You’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and invest in SEO.
But before you start shelling out big bucks, we suggest you take a step back and assess your SEO budget.
How much can you realistically afford to spend on SEO?
The answer to this question will help you set your budget and priorities.
Are you simply looking to improve your website’s ranking in search results?
Or do you want to overhaul your entire marketing strategy?
Do you have the internal resources to handle SEO in-house?
Or will you need to outsource?
Answering all these questions will give you a better idea of how much you should be spending on SEO.
SEO Expectations Vs. Reality
SEO is not a quick fix.
You won’t see results overnight, no matter how much you’re willing to spend.
SEO is a long-term investment; it can take months or even years to see results.
One recent survey found that less than a half of businesses have a budget earmarked for SEO, and of those that do, the median budget is just under $500/month.
That’s a good starting point, but it’s important to remember that SEO is an ongoing investment.
As your business grows, you should be prepared to increase your budget to reflect that growth.
Businesses that spend more than $500/month on SEO typically see much better results. To be precise, studies show that they’re 53.3% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their organic traffic.
Your SEO Budget
|The % of marketing budget businesses spent on SEO||Total SEO Marketing Budget (in USD)|
|46% allocate 0% of their marketing budget to SEO||17% spend between $1 and $99/month on SEO|
|32% allocate 1 – 25% of their marketing budget to SEO||7% spend between $100 and $199/month on SEO|
|Only 5% allocate 26% to 50% of their marketing budget to SEO||10% spend between $200 and $499/month on SEO|
|Only 2% allocate 51% to 75% of their marketing budget to SEO||7% spend between $500 and $999/month on SEO|
|0% allocate 76% to 100% of their marketing budget to SEO||3% spend between $1000 and $1499/month on SEO|
|15% have absolutely no clue||2% spend between $1500 and $2999/month on SEO|
|Only 1% of businesses spend more than $3000/month on SEO|
|54% don’t even have an SEO budget|
38% of businesses think investing less than $100/month on SEO should be enough to see significant SEO results.
33% believe they will rank their business on the first page of Google search results.
With SEO, you get what you pay for.
You won’t see results if you’re unwilling to invest in it.
You have to invest both time and money into SEO to see results.
If people can’t find your online front door (website), how will they know what great products or services you offer?
The Future Planning
Where small businesses often fail is in long-term planning.
They might be willing to spend money on SEO now, but they’re not willing to commit to an ongoing investment — a mistake if you ask.
SEO should be seen as an investment in your business, not as a one-time expense.
To see results, you need to be prepared to commit long-term.
- 24% of businesses plan to increase their marketing budget in the next 12 months.
- 41% say they’ll leave it as is. They’ll neither increase nor decrease their SEO marketing budget.
- 11% say they plan to expand their internal SEO team by one or two people.
- 5% say they’ll expand their internal SEO team by three or more people.
- 49% don’t have an internal SEO team. They plan to outsource everything.
- 5% say they plan to decrease their SEO budget
- 4% say they’ll decrease their SEO team size and start outsourcing
- 5% will decrease their SEO team size and allocate fewer resources toward SEO
- 26% have absolutely no clue
The Cost of Cheap SEO
We’ve all heard the saying, “you get what you pay for.”
A quick scroll through any of these groups will show quite an alarming number of noobs posing as SEO professionals.
They’re taking on clients and charging them rock-bottom prices.
These “SEO experts” are frequently responsible for giving the entire industry a bad rap.
Many business owners have been burned by these so-called experts and are hesitant to invest in SEO.
You’ve probably seen a post that reads like this, “I have just landed my first client, and they want to rank for this keyword. “X,” how do I go about it?”
These people are not SEO professionals. They’re taking on more work than they can handle and don’t have the experience to back up their claims.
Link schemes, doorway pages, buying links, and other black hat SEO tactics might get you short-term results.
But in the long run, these practices will hurt your website and your business.
Search engines are getting better and better at weeding out these bad actors.
If you’re caught using black hat SEO tactics, you could be penalised by Google.
As a business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for any SEO work performed on your website.
What to Expect from an Appropriate SEO Budget?
Notably, the value you get from SEO compounds over time.
Unlike paid ads, which stop as soon as you stop paying, SEO continues to pay dividends long after the initial investment.
SEO builds on itself. It’s like building wealth through your business website.
When your SEO strategy is content-driven, whenever someone searches for a question relevant to your line of business, your brand should be among the first results that show up in the SERPs.
Businesses love SEO because of the economics at play.
Paid advertising, such as PPC, can be expensive.
If you consider an SEO investment, it will take some time for that investment to pay off.
But once it does, the ROI can be significant and long-lasting.
Consider the investment over 12 months. You’ll notice that the monthly expense stays flat, but the generated revenue grows exponentially.
On the contrary, if you look at the performance of a paid campaign, you’ll notice that the generated revenue positively correlates with the amount you spend.
Your revenue vs. monthly ad expense should look something like this:
So, as logic would dictate, the more you spend on paid advertising, the more revenue you’re likely to generate.
But there’s a limit to that; you can spend only so much money on paid ads before it starts to eat into your profits.
SEO is different. The generated revenue from an effective SEO strategy can quickly surpass the amount you spend on the initial investment.
How to Allocate Your SEO Budget
Hiring an In-house SEO Team
SEO is hard work.
You must constantly produce fresh content, optimise existing content, analyse data, and fine-tune your SEO strategy.
You need a team of 4 to 8 people to do all of that.
Your team should consist of:
- Content Editor
- SEO Writer with a background in copywriting
- SEO Strategist or manager
- Marketing project manager
- SEO marketing analytics expert
- Web developer/designer
If you don’t have the budget to hire an entire team, consider hiring a content editor and an SEO strategist and outsource the rest.
SEO freelancers charge between $70 and $200 per hour per person.
You can find them on job boards or through referrals from people you trust.
However, you want to do your due diligence and check their credentials before handing over any money.
Hiring an SEO Agency
SEO agencies have the workforce and the resources to get the job done.
An agency’s average monthly SEO spend can range between $1,500 and $5,000.
The price you pay will depend on the size of your business, the scope of the project, the agency’s overhead, and the agency’s profit margin.
Just make sure you do your research and only work with an agency with a good reputation.
Doing It Yourself
If you’re on a tight budget or the DIY type, there are some free and low-cost resources you can use to do your SEO.
Moz is a great place to start.
Another great resource is Google Search Console’s Tools.
This free service gives you insights into how Google sees your website.
You can use this information to improve your website’s performance in the search results.
Hiring an in-house Marketing Project Manager or Marketing Manager
If you have the budget, consider hiring a marketing project manager or marketing manager to oversee your SEO efforts.
A good project manager can keep your team on track and ensure the project stays within budget.
Depending on their experience, a project manager or marketing manager is typically paid between $50,000 and $125,000 per year.
Marketing managers also tend to have a good grasp of SEO; they can be a valuable asset to your team.
While at it, don’t forget to add the cost of hiring freelancers to your budget.
As you can see, there are different ways to allocate your SEO budget.
Why $100 Per Month Won’t Cut It
If you’re on a tight budget, you may be tempted to choose the cheapest option available.
But beware; there’s such a thing as “bad” or “cheap” SEO, and it’s exactly as it sounds.
Bad SEO often results from using black hat techniques like link buying, link farms, and keyword stuffing.
These practices can get you penalised and even get your website banned from the search results.
Cheap SEO is just as bad as bad SEO.
It’s often the result of inexperienced freelancers or agencies using automated tools and software to get the job done.
Unfortunately, SEO spammers are well aware of the fact that business owners have no idea whatsoever of how SEO works.
5 Tips for Planning Your SEO Marketing Budget
The single most damaging thing an SEO rookie can do to their business is lead it towards a Google penalty.
Regarding SEO, the most common question business owners ask is, “how much should I budget?”
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question.
The amount you should spend on SEO depends on several factors, including the size of your business, the competitiveness of your industry, and your overall marketing goals.
That said, you can follow a few general guidelines when planning your SEO budget.
Here are eight tips for planning your SEO marketing budget:
1. DIY Stuff: Start by Collecting Some Basic SEO Information
To truly understand where you’re going, you must fully understand where you stand today. The first thing to do would be to instruct your technology team or SEO agency to check your website for the best technical SEO practices. This will give you a baseline to start with.
Once you’ve accounted for foundational level SEO, you may also want to peek over your competition’s shoulders to see how things are on their side of the fence.
We’ve found that installing Moz’s free SEO toolbar is the best way to do this. This helpful tool lets you quickly and easily see how your website stacks up against other websites.
2. Look At Your Digital Marketing Budget as a Whole
Remember, SEO is only one of the many digital marketing channels.
You’ll not just be investing in SEO but in many other digital marketing channels.
So, instead of only budgeting for SEO, you can budget for digital marketing as a whole.
Analysing your overall digital marketing budget will help you determine what budget to allocate to SEO alone.
Here’s what your digital marketing budget can look like:
- Google Ads: 30%
- Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc. – both paid and organic): 20%
- Email Marketing: 20%
- Referral Traffic: 20%
- Organic Search Engine Traffic (SEO): 10%
Go through each channel individually, and see which one generates the most negligible ROI.
For example, if referral traffic and email marketing aren’t performing their best, you can take 10% from each and add it to your SEO budget.
So, your budget ends up looking something like this:
- Google Ads: 20%
- Social Media Ads: 20%
- Email Marketing: 10%
- Referral Traffic: 10%
- Organic SEO Traffic: 30%
It’s a sacrifice you can afford. Although the result might not be immediate, it will generate more ROI for your business in the long run.
3. Optimize Your SEO Budget for Specific SEO Area, Particularly, for Now, Next, and New
After establishing what percentage of your digital marketing budget goes into SEO, it’s time to optimize it for SEO specifics.
You want to look closely at specific SEO areas and determine what amount you want to allocate.
You can use the 70 – 20 – 10 rule to allocate your funds.
Optimizing Your SEO Campaign for Now
The idea is to use 70% of your SEO budget to optimize the aspects currently working for your business.
For example, you could update an old blog post and improve its quality, improve your page speed, and generally help your website perform even better in the search results.
Use 70% of your SEO budget to improve your overall SEO performance. Sort out any technical SEO issues. Add more links to the articles you already have.
Instead of jumping straight to content creation or linking building, focus on the best SEO practices. Work on your site and the content you already have and make it even better.
Optimizing Your SEO Campaign for Next
While some SEO trends are still running strong in 2022, others are lingering on the horizon.
Some of the trends to focus on include:
- Voice Search
- Influencer SEO
- Video Marketing
- Artificial Intelligence
- Original Content
- Keyword Research
20% of your SEO budget should be dedicated to these trends or new technologies.
You can start by optimizing your SEO campaign for voice search by providing short, informative answers, optimizing for slang words, and making your content engaging and easy to read.
Optimizing Your SEO Campaign for New
The idea is to look for new ways to optimize your SEO campaign for new things. Look at what you’ve not been doing and use 10% of your SEO budget to optimize your campaign.
You can begin by looking at your Google My Business and see if you can include more images, edit the description, etc.
4. Compare Your SEO Budget to Your PPC Budget
The main advantage of PPC ads is that their results are almost immediate. It’s an excellent strategy for new companies that want to drive targeted traffic instantaneously and hopefully get a good ROI.
However, PPC ads operate a lot like casinos. The system is easy to use, but if you don’t know how to play the game and optimize your ad campaigns correctly, you’ll keep on spending, but you won’t gain your potential ROI.
Don’t get it twisted. Google ads are still an integral part of any successful digital marketing campaign.
You’ll invest less in SEO in the long run, and it’ll you with more targeted traffic, annual revenue and a robust online presence.
5. Your SEO Strategy Must be Content Driven
Sales pages are not easy to rank organically. It’s rare to see a product page on the first page of Google unless it’s a paid ad.
Here are a few ways to go about it:
You can start by identifying the products that generate the most revenue for your business. Next, create articles that primarily focus on persuading users to consider purchasing these products.
While writing the article, your focus should be on getting it to convert. Focus on informing the reader and touching on why you think yours is a superior product.
Don’t be pushy or sales-y. Instead, mention your product in passing, and if this article ever makes it to the top of search engine result pages, you’ll have more traffic directed to your website.
You can get a lot of inbound links from other sites by guest blogging.
Bloggers love guess blogs because they bring in fresh perspectives with minimal effort.
Guest blogs are great if you’re on a small budget because most of these blogs don’t usually charge anything for these guest blogs.
Reach Out to Manufacturers for Links
You can reach out to your manufacturers and see if they can link to you. See if they can include your link on their store locator or directory page.
Users who land on the manufacturer’s page are likely to have searched for a long-tail keyword. They’re far along the buyer’s journey and more likely to convert.
Getting your manufacturer to link to you is the most direct way to drive targeted traffic your way.
Ask Bloggers and Influencers
This content strategy isn’t free.
Be prepared to shell out between $300 and 1,000 per review. And if the blogger has a massive network, then the cost could be as high as thousands of dollars.
A product review from a reputable blog will give you a powerful backlink that will surely boost your SEO.
So, how much you pay to acquire a backlink in this way depends on how much you value it.
Some bloggers may offer to review your product in exchange for a free product.
Before you reach out to any blogger for a product review, you might want to familiarize yourself with their blog and the type of content they publish.
Read their blogs, comment on a few, and share them on social media. The aim is to get the blogger’s attention and establish a relationship before you reach out to them.
Infographics are a catnip for backlinks. They’re easy to digest, and most bloggers don’t mind linking to them.
You can hire a freelancer to design the infographic for you and submit it to an infographic directory.
While most of these directories don’t charge a dime for submitting an infographic, others charge up to $50.