In the past decade, SEO has progressed from a curious novelty to a vital component of the modern marketing mix. In fact, most organizations today (both large and small) can no longer afford to ignore this crucial business practice, especially as the online search environment grows ever more competitive.
Yet while most organizations understand SEO’s immense value, many still struggle with how to set an SEO budget. If that’s true of your organization, here are some tried and trusted guidelines to follow:
1. Identify Business Goals
Before setting your budget and before reaching out to a specialist, you need to identify your goals. For instance, what do you hope to achieve with your SEO campaign? Do you want to drive more traffic? Improve overall brand awareness? Increase a certain lead? It’s okay to have broad goals; they will be fine tuned into measurable KPIs later on in the process.
2.Understand Your Timeline
Prior to setting your budget, it’s important to realize that SEO is a long-term strategy. It typically takes up to six months before minimal results are achieved and up to a year to experience SEO’s full impact. You need to give your SEO efforts some time to see their impact on your traffic, site rankings, conversions, page on time, etc.
3. Establish Financial Boundaries
To get an idea of what you can spend on your SEO efforts, you really need to have clearly defined business goals and KPIs to track those goals. Once you have this solid foundation, you can then look at your marketing strategies to see how you can achieve business goals and meet KPIs via your SEO efforts - this will help you determine a rough monthly budget for SEO. Again, you need to also consider that SEO performance grows over time and you need to look at your first three to six months as the initial planting period...this is the time the ground is turned up, seeds spread and lots of attention given so that your harvest can grow and produce fruit down the road.
4. Choose A Resource
Depending on your financial situation and performance expectations, you’ll need to choose between in-house help (if that’s an option), contracting with a freelancer, or hiring an agency. Each SEO resource comes with its own pros and cons.
Using an in-house SEO resource can provide you with more control and make communication easier, especially if you’re sharing the same office environment. While in-house SEO professionals will undoubtedly understand the ins and outs of your business, this can also become a detriment because you become so narrowly focused that you don't think outside the box and consider creative new ways to approach your SEO efforts. In addition to tunnel vision, in-house SEO teams can become costly. You must pay for advance-level salaries, as well as the technology costs.
SEO freelancers can be highly affordable but may come with performance and legal risks, especially if they lack passion or motivation for particular assignments. Determining their level of expertise can also be a challenge. At the very minimum, inquire about past work results and insist upon obtaining client references. Finally, make sure to establish a regular meeting schedule to keep your SEO freelancer engaged and on track.
An SEO agency presents many advantages. Digital marketing agencies or agencies that specialize in SEO field teams of experts in search marketing tactics. These experts are constantly keeping current with the latest changes that may impact SEO and are dedicated to continually refining SEO strategies to garner the greatest results for your brand. Agencies also tend to work with many different clients across many different industries and this allows for experience and knowledge that is more holistic and comprehensive, not rigid and narrow to one industry. With an agency, you’re paying for strategy, expertise, and technology. If you decide to go the SEO agency route, don’t just pick a talented team – choose a group of professionals that you think you’d enjoy working with. Team dynamics and culture matter more than you may realize.
5. Set Measurable Goals
The final way to determine your SEO budget is by setting measurable goals. Step 1 helped determine you overall goal, but now it’s time to dive deeper. Your SEO specialist can help establish realistic measurable goals with your budget. For instance, what do you hope to achieve with your SEO campaign? 10% increase in traffic? 15% increase in leads? Whatever your goals, a financial value must be placed on them to help establish a realistic monthly budget and measure your overall ROI.
If you are looking for an SEO agency with experienced team members who will be dedicated to driving results for your business, contact Rhythm. You may also want to take a look at some of our work with other clients.