Many B2B SaaS brands make the mistake of relegating SEO to just rankings and traffic.

Making this mistake leads to frustration, as you won’t get any meaningful results from your SEO campaigns.

So what is SEO about?

SEO should ultimately be about revenue.

After all, what’s the point of ranking well and driving tons of traffic to your SaaS website if it doesn’t help boost the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing campaigns?

How SEO Drives Revenue

If you look at SEO as a hack or gimmick to drive traffic, you miss out on its greatest potential. You need to see SEO as an integral part of growth marketing that can be leveraged to grow your bottom line. Here are a few ways it can help do just that:

Powerful Customer Acquisition Channel

One of the most powerful ways SEO can help drive revenue is by helping you acquire new customers. This means shifting from using SEO simply as a traffic generation channel to a customer acquisition channel. Doing this means fine-tuning your SEO and content strategies to target people more likely to become customers. 

One way to do this is to focus on bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) content more, as it uses high purchase intent keywords. This way, SEO becomes more than just a marketing channel but lends itself to sales as well.

Another way to use SEO to drive more sales is to use it to rank critical pages on your site that drive the most sales. Usually, this involves optimizing for branded queries as well. 

Besides helping you drive relevant traffic to your website, SEO also contributes to revenue generation by helping reduce your customer acquisition costs (CAC). This is because SEO is more cost-effective than paid CAC channels. It’s also because SEO compounds over time without you having to increase costs proportionally. In other words, it continues bringing in results without you having to inject more resources.

Improves Customer Retention Rates

The SaaS business growth model is built around customer retention. The more customers you manage to retain, the more revenue you generate. 

And SEO done right can help boost your customer retention rates. 

A couple of ways SEO does this include:

  • Builds trust through creating custom, helpful content
  • Boosts your brand image
  • Can help establish you as an authority in your industry

SEO also helps you gain insights into customer buying behavior. The insights you gain help you create marketing and sales strategies that improve the efficiency of your RevOps, resulting in a growing bottom line.

For SEO to help with retention, your content strategy must also cater to customers. It must enhance your product education strategy.

Increases Customer Lifetime Value CLTV

Besides helping you retain customers, SEO also helps increase your customer lifetime value (CLTV). This is the revenue expected from each customer over some time. High CLTVs are an indication of how profitable your business is as it shows projected revenue over time.

How does SEO help increase your CLTV?

If you design your SaaS SEO strategy to target high-intent customers who are likely to be long-term users of your product, your SEO strategy will attract customers with high CLTV. 

Reputation Management and Brand Building

Reputation management and brand image are critical elements to growing a sustainable SaaS brand. This is because a positive brand reputation results in the following:

  • Customer loyalty
  • High customer confidence in your brand and product
  • Customers turning into brand ambassadors

All these lead to an increase in sales and a boost in your revenue.

SEO Supports Other Sales and Marketing Channels

Another way in which SEO helps drive revenue is by supporting other sales and marketing channels. Because it’s such a broad field, it has touchpoints in almost all other disciplines that help you generate revenue. Examples include search engine advertising (SEA), affiliate marketing, social media marketing, public relations (PR), and many more.

Especially if you’re a large established brand, your enterprise SEO strategy helps make your digital marketing and sales assets more visible on other channels, leading to more sales.

Challenges of Connecting Your SEO Efforts to Revenue

One reason many brands don’t align SEO with revenue generation is that it can be challenging to connect the two. Some of the challenges include the following:

Lack of Tools and Correct Configurations 

Attributing revenue to SEO is a huge challenge as it requires sophisticated tools that require proper configurations to pull the right data. Many businesses may not have the tools or skilled personnel to use them in-house. In this instance, outsourcing to a SaaS SEO agency would be your best option, especially since you’ll have to regularly upgrade both tools and skilled personnel.

Attribution is a Mammoth Task

Attributing revenue to SEO is a huge task that most marketers would rather not touch. This is because SEO touches all parts of the customer journey, and users have many touchpoints with your content before converting. 

While not perfect, the data-driven attribution (DDA) attribution model in GA4 provides one of the most efficient ways to get attribution across multiple funnels and channels.

Lack of Historical Data to Analyze

If you’re a startup, one of the challenges you’ll face is the lack of historical data to analyze to help you determine your SEO ROI. This is compounded by the fact that it takes time for SEO to kick in and start bringing returns on the investments you made. 

The Dichotomy Between Branded and Non-branded Search

Branded search refers to searches that include your brand name or product name. This is usually done by people who already know your brand and product. Non-branded search, on the other hand, refers to generic searches made by people using keywords that don’t contain your brand.

While branded queries are organic, they shouldn’t be attributed to SEO, as the searcher already knows about your brand. 

Calculating the ROI of SEO, therefore, becomes a challenge due to the difficulty of segmenting branded vs. non-branded organic traffic with conversion data.

So, should you give up on calculating SEO ROI?

Not at all. 

Knowing the role SEO plays in your revenue generation is an essential aspect of your marketing and business operations. It can also help you know how best to allocate your marketing resources. 

How to Determine SEO ROI

Now that you know the impact SEO has on your revenue, let’s quickly look at how you can determine SEO ROI.

While this may be tricky, there’s a formula you can use:

SEO ROI = (value of organic conversions – cost of SEO investments)/cost of SEO investments*100

While the formula to determine ROI may look simple, you need to do some math to calculate the total value of your organic conversions and SEO investment. Here’s how to do that: 

Value of organic conversions

You can easily track the value of your organic conversions in Google Analytics (GA) by setting up ecommerce tracking. This will give you access to many metrics you need to determine the value of your organic conversions through the “Conversions” section of your GA view.

If you don’t have ecommerce tracking set up, it’s easy to do. Just follow this simple guide.

You can then segment your report according to the particular channel you want to draw data for. In this case, our channel would be organic traffic, and the key metric would be revenue.

This is a simplistic overview of how to get the value of organic conversions, and it can vary from business to business.

For businesses built on lead generation, attributing revenue to traffic may be more complicated. To make it easier, you can leverage form tracking. This will help you better understand where your visitors came from and the activities they performed on your site. It will also make it easier to attribute the revenue generated by your organic traffic. 

Cost of SEO investment

This is easier to calculate and mainly includes in-house SEO expenses (including tools) or agency expenses if you outsource. Make sure to include everything that goes into planning and executing your SEO strategy.

Calculating SEO ROI

Armed with this information, you can now calculate your SEO ROI using our simple formula:

SEO ROI = (value of organic conversions – cost of SEO investments)/cost of SEO investments*100

For the sake of this example, let’s say the value of your organic conversions is $70,000, and the cost of SEO investment is $10,000. Your SEO ROI will be:

($700,000-$10,000)/$10,000 = 69

SEO ROI =69*100 = 6900%

While this may be a hypothetical example, it’s common for SEO to have astronomic ROIs. Which is why it’s a great space to invest in as one of your primary marketing channels.

Understanding SEO ROI: Key to Maximizing Your Campaigns 

The ROI of SEO should never be underestimated. Executed well, SEO can be one of your best-performing marketing and sales channels. Failure to understand this is why many SaaS brands don’t tap into the power of SEO.

However, it’s important to note that SEO is a long game, and unlike paid customer acquisition channels, SEO may take time. So, be patient if you want to calculate the ROI of your campaigns.

Need help with your SaaS SEO strategy and determining your ROI?

Then get in touch!

We’re more than happy to help.

Ken “Magma” Marshall is the Chief Growth Officer and a Partner at RevenueZen. He’s been battling Google / obsessing over helping brands grow through sustainable SEO & content strategies for the last 7 years. Husband, coffee addict, recovering foodie, mini Australian shepherd puppy dad, and serial entrepreneur (mostly failures, lots of lessons).