This spring marked the annual Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York. I was fortunate to be invited to present a session on the topic of measuring ROI for search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
In 2007, I wrote for SEW that it was difficult to fully measure past SEO impact as well as to confidently predict future ROI for SEO. During the SES session, I discussed the many variables had changed since 2007, and three specific ways to model SEO growth in a relatively confident manner.
I did spend a fair amount of time covering the obstacles to accuracy, as noted within some of the feedback I received from the audience that “I made it seem impossible.” That was not my intention.
When discussing statistical confidence, I fear I’m not well trained, but I do know the difference between highly predictable sets and those with more variables and, thus, lower confidence.
My point is that to confidently measure ROI for SEO, you have to temper expectations of high accuracy within exact number of visits or conversions, and lean more toward the school of performance growth as measured by trending lines. The models which I will discuss below have worked well and have proven to be in some cases surprisingly close to numerically accurate, and have certainly shown the ability to be trend-predictive.