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Is SEO Cost Effective? Learn How to Measure SEO ROI with Nexis Novus Technology
<a href="" target="_self">Ethan Wong</a>

Ethan Wong

Ethan Wong is a digital marketing specialist in Search, who managing Nexis Novus Technology while working on Freebies4u Malaysia as his passion for writing & sharing. LinkedIn -

Is SEO Cost Effective? How To Measure SEO vs ROI? [2023]

Updated March 18, 2022

Is SEO Cost-Effective? 

One of the most common questions about SEO is “how much does SEO cost?” And to be honest, it can be tough to answer but our team summarised it in our previous post.

To be honest, so many variables go into SEO costs – in most cases, some are obvious, while some are hidden costs! So is SEO cost-effective when comes down to getting what you pay for will you get back your investment in return?

SEO Cost-Effectiveness – Yes! SEO is a long-term strategy & investment worth your money, that’s sure to pay off in the long run because of targeting customers searching for your product and services online effectively. SEO helps businesses save money instead of search ads or other paid ads.

Let’s break down the obvious & hidden SEO costs before we answer the final main question – How to measure SEO ROI?

Type of SEO Costs 

There is some cost to be measured in terms of return on investment (ROI) in SEO. We break down into obvious costs & hidden costs that you could take into account.

Obvious SEO Cost – SEO Specialist

There are pros and cons to hiring someone to manage your SEO agency vs. in house SEO team to assist you in optimizing your website. Just remember that you get what you pay for – regardless of which selection you choose. Most importantly analyze the effectiveness of SEO and strategy implemented by whichever router you choose.

In general, the more knowledge and experience a person or team has, the higher the cost of their SEO services. Of course, this sounds like an obvious statement & it is common sense that paying for someone’s expertise is often overlooked and undervalued for most businesses out there. Not to mention that job done by SEO specialists involves more than just keyword insertion & research but more effective strategies too.

Something for the business owner to take note too – No one can fit all formulas that can magically make a website rank better and increase conversions. That is the reason why an SEO specialist or team must adapt and adjust its strategy to account for unforeseen challenges.

For example, when Google releases a core algorithm change – either the algorithm changes can tank a client’s rankings on SERPs or negatively affect their SEO. For such cases, it’s up to the SEO specialist to adjust or come out with a strategy to account for the ranking signals on Google to be their main priorities.


Obvious SEO Cost – SEO Tools & Software

Another significant and obvious SEO cost associated is the software and tools you need to do your SEO jobs if you are getting an in-house SEO specialist.

There are a vast amount of SEO tools available in today’s market – either free or paid versions. As you would be expected the majority of them will market themselves similarly and claim to make optimization easier. As SEO tools help for keyword research which is highly important – but again, if you are not sure which SEO tools to get for, we do highly recommend Ahrefs & SEMRUSH.

semrush Nexis Novus Technology

As for smaller start-ups or businesses, free tools are great for just getting your SEO journey started into optimizing their website, but they don’t give you all the information you need to do a thorough job, especially like competitor analysis – crucial for business owners to know how their competitors are doing compared to them in order to improve.

Furthermore, they may not be meant for SEO at all. A very good free tool example is Google Ads Keyword Planner which it’s a great tool for paid search marketing – SEM, it isn’t meant for SEO & keywords used for PPC are sometimes not the same as what is used for SEO purposes.

A common mistake many people make is paying for lots of SEO tools or software licenses that essentially do the same things but again, without trying more trials, you will not be able to know which tools are suitable for your needs. In general, the SEO tools you need are for auditing, research, and crawling.


Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Web Developers/Support

In most cases, your websites will never come error-free even for the best web developer in the world because generally what an SEO professional does to optimize is always different than what a web developer trying to provide – fancy animation, higher loading time, etc.

Therefore, the first thing most SEO professionals will do is run a technical audit on your website and fix the errors they discover. They do this because they know their on-page, content, and off-page SEO efforts would go down to drain on a website with many technical issues that would ultimately keep the site from being indexed or ranking well. That why hiring web developers that are experienced with SEO would help to reduce more errors and costs!

Technical errors come in various complexity; therefore, the time, effort, and cost to fix them also vary, but they often require the assistance of an IT person or a web developer – which often adds to your SEO cost indirectly (internal or external).


Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Content Writer

For most cases, many business owners & brands didn’t consider this cost which is quite crucial – the unforeseen cost is the amount you may have to pay for quality content creation. Content in 2022 is still the king and it has always been that way even for SEO, by having high-quality content is an important piece in an SEO strategy.

If you aren’t creating high-quality content while your competitors are doing it aggressively, you aren’t going to rank or get many organic leads/traffic/customers.

As Google and other search engines prioritize providing their users with the most up-to-date, reliable, and relevant content possible. So producing content that speaks to your expertise is essential for ranking well.

Good content copy that is optimized with targeted keywords for a website ranges in cost depending on the ask and the individual or team tasked with producing it. But it’s an expense you should prioritize in your SEO budget, to learn more about SEO content writing services that help you rank well on Google – do contact us!


Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Graphic/Visual Designer For Contents

You must be thinking why are graphics & visuals so important as part of SEO cost too? Original visuals & graphics on your website & contents matter for your SEO ranking too! You’ll need to use a subscription service or invest in original imagery from a photographer/designer.

Most business owners or start-ups think that “free” options are available for sourcing photos are enough for their content, but as SEO experts, we don’t advise using them.

Another main reason would be getting cease and desist letters from lawyers telling you that you had violated copyright laws by using these “free” images – or even worse, demanding you to pay thousands of dollars for damages. Therefore, the best practice is to subscribe to a stock image service, for example, Shutterstock, Bigstock, Canva Pro, etc., or hire a professional photographer/designer to take photos & create them specifically for your website.

canva 1 Nexis Novus Technology


Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – UI/UX Designers

One of the main factors for Google Ranking Signal is User Experience. Improving your website’s user experience (UX) is crucial when working on your SEO. If your end goal is conversion mostly for eCommerce-based websites, you may get deeper optimization of what happens for users after they land on the site and click through. After improving your UX, you may consider creating promotions for a better conversion rate on your website – learn more about eCommerce coupon marketing!

As UX involves making your website a pleasant experience for your users and helping them complete their goals efficiently. Some crucial tasks associated with UX often include improving the site speed and navigation, making the page mobile-friendly, compressing photo and video files, and more.

Besides that, UX designers may opt into using CRO tools to help optimize your website for a better conversion rate in long run. CRO tools provide accurate user insights & behavior while browsing your website which allows UX designers to optimize your website better, thus your SEO ranking better! Some CRO tools like crazyegg & howuku with a free version for you to test trial with before opt-in for pro version with more features.


Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Local SEO/Press Release

Finally the last factor of SEO cost that would impact your ROI – Local SEO. Local SEO efforts specifically can have hidden costs associated with many outlined, including the need for UX, copy, and visual content. Google My Business is also part of the Local SEO Setup which you should consider for every retail business. Learn more about how to set up Google My Business Malaysia!

It can often feel like local searches can be done quickly and on a budget. In a lot of cases, for small businesses, it can. Beware, though, that the more competitive industry or more complex the business model you have, the more it will take in tools, content, and time. For your business to stand out in local searches, the press release is one of the best ways after optimizing your local listing with Google My Business. Press releases provide brand awareness on multiple credible sources on major publication houses that can boost your brand trust and SEO ranking in long run too.


Extra Hidden SEO Cost – Additional Tools

Here are some extra considerations of SEO costs that may impact your ROI which you need to consider and need some extra tools to test things like:

  • User interaction.
  • Searching for and monitoring potential plagiarism. (Surfer SEO, Content Writing Helper)
  • Heatmapping of your website (CRO tools)

These tools come with a price and aren’t necessarily something you’ll need to consider at the start of your business, but you may find them useful later when your business grows!

How to Measure SEO ROIs? 

Here comes the million-dollar and frequently asked question – How To Measure SEO ROI? Business owners & SEO experts always looking into this & wondering about it. Let’s start with 3 simple steps that are feasible for most SEO campaigns to measure ROI for your clients or as a business owner that invested in SEO:

1. Set up conversion tracking

The very first step in determining your ROI from SEO is setting up conversion tracking in Google Analytics.

This allows you to track all of the conversions on your site that earn revenue. This setup you use depends on whether you make sales directly on your site or not – mostly for websites with shop functions.


Ecommerce: How to set up conversion tracking for measuring SEO’s ROI

The best way to track revenue from an eCommerce store is to set up eCommerce tracking using Google Analytics Setup Guide. Once you start tracking eCommerce data on your site, you’ll be able to access an eCommerce Overview (Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview) report with all of the information related to your online sales.


Lead generation: How to set up conversion tracking for measuring SEO’s ROI

For example, service providers can set up conversion goals like lead form submissions. The most accurate estimate comes from assigning dollar values to each of your on-site conversions based on past sales data. 

In Google Analytics, navigate to Admin > View > Goals in Analytics to create goals for each of your conversions. These goals can range from contact form submissions, free quote requests, and even phone calls.

Then, enter an estimated value for each of these conversions in the Goal Details section – based on your service’s package cost & potentially those lead values.


2. Sort your conversions by channel

The simplest way to do this is by viewing the Conversions report at Google Analytics, and navigating to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions.

From there, you can have all of the conversions data on your site within your selected time frame sorted by the channels that bring them to your site.

The Organic Search channel includes all of the users who found your site in the results of search engines like Google and Bing – this is the part where you can attribute those conversions to your SEO ROI/Investment.

3. Calculate your SEO ROI

Once you’ve completed Step 1 & Step 2, is time for you to calculate SEO’s ROI with the data obtained within your selected time frame where your SEO campaign started.

Use the following formula to calculate SEO’s ROI:

(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

This is one of the most basic ways of calculating return of investment which is applicable for many businesses, some might used net profit as gain from investment too. The formula above is just a simple guideline for you to calculate a rough idea of your SEO ROI, be sure to make changes accordingly.


(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

Gain from Investment: RM 200,000

Cost of Investment: RM 60,000 (RM10,000 x 6 months of SEO)

= (200,000 – 60,000) / 60,000

= 140,000 / 60,000

= 2.33*100

= 233.33%

The company’s return on investment from SEO is more than 233% — that’s massive!

Conclusion – Is SEO Cost Effective? Worth Your Time & Efforts?

SEO is a big investment, and YES! SEO Worth Your Time and Cost-Effective in long run! But it’s sure to pay off well in the long run. Understanding the obvious and hidden costs will help you prepare your budget and measure your ROI from SEO.

There are too many benefits of SEO that we can’t elaborate in this content, we will create another content for this purpose. One of the biggest benefits of SEO – help you gain web traffic consistently and rank high on the search engine results page especially when you know Google Search captured 92% of the market share in the search engine market.

Well-structured SEO strategy can produce impressive ROI for businesses in all industries – and if yours isn’t where you’d like it to be, Nexis Novus Technology can help.

We keep the focus on ROI right from the start and create custom strategies for each of our clients with the goal of providing the best returns possible.

For more information about our SEO company in Malaysiacontact us today and get a free quote!

Answer to Your Questions About SEO Costs & Measuring ROI For SEO

What Are SEO costs usually?

For hidden & obvious SEO costs that you should consider:

  1. SEO specialists 

  2. SEO software & tools

  3. Web Developers

  4. Content Writers

  5. Graphic/Visual Designers

  6. UI/UX Designers

  7. Local SEO

  8. Additional Tools 

 For more details of each cost breakdown – may refer to our article above!


How do I measure SEO’s ROI?

Measure SEO’s ROI with the following formula:

(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

Calculate your expenses for investing in SEO to get your “Cost of Investment,” and then reference your Google Analytics data to get your “Gain from Investment.” Substitute your numbers in the formula, and you’ll get your ROI from SEO.


What is a Good SEO ROI benchmark?

A good SEO ROI depends on your business.

Every company is different, which makes assigning an average or good SEO ROI difficult. While one business invests $1500 per month into SEO, another spends $3000. Not to mention, lead values vary from company to company.

Before you start optimizing your site for SEO, think about brainstorming an ideal ROI for your business. This number can serve as a benchmark for your team or agency to measure against itself. For the best results, start with a small percentage and then work towards a larger one as you gain data.