SEO is a complicated topic to understand, much less to budget for. Good budgets should be based on more than a shot in the dark, but if you’re not familiar with the area, how can you make informed projections?
Of course, there is no one answer for every situation, but there are a few levels of SEO work that cover most small businesses. These projections should let you know if you’re getting a decent deal. A higher price tag may also not be a deal breaker- many SEO companies can charge more, because they have a long history of proving Returns on Investment.
Budget: $5,000-10,000 over three months (or free, with a significant DIY time investment)
Do you have a website, but never invested in any SEO work? You still need to lay your groundwork, even if your web developer threw some of the basics in for free. Foundational SEO work of this nature should cost from $5,000 to $10,000 over a few months for a small business. This is about spotting and solving any major structural issues, setting up your tools, and most importantly, understanding and optimizing for your major keywords and topics. This is also work that you can do yourself, thanks to our latest eBook, but it will take a time investment. Depending on your situation, you have to decide if the hours or the cash (and expertise) are worth more.
If you know your keywords and have your pages optimized, the next step is maintenance. As with anything in the digital world, you can’t set-it-and-forget-it. At the very least, you should be tracking your keywords and watching out for SEO issues. (Are your keywords ranking? Are you getting more people back to your website?) In the SEO world, standing still is falling behind, however maintenance mode can be helpful during and after large website projects or over the holidays.
Land and Expand
Budget: $1,000-$2,000/month + project implementation costs (content creation, development, etc.)
If you’ve got the basics set up, congrats! You’re more ahead of the game than you know. But if you’re in an industry with lots of online interest, a little investment can go a long way. Getting an expert in your area of SEO is a great bet. For many small businesses, this means someone who specializes in local SEO, a.k.a. making sure people in your town find you instead of the big box store next door. Other specialties that may be worth checking into include ecommerce or international SEO (if you are a company with international sales). If you don’t fall into any of those categories (or even if you do), you will likely start in on content: creating content to draw your customers in. The recommendations will vary, as will your
Snake oil (CHEAP! RANK #1 NOW!)
Budget: $200 and up
This is the perfect plan for those who want to spend money and gain nothing. If you get a quote offering “cheap SEO” in your inbox or on a phone call, run for the hills. Finding a good deal is a huge draw for small businesses, and the scammers have come out in full force to swindle that market, offering spammy links and other “black hat” tactics that haven’t worked in years. SEO takes both expertise and time. Unless you’re just getting some minor reporting (see: Maintenance Mode), you’re not going to get away with a budget option. Individual freelancers or smaller companies can offer you better prices than the big names in SEO, but even they almost never reach that low. You’re better off lighting that $200 on fire in your parking lot; at least the local news may turn up for that.
Need to improve your website while also saving your budget? Let the experts walk you through 4 basic projects that form the foundation for good SEO. Download our eBook now!