When determining how to make a budget for your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) needs, you have to understand how a basic SEO strategy breaks down. Understand the components of SEO, and you’re on your way to a flawless budget.
After Google made major changes to its algorithms, a debate raged about whether or not SEO is even still necessary. But the fact is, credible, white-hat SEO is still the best way to boost rankings quickly.
SEO is a strategy by which owners of websites try to get their pages ranked higher in the search engines by using links, metadata, keywords, and page structure to convince Google that they’re credible, authoritative, and worthy of being placed at or near the top.
It is impossible to say what an SEO budget should be, because depending on your business’s size, industry, age, and product, costs can vary wildly. Many sole proprietors handle their SEO by themselves, whereas large corporations can spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on the service.
There are, however, a few key steps every business can take to see where they stand.
Can You Find Yourself?
It’s natural to Google your business and see what comes up, but by searching for your business’s name, you’re not looking through the lens of someone trying to find a particular service or product provider. Enter several different keyword strings in several separate search queries to see where the engines have you listed.
If you sell vinyl siding in Akron, Ohio, Google “vinyl siding in Akron,” “vinyl siding Ohio,” “housing exterior Akron,” and so on. These queries mimic search strings that potential customers would type when looking for you – without knowing it was you for whom they were looking. If you’re not listed at or near the top when you search a variety of phrases, it’s time to put money into your SEO budget.
Spend More Up Front
The general rule for SEO, as with all marketing, is to spend more when you’re new. Generally, businesses should spend as much as possible – in some industries, up to 20 percent – of their budgets on marketing during the first three years, while they’re still establishing a brand and building a customer base. After that, it can taper off dramatically, almost always down to single digits, often just 3 or 4 percent.
The longer your website has been around and the more times it has been referenced by other websites, the more credible it will appear to search engines. It’s harder to get it to the top than it is to keep it there.
Analyze or Hire a Consultant
Although SEO implementation can be costly and complicated, an analysis doesn’t have to be either. Having pros examine the back end of your website in relation to its search engine rankings is probably the best place to start.
There are free calculators that deal strictly with return on investment using a boilerplate system of calculations. If that’s not enough, there are other DIY analysis tools that take a more in-depth look at what your SEO is buying you. If that doesn’t suffice, it may be worth dedicating some of your budget to a professional SEO consultant.
You may need to hire a consultant to see where the gaps in your SEO budget are.
The world of SEO is constantly changing – and the search engines are changing with it. As the engines rework their listing strategies to weed out the black-hat bad seeds, keyword stuffers, and page burners, websites have to keep up with an industry that is in a constant state of flux.
Remember that SEO is not a cure-all or a cheap fix. It is used to prop up a good website packed with good content that would want to be found by people doing the searching. No matter what changes, and no matter what your budget is, remember that content will always be king.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about online marketing and SEO.