SEO drives incremental value in terms of branded search, direct traffic and offline sales.

From our perspective, a well executed search optimisation programme means your website is open for business. I think we all agree that it’s not enough to have a shopping cart, or simply load products to your website.

While most business owners these days have at least some understanding of the importance of Search Engine Optimisation, it can be very easy to under-value the return on investment that SEO provides.

For example, a business that has a chain of bricks and mortar stores, as well as an online store, will most likely use a web analytics package such as Google Analytics to report on the following figures for visitors that were attributed to non-brand natural search:

  • the number of visits
  • the number of sales
  • the revenue that those sales produced

While this is an excellent approach to tracking the direct impact of your SEO activities, does it capture all of the value that SEO returns?

What about Brand Search?

Brand search is usually excluded from SEO reports as the majority of websites already rank very well, usually number one in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for their own brand name. However, ranking well for non-brand terms does help over time to increase the search traffic from brand terms as well.

For example, a customer who searches for non-brand terms such as “46 inch LCD TV” and checks out the first three of four search results, is then quite likely to later return to one or more of those websites by searching for the name of the stores that sell the product. The same person may also continue refining their generic search with product brand names; usually this happens after considering product ratings and reviews.

What about Direct Traffic?

Just as in the example above for brand search, non-brand searchers are also likely to revisit sites that they found with non-brand terms via bookmarks that they saved in their web-browser, or just by remembering the URL of the site and typing it in again.

What about Offline Sales?

Many consumers are still not completely comfortable with making online purchases, or they want to see and touch the physical product before they make the commitment to purchase. This is known as the ROBO effect (Research Online, Buy Offline).

A joint Comscore and Procter & Gamble study found that consumers who search for a product online spend on average 20% more in store and eMarketer has previously reported that every dollar spent online has influenced 3.45 dollars in offline spend.

In Conclusion

While you definitely should be tracking the direct impact that SEO has on your website’s performance, it also pays to keep the bigger picture in mind. SEO may well have an even greater return on investment than you had previously believed.