How Much Should You Invest In SEO?
By this point, it should be clear that your business needs SEO.
And that means earmarking part of your marketing budget for it. But how much, exactly?
If you don’t know where to even begin answering this, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer.
Depending on where you’re starting from and where you want to go, there’s a huge amount of variance.
But there is one truism: Like mattresses and car batteries, you get what you pay for.
If you try to take a budget route, you’re probably going to get budget results.
You could contract with one of the many SEO scammers with “Guaranteed First Page Results!™” only to fall victim to a bunch of black hat tactics that end up getting you penalized and effectively erasing your site’s visibility.
But if you don’t have a massive SEO budget, don’t worry. You can still get good results just by focusing on a few of the most important factors, namely:
- Site architecture: Ensure good crawlability, follow webmaster guidelines, and pay attention to user experience.
- Good content: Regularly add fresh, keyword-rich content that matches search queries and satisfies user intent.
- Quality backlinks: Natural backlinks (not link farms) from high trust-high authority sites can help you shoot up the rankings.
But, what does that mean in terms of dollars and cents? The short (and admittedly frustrating answer) is “it depends.”
SEO takes time and if you’re expecting overnight results, you’re going to be disappointed.
You should budget for a minimum of six months to see results. And that will vary depending on your needs.
A first-class SEO agency running a local campaign may run you $500/month.
If you’re setting your sights on loftier goals, an international campaign will require a budget five to 10 times that.
But of course, the most cost-effective way to handle SEO is simply to become an expert yourself by reading articles like this one.
For a more in-depth walkthrough on how to determine your SEO budget, read this article.
How Do You Invest In SEO?
The first step in investing in SEO is determining your goals.
Are you looking to expand your sales funnel? Increase customer awareness? Show up in a specific number of searches per day?
Figure out what you want to achieve, and then decide on your strategy.
Once you’ve landed on a plan of attack, you can work out which tactics you need to achieve that strategy.
Confused by the difference between strategy and tactics? The easiest way to remember it: tactics are small scale, whereas strategy is large scale. Strategy is why and tactics is how.
For example, Napoleon wanted to invade Belgium to drive a wedge between his British and Prussian enemies. That was the strategy behind his Waterloo campaign.
The attack of the French cavalry in an attempt to break the British center at the Battle of Waterloo was a tactic used to help achieve that greater goal (which failed, as any high school history teacher could tell you. Sometimes tactics are unsuccessful, though they don’t always derail an entire strategy as they did in this case).
In case that just muddied things up further, we have a handy piece that does a much better job of explaining it than a ham-fisted example from 19th-century warfare.
Need help developing a comprehensive SEO strategy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there, too.
If you have the budget to cover it, there are a number of paid SEO tools that are well worth the money.
From keyword research to evaluating backlinks, these programs can provide you with clearer insights into your campaigns and help you boost overall SEO efficiency.
For a breakdown of some of the best-paid SEO tools on the market, click here.
Should You Invest In SEO Or PPC Ads?
SEO has a better average ROI than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, so that’s what you should be using, right? No.
Both are valuable, and ideally, you should have a mix of paid and organic search campaigns that make sense for your company and your current assets. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
While you could write a book on just this topic, we’ll attempt to give you a very brief overview of the benefits of each and what you’ll be investing your time and money in.
Advantages Of SEO
- Website traffic: SEO can help increase the total number of people who visit your site and land more clicks overall.
- ROI: As previously discussed, SEO is more cost-effective than PPC, though be warned: Neither is cheap or easy.
- Branding and awareness: Organic search puts your business in front of potential customers based on search queries, increasing visibility around search terms, and exposing people to your brand.
- Credibility: Ranking highly in SERPs can play a large role in building trust. Many users skip right past the paid ads and click on organic results instead.
- Longer-lasting results: While SEO takes some time to begin seeing results, it also takes longer to drop off. An optimized site can maintain a high ranking long after a PPC campaign has been deactivated.
- Stability: Similarly, whereas PPC ad positioning can change according to bids from the competition, a site with good SEO will hold a relative position even if you forget about it for a while.
Advantages Of PPC
- Faster results: Once you launch a paid campaign, you should begin seeing more traffic, clicks, and conversions right away.
- Algorithm changes don’t affect positioning: PPC is bidding for the top spots on a SERP, which means you don’t have to rethink content and strategies every time Google updates its search algorithm.
- More control: Because you have control over your spending, you’ll always know what kind of returns you are getting, which in turn makes budgeting easier.
- More accurate targeting: Paid search ads let you target based on an entire range of factors including demographics, geography, and time of day, so you can more accurately go after an audience.
- You can use visual ads: People are more likely to click on images of the product they’re searching for. You can do this with PPC, but not with organic search.
Your SEO Investment
What exactly are you spending your budget on with an SEO campaign? In short, architecture and content.
If you’re handy with HTML and CSS, you need to evaluate your site to ensure it’s well-built.
That means improving crawlability and structural issues, ensuring it creates good user experiences, loads quickly, and doesn’t have 404 links.
If you don’t know your way around code, you should be able to hire a professional to handle this for you for a reasonable price.
The content is a bit more straightforward.
You want to ensure your website has the information your targets are searching for. Effective and meaningful content will drive the traffic you want and improve your overall ROI.
For your convenience, we’ve provided a guide to developing an SEO content strategy and information on how to create evergreen content that will continue to drive traffic for months or even years.
How Should You Structure Your SEO Investment?
By this point, it should be clear that you need SEO. Now it’s just time to figure out where your budget should be going.
As with nearly everything SEO-related, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here.
What works for your business depends on a lot of factors, including your market, goals, and overall marketing budget.
However, if we could make a suggestion, it would behoove you to hire a strong SEO team.
There are a wealth of professionals out there skilled in various aspects of SEO, including technical SEO, keyword research, and content creation.
Don’t have the budget to hire anyone? Never fear, these are all skills you can master yourself with some research and hard work.
Just keep in mind common traits SEO professionals share and work on cultivating those skills yourself.
Don’t kid yourself – SEO is a massive undertaking. But it’s not overwhelming. You have already taken a great first step just by reading this article.
There’s a lot that factors in, but with the right attitude and a clear strategy, you can get the results you want, no matter what your budget is.
Now, get out there and start working on your ranking.