One of the things that are incredibly important for you to understand is that free marketing will only get you so far. In order to really get the top spot on search engines, you need to start sponsoring some of your pages, as well as invest in creating much better content. Even with the standard SEO strategy, you need to pay for premium versions of specialized tools, due to the fact that this is the best way to provide yourself with a sizable competitive edge. All in all, search engine optimization tends to cost quite a bit. So, with all of this in mind, how do you set and define your budget for search engine optimization? Let’s find out!

Setting the budget

The first thing you need to do when setting a search engine optimization budget is to understand that it’s merely a part of your total digital marketing campaign. The rule of thumb is that you need to set about 10 per cent of your average annual revenue for your digital marketing budget. If the field is particularly competitive and the overhead is low (like for an online business), the budget can be anywhere between 20 and 50 per cent. Once you have your digital marketing budget, you can start making a priority list and try to figure out where SEO fits on this list.

Setting priorities straight

Another thing you need to understand is the fact that not all search engines and social media platforms are made equal. Sure, Yahoo and Bing can be quite important, however, they’re clearly not as big as Google or YouTube. Your spending needs to be proportionate to that. As for social media, you need to keep in mind that your audience has their own preferences based on the demographics that they belong to. Therefore, you can make data-based decisions after doing a proper analysis of your target market. For instance, a younger audience may be more present on Snapchat and TikTok than on Facebook or even Instagram, nowadays.

Consider the broader context

The next thing worth taking into consideration is the broader context of things. For instance, is your business B2B or B2C oriented? Are you selling a product or a service? Is your goal to make people buy, have them subscribe or something else entirely? Where are you on the search engine ranking list at the moment? How segmented your industry is and is your competition spending much on marketing themselves? These are just some of the questions that will help you see the bigger picture.

Other than this, you also need to know the industry averages regarding various metrics. For instance, websites offering legal services, on average, have a much higher conversion rate than e-commerce websites. So, being disappointed because your e-store doesn’t have as good of a conversion rate as its counterpart from another industry can lead you down the wrong path. Knowing where you are at the moment, what the industry averages are and where you want your website to be in a month, six months or a year are crucial for determining your budget. More ambitious goals require a bigger investment.

Try shopping around

One of the biggest problems, when it comes to figuring out the appropriate budget for your SEO project, lies in the fact that you may lack basic awareness of how much various services cost, to begin with. After all, as a layman and a newcomer to the industry, average figures might be completely obscure to you. For starters, you need to look for the top-dogs of your local SEO industry and see what they have in offer. Then, you need to shop around some more. At the end of the line, you will have a decent idea of what the averages are and which offers are acceptable.

Local SEO is worth the investment

One thing that makes local SEO worth the investment even if you’re running a local, brick and mortar enterprise is the fact that local SEO increases your offline sales. In fact, about 78 per cent of all local mobile searches eventually become offline sales. Needless to say, the best way to achieve this is to make a sizable investment towards enhancing your local SEO efforts. Finding SEO experts to help you out with this effort is definitely a smart move and the sooner you consult them, the better.

Outsourcing or internal SEO

Technically speaking, it would be possible to hire a full-time SEO specialist to tend to your business, however, how much would such a thing cost? What kind of coverage do you get for it and would it be better to outsource to an agency instead? Due to the fact that more and more SEO agencies are practising the so-called white label SEO, the services that they provide are far more comprehensive and holistic. In other words, unless you need the simplest, most basic SEO services, it might be better to just outsource. Needless to say, this is a scalable option, which means that you won’t have to deviate from the path when the situation changes.

Is DIY SEO an option?

One question that a lot of people will ask on this topic is whether it is a good idea to try your hand at DIY SEO. Sure, technical knowledge of basic SEO shouldn’t be too hard to master with the right research, adequate resources and a couple of well-chosen online courses. However, this takes an investment of time, effort and money that you may not possess. Second, as a business owner, chances are that you will already be otherwise occupied. In other words, the answer to this question is quite similar to the one we gave in the previous paragraph. If you are running a small enterprise and need only basic services, DIY SEO might be an option. If not, it’s better to look for professional assistance.

What are the basics?

When it comes to prioritizing SEO tasks, there are several things that are a top priority. For instance, you need to do some on-site optimization of your website, which means that you probably want to hire a skilled web designer or SEO expert. Second, you need to do your keyword research, which usually involves tools like keyword planners or keyword explorers. Finally, you need to set aside some money for your off-site optimization like link building and influencer marketing. Overall, these are the very minimum that you should invest in.

How much money should go to PPC?

One good thing about PPC is the fact that you’re always getting your money’s worth. After all, you’re paying for every click, which means that if the link is clicked upon, then it’s doing its purpose. If not, well, it doesn’t cost you a thing. You see, John Wannamaker once said that even though half of the money he spends on marketing is wasted, he can never know which half. With PPC, it is exactly the opposite and this is perhaps the most appealing side of the method in question. As for the exact percentage, there are those who agree that you can feel free to set aside as much as 70 per cent of your SEO budget and spend the rest on social media activity and website optimization.

In conclusion

One last thing worth mentioning is the fact that while it can be quite easy to figure out the appropriate budget for as long as it gives you an adequate ROI. The problem, nonetheless, lies in the fact that there will not always be an ROI (in a traditional sense). Even non-profit organizations are investing in ROI and they’re not likely to see their money back. So, instead of asking how much money you should invest in order to see a profit, you need to ask how much money you should invest in order to see an improvement in some relevant metrics. In other words, you need to adopt the right mindset.

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