SEO is a bit of an odd duck in the total mix of online (marketing) disciplines. On the one hand it’s a very techy, ‘hard’ discipline that requires a lot of skill and expertise in a wide range of fields. On the other hand, it’s probably one of the more difficult online disciplines to quantify.
Web developers, for example, have a finished product they deliver: a working website built according to the customer’s spec. Email marketers too have very clear deliverables: open-rates, click-through rates, spam reports, delivered emails – all these are very solid metrics that an email marketer can influence and report, and they tend to correlate to a financial ROI somewhere down the line.
Conversion rate optimisers have it even easier: their whole job is to map out the ROI-funnel of a website and to make it work better. And many social media marketers are as of yet still wallowing in the fuzziness of old-school, offline marketing – they get away with meaningless lingo-speak like ‘customer engagement’ and ‘brand building’. In other words, ROI isn’t (yet) a big part of the SMO business.