search marketing consultant has the proven experience and results to help with your campaign.

Calculate the Value of Organic Search Engine Optimization

Potential Value Based Approach

First, we need to figure out the potential value of a qualified lead or sale. Let’s say that is $1,000.

Now, let’s calculate how many visitors you need to get to attract to get to a single qualified lead or sale. A well-performing website can expect to convert about one percent of all visitors into a qualified lead or sale.

Since your one percent conversion rate on 100 visitors would result in one qualified lead or sale worth $1,000, that means your organic search campaign has a budget of $1,000 / 100 visitors, or $10/click.

Cost Based Approach

Another way to calculate how much it would cost to create demand from a similar paid search campaign is the cost-based approach. In this case, we ask what is the average cost per click from a paid search ad. Let’s say it is $2—it costs you $2 when they click on the paid search ad and visit your website.

Now, let’s establish a baseline—how much organic search did you receive during the same period last year? Let’s say it is 100,000 visitors.

Next, let’s look at how much traffic increased from organic search following your campaign. Let’s say it increased traffic an impressive five percent, or 5,000 visitors—great job! Since we know that to attract this number of visitors in a paid search campaign would be $2/click, we can calculate the similar campaign cost of $2/click * 5,000 incremental visitors, or $10,000.

In other words, it will cost you $10,000 to increase traffic 5,000 visitors via paid search. If you wanted to garner that traffic from the coveted organic searcher, you should expect to budget about $10,000 to attend to all the cost factors required to improve organic search.

David Felfoldi

David Felfoldi

David Felfoldi is a digital marketing strategist for SHERPA Global. Over the past 15 years, David has guided the digital strategy behind notable organizations such as ADP, Spanx, Racetrac, Gables, and the National Center of Civil and Human Rights. When not tinkering with technology or musing on marketing David enjoys running and cycling adventures across the globe.

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