It’s a question that many brands have to consider at some point: “How much money should I spend on my SEO marketing?”
Truthfully, the answer varies.
If you’ve ever left a marketing meeting thinking, “Wow, they were unprepared,” you probably relate to the fact that teams need to do more digging before jumping into the next idea. There are so many facets to SEO, and all must be considered and understood before coming up with a strategy. In a field that’s constantly changing, it’s essential to have someone on hand who not only knows the basics, but knows what questions to ask to really drive growth.
When developing an SEO budget, or even just planning to do a deeper dive into SEO marketing, there are a few questions you must be able to answer:
What are our business goals?
What does our current SEO plan look like?
Which marketing channels are seeing the highest ROI now?
How is our website performing?
While the first question can usually be answered by any member of the C-suite (and usually involves building revenue), the other questions require some digging.
So, the first step in determining an SEO budget is performing an SEO Audit. Let's go over how to do an SEO audit and how the results can inform your budgeting needs.
What’s Involved in an SEO Audit?
Before you can set a budget for future work, you need to determine what type of work needs to be completed. Hiring an SEO expert or consultant to perform a detailed audit will help identify any gaps in your current strategy and determine which areas need the most attention.
A good SEO audit will look at three main points:
Quality of content
Effectiveness of backlinks
At this stage of the audit, the SEO marketing expert will look at the aspects of the website itself, including:
If the website is crawlable by Google
Whether the website follows search engine best practices
What the page speed is of important pages
How the website performs and appears on desktop, mobile, and tablets
All of these factors impact the usability of the site for human visitors, but also play a major role in how they perform in search engines.
Quality of Content
You’ve likely heard it before: content is king.
A good SEO consultant will look at the types of content on your site, noting the following:
Whether it’s well-researched and informative
If it offers value to readers
How it relates to search queries
How often fresh content is being published
The quality of the content itself
When people visit a site, it’s often to learn something or address a need. For SEO purposes (and good user experience), you should regularly be producing informative content that guides users and provides relevant information that aligns with their search. The person or agency performing your SEO audit will inform you of how your content stacks up and what areas need to be expanded upon.
Effectiveness of Backlinks
Sometimes, inexperienced SEO consultants will use outdated methods to obtain backlinks, but a modern SEO strategy hinges on natural backlinks.
In the past, companies would rely on paid guest posts to boost their backlinking profile. Today, however, this activity could result in the penalization of your website, as this linking method is not natural.
Brands should seek high authority, relevant backlinks. While it’s easier said than done, even having a small number of high-quality links can have a greater impact than the “spray and pray” strategy of past years. It really is quality over quantity.
Determine Your SEO Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve established the goals you want to target and your SEO audit clarifies your website’s current position and shortcomings, you can start developing a strategy. There is no cookie-cutter SEO marketing strategy with a clear list of price points — it all depends on what your plan entails and the results you’re seeking.
For example, if you want to focus on local SEO in a specific region, that may cost around $500 per month. On the other hand, a national or international SEO marketing campaign can cost $5,000 or more per month.
This is why clarifying your goals is so important to help you spend your money in the right areas.
Do you want your products and website to be shown to more people?
Or do you want them to be shown to the right people? This is a select group that’s most likely to make a purchase.
Do you know your target audience and the challenges they face?
How do your products or services solve problems?
These are factors that will influence which activities are most likely to help you reach your goals.
Setting Your SEO Budget
Ultimately, your budget will depend on the factors above, as well as how you plan to allocate your overall marketing budget.
There are a few things to consider when setting your SEO budget:
The number of customers acquired through SEO each month
Average monthly profits from SEO conversions
Overall monthly marketing budget
Your monthly marketing budget will be the biggest determining factor in setting your SEO budget, since that’s likely where the money is coming from. Take a look at where funds are being spent right now — PPC campaigns, social media ads, guest posts, banner ads, etc. Calculate the ROI for each of these activities (yes, another audit may be in order) and see which methods are giving you the best bang for your buck.
You may end up allocating some funds away from certain tasks in favor of SEO marketing methods. It’s a good idea to test a few different strategies to see which ones have the greatest impact, and this might mean adjusting your marketing spend each month until you determine which strategies work best.
Getting SEO Marketing Help for Success
While it’s advisable to have at least one person on your marketing team who can oversee the SEO marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to bring in a search engine marketing agency. There are so many components to an effective SEO program. It’s near impossible for one person to handle everything while also tracking metrics, analyzing industry trends, and adjusting the strategy accordingly.
Working with an agency allows your internal employees to focus on big-picture ideas while an external team handles the implementation. An agency like First Page Strategy can also perform the initial audits and help you determine the necessary SEO budget that will allow you to hit your goals.