How much do you need to budget for SEO?

By Aaron Rudman-Hawkins
January 9, 2020

Knowing how much good quality, resulted-focused SEO costs is something many business owners struggle with.

  • Looking online you will get conflicting answers
  • Speaking to your peers, networking connection you will get conflicting answers
  • Asking for advice on social media you will get conflicting answers

So, how do you know?

Well, I answered exactly this question a few weeks ago with a video I posted on LinkedIn.

As with everything I do, I kept it very simple and explained that you should think of your SEO budget like a salary.

SEO done properly takes time, time requires money and money equals results.

Here is the video I published on social media late last year.
Let’s talk #SEO budgeting for 8 mins… Why? Because I don’t see anyone being truly honest about what #SEO costs. There is so much confusion out there about what #SEO should cost..

It makes sense, right? I had over 30 comments on that video posts from people saying how logical it was, how brilliantly simple it was to understand.

What I say to anyone I’m talking to about SEO budgeting is to use common sense.

If someone is charging £300, £500 or even higher a month – how much “work” do you think will be done on your account? Remembering the person working on your account will be making a profit.

One day a month? Maybe two at most if the person you’re talking to has a very cheap day rate…? The alternative of course is that they are outsourcing your work maybe abroad or worse-still automating everything.

Ask yourself – how much work would you/your company do for that budget?

The point is, like with all things in life if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is.

Anyone promising to propel your business to the top of the search engines for effectively peanuts is highly unlikely to do what they are promising. After all, if they were so good, why would they be doing it so cheap?

The likes of “GoDaddy”, “Yell”, “123 Reg” and the countless other website companies that promise “SEO results” for next to nothing, drive me mad. It’s a false economy driven by lack of understanding and ignorance on the part of business owners looking for a quick-win, easy solution.

Added to this the vast number of “SEO freelancers” and even “full service agencies” that provide SEO services as an add-on service and see the additional income as going straight to their bottom line – with no regard for the work involved and is it any wonder our fantastic industry has such a bad reputation for over-promising and under-delivering.

SEO isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t a quick fix

“But why does it require such an investment?”

The graphic is why…

This is just one element (of many) that we produce for our clients in their first couple months working with us here at The Evergreen Agency.

*intentionally blurry image so as not to divulge the inner workings for this clients campaign but you can see the length and depth of the work done by-hand.

This took one of our SEO execs three days solid work to research and build. It is one clients entire content marketing calendar and website structure visualisation for the next 12 months.

Built into this visualisation is a HUGE amount of data and research. We have unpicked all the competitors, the industry, trends and future-forecasts to ensure this client covers all bases needed on their website and places themselves as the authority in their space.

This work is pieced together from hours of mind-mapping, brain-storming and note scribbling. In addition to this we have all the…

  • Technical work
  • Wider strategy work
  • Promotional work
  • Digital PR work
  • CRO work
  • … and the list goes on!

What questions should you ask a perspective SEO agency?

There are a few key questions you should be asking when considering your next SEO partner. If you don’t get absolute clarity on these points then walk away…

  • Firstly, how does the agency see the relationship? (do they want your involvement? If they say “leave it all to us, you don’t need to be involved” – that is a red flag
  • Ask how much time per week/per month they’ll be spending on your campaign?
  • Ask who will be working on your campaign and can you speak to that person(s) – often in agencies you as the customer have to speak to the “gate-keeper” and never the person doing the work. This causes endless friction as you can never get clear answers so tread carefully if this is the case.
  • How will the campaign progress be measured?
  • How often will performance and KPI’s be set, measured and updated?
  • What expert resource does the agency have in-house?
  • Will any of your work be outsourced and if so to whom?
  • Ensure you retain complete control of your data – I see some agencies telling clients they “own” the data rather than the client, that is a load of cr*p.

Hopefully now you understand why great SEO requires a marketing budget equivalent to a salary. You know some of the warning signs to be aware of and you know the questions to ask.

Here is a link to another post I published very recently on LinkedIn also talking about SEO budgeting.

For a more detailed look at SEO budgeting, see our recently published guide.

If you have any questions or points of discussion to raise, jot them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you very soon.

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