Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of search engine optimization (SEO) can be tricky, especially if you’re an eCommerce company that uses multiple marketing channels. But when you see the results your SEO strategy delivers, you can make better decisions.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to see the value of a data-driven eCommerce SEO strategy. With data on your side, you can:
- Understand the long-term value your optimized content can bring.
- Prove that value, so you can confidently allocate budget to SEO initiatives.
- Tell the difference between a data-driven SEO strategy that delivers results and a black-hat SEO scam that will undermine your long-term goals for growth.
Before you set out to measure the ROI of an SEO strategy, it’s important to consider what you want to accomplish by doing so.
Why it’s important to determine the ROI of your eCommerce SEO
If you want to make your eCommerce store visible to search engines, then you can’t overestimate the value of SEO. The more you track how your website is performing on search engines, the better you can prove the value of your SEO strategy.
Here’s what measuring the value of your SEO can do for you:
- Follow the money – Following the money means tracking your conversions using your website analytics. A data-driven method for measuring ROI will help you see the relationship between your eCommerce SEO metrics and actual revenue.
- Get buy-in – If you’re working with a CFO who holds the budgetary purse strings, hard data that proves the positive results of your SEO strategy will help them give the green light on more SEO initiatives.
- Create a smarter strategy – The more you track your SEO performance, the more insights you’ll gain, so you can experiment with tactics that will further optimize your eCommerce SEO.
So, there has to be a quick formula for proving the ROI of eCommerce SEO, right?
Multi-channel ecommerce Marketing complicates measuring Seo Roi
The rise of multi-channel marketing has been a mixed blessing for eCommerce SEO experts.
On the one hand, it means your customers can find you pretty much everywhere—whether they’re scrolling a favorite social media platform, googling a relevant query, or using voice search. And it means more opportunities to optimize your content for every channel you want to reach.
On the other hand, it’s harder to draw a straight line between an SEO tactic and a sale—because the average digital consumer’s buying journey doesn’t look like a straight line.
Let’s say your customer discovers your website after doing a search on Google, then they leave. A week later, they re-discover you on Facebook and buy a product, thanks to a retargeting campaign. Which channel gets credit for the sale?
Likewise, let’s say your customer sees a post from your brand on Instagram and clicks through your bio link to visit your website. Hours later, they use Google to search for your brand and buy a product. Again, which channel gets credit for the sale?
As you can see, SEO attribution isn’t as straightforward as “X divided by Y equals ROI.”
But there are plenty of shady people who would have you believe otherwise, so be on the alert if anyone calling themselves an SEO expert guarantees results.
How to use data to measure eCommerce SEO value
It is possible to determine the impact of SEO by observing certain data sets over a period of time, tracking the changes you’ve implemented, and measuring results.
Before we dive into some tools you can use to see how an SEO strategy impacts your eCommerce revenue, it’s important to acknowledge one thing: you aren’t going to see results overnight.
Think of an SEO strategy like a stock portfolio: certain riskier tactics can yield quick (but, ultimately, low-value) returns while others take time and maturity to deliver their full value.
At RankScience, we like to observe data on a new SEO tactic for at least 28 days to see if it’s making positive progress toward our customers’ goals—and even then, it can sometimes take four to six months for the strategy to reach its full potential.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can connect your eCommerce performance data to your SEO strategy.
Start using Google Analytics To Track SEO performance
Almost everyone has Google Analytics (GA) set up on their website, but are you actually using it to its full potential? GA is more accessible than you think for non-experts.
Ahrefs created a fantastic guide to acquaint you with the many ways to use Google Analytics to gain deeper insights into your SEO performance.
We love it because it helps you see the many dimensions of data Google Analytics can deliver, including traffic segments, referring websites, and user behavior—all of which are important in determining the value of an SEO strategy. Read it here.
Here’s a quick overview of the SEO metrics you should track to measure strategy success:
- Organic traffic – An increase in traffic alone may not directly translate to eCommerce sales, but an uptick in organic traffic for keywords you’ve optimized content for and in sales of related products can indicate that your SEO tactic is working.
- Organic bounce rate – Your bounce rate indicates when customers are navigating away from your website and potentially leaving your eCommerce sales funnel. One of the best indicators of a good SEO strategy is a lower bounce rate on optimized pages.
- Exit pages – Tracking the last pages people visit before leaving your website will help identify the pages that may have problems and, therefore, need the most optimization.
- Organic click-through rate (CTR) – The organic click-through rate indicates how many times people view a link on a search engine result page (SERP) versus how many times they actually click on it. It’s an SEO big win when a strategy helps you increase your organic CTR.
- Time on page – The longer people stick around on your website, the likelier they are to buy. Longer “dwell times” and time-on-page also mean that the site content is keeping visitors engaged, which increases the trust factors that help web crawlers rank search results. It’s a good sign of success if an SEO strategy results in longer times-on-page.
You also can go a step further by using tools like Ahrefs and Google Search Console to track how easily search engines can find your eCommerce content—and how likely it is to rank for certain keywords.
Set Up Conversion tracking In Google analytics
Your eCommerce site has data that will let you know exactly how much you’re making from web sales. If you haven’t already, set up eCommerce tracking data through Google Analytics.
Once you set up conversion tracking, you’ll see your site’s conversion rate, average order value, total transactions, and total revenue.
Let’s take a quick look at the four big eCommerce factors and how an SEO strategy may impact them:
- Conversions – As we mentioned earlier, an increase in organic traffic and click-through rates for keywords related to products that coincides with an increase in sales of those products often indicates SEO success.
- Average order value (AOV) – Some of the SEO factors that can contribute to your AOV are time-on-page (more time spent means higher-ticket sales), exit pages (people leaving the website before they browse for more items), and CTR (keywords optimized to sell/upsell/cross-sell high-ticket products).
- Purchase frequency – If you improve search engine visibility for popular products or coordinate your SEO strategy with retargeting campaigns, you can increase purchase frequency.
- Customer retention – SEO isn’t just for acquisition. Optimizing for help documents and customer support content will help improve customer loyalty and retention rates.
Split-test your SEO strategy
Depending on the business goals behind an SEO strategy, you can run tests and observe conversion metrics to see if your strategy has an impact on them.
With RankScience’s SEO A/B testing tools, you can apply changes to certain pages while leaving others unchanged and observe the difference in results.
For example, if your goal is to improve the quality of leads on your website, you can run an A/B test on meta-descriptions or title tags optimized to attract high-intent or high-ticket buyers. Then, in Google Analytics, keep an eye on your organic traffic, click-through rate, conversion rate, and average order value to see if they increase over time.
RankScience makes it easy to track the results of SEO strategy through A/B testing. (Source)
Calculate Organic Search Channel Value Using Multi-channel Conversion Visualizer
Google Analytics has a tool called Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer that will help you see the last channel a sale came from and how often buyers interacted with certain channels before they purchased.
The Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer can help you see the overall revenue coming to you from organic search. (Source)
The multi-channel funnel report will give you the total conversion value from a specific channel in a given timeframe—for example, you can see how many sales came to you from organic search for the past 30 days.
For eCommerce, this kind of reporting will help you see improvements if you hire an SEO company to do optimization on product pages (i.e., improve the visibility of your product pages on Google) but may not be as accurate for other SEO services, like keyword research for your blog.
Google admits that double counting occurs a lot when the tool attempts to credit “assisted conversions”:
“Assisted Conversions for a given channel counts all conversions in which that channel was a non-last interaction. Assisted Conversion Value is the total value associated with those conversions. As as result, double-counting can occur across rows or across assisted and last conversions. If two conversions occur for a single person, any channel interactions which were in both conversion paths count toward both conversions.”
Still, last-touch attribution reporting is essential to see the big picture of how an eCommerce SEO strategy performs.
To learn how to analyze Google’s multi-channel funnel reporting, go here.
Best practices for maximizing the ROI of your eCommerce SEO strategy
Once you can track your SEO performance, you can work with an SEO service to use tactics to improve your website’s ranking. Here’s what we recommend for our eCommerce clients:
- Perform a technical audit – A technical audit of your eCommerce website will reveal weaknesses that cause search engines to overlook your content. Once you have an inventory of the fixes your website needs, you can take action on improving them.
- Create a keyword map – The more you use keywords to drive the design of your website, the more SEO-friendly it will be. Align the keywords your customers are using to find your products and your website’s structure with a keyword map.
- Develop relevant content for high-intent keywords – Creating keyword-optimized product pages and bottom-of-funnel content are smart ways to maximize low-hanging SEO opportunities.
- Work on improving your Domain and Page Authority – Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) are scoring systems SEO marketers use to determine how likely content is to rank ahead of competitors. You can increase your DA and PA scores with improvements to your on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
- Test your on-page SEO changes – As we mentioned earlier, eCommerce SEO split-testing will help you see if your SEO tactics have an impact on how web crawlers find your eCommerce site.
Boost your eCommerce website ROI with a data-driven SEO strategy
Ecommerce sales in the U.S. grew by a massive 30% over the past year. Over a quarter of eCommerce traffic came from organic search. It’s essential to harness the power of SEO—and prove the value of your strategy, so your business can continue to grow.
Just because it’s a challenge to tie your SEO strategy to your bottom line doesn’t mean it isn’t worth proving results. Superpower your eCommerce website performance by using data to drive your most important marketing decisions.
Our SEO A/B testing platform will take your eCommerce website to the next level.
But don’t take our word for it! Get a free demo today and see for yourself how A/B testing will benefit your company.