A Comprehensive Guide to Calculating ROI for SEO

March 17, 2024
Posted by
Andrew Pottruff
A Comprehensive Guide to Calculating ROI for SEO


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. But how do you know if your SEO efforts are paying off? Calculating return on investment (ROI) is the best way to quantify the value SEO delivers. This comprehensive guide will teach you step-by-step how to accurately measure SEO ROI using free tools, real-world examples, and case studies. You’ll also learn about optimizing structured data for better SEO, pricing models, and maximizing your return on SEO investment.

Calculating SEO ROI

SEO ROI formulas compare the costs invested into SEO with the revenue gained as a result. There are a few standard formulas:

  • ROI = (Gain from SEO - SEO Costs) / SEO Costs
  • ROI = (Revenue Gained - Revenue Before SEO) / SEO Costs
  • ROI = (Increase in Leads or Sales) / SEO Costs

The key is tracking rankings, traffic, leads and sales over time to quantify SEO gains. Here’s how to calculate SEO ROI step-by-step:

  1. Use Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to identify key terms, search volume and competition.
  2. Track keyword rankings and site traffic with tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz.
  3. Monitor leads and sales growth in analytics and CRM platforms.
  4. Calculate SEO costs like content creation, link building and tools.
  5. Plug the numbers into a ROI formula.
  6. Compare ROI period-over-period and adjust strategy as needed.

Below is a sample SEO ROI report using the formulas and tracking above:

SEO ROI Report 2024

Target Keywords:

  • seo services - 9,900 avg. monthly searches
  • seo company - 8,100 avg. monthly searches


  • seo services - Moved from #4 to #2
  • seo company - Moved from #7 to #3


  • Sessions from target keywords increased 60% year-over-year


  • Total leads increased by 22% year-over-year


  • Revenue from SEO leads was $42,000

SEO Costs:

  • Content creation, outreach, tools = $12,500

ROI = ($42,000 revenue - $0 revenue before SEO) / $12,500 costs

= 236% ROI

The company earned $236 for every $1 spent on SEO!

Tracking rankings, leads and revenue revealed the huge ROI.

Optimizing Structured Data for SEO

Structured data and schema markup help search engines understand your content and display it prominently in results. Here’s how to optimize structured data for better SEO:

  1. Identify important pages, content types and data to markup. Prioritize product pages, contact info, events, etc.
  2. Use Schema.org and JSON-LD format for easiest markup.
  3. Add schema code to HTML using tags like <script type="application/ld+json">.
  4. Test markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
  5. Monitor enhanced performance in featured snippets, knowledge panels and rich results.

Adding properly formatted structured data can improve clickthrough rate by 30%. It also helps pages rank higher in results.

SEO Pricing Models

SEO costs depend on your business’ needs, competition and location. Common pricing models include:

  • Hourly - Ranges from $50-$150/hr for tactical tasks
  • Monthly Retainer - Ranges from $1,000-$7,500/mo for ongoing strategy
  • Project-Based - Ranges from $500-$5,000 per project like site audit
  • Percentage of Ad Spend - Ranges from 10-20% fee on ad spend
  • Value Based - Ranges from $2,500-$10,000+ based on value delivered

Factors like local vs national SEO, keywords, backlinks needed and optimization difficulty impact pricing. Make sure to get quotes from a few agencies before selecting one.

SEO Case Studies

Here are two examples of companies who saw incredible ROI from SEO:

Case Study 1 - Law Firm

  • Targeted long-tail keywords like “corporate lawyer Seattle”
  • Created blog, videos and legal guides optimized with keywords
  • Ranked #1 for several competitive terms
  • Lead volume increased 75% year-over-year
  • Achieved 210% SEO ROI in first year

Case Study 2 - SaaS Company

  • Focused on topics like “customer churn rate”
  • Implemented technical fixes like site speed and UX
  • Ranked for 10+ high-value keywords
  • Lowered customer acquisition cost by $300 per customer
  • Saw 325% ROI on SEO in 8 months

These examples demonstrate that tracking granular metrics and optimizing to rank for lucrative keywords drives massive SEO returns.


Calculating SEO ROI accurately requires monitoring rankings, leads and revenue over time. Use free tools, structured data, case studies and the steps in this guide to maximize your SEO return on investment. Consistent tracking provides insight to adjust strategy and continue improving ROI. Implement these best practices now to start generating business growth from SEO.