If you subscribe to the notion that social media is a discipline that is most appropriately aligned with public relations, customer service, customer relationship management and similar business channels, you probably have a hard time seeing social media’s link — pun intended — to search engine optimization. SEO probably comes across as a very scientific process, heavy on paid search strategies and with little relevance to the warm and fuzzies you get with social media.

But measuring the warm and fuzzies can be challenging. CEOs understand the value of spending $1,000 on paid search if those clicks can translate to 100,000 website visitors and $10,000 worth of conversions. They don’t often nod and smile when you say, “Well, we have 40,000 Facebook Fans this month!” Unless, of course, they aren’t any more focused on the bottom line than you are if that’s your proof point.

Chris Baggott and I have discussed search engine results and corporate blogging a lot recently. We’re working on a research project together you’ll hear more about soon. In a couple of conversations we’ve had, he has shared with me some ways he shows the value of corporate blogs to clients of Compendium Blogware, his company. I’ve been kicking around the idea and thought this might be useful for you to see.

To prove the value (at least part of the value anyway) of what you’re doing in social media, let’s see what the search traffic equivalency of your organic keyword rankings is. (Hang in there, it’s a process, but easier than it sounds.) There’s a lot of disclaimers I need to throw in about this (largely so the SEO dorks don’t set fire to my blog) but I’ll save those for the end.

To find out the monetary value of your organic search rankings, use a keyword research tool like SEO Book’s Competitive Research Tool or SEM Rush (which actually powers SEO Book’s tool) to get a list of the keywords your website ranks for. (If you know of a different tool, particularly a free one, please recommend it in the comments. Both of these offer some free results, but not a full report without paying for a subscription.) The results will give you a list of keywords your site ranks for, the position it ranks in a given search and the cost per click (CPC) value. (It gives more info, but these are the relevant pieces for now.) That value is what a paid search click sells for in a similar position in a paid search advertisement. (Bear with me.)

For example, SocialMediaExplorer.com ranks No. 2 for “social media strategy” which goes for $0.05 per click; No. 1 for “corporate messaging” which goes for $6.04 per click and No. 3 for “educational blogs” which sells for $2.49 per click. (It ranks for more, but I’m keeping the examples short to explain the point succinctly.)

Now go to your website analytics software. Click through to traffic sources, then search engines to view the keywords that bring you organic clicks. My analytics shows that I generated 644 visits in the last 30 days from the keyword “social media strategy.” The corresponding paid ad goes for $0.05, so my blog generated $32.20 in search traffic equivalency (organic value compared to paid search cost per click).

Example of Google Analytics keyword traffic reportSimply put, if I had to go out and buy 644 visits from that keyword search in paid advertising, it would cost me $32.20.

SME had 11 visits from users clicking on our listing under the keyword “corporate messaging” which is worth $66.44. The keyword “educational blogs” brought 44 visitors last month, which is worth $109.56 in equivalent paid value.

So, for those three keywords alone, my monthly efforts generated $208.20 in search traffic equivalency for Social Media Explorer. I didn’t have to spend $208.20, but did invest time and attention to those subject matters to write the posts that garnered those rankings. (More on this in the disclaimers.)

If you added up all your organic traffic value based on this equation you could say to your boss, “Our social media activity brought in (let’s say) $45,000 in website traffic value this month.”

But wait! There’s more!

Organic search results draw in roughly 85 percent of all clicks on a SERP. Paid search is, to most users, less trusted and not clicked on as often as organic search results. So while our equation above makes sense if you’re comparing apples to apples, you’re actually comparing apples to oranges. The good news is that because organic search results are more trusted and clicked upon with more frequency, you can argue that your monthly value is not worth $45,000 in website traffic, but $45,000 AT A MINIMUM. It’s probably worth much, much more than that. The value of the additional? Not found a brain that big yet. If you have ideas, please drop them in the comments.

Hopefully, this will give you some ROI fodder to think about or even incorporate into your reporting for your social media activities. As you give this process some thought, however, please keep the following disclaimers in mind:

  • This is easy to do if your analytics are measuring a corporate blog or a devoted social media channel. It gets complicated if you want to be all-inclusive and measure the value of where your social outposts rank. (Maybe your Twitter account ranks high for a valuable keyword. You should measure that, but it’s going to take more work to do so and the results will be muddy since you don’t have Twitter account analytics.) It’s also complicated if your social media efforts take place on your corporate website as the social content (blogs, etc.) adds value to the overall domain’s search results. Unfortunately, so do the sales pages and other static content, the age of the site and more. But once you set up the spreadsheet or report and do the research the first time, it’ll go smoother the second go-around.
  • Paid search advertisements normally deliver better conversions because, if done right, they lead searchers to exactly the type of information they’re seeking or at least the absolute type of message you are delivering. Organic results are served up based on what Google thinks your content is about, traffic to that page, the number and types of links that page has and from where, how recent the content is compared to other results and more. You don’t have much control over what Google serves up as organic results. So your $45,000 in traffic equivalency might have cost you that in pay-per-click ads, but with those ads, you might have converted customers at rates 30-50 percent higher (or more) than where the organic results sent folks.
  • On the flip side, I wrote the SME post on the top education blogs one year ago this Wednesday. I pulled in $109.56 worth of search traffic equivalency last month without doing a single thing. It’s the long tail of good web content at play. That post drives search results for my blog to this day. And will continue to do so. If it has produced the same amount each month in the last year, then I spent 2-3 hours writing a single piece of content that has now driven $1,314.72 in value to SME.
  • On a similar note, the history of your content’s ranking matters as well. I’ve ranked No. 1 or No. 2 for “educational blogs” for 12 months now. If a new post on another website hits tomorrow that suddenly has a ton of links, etc., it will still likely take that post a while to knock mine down a notch. The value of ranking high for a term over time has merit.

The great news about all this information is that many smart SEO professionals read this blog. And every time I write about SEO, they provide as much, if not more, value in the comments. If I’m wrong on any of this or missed a few disclaimers you should keep in mind, they’ll tell you below. Feel free to ask for clarification from me or them in the comments, too.

And when you get around to trying it, come back and tell us if you were surprised at the equivalent value of your efforts.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • UrbaneWay

    Jason, Good Morning, While I am an apartment guy that enjoys practicing marketing and social media, and not an SEO Guy (they are pretty smart, and spend a lot of time on the last 5%)

    We have learned a lot of little tricks that have helped us get 95% of the way. While we “believe in” all of the side, soft advantages that Social Media delivers, our primary reason for deployment of any social media tactics is SEO. We stumbled onto that conclusion by accident, but getting to Page One, Number One to Number Three has proven to be successful in Renting More Apartments. You no longer have to name your business AAA Apartments so you show up in the first few pages of the Yellow Pages, which will someday be a distant memory.

    Your example focuses on expenses, or lowering them with effective use of SEO, but a bigger quandary for business, and perhaps SEO, is what are folks really typing into a search to find you, and when you do find that “sweat spot” what is the value relationship to showing up on page One to “Selling More Stuff” I believe it is high, yet I struggle in our own business on how to quantify it, and seem to make many decisions based on Gut Feel, which works OK for me, I don't have a boss, but am point responsible for results. However, for someone trying to “sell” this to another business “Gut Feel” doesn't cut the mustard.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great thoughts from someone doing it. Thanks, Eric! Always appreciate
      your perspective from the trenches. Thanks for stopping by.

    • http://twitter.com/bcimages Chris Theisen

      There are a ton of tools you can use to track exactly how and why people are finding you and once they do whether or not they are converting by renting apartments. Im sure there are plenty of companies in your area willing to show you how to do it for a small fee :) Otherwise I would suggest taking some time and jumping into your sites analytics. You may be surprised what you find

      • http://christybrewer.wordpress.com/ Christy Brewer

        I'll second Chris's response here. Although I had the luxury of tying SEO traffic directly to online lead generation, I still spent a lot of time simply analyzing the traffic coming to the site via organic search… the most interesting aspect is looking at who was leaving before submitting a lead form.

        Even if you don't have the direct tie-in (yet), you can still set a baseline, track and then test new ideas and trends to continually improve your performance.

  • eric johnson

    Hi, ur blog is really informative and inspirational, I think u r a great blogger, I suggest u must try blogerzoom.com for advertising and marketing of ur blog, They are offering very unique features with cheap prices. They will promote ur blog through all over the network, all u have to do is choose ur pack plus pay affordable prices and rest leave it to blogerzoom advertising team to promote ur blog in every networks. And see how u enjoys a lot of traffic plus good earnings from ur blog.

  • stanphelps

    Jason,

    What a great way to calculate the value of social media. This is akin to measuring CPM's for paid vs. earned media, i.e. Advertising (CPM = cost of the ads / # of eyeballs reached divided by 1,000) vs. PR (Cost of the PR campaign / calculate # of eyeballs / divide by 1000 = CPM).

    I like how you've taken an equivalency approach. Calculating what you've earned organically versus what it would have cost if you paid per click.

    All clicks are not created equal. I don't think its apples to apples either. Here is my 2 cents on how you weigh the apples to the oranges.

    First – ideally you should have some type of lead generation aspect to both. If you can track the amount of leads associated with both and then determine how many converted, then it should be as simple as calculating the ROI of both.

    Second – if you can't directly tie to lead generation, I'd recommend assigning a multiple to the value of earned organic search. That multiple could be anywhere from 2x's to 10x's given your respective industry. This is probably more art than it is science. The reason I believe there is a multiple is based on credibility. You've earned that first page on Google. Being there means you have authority. It's what I call the 'v4 principle' or 'vouch for principle' and it what drives the value of word of mouth. You are on that first page for a few reasons: because others had linked to you, you've been around for awhile and your content is original. The biggest factor is that people have 'vouched' for you by giving you inbound links.

    In the Advertising vs. PR debate, all impressions are not created equal. In the similar debate of paid vs. organic search, all clicks are not created equal.

    Best,
    Stan
    @9inchmarketing
    #PurpleGoldfishProject

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Wonderful thoughts here, Stan. Thanks for sharing. I really like the
      notion of the v4 principle. Interesting idea to chew on. Thank you.

    • http://deanholmes.me deanholmes

      Stan,

      Like the v4 formula. Nice way to look at it.

      Dean

  • http://deanholmes.me deanholmes

    Jason,

    Great stuff. As we have discussed the value of SEO, Top Influencers as well as the effects Page Rankings and Keywords have, this will become the defacto process for driving inbound links, relationships and authority.

    Again, great stuff here as usual.

    Dean

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Many thanks, Dean. Appreciate you stopping by.

  • http://deanholmes.me deanholmes

    Stan,

    Like the v4 formula. Nice way to look at it.

    Dean

  • http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practices chrisbaggott

    Thanks for sharing this formula Jason. As you know it's one we use to point out a starting point for Corporate Blogging ROI. And you are also right that this is easy for companies to calculate. Here is a post from early 2008 where I show the spreadsheet that my daughter Polly used to do this for me when she was in 6th grade :-)

    http://tinyurl.com/5z3rox

    And the numbers for normal businesses can be huge. In the case Polly is talking about here, the client was driving $42,000 worth of traffic each month and they were just a small bible college.

    The important things to take from this is how to drive your strategy. Titles matter. If you know the high value keywords you are targeting, make sure you title your blogs with those titles. Obviously use those keywords in your copy. Matt Cutts calls this “The Language of your Customer”. Finally stay focused. Many business blogs are all over the place. Keep your blogs narrow. If you have another topic, start another blog…we have clients that have thousands of blogs.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for sharing the spreadsheet with everyone Chris. And for
      sharing the thinking with me. Thanks to these discussions I learn new
      stuff everyday. You rock!

  • http://twitter.com/johnhutson johnhutson

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks for posting this. I am slightly confused about what you are looking at though when it comes to your Social Media activity.

    Now your blog for instance will garner rankings due to SEO (be it intentional or not) but you are classing these rankings as Social Media activity?

    Or are you looking at other pages that have been pushed via links on Twitter/Facebook/Youtube for instance?

    Thats the thing I'm stuck on – if you have a page that ranks, it will be at least down to the content on the page (therefore an SEO factor) rather than it being down to pure Social Media activity (if I'm making any sense?!)

    Please let me know if I'm barking up the wrong tree! :o)

    Whatever the case – yes it is a good idea to “value” your Search Engine traffic like that where possible and hopefully the conversions are even better :o)

    If you could clarify the above for me please that would be much appreciated. Thanks man!

    John

    • http://oldmedianewtricks.com Daniel_Honigman

      It's a combination of both. The easier it is to find content, the bigger the chance of others linking to it. Search gets them there, social drives them to link it.

      • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

        Certainly agree with that one, Dan. Thanks.

        • http://twitter.com/johnhutson johnhutson

          Thanks guys – that makes sense.

          Just sooooo hard to separate the two.

        • http://oldmedianewtricks.com Daniel_Honigman

          That's Daniel ;-)

          Sent from my mobile device.

  • http://www.colinalsheimer.com/ Colin Alsheimer

    Great post, that's exactly the way (other than reporting on conversions) to prove value in online marketing campaigns, especially those that might be harder to measure at first glance.

    My question to you is, where do you draw the line between what social efforts generate in search traffic to what SEO efforts generate? In your example above, I could make the argument that it wasn't your social efforts that generated success, but your SEO efforts. A good part of any SEO campaign is content generation, and until Google starts placing more importance in the links generated from your social outposts, then it's really just good SEO.

    Unless, that is, you consider blogging to be under the social umbrella. (It's a muddy line, I know.)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      It is a muddy line, and good SEO professionals work with your social
      media side to optimize blog posts and your site for search. The two go
      hand in hand. But I would attribute blogs winning search to social
      media because without them, the search results aren't won. Yes, good
      SEO can go into a blog post, but it doesn't have to. SEO makes it
      better and the two go hand in hand, but I would argue that many
      corporate blogs are done without SEO strategy in mind. You still wind
      up winning search without it. (For instance, I have never concentrated
      on SEO for Social Media Explorer. I still win search results for a lot
      of stuff. But that's a whole post by itself.) Thanks Colin!

      • http://twitter.com/johnhutson johnhutson

        Funny enough – I do SEO (and Social Media) and yet my blog doesn't exactly stick to all the onpage optimisation “rules” and yet I still get rankings and traffic.

        I feel as it's a blog format – I don't want to be bogged down with using keywords over “normal” language. I want to just write and share my views and knowledge.

        • http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practices chrisbaggott

          So John….

          “I don't want to be bogged down with using keywords over “normal” language. I want to just write and share my views and knowledge.”

          With who? I'm not trying to be funny, Matt Cutts calls keywords “the language of your customer” Substitute reader. If your goal is to share your views and knowledge, I'm assuming you would want to share those views an knowledge with the widest audience possible….and the audience that can get the most benefit from that knowledge.

          I'll argue (respectfully) all day long that the people who benefit most from your knowledge would be people who know they have problems. And of course you (again, an assumption on my part) will benefit as a business by solving those problems. Searchers have problems, they use these keywords to find solutions to these problems. By using their language (keywords) you are able to get your thoughts in front of them when they need them the most…right?

          • http://twitter.com/johnhutson johnhutson

            Yes indeed Chris – I should've expanded more on that. What I mean to say is I don't “stress” about the keywords. Of course my posts do include keywords but only by fluent writing.

            Also I don't really research into the keywords, as I just want to write for the end user. So I don't compare similar words together for search volume and competition. Maybe I should as an SEO guy but I'm more interested in traffic. Competing against fellow SEO's is not an easy task in the rankings game.

            You are right though – the language of the customer will naturally include keywords, but I don't “force” them – they just roll out the keyboard :o)

        • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

          There you go. I frustrate the SEO world a lot when I remind them I win
          a lot of valuable search terms and never intended to do so. I tag
          articles and use ALT tags, etc., for my images, but I have never done
          keyword research or other SEO tactics to plan or try to win them. I
          just write what I assume is good content and let the audience do the
          rest.

          • http://twitter.com/johnhutson johnhutson

            Yeah I can imagine. Traditional SEO guys and girls still don't rate the power of blogs and other web2.0 properties.

            I think they happily indulge in them for pure SEO gain, but dont seem to think of the long term with adding valuable content and creating a following/readership.

            Content took the back-seat for a while when linking was considered to be the most powerful but nowadays (and the future), content will be back big style. And not even “just” optimised content. GREAT content will harbour natural links which in turn will help.

            I'm surprised as to how I rank for terms I havent actively targeted and they have over 1million results. Madness.

  • http://wineaccguy.blogspot.com Joshua S. Sweeney

    Really helpful number-crunching here. As someone who is beginning an online marketing campaign for a new company, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the comparative benefits of PPC and Social Media marketing. I can also point to this to show what I'm saving the company in terms of marketing costs, in case that issue ever comes into play.

    Though I will almost certainly end up using both methods (in addition to anything else I learn about), knowing the relative ROI on my labor using this line of thinking will help me concentrate my efforts in the most profitable areas.

    In a word, thanks!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You're welcome and you're right. They both go hand in hand to work
      well for lots of folks. Social + Search rocks. Thanks Joshua.

  • http://twitter.com/KatFrench Kat French

    Interesting stuff (you know I'm a sucker for posts that cross SEO and social media).

    One thing that I'd add is that it looks like you're valuating all visits equally. The data is more useful if you go at least one step further, and segment the visits by a qualitative, rather than quantitative, metric. For example, visitors with a high time-on-site or pages-per-visit (indicating higher engagement), or visitors who converted.

    Organic search traffic has a notoriously high bounce rate, particularly compared to paid search (which as you've noted, is more targeted) so if you have to attract 10,000 visitors to get one engaged visitor, or one converting visitor, you have to compare that to the relative number of visitors you have to “buy” via PPC to get one of the visitors you're actually looking for.

    Now, if you're just talking impressions and eyeballs, that's another thing. But one of the beauties of both search and social media is that you can go so far beyond counting eyeballs.

    P.S. You might find this interesting. It's a look at comparing the ROI of answering questions on Yahoo Answers (social media activity) with a paid search campaign:http://www.seomoz.org/blog/using-yahoo-answers-to-generate-leads-does-it-work

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, dear! Great thoughts and love the SEOMoz post. You rock as
      always Kat! Miss you, by the way.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

    Very nicely done. Great first-step. We're missing two important considerations, however. First, just because you generate traffic for a term doesn't mean that you would necessarily pay to have that traffic driven to your site from PPC. Would you really bid $6.04 to send “corporate messaging” traffic to this blog? Unless you are a lot less good at SEM than I thought you were, I'd argue that you wouldn't. Thus, I'm not sure you can say the value is $66+ for the day, because the true value is what YOU would actually PAY for that traffic.

    Second, while you have some ads on your blog, I suspect total eyeball count doesn't tie directly to what you charge your sponsors, etc. Sure, it has an impact, as the size of your readership makes them interested in sponsorship to begin with, etc. But, you're not selling on a straight CPM basis, I presume.

    Thus, what is the traffic coming to your blog really worth? How much does Jason Falls and SME financially benefit from a visitor coming from “corporate messaging?” I suggest that to really make this numerical tie work, you need to have some sort of analytics-level, post-click goal established that really matters to you and your business.

    For example, how many of the people coming from “corporate messaging” go on to view your “work with me” page, or your “speaking” page, or subscribe to your feed/newsletter, or visit 5x or more a month? Putting a $ equivalent on those desired actions and then determining what SEO value your blog generates is, to me, a more defensible statistical model because it deals with actions not just eyeballs.

    Now, if you were in a more pure traffic = money scenario like MarketingProfs.com or Mashable.com I'd say putting $ equivalency to visits alone would be a perfectly valid metric.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well done, sir. When using SME as an example, the value argument does
      get more complicated. But for many companies moving product, etc.,
      online, these ideas can get them started. Sure, you can get in the
      weeds quick with determining the value of traffic and cost per
      conversion, etc. For some social media folks, though, just being able
      to start with a value on what they do will lead them down that path.
      And if you're not a web-centric business, going deep on traffic
      analysis and the like is a LOT of work with the perception of little
      payoff. It's just too much for some folks to wrap their brains around.
      Should they? Sure. But the fact of the matter is most social media
      managers, PR folks, etc., are already juggling 40 responsibilities,
      web metric tracking won't happen. This can help get them started,
      though, should they feel the need to put those dollars on paper for
      someone.

      Great ideas on pushing them farther along, Jay. Thank you!

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

        Sadly, you're exactly right. Social media success metrics (done right) almost always requires cross-platform analysis, not single platform analysis. And that's tricky. But, I'm encouraging/brow-beating all of my corporate and agency clients to put analytics first, and content creation capabilities second. Whomever controls the scoreboard controls the budget. Hard it is. Required to succeed in this business it is as well.

        • http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practices chrisbaggott

          This gets to the kind of blogging or social media efforts companies engage in. What you two do is in fact a lot of work. I call this “Thought Leadership”. But to Jason's point, normal business are selling products or services of which there are many many keywords that have value to their 'audience'. Understanding that the 'audience' is actually made up of searchers changes the kind of blogging these companies do right? No longer is it one poor guys job to 'write the blog'. The most successful companies in this environment are the companies who free employees. Richard Edelman say in his annual 'Trust Barometer' that employees are 5x more credible than C-level bloggers. Seth Godin talks about the most successful companies are the ones that tell the most/best stories.

          Engaging the empoyees who actually are living the issues that your company solves (salespeople/customer support/product) takes a great portion out of the labor required to run a successful social media program. Share the load and two great things happen. First, nobody gets overwhelmed and Second….you tell more and better stories.

          That's when you get to your point Jay which is the focus on Conversion. You said: “Putting a $ equivalent on those desired actions and then determining what SEO value your blog generates is, to me, a more defensible statistical model because it deals with actions not just eyeballs.” Is brilliant and spot on: The problem is that most organizations get so bogged down in content creation they never focus on basic internet marketing 101…..Testing.

  • dallasinternetmarketingagency

    Great article, Hadn't used SEMrush before and was good to see that information there. I am with a few of the other comments here regarding the differences between Social marketing and standard SEO (which I consider blogging to be part of, content development) … a strategy that we are really starting to implement more are seperate areas for social inbound links so we can see more specifically how our efforts are driving traffic – also setting some sessions so when someone signs up for a newsletter or the likes that SM is given its due credit. Of course, the hardest part to measure is where there isn't a link and just a brand mention (for instance, I ate at MiCocina last night and loved my meals and mambo taxis) how do you track that… MiCocina got a plug but no Google juice over it, other than maybe someone will now stop by, google them, or agree/disagree with the comments, all people talking about the brand – would love to find a method for tracking that in the social world. Great article though and thanks for sharing!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks DIMA (I guess) … heh.

      You've given me some good food for thought there. Blogging is the
      anchor of social media marketing to me, largely because driving search
      is done well with it. So then it's an SEO strategy. I think there is
      an important overlap that we should all think about. You don't want to
      put out content that's not engaging and boring, but keyword rich. You
      don't want to put out the best content on the planet that engages
      people but has little keyword or search value. I'll keep chewing on
      the overlap issue. Good point.

  • http://www.communicationammo.com Sean Williams

    Jason, don't forget to net out your cost of production from your calculations. If you spend 2 hours writing a post and typically bill $350/hour, it lowers your rate of return (it still winds up being worth it according to your example), but we need to be clear that our time has costs. Secondly, Stan's said:

    “I'd recommend assigning a multiple to the value of earned organic search. That multiple could be anywhere from 2x's to 10x's given your respective industry. This is probably more art than it is science. The reason I believe there is a multiple is based on credibility.”

    This isn't right. We're mixing qualitative and subjective measures (at best) with quantitative metrics. The costs, equivalencies and traffic are all strong data. Adding multipliers, particularly those that are simply made up, demeans measurement. There is research that negated any thought that a multiplier would be appropriate in PR (the 'pass-along' or credibility myths; see Dr. Don Stacks and Dr. David Michaelson's work, for example), so I'd be wary of assigning similar ideas to search.

    Sean
    @commammo

    • http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practices chrisbaggott

      I agree Sean. The real data are more than enough to drive the ROI numbers anyone needs.

      Also, no matter how much a bargain blog traffic might be, it's still almost worthless if you are not tracking conversion. Most bloggers miss this and fail to do even basic conversion testing on their blogs. “Conversion is a lot more measurable value than Conversation.”

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Sean. I agree a bit that the multiplier approach can be a bit
      of guess work. Guess I'd have to think about it more. And I certainly
      do know that blogging, etc., takes time and is worth recording. Fair
      point. Thanks.

  • http://twittermaven.blogspot.com warrenss

    Jason,

    Excellent points about using equivalent value to help quantify a company's social media efforts. The conversation about social media really goes far with the executive team when you can quantify the impact to site traffic and conversion in dollars.

    One other thing that we've been doing for our clients is breaking out those equivalent keywords by social media category/ channel. For instance, in your example above, what if all of the corporate messaging clicks came from forums, but social media strategy came from blogs? You could then evaluate your efforts on the specific channels and focus your conversations in those channels on the high traffic keywords like corporate messaging in forums.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great ideas, there Warren. I love dividing the data up in different
      ways and seeing insights that can be drawn out. Good thoughts.

  • secretsushi

    Great article Jason and even more great discussions going on in the comments. This is incredibly helpful.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Adam. Appreciate it.

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  • http://www.relationship-economy.com JDeragon

    Great discussion Jason. Here is some easy examples. I discovered that there are 135 terms I use which get me on the front page of Google rank for those terms all the time. Example, social strategies and social media card. The first brings me engagements all the time. The second brought my client an engagement worth over $1 million!

    I paid for no advertising. I just wrote content that was in context to the markets interest. The subsequent traffic put the content on the front page of Google search and well you know the story….no one goes beyond first page.

    Moral of my story…..you can own a domain of knowledge if your content is relevant and relative to what the market is looking for. Content reflects knowledge that people and organizations are looking for while you sleep :)

    PS: the only seo tool I used was my blog :)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Awesome example, Jay. Thanks for sharing that. And it was great to
      finally meet you Sunday! Cheers.

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  • http://twitter.com/barryhurd Barry Hurd

    Chris, there are a lot of ways to splice the search metric and traffic value across the audience attracted by social media efforts. My original data was formulated during my many ventures into scoring the value of the first page search results.

    I have a basic sheet on my personal blog at http://barryhurd.com/brand-value that details brand value, PPC value, click share, time share, and brand share metrics.

    The variation in keyword potential also drives cumulative value depending on how things like comments and tweets are aggregated. You can setup tracking for the analytics through multi-domain or sub-domain rules on Google analytics (and several other 3rd party analytics platforms)

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  • http://www.mlinc.com/ Ronald Ladouceur

    Jason, terrific post and discussion! I can’t wait to see the results of the research you and Chris are conducting.

    This topic is most interesting, and most critical for a couple of reasons. I think your metrics will go a long way toward helping us make the case for consideration and trial with clients who have yet to embrace meaningful deployment of a social strategy.

    The real trick will be if you are able to provide metrics that would help us get clients to move from trial to fully funded initiative faster than we’re able to get them to move currently.

    We know practice proves the case. And most clients we’ve been working with for a year or more are moving toward serious embrace.

    But we’d much rather not have to wait 6 months, a year, or more (often working at a discounted rate) for clients acquire the evidence they need to push the big organizational, marketing and sales culture changes necessary to allow social to really deliver.

    It’d be great if we had some set of metrics that would get them to move right away.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Ronald. I hope this post, the research we're working on and the
      subsequent conversations can help us all. Thanks for such a thoughtful
      comment.

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  • http://jameseo.com JameSEO

    Wow, very extensive report. I enjoyed every minute of it.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, James. Glad to help out.

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  • http://twitter.com/davidhargreaves dhargreaves

    this is a great post and a very timely one (although I only found it yesterday!) I just wondered if you had a good example of a B2B company that has put blogging at the centre of its SEO strategy?

    Personally, I think the blog is fast becoming a massively important part of SEO strategy but it isn't one that traditional SEO agencies typically major on and PR agencies typically don't sell the search benefits of the content they create and nurture. Be interested in your view on rising or falling importance of blog content in SEO?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rayees-Qurayshi/100000149675937 Rayees Qurayshi

    nice

  • http://www.dfwsocialmediamarketing.com Dallas Social Media

    This is a great technique I never thought of, thanks for the heads up!

  • http://www.whoisbid.com Whoisbid

    If there are easier ways to show stats in ways that people understand I would be interested to know who is working to provide this service e.g. a trusted third part application that could be used to accurately quantify the overall SEO effectives in $$$ so that it would not be necessary to spend vasts amount of time trying to justify to clients why they should be pay X or Y. Then financial rewards will be based on actual results verified by a trusted third party. This would save a lot of time.

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  • Akash Agarwal

    It’s a nice article on social media. Now
    a day’s social media is very helpful. thanks for sharing such useful article with us.