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How Much Should You Be Spending on SEO?

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This has become the pivotal question for businesses: how much to spend on SEO? It used to be about advertising budgets, but since search engine optimization has taken the spotlight, more and more businesses have been faced with the question of exactly how much they should be spending to score big with Google and other search engines.

 
Along with the usual decisions regarding an SEO budget, many analysts and experts have been expressing a belief that those budgets are going to need to be increased in 2014. The reason behind this? SEO is becoming more competitive, meaning businesses need to spend more to keep up.
 
While it is true that SEO is more imperative than ever, it doesn’t mean small businesses have to go overboard with their SEO budget. Even if your SEO budget does require a bit of an increase in 2014, you’re likely to see a significant improvement in value and effectiveness.
 
Why You Should Increase Your Budget, Even Slightly
 
There is a method to the madness of increasing an SEO budget, and the reasons are as follows:
 
  • The Hummingbird Google update was a clear indicator that quality and conversation creation are key. It’s no longer a world of keywords—it’s much more multidimensional, and it takes time, knowledge and experience to catch up to the increasing demands being placed on businesses by Google.
  • Quality content is important, but it’s more about in-depth pieces, versus short, topical content.
  • The world of link-building is complex, and when not done properly, thanks to the Penguin and Panda updates, can not only be ineffective, but even a hindrance.
 
How Do You Pay an SEO Service?
 
The differing payment models for SEO services can be nearly as complex as a Google algorithm. The type of payment method you’re going to employ depends on your business, as well as the service you use.
 
One option is the monthly retainer, which can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars, to thousands of dollars. For some businesses a retainer isn’t the best option, and they instead opt to go with a contract service offering a fixed price. The benefit of this is the ability to see costs up-front, although this doesn’t necessarily indicate success, particularly in the ever-variable world of SEO.
 
Additionally, there are per-project pricing options, and consultants, which typically charge an hourly rate for their services.
 
Focus on Long-Term Goals
 
Ultimately, there’s no perfect number for how much a business should be spending on SEO. It all comes down to individual needs, and long-term goals and plans. For many businesses, the best option is to work with a company on retainer, because this allows for the achievement of a long-term social media vision, which tends to yield the best results.
 
When You Can Keep the Same Budget
 
While there are numerous reasons you may need to increase your SEO budget in 2014, there’re also a few reasons you may hold steady with your spending, including:
 
  • You’ve stayed ahead of the Google changes, and prepared adequately.
  • You already use a full-time or freelance content creator who can adjust appropriately.
  • You have the ability to reallocate resources to focus less on quantity and more on quality.
 
Regardless of how much you decide to spend on SEO throughout 2014 and beyond, there’s no doubt that it’s important. Every year presents new challenges within the world of SEO, yet it’s so vital for business, and in particular small businesses, meaning now is the time to get ahead of the curve and make the most of your SEO efforts.
 
Published: March 25, 2014
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Spencer Frandsen

Spencer Frandsen is an expert in marketing, with years of experience in more than 500 digital marketing campaigns—and the ingenuity to teach himself HTML, CSS, and, currently, PHP. He is also pursuing his economics degree at the University of Utah.

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