3 Burning SEO Budgeting Questions Answered

SEO BudgetingIsn’t it funny?

You hear about the free organic traffic all over the Internet. Traffic, unlike visitors landing on your site from Adwords ads, you don’t have to pay a dime for.

And yet…

When you sit down to plan your SEO work, one thing becomes clear right away…

Getting this traffic isn’t free.

Or cheap at that.

Many agencies will charge from $3000 – $5000 per month to deliver SEO projects. And the more you need them to do, the higher the price.


So how do you decide if SEO is worth the price? Or establish how much money you could devote to increasing your organic traffic.

Here are answers to some of the burning questions you may have about budgeting for SEO.

Q1: What’s involved in a typical SEO campaign?

You see:

When hiring an SEO agency, you don’t pay for rankings.

So what exactly are you paying for?

You pay for the amount of work they’re going to do to help achieve your goals.

Even though every campaign is unique, there are certain elements every successful SEO campaign will include:

Site Audit

Before any real work could begin, your agency will have to conduct a thorough investigation of your website.

They will assess its technical health to find out if it’s constructed to support SEO objectives.

They will also investigate any potential SEO problems like poor URL structure, navigation, bad redirects and much more.

As a last step, the agency will provide you with a list of recommendations on how to improve the site to support your SEO goals.

Backlinks Audit

Backlinks, those external links pointing to your site, are one of the key search ranking factors. Both the quality and quantity of backlinks affects your site’s search performance.

The agency will have to conduct a thorough investigation of your backlink profile.

They will assess how many links you have, what’s their quality and if there aren’t any backlinks that could cause your site to be penalized by either Penguin update or “unnatural links” warnings.

They will also identify new backlink opportunities to avail of when link building.

Keyword Research

It has been said millions of times but it’s true:

Keywords are the foundation of SEO.

Ranking for specific phrases your customers use to find products or services you offer can make or break your campaign.

And thus it’s crucial that your site is optimized for highly searched and relevant phrases.

Your agency therefore will engage in a through keyword research process to identify phrases your customers use to incorporate into your campaign.

Site Optimization

The agency will also work on optimizing your website and content for the most promising keywords. This will include:

  • Optimizing meta-tags,
  • Page headers,
  • Content (to include keywords but also to make it more relevant to the search phrase),
  • Links (both internal and external),
  • Images and a lot more.

Competitor and Market Analysis

A separate part of the campaign will be devoted to conducting market and competitor research to uncover:

  • Their current SEO status,
  • Their online strateigies,
  • The size of the market and the competition,
  • Their strengths but also weaknesses and,
  • Their link building practices,

This knowledge will help the agency to design a campaign to get you ahead of the competition.

Content Creation and Optimization

A major part of the strategy will be devoted to the task of creating and optimizing content to:

  • Rank for specific phrases (and also increase the number of keywords your site ranks for),
  • Create resources relevant to your industry or market to attract new visitors to the site and,
  • Attract links and social media mentions to increase your site’s online authority,

Link Building

Only when all the above work is concluded, the agency will begin a slow process of acquiring new links for your site. This may mean creating linkable assets, conducting marketing campaigns, link bait and much more.

When building links the agency will have to move slowly not to attract the search engine’s attention and cause a penalty. This means that you can expect a slow growth of approx. 10-20 links per month.

Link building along with content creation will be the longest running aspect of the campaign. Once your site is optimized, there will be little work with it going forward, apart from conducting regular audits to ensure no new errors or SEO problems have popped up.

Q2: How long before you see the results?

This is by far one of the most commonly asked questions in SEO – how long before I begin to see results from the campaign?

Unfortunately the answer isn’t that simple. There are many elements that affect how fast your site raises in rankings.

As a general rule however you should see first results within 6 months from launching a campaign and proper results after a year.

Here’s a breakdown of what will be happening during that time:

First months will be devoted entirely to auditing your site, backlinks and content. The agency will also spend their time researching your market, discovering new opportunities and planning the campaign.

Only when this work’s over, the real work will begin. This typically happens around month two.

At that time the company will start creating content and building links. But it will take time for the search engine to recognize and index those changes.

At around month 4 you should start noticing the first results. They will however be minimal – small jumps in rankings, your site ranking for some additional keywords etc.

Half a year after launching a campaign the results will become more noticeable. The site will begin to rise in rankings but often; you’ll have to wait another 6 months before the big payoff. At this stage, it should rank relatively high for the majority of the top keywords. You should also notice a considerable increase in traffic.

Q3: Do you need to hire an agency to work on the entire strategy?

In short, no.

Depending on your goals and availability to in-house talent, you could hire an agency to conduct only one part of the process.

You could hire them to perform a thorough site audit to tell you what’s wrong with your site. This way you won’t have to make a full commitment to a yearlong project.

The downside of this approach is that you will have to do the work in-house. But assuming that you have an in-house talent to take such work on, it might be a great solution to get a professional input without a long-term commitment.


Creative commons license image by Marcus Ramberg / Flickr

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