ROI Of Organic SEO Traffic +275% vs Social Media Traffic -90%

In this podcast we compare the return on investment of organic traffic (which is generated by search engine optimization) and social media traffic (which is generated by social media activities or social media advertising). From our research one appears to have a great return on investment for businesses and the other is terrible. This is extremely surprising given both seem to be all the hype in the last few years in the small business community, on blogs and from marketing speakers. A large portion of businesses are being misguided, wasting a lot of money, time, and energy that is not benefiting their business.

If you would like an audit of your search engine optimization and social media activities, contact us to book an appointment to discuss. If you are not familiar with any of the terms referenced in this article, scroll down to the bottom of the article where you can find detailed descriptions explaining each term. 

organic traffic vs social media traffic


Executive Summary

 - Search engine optimization, which generates organic traffic for your website has a better return on investment than social media activities

 - Search engine optimization generates more sales and a return on investment between 200% to 275% (for every dollar spent on search engine optimization the average businesses makes an additional $2.00 to $2.75 in profit)

 - Social media activities generate a return on investment of -90% (for every dollar spent on social media the average businesses loses $0.90)

 - Search engine optimization, which generates organic traffic gets a better return on investment because search engines are a place where people go to buy and social media is not, organic search traffic accounts for a higher portion of all website traffic, social media has a time decay and that search engine optimization is more predictable than social media.


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ROI Of Organic SEO Traffic +275% vs Social Media Traffic -90%. Click the link below to listen to the podcast. 

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Organic SEO Traffic Has A Better ROI Than Social Media

When we look at the various traffic sources, we at Profitworks have found the same conclusion when comparing the return on investment (ROI) of organic traffic from SEO vs. traffic from social media activities or social media advertising. From each source, the conclusion is always that organic traffic from SEO delivers a very healthy and positive return on investment, whereas social media traffic has a negative return on investment.

From our results, it looks like the traffic from search engine optimization generates usually +200% to +275% ROI, whereas social media traffic usually generates a -90% ROI. In other words:

roi chart


Why Organic SEO Traffic Has A Better ROI Than Social Media

1. Search Engines Are A Place Where People Go To Buy

The first place 95% of people go when they are looking to buy something is a search engine like Google. People who are using a search engine are very often in the mindset of buying. This is especially true for business to business type purchase transactions. I know personally anytime I am looking to buy something for our business I always start the process by doing some research on Google. 


2. Social Media Is Not A Place People Go When Looking To Buy

Almost no one goes first to a social media site when they are looking to buy. People who are using social media are almost never in the mindset of buying, they are in the mindset of connecting with friends or being entertained. This is especially true for business to business type purchase transactions. Business owners and business managers do not have time to be on social media while working, so this buyer group is largely not even on social media. 

I know personally anytime I have been looking to buy something for our business I have never gone to a social media site to research or buy what I was looking to buy. Proof of this is shown in the chart below as revenue from social media for business services is so small it does not even register on the chart and all other listed industries the revenue from social is barely showing. 

share of revenue by traffic source



3. Organic Search Traffic Accounts For A Higher Portion Of All Website Traffic

Based on various different reports we looked at it appears on average that 35-50% of traffic to websites comes from organic search results and 5-10% of traffic to websites comes from social media sites. Given search engine optimization accounts for such a larger amount of traffic it make sense that it would have a better ROI, especially given that search traffic is people who are more likely interested in buying and not just interested in reading information for leisure. 



4. The Time Decay Of Social Media Is Very Time Consuming

Search engine marketing efforts build in strength over time as search engines discover the strength of your content and search engine optimization work. On the contrary social media efforts actually decay over time as they fall off the social media timelines. For example if you post a facebook post today and no one sees it or forwards it in the first few days that post will disappear into the social media shadows, falling off of people's news feeds and never really be seen by anyone.

With social media for each post as time goes on less and less people see that specific post, where as with search engine optimization over time more and more people can often be driven to a page that was created from a long time ago. This is done by building more links to that page over time and getting that page to move up search rankings through search engine optimization work on that page.


5. Search Engine Optimization Is More Predictable

Search engine optimization is much more predictable than social meida. With search engine optimization you can get a pretty good idea of what kind of traffic and sales lift you will get from search engine optimization. With social media it is much harder to predict if any of your posts will go viral and get your business the kind of exposure you are hoping for. Search engine optimization is more like a calculated decision whereas social media marketing is more like gambling where you are rolling the dice and hoping to get lucky. 


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How To Get Organic SEO Traffic

Organic search engine traffic is generated by conducting activities to have pages of your website display withing search results when someone is searching for a particular phrase. For example if someone searches "car wash hamilton ontario" you will see the first organic search result should be King Car Wash (unless Google has changed the rankings since writing this, which is possible as they are constantly changing rankings). If the person conducting the search clicks on the King Car Wash Search result that is organic traffic. There are two ways to get organic traffic, one you can have a company that specializes in search engine optimization do the work for you, the other option is to conduct the search engine optimization on your website yourself.

If you are trying to consider which of the two options is the better option for your business you may be interested in reading this article on the benefits of outsourcing SEO. If you are looking to conduct the SEO on your website yourself, here are some good resources you can use to get started. 

SEO 101

7 Key Tasks To Increase Website Traffic

SEO Tips For B2B Small Businesses 


search traffic example 2


How To Build Social Media Traffic

There are three ways to get traffic from social media. One is to hire an expert to do it for you (which is often very expensive and costs more than it is worth), you can buy it through social media advertising (which is usually more costly than the benefit it brings your business) or you can do the activities yourself to generate social media traffic (which is usually not worth your time and effort for the benefit you will get). If you decide to do social media yourself, here are some of the things to keep in mind to generate social media traffic.

1. Share Great Content

The key to social media is to get more people to see you. The most effective way to do this is to have people like your posts on social media so much that they share them with a bunch of other people and those people like it so much that they decide to follow you on that social media platform. If you don't have content that is better than what everyone else on social media is posting this won't happen. In essence you are competing with everyone else for each person's attention. To learn more about social media click here

2. Choose An Enticing Title

Again since getting more people to see your posts if the key to success the headline or title of your post is super critical. Please will make a split second decision based on the headline of your post whether or not they will pay any attention to it and you need to get their attention to have any change of them sharing your post. 

3. Share The Same Content Multiple Times

Garrett Moon on the Kissmetrics blog makes a great point in this article In essence he says you should post the same content multiple times, each time with a different headline for the same content, to get the most mileage out of each piece of content you are sharing. If you don't do this you are most likely leaving more than 50% of the traffic you could get on the table. 

4. Automate As Much As Possible

There are many great tools that can help automate social media activities. Given one of the major downsides of social media is how much time it takes, automating any tasks you can will help significantly. Just search online for social media automation tools and use the ones that look like they will help you the most. Here is an article listing some of the best free tools for automation

Again what we would recommend for most businesses is that they simple create an account on all of the top social media sites, set up tools to have any new pages posted on their website automatically shared to their social media profiles and don't spend any more time than that on social media. We have seen a lot of companies waste time and money on social media only to have it deliver a negative return on investment. 


What Is Social Media Traffic

Social Media traffic is traffic is traffic to your website that is generated by someone clicking on a link on a social media platform that takes them to your website. This can happen from by posting something on a social media site and someone clicking on your content that is linked to your website, or by someone sharing that social media content with someone else who then clicks on it and it takes them to your website. The key to driving high amounts of social media traffic is having a large following on the social media channels and having content that is shared a lot. 


What Is Organic SEO Traffic

Organic SEO traffic is traffic to your website that comes from organic search results your website has obtained, which occurs through search engine optimization (also referred to as SEO) of your website. Refer to the image below to better understand organic search traffic. This traffic is from people clicking on search results for your website in the organic search resutls (the green section shown below) for a given search phrase that your website is ranking for in Google. 

orgainc traffic

 To learn more about paid vs organic traffic click here


What Is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

If you don't know what SEO is, I will describe it here. If you already know what it is reading this paragraph will not be a good use of your time and I would suggest you skip forward to the next paragraph. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. To learn more about what SEO is, click here or to watch a video that explains it click here


What is Social Media

Social media is websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in networking with people. The most common social media websites are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram and Flickr.


What is Marketing Return On Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is a measure of how profitable something is. It is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate return on investment (ROI), the benefit or return (ie. profit) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.

Marketing ROI = (Additional Profit From Marketing - Cost of Marketing)/Cost Of Marketing


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Profitworks Small Business Services provides website traffic and website conversion optimization services which increase the number of sales generated from a website. The focus of our services is on increasing sales and providing a positive return on investment. To learn more about Profitworks click here. Feel free to connect with us on Google+ or if you are just interested in getting new customers for your businesses feel free to click the "Get It Now" Button above.

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(note: we only have a few business to consumer clients, most are business to business, social media ROI may be slightly higher for business to consumer companies) 

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In

1. SEO Tips For B2B Small Businesses

2. Is Search Engine Optimization Worth The Money?

3. Building The Best SEO Company

4. SEO vs PPC - Why SEO Gets The Better Return On Investment 

(note: we only have a few business to consumer clients, most are business to business, social media ROI may be slightly higher for business to consumer companies)