When planning your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, the SEO budget inevitably plays a significant role in your decision-making. A business’s SEO efforts usually suffer most when they fail to plan best practices or set a firm budget before getting started.
The truth is, there is no standard budget as every business has its own requirements. The best you can do is plan your budget according to your priorities, business revenue and by evaluating your SEO goals.
This article will go over effective ways of planning your SEO budget, whether you plan on bootstrapping or hiring an SEO agency.
Before Planning the SEO Budget
There are some important things business owners should know before digging into the SEO budget.
Firstly, SEO is a long-term strategy. It usually takes four to six months to see minimal results and six to 12 months for satisfying results. To do the job well, there are no short-term solutions.
Secondly, SEO is not cheap. Good SEO services can easily cost $5,000 per month. It’s not uncommon for large companies to even spend $10,000 per month. Consider hiring an SEO company if you want to focus your time on other aspects of your business and if you’re not on a limited budget.
Many new digital businesses bootstrap their SEO by learning and doing everything themselves, which is the best option if you have little wiggle room in your budget. This strategy may also augment the time it takes for your SEO results to appear, as you will go through trial and error.
Now that you understand SEO costs and the time it takes to see real SEO results, let’s get into the steps of planning your SEO budget.
1. Look at Your Digital Marketing Budget as a Whole
Analyzing your existing digital marketing budget can help you determine what percentage you should dedicate to SEO alone.
Let’s say your current overall digital marketing budget looks like this:
- 30% Google Ads
- 20% Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc. Paid and organic)
- 20% Email
- 20% Referral Traffic
- 10% Organic Traffic (SEO)
What channels are currently generating less ROI? For example, email marketing and referral traffic aren’t doing the best, so let’s add 10% from each to your SEO budget. Google Ads are important, but SEO will generate more organic traffic than Ads in the long-run, so let’s also take 10% from your Google Ads budget and give it to SEO.
Now your budget looks like this:
- 20% Google Ads
- 20% Social Media Ads
- 10% Email
- 10% Referral Traffic
- 30% Organic Traffic (SEO)
If you’re familiar with which marketing efforts generate the least ROI, giving more money to your SEO budget shouldn’t feel like a huge sacrifice. Remember that SEO will generate more ROI for your business in the long-run than any other marketing channel if you do it right.
2. Optimize Your SEO Budget for Now, Next, and New
Now that you determined that 30% of your digital marketing budget should be for SEO, you can take a closer look at the specific SEO areas you want to allocate.
The 70-20-10 rule is beneficial to allocate your funds currently.
Optimizing for Now
With this rule, 70% of your SEO budget should be spent optimizing the aspects working currently to drive your business even better results.
You could update old blog posts for high-quality content or improve your page speed, both helping your website perform better in Google’s search results.
Increasing user experience both on desktop and mobile, eliminating any technical issues, and adding more links in articles is also a good idea. Many small businesses new to SEO overlook SEO efforts like these and jump straight to the link-building strategies. However, these best practices give you a better chance at having your site on the first page of Google, and it doesn’t cost much money.
Optimizing for Next
In 2021, SEO specialists can agree that while some SEO trends are still running strong, others are on the horizon. Trends you should focus on include:
- Original content
- Keywords research
- Voice search
- Artificial intelligence
- video marketing
- Influencer SEO
To keep up with your competitors, it’s crucial to give at least 20% of your SEO budget to new technologies.
For example, in 2019, nearly one-third of the US population used voice search features. A great first step is adapting your SEO campaign to voice search by optimizing for slang words, providing short and informative answers, and making your content easy to read.
Optimizing for New
Google is always looking for new ways to optimize search. Therefore, make your information as accessible as possible. You can update your Google My Business account to include images, business hours, a description of your products/services, etc.
Some users are visual learners, so uploading high-resolution images with important information can help several potential clients.
A list of frequently asked questions with long-tail keywords in the answers can help reach your target audience while informing and encouraging them to ask questions and get in touch with your brand.
3. Compare Your SEO Budget to Your Pay-Per-Click Budget
The biggest advantage of Google Ads (PPC) is that it gives you fast results. It’s ideal for new companies that want to get targeted traffic quickly and (hopefully) get a good ROI. However, Google Ads can be like playing in the casino — the system is easy to use, but if you don’t know to run well-done Ad campaigns, you’ll keep spending while not gaining your full potential ROI.
Don’t get us wrong. Google Ads are still part of your digital marketing best practices. However, in the first month of launching Ads, you should be getting started on your SEO.
In the long-run, you will invest way less in SEO, and it will provide you with more local traffic, annual revenue, and a stronger online presence.
4. Focus on Your Content Marketing
Getting organic traffic to sales pages is challenging. It’s rare to see product pages on Google’s first search page unless it’s a paid ad. So, the common strategy here is to do content creation to send traffic to your product pages.
There are different ways you can do this:
Let’s say you have five product pages that you want to generate more revenue from. As we said, it’s challenging for product pages to rank naturally. So what you’ll do is create articles with the primary focus of persuading users into considering these products.
How-to articles and product reviews are usually the right types of content for internal linking. An editor can place an internal link under a header of an article or at the end as a call-to-action.
For example, OptinMonster mentions their product as a solution in a post about how to get blog posts to convert.
It’s important not to be overly pushy, though. One mention of your product is usually enough. If this blog post makes the top in the search rankings, you’ll get much more traffic directed to your product page.
If you’re bootstrapping your SEO, this is an excellent option because there’s usually no need to hire an SEO agency. You can do it yourself by doing some keyword research and practicing on-page SEO.
One of the best ways to get inbound links from other sites is by guest blogging. Bloggers love having guest posts because it gives their site fresh content and new perspectives with minimal effort.
Look for credible and relevant blogs for your products, then send them a pitch on guest post ideas.
Guest blogging is a great option if you’re on a small budget because blogs generally don’t charge anything for guest posts.
Get Links From Manufacturers
Another strategy that won’t drain your SEO budget is to ask your manufacturer for a backlink. Manufacturers can include links on their directory page or store locator.
Users who land on the manufacturer’s page were likely to have searched long-tail keywords, which means they are far along the buyer’s journey. Links from manufacturers are one of the most direct ways to get more traffic to your sales pages.
Ask for Product Reviews from Bloggers and Influencers
This content strategy may cost you money, depending on your relationship with the blogger/influencer and their audience size. Most paid reviews cost anywhere between $300 and $500. But if the network of the blogger is enormous, you could be looking at thousands of dollars.
A product review from a reputable blog with a large follower base will give you a powerful backlink that is guaranteed to boost your SEO. So how much you pay depends on how much you value that backlink.
In some instances, the blog may do a product review in exchange for free products.
The first step to getting a product review is to become familiar with blogs that attract your target audience.
Get to know the blogs, comment on their posts, share their content on your social networks, etc. All this effort is aimed at getting blogger’s attention and establish a digital relationship.
Once you establish a rapport, you can send them a friendly email and pitch them on your product.
Keep it short and straight to the point. Remember that by now, they should know who you are, and your email shouldn’t come as a hard surprise. Let them know you’d love to collaborate and you would like to send them a free sample of your products.
Once they try your product and like it, they will be more inclined to share with their networks and give you a backlink.
Infographics have a high SEO impact and act as easy-to-digest pieces of content that readers love.
Just like product reviews, you will need to use a portion of your budget on infographics. Hiring freelancers to design one for you can cost between hundreds and thousands, depending on the designer’s skill level and the infographic’s size.
Once you create your infographic, you have the option to submit it to infographic directories or infographic submission sites to get backlinks. Some of these sites don’t charge anything for submissions, while others charge up to $50.
Whatever the submission fee is, it’s worth it. Major sites and blogs use these directories to source content for their pages. So, in addition to scoring a backlink from the directory, you’ll also potentially get dozens more after that.
Let’s not forget that Pinterest is huge on infographics. It’s an excellent platform to get free, organic, and high-quality traffic. The more content you create for Pinterest, whether images or infographics, the more sharing and backlinking your content will get.
5. Don’t Forget Your Keyword Research Tools
The bottom line is that doing SEO without keyword research tools is like playing darts in the dark. Sure, you can always go after the biggest keywords in your industry, but you may run into some problems.
For example, you’ll likely have to compete against huge brands, which in turn lowers your chances of ranking. And it may take years to see results.
Most people don’t have that kind of patience. That takes us to the second problem with big keywords. They often revolve around very vague topics like “content marketing,” which is so general that you may never make a sale.
Using keyword research tools is crucial to find specific keywords that your business needs to see ROI results.
Although free tools can be quite limiting, they can give you a general idea of profitable keyword options. With Google Keyword Planner, you can see:
- A keyword’s search volume
- How many advertisers are willing to pay per click
- Relevant keywords to use in your content
- The keyword’s performance in different locations
On the other hand, paid keyword research tools can show you thousands of relevant keywords and all of their metrics. Paid tools are definitely meant for small business owners that want to boost their bottom line. However, you’re looking at around $99 per month for a basic plan.
There are many moving parts to planning your SEO budget. It’s possible to develop a robust SEO strategy at a fair price if you do most of the work yourself. Many businesses start this way and gain great experience as they go. Becoming an SEO expert yourself is one of the best gifts you can give to your business.
Hiring an SEO team is the best way to fast-track the learning phase and see quicker results. It requires extra money as it’s an expensive option, but the cost of SEO is worth the investment.
In the end, your SEO budget depends entirely on how important SEO is to your business and how much you have to spend. The great thing about SEO is that anyone can see results, even with a tiny budget.