ROI of SEO for Accounting Firms

In this article, I will try to estimate the SEO ROI for accounting companies. Obviously, as I’m selling SEO services, my opinion is biased, but I try to be as objective as I can and base my calculations on public statistics and on our internal data.

Overall SEO ROI Statistics from Other Online Sources

Before we do our own calculations, let’s first see what other sources have quoted the ROI of SEO to be.

#1 FirstPageSage – 1,031%

According to FirstPageSage, the financial services SEO ROI is 1,031%.

#2 SmartInsights – 2,200%

According to SmartInsights, the overall SEO ROI is 2,200%

#3 Terakeet – 1,220%

According to TeraKeet, SEO ROI is 12.2X or 1,220%

SEO Return on Investment for Accountants

I will base the calculations on the following information:

  1. How much an average customer pays per month.
  2. How many months a customer stays with an accounting company.
  3. What is the average conversion rate of website visitors.
  4. How much an average customer is worth to an accounting firm.
  5. What’s the value of an average website visitor.
  6. How many website visitors can you expect to gain through SEO.
  7. How long do SEO results last for?
  8. How much do SEO services cost?
  9. What is the ROI of SEO for accounting firms?

1. How much an average customer pays per month

There was a study done in 2015 by SCORE, a non-profit organization for small business owners. They found that, on average, small businesses spend the following amounts on accounting per month:

  • 23% spend $1,000
  • 31% spend $1,000 to $5,000
  • 18% spend $5,000 to $10,000
  • 28% spend more than $10,000.

So for our first piece of data, we can take a low number from here and estimate that an average client pays $1,000 on accounting per month.

2. How many months a customer stays with an accounting company

On a survey done by among a large number of accounting firms, 56% of accounting firms’ clients have been clients for 8 or more years and 34% have remained for over 10 years.

Based on this, we can make a conservative estimation that an average client stays for at least 3 years.

3. What’s the average conversion rate of website visitors

This is a difficult thing to know and assess. The conversion rate depends on a specific website, how trustworthy the site is, does it include testimonials, how easy it is to navigate and get in touch with the firm and many other factors.

All we can do is look at the averages based on statistics and take an average of the averages :).

According to a massive study done by Wordstream, back in 2014, the median conversion rate in the Finance niche was 5.01%.

According to more recent statistics from Ruleranalytics, the average conversion rate in the finance industry is 4.3%.

So to remain on the conservative side with our calculations, let’s use 4% as the average conversion rate.

Wait, but what does conversion rate actually mean?

I’m glad you asked 🙂

In most cases, the conversion rate is calculated as how many website visitors turned into leads. A lead does not equal a paying customer. So would need to know how many leads turn into real sales.

Luckily there is public data available on this suggesting that, on average, 10-15% of leads turn into sales.

By being conservative again, let’s use 10% and multiply it by 4%, which gives us an average sales conversion rate of 0.4%.

4. How much an average customer is worth to an accounting firm

Here, we would need to calculate the average customer lifetime value to a company.

Based on the above, we can calculate the total additional revenue generated by an additional customer. This is simply calculated by multiplying how much a customer pays per month with how many months they stay on as clients.

In our example, it would translate to $1,000 x 36 months = $36,000.

Needless to say, revenue does not equal profits, so a new customer isn’t really worth $36,000 to the company.

There are marginal costs involved with taking on a new customer. These include salary for your staff, additional software costs (although the customer usually pays this) and other items.

To know how much additional profits are generated, we could look at the average gross margin of the industry.

Luckily, Aswath Damodaran, a Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University, gathers and frequently updates information on different industry margins.

According to the most recent Damodaran’s data, financial services (non-bank and insurance) average gross margin is 75.85%.

Now let’s estimate that you are operating a small business and, due to its smaller size, are not as efficient as the average company. Let’s estimate that your gross margin is 50%. Based on this, an additional customer is worth $36,000 x 50% = $18,000 to you.

5. Value of a website visitor.

Based on the last two sections, we estimated that an average customer is worth $18,000 and that the sales conversion rate is 0.4%. We can now calculate how much a website visitor is worth to an accounting firm.

To do this, we multiply the two numbers and get $18,000 x 0.04% = $72. So based on our estimates so far, an average website visitor is worth $72 to an accounting company.

Does it make sense?

One way to ensure we’re not too far off is to look at how much businesses are willing to pay per click to get people to their websites via Google Ads.

According to ahrefs’ keyword research tool, the average cost per click is $7 to get a visitor to your site via Google Ads.

This varies a lot between locations and if you want to be more specific and target your particular location, it can cost more, because the conversion rate is higher.

Some location specific examples are:

Based on this, the $72 does make sense because you wouldn’t want to pay the same amount of money to acquire a customer as you would make from them.

Business is risky and hard to manage, so you want to see a return. So getting a 10:1 return on your ad spend makes sense.

By 10:1, I mean that if you have to pay $7 to get a visitor to your website while you’re making $72 per visitor in profit.

In the next part of this article, I’ll calculate an average cost of a visitor from search engine optimization (which is the service we specialize in).

PS! Based on my calculations, buying ads from Google is a profitable marketing investment for accounting companies.

#6 How many website visitors can you expect to gain through SEO?

A simple way to find this out is to look at how many visitors the companies doing well regarding SEO are getting.

To do that, I’ll search for accountants in a citiy and check how much traffic the websites ranking in the top are getting per month.

I’ll use “Salt Lake City Accountant”

This is how the results look like:

I’ve highlighted the companies that are actual accounting companies and not just listing sites.

Now I’ll check how much organic traffic they’re getting:


Haynie gets 3,900 organic visitors per month via organic traffic

#2 gets 3,000 organic visitors per month


Squire gets 1,800 organic visitors per month via organic search

To remain conservative, let’s estimate that you’d get 1,000 organic visitors from Google by investing in SEO.

#7 How much do SEO services cost?

Our services start at $2,000/month. We usually see significant results within 3 to 6 months of starting a project. This, of course, depends on how strong and established the site was prior to us starting our work.

A survey done by Morningscore that interviewed 75 leading SEO experts found that 82% of SEO experts say that SEO results take, on average, 6 to 12 months, and the results will continue to improve for 12-24 months.

So let’s assume that a client would be with us for 6 months, which means the total cost is $12,000.

#8 How long do SEO results last?

According to the study mentioned above, SEO experts claim that the full effect of SEO work is visible within 12 to 24 months.

I couldn’t find data on how long the results last, but based on our experience, we’d say that SEO results will remain strong for at least a year if you stop doing everything and start to decline by 20% per year from there on out.

To remain conservative again, let’s say that you only did 6 months of SEO and stopped everything completely after that.

We could make an educated guess that your results would peak out after 12 months, remain steady for 12 months and then slowly start to decline as competitors would become to overtake you with fresher content and more links.

Based on this, we could conservatively assume that the results would last for 30 months.

#9 What is the ROI of SEO for accounting firms?

Now, to add up all the above numbers, this is what we got:

  1. You would get an estimated 1,000 organic visitors.
  2. This traffic average would remain for 30 months.
  3. You would have invested $2,000 x 6 months = $12,000 into SEO.

So by investing $12,000, we’d assume you get 30,000 organic visitors.

How much are these visitors worth to you?

Above, we calculated, based on data, that an average visitor is worth $72 to an accounting business.

We can’t simply use that number, because it would mean that you would simply break even and you would want to get a return on the risk you take.

So let’s assume a 10-1 risk/reward ratio. It would make sense to assume that a visitor is worth 10 times less to account for the risk. So we round the visitor worth to be $7.

This is in line with the average Google Ads cost per click we saw above.

So the overall value gained would be 30,000 x $7 = $210,000.

As you would have invested $12,000, your profit from this would be $210,000 – $12,000 = $198,000

And your ROI would be $198,000 / $12,000 = 1650% or 16.5x

The ROI of SEO in Summary

Based on the above, we estimate that the ROI of SEO for accounting firms is 1,650% or 16.5X.

Having said that, this is a very rough estimation based on our own numbers and data that we gathered.

Yes, I did use a lot of assumptions to put this together, but I tried to remain as conservative as I could to put these numbers together.

The exact ROI depends on the specific situation, and it’s possible that the ROI is negative.

PS! We at ASA analyze each client’s website and target market prior to committing to work with someone to make sure that there are high odds for the client to see significant value and ROI from our work.

PPS! One of the main reasons we decided to double down on doing SEO only for the accounting niche was because of the high potential ROI.

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