7 December 2021

"Why should I budget for SEO?"

Allocating capital for SEO offers strong ROI, but how do you measure ROI and ensure you're investing enough?

30-second summary:

  • SEO is key for businesses that are aware and prepared for a search-first world.
  • However, securing and structuring budgets for this initiative remains a conundrum.
  • Here are some answers to help stakeholders invest in SEO.


Nearly three-quarters of businesses choose to invest in SEO. If you aren’t one of them, consider this: for most businesses, SEO has a five percent conversion rate – significantly higher than email (3.9 percent), paid search (3.6 percent), or social media (1.9 percent). That’s an ROI you can’t ignore!


Of course, SEO isn’t “free”. Optimizing for search requires investment and is the best way to ensure your SEO strategy has what it needs is to allocate SEO resources in your marketing budget from the very beginning of marketing planning.

What’s in an SEO budget?

How much you ultimately spend on SEO should take into consideration your business and marketing objectives. If you’re working with an SEO agency, you’ll start with a consultation to help you establish SEO campaign goals that will move the needle on these objectives. If you’re doing your SEO in-house, you’ll need to spend more time to make sure you’re budgeting for all six pillars of SEO.

The six pillars of SEO

The six pillars are the foundation of the discipline of search engine optimization itself. They are:


  • SEO Audits including technical site audits, SEO content audits, backlink audits
  • Keyword Research to inform the direction of your SEO strategy
  • On-Page SEO to make sure that search engine robots can efficiently crawl and rank your site
  • Off-Page SEO efforts including link building and anchor text optimization
  • SEO Content that’s optimized to boost your topical authority and help you rank higher in search
  • SEO Reporting & Analytics (a critical part of all optimization efforts)


Budgeting for SEO strategy

It’s a common misconception that SEO just “happens”. But an intentional (and successful) SEO strategy will address each of the SEO pillars outlined above.


Whether you are doing SEO in-house or outsourcing this critical marketing channel to an SEO agency, a well-planned SEO campaign will require a strategic focus to align the activities in each of those pillars. You also need to make sure you’ve budgeted for the management of a successful SEO strategy instead of focusing only on each individual SEO pillar.

SEO campaign goal-setting and measurement

Once you’ve clearly defined your strategic SEO focus in alignment with your broader marketing goals, you’ll be measuring your SEO campaign’s impact by monitoring traffic, ranking, engagement, conversions, and other metrics.


You’ll directly connect revenue being generated from organic search and quantify your efforts. This will lead you to a more informed budgeting conversation next year.

Beware the hidden cost of “cheap” SEO

If you’re still not sure how to plan SEO into your budget, you can leverage a free SEO consultation from an SEO agency to learn more about specific areas of opportunity for your site and how much you should invest to achieve your goals. But beware of agencies that attach a specific timeline to results, such as, “we’ll double your traffic in a month” (or even three months). Meaningful SEO results take time. Anyone promising overnight results is likely planning to engage in less-than-savory SEO tactics.


It’s tempting to go with the inexpensive option that still promises all the results, but this often backfires. Spammy SEO providers engage in unethical link-building practices to create quick wins that almost always turn out to be long-term losses. It never works in the long-term and always results in pain for the website owner.


It’s no wonder Backlinko found that satisfaction with SEO efforts was positively correlated with investment – the more companies spent, the better their SEO was likely to be.

Wrapping up

An SEO budget needs to account for the strategy and execution of a variety of tactics, including technical improvements like page speed optimizations, SEO content creation, and a robust backlinking strategy. It can be tempting to under-allocate and find ways to cut corners but don’t fall prey to the temptation. Cheap SEO will cost you more in the long run, while a long-term, high-performing SEO program will pay big dividends.


So how much should you be spending on SEO? We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to setting an SEO campaign budget. It’ll help you determine a level of spending that will help you achieve your marketing goals, and make the case to stakeholders for investing in SEO.


Download it here, and make sure your SEO is in the best possible position to boost your rankings.