SEO = Witchcraft? I’m convinced that people believe this statement.

I’m not going to lie, we definitely perform magic here at Cardinal, but all of that digital magic is backed by REAL people doing REAL work to produce REAL results. Whether it is the concrete task of building a new website or something more abstract, like developing a plan to improve keyword rankings, everything we do can be translated into ROI for our clients. It just takes a little insight!

So how do we define exactly what that ROI looks like?

ROI comes in many forms. For a web design client, the ROI is clear: A client comes to us with the need for a new website, we translate their thoughts into the design, and a month down the line the new website launches and the client can see the results. But ROI is not always this easy to see.

The first step to measuring the return on investment for a new client is identifying their bottom line. For some it is brand visibility, for others is it online sales, and for many of our clients it is a lead to a potential customer (which can come in the form of a phone call, form submission, Facebook like, Twitter follow or any number of contact methods.) There is no one universal measurement for ROI in our industry – ROI is a combination of many different factors.


There are many elements in a successful SEO campaign: optimized meta titles & descriptions, relevant onsite content, great blogs, press releases and articles, clean coding and URLs, user-friendly navigation and quality organic backlink building to name a few.

What we ultimately want from an SEO campaign is increased organic rankings which improve our conversion rates and contribute to the bottom line. The #1 spot on Google’s organic search receives 42% of traffic, the second spot gets 11%, third gets 8% and the 10th spot at the bottom of the first page receives 2.97% of search traffic. Through in-depth keyword research in the new client on-boarding process, we create an extensive list of search terms to target throughout the SEO campaign. The results are measured in our analytics and keyword rankings reports.

Keyword rankings: Although Google has slowly but surely become more secretive about keyword rankings, we young SEO professionals are quickly finding ways to keep this crucial information at our fingertips. With keyword rankings, what we can show is how a website is ranking for a specific Google search keyword currently, where they ranked previously, and how many people are actively searching that term over a certain period of time. SEO efforts can be measured through improved keyword rankings over time. I emphasize over time because organically this takes time when done the right way. As a measurement of ROI, we show our clients on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis how their website is ranking for target keywords.

Analytics Reports: This is the “insight” part of the equation. Analytics is the meaningful, in-depth look into how our SEO campaign is contributing to the success of your company and your bottom line. Analytics allows us to determine how many people are coming to your site, who those people are, how they spend their time on your site, and ultimately how to convert those visitors into clients. This crucial insight allows us to make actionable, data-based recommendations to improve conversion rates and overall ROI on an ongoing basis.

Most SEO professionals know the basics of generating traffic, but if they cannot convert that traffic into clients, what contribution have they made to your bottom line?

ROI in Paid Search

Reporting for a Paid Search campaign gives insight into the total campaign spend, breakdown of spend across time and across keyword groups, the total number of impressions, click-through rate, average cost per click, and average cost per conversion. With the addition of software that allows us to track calls or form submissions, and even as complex as capturing the exact shopping cart total for e-commerce companies, we are able to show clients how much money each conversion is worth. For a client selling a $50 services, Cost per Conversion might average out around a few dollars, yet a client selling a high-end procedure or expert legal advice might find that they are willing to pay a few hundred dollars to secure a new client who will be worth thousands.  Insight provided by these reports helps us meet a client’s bottom line by optimizing their account to reduce the CPA (cost per acquisition) and improve the ROI.

The ultimate goal in Paid Search is to optimize the marketing budget to capture the maximum number of potential or actual clients in a given month. ROI for PPC: spend X amount of money to capture Y amount of new clients, worth about Z amount of profit for your company.

So no, SEO is not witchcraft. It is the calculated, research-based method of marketing your company online. If an SEO company tells you they can’t measure their efforts, RUN!!