How to Budget for SEO Services

Budgeting for Internet Marketing in 2018

This is the second post in our series of blogs regarding budgeting for Internet Marketing in 2018. It’s budget season and we’re all looking for ways to hit new targets next year.

In our last post, we talked about a budgeting process for websites. In this and future posts we’re talking about driving traffic TO the website, but if you have bad site, it doesn’t matter how much traffic we drive. If you missed last week’s post, CLICK HERE.

This week we’re talking about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Before I do that, let’s review traffic sources.

  • Direct Traffic – someone types into the browser bar. They know who you are.
  • Branded organic traffic – someone googles yourcompanyname to find you. They also know who you are.
  • Non-branded organic traffic – someone googles whatyousell because they’re looking for your product or service, but they don’t know who you are yet.
  • Paid Traffic – Pay Per Click ads, Display Ads, etc. You’re directly paying a search engine for this traffic.
  • Referral traffic – traffic that originates from another website to yours. This could be from links on other sites, or advertising that you’re running on industry sites.
  • Social traffic – traffic originating from sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

When we talk about SEO, we’re targeting non-branded organic traffic. Over the long haul, this is the best kind of traffic for most companies. Once earned, this traffic does not go away if you cut/trim budgets. But as I just said, organic traffic has to be earned.

A good practitioner of SEO services will start a project with Keyword Research. The goal of keyword research is to find both the actual keywords, and the search patterns of those who are looking for your product or service. It’s an exercise in human behavior as much as anything.

Once done, a keyword strategy is established and the real work can begin. Pages in your site can be optimized for given phrases and new content developed to draw additional traffic, i.e. through a blog.

There’s a love/hate relationship between search engines and SEO. On one hand, SEO efforts help drive searchers to relevant websites, which is exactly what the search engines want. On the other hand, many agencies have used questionable tactics to “trick” search engines into artificially ranking sites for phrases or locations where it shouldn’t. We call that “black hat” in the industry and companies like Google are constantly working to thwart the efforts of black hatters. You don’t want black hat tactics used for your SEO project. They can result in penalties that can kill rankings and businesses with them. If you’re speaking with someone about SEO services and they a) guarantee results, b) suggest “tricks” or “magic”, or c) present it in any way that feels suspicious…run away.

Budgeting for an SEO project means allocating sufficient dollars for your agency to actually work on your project. SEO service packages that are marketed for a few hundred dollars each month are simply a common system applied to all of their customers where 90% of work is repeated from an offshore “machine”. These do NOT work, and generally the work is either black hat or borderline. Once upon a time, it was possible to generate a few dozen backlinks each month for that few hundred dollars, but the days of that being effective are long gone. A good SEO agency needs to develop and edit content as well as publish pages and make adjustments within your website. As an SEO project gets more complicated, such for eCommerce sites, multiple locations, or a broader range of products and services, the budget is likely to increase as the number of hours that we need to put into the project increases. At Magnetic North, our projects range in price from $1,500 to $10,000 a month. It just depends on the scope of the project and the number of hours it takes our team to meet the objectives.

If you’re contemplating an SEO services initiative in 2018, feel free to give us a call and we’ll work with you to scope and budget the project.

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