Measuring ROI for your link building efforts is quite difficult since there may not be any direct connection between a link and a conversion that occurs at a later stage. However, there are a few metrics that can help measure link building ROI and a few tools that can help you determine the success or failure of your campaign.
One way to measure link building ROI is through traffic to your site. However, you need to track all traffic through links even when they do not result in immediate conversions. Visitors can return back to your site and turn into customers at a later date. You can choose from various traffic tracking tools including Google Analytics to monitor traffic. They are used to monitor several metrics such as track page visits, page views, unique visitors, and many more.
You will need to look at the Referrals report displayed in the Traffic Sources section to look at sites that have sent traffic to your website. You then need to separate those sites that formed part of your link building campaign. You should remember to set up goals as well as enable e-commerce tracking to measure the efforts of your link building exercise. Once you assign values to your links then you can measure link building ROI that will be fairly accurate, but not completely due to the vast amount of unmatched data.
Another method to measure the success of your link building efforts is to look at rankings. Many SEOs use this method by comparing rankings, which again is not very accurate considering that a site placed at number 10 could garner more conversions than a site that is placed at number 2. You can use tools offered by SEOmoz.org and Authoritylabs.com, among others to track rankings. In case you manage a small business then instead of using complex tools, you can merely create a spreadsheet to look at SERPs on a daily basis to calculate ROI.
However, you should understand that links only form a part of improved rankings since other factors such as improved content, a website overhaul, etc., could also lead more visitors to your site. On the other hand, if you have witnessed a rise in traffic only after adding high quality links then that should be considered in your calculations.
Yet another somewhat inaccurate way of measuring link building ROI is through social media. Accurate calculation is difficult since you may have tweeted a link that may have been picked up by someone after weeks or months and then linked up with you. Similarly, while your original tweet may not have produced any results, a re-tweet by a popular member may result in a significant rise in traffic to your site.
Still, there are several tools including Google Analytics that can provide a fairly accurate reading of measuring link building ROI through social media. Google Analytics will provide reports about traffic generated through social media sites as well as help you compare traffic coming in through different websites. Still, these tools are not accurate since it is very difficult to track links that result in a conversion further down the road or result in offline conversions. In other words, you need to dig really deep to find the actual source of a conversion in order to calculate ROI.
The above methods for measuring link building ROI may not be ideal, but they do offer a fair idea of indicating if your campaign is on the right track. You should use them to at least get a somewhat clear picture of the results of your link building efforts.