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The Value of SEO Marketing and How to Budget for 2017


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It’s that time of year when businesses are turning their attention to next year’s budget. According to recent trends, budgets for advertising and marketing campaigns continue to rise every year. Digital marketing campaigns make an average of 40% of business’ total marketing budget.

What will your company need to budget in 2017 for a world class, effective SEO marketing campaign? The answer depends on the needs of the company, your current SEO marketing situation, the size of your organization and you target audience. There are also a host of other considerations.

One thing is clear – a digital marketing campaign is a must for any business, large or small, to remain competitive in the marketplace. This comprehensive guide will provide you will the basics of SEO budgeting based on your company’s needs.

First Things First – What Do You Need?

The marketing and advertising needs for each company will vary greatly. This is the time to take a hard look at your current marketing campaign and your goals. Are you achieving your goals with your current marketing plan? Is there room to add to your current plan to reach those goals?

If you’re a family owned Italian restaurant in a small town, your marketing needs will likely be simple. They will be targeted to a select group of people – those within a small geographic area. But, if your company is a national brand looking to expand into the global market, your advertising and marketing needs will be much more diverse and in depth.

Determining your goals and your target audience will help you to focus your marketing efforts. Then you can chose the best SEO marketing firm for your specific needs. Without a clear road map of your marketing objectives, you could end up spending money unnecessarily. You could even pay for services you don’t need.

What Type of Contract Makes Sense?

There are generally three types of payment models and relationships to choose from when looking for an SEO agency.

Per Project

This arrangement works best if you have a specific SEO-related project that you need completed. This contract is for a finite duration. It also includes one or two measurable deliverable from the agency.

One example for this type of payment arrangement is an SEO audit. You contract with a firm to review your web pages, the code, and the content. The firm will make recommendations and will likely make the necessary changes to your site. An engagement such as this could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The amount of content you have to be reviewed and the extent of the changes that need to be made are the determining factors.


With an hourly contract, you pay by the hour for the specific SEO work the agency performs. Hourly rates can range from $100 to up $500 per hour. But rates are typically somewhere under $200 per hour. The difference is based on the size of the agency, the expertise of the staff and the extent of the work to be performed.


Probably the most common payment model, a monthly retainer allows your company to pay a fixed price for SEO marketing services. Retainer contracts can range from a few hundred dollars a month (for the small Italian restaurant-type marketing campaign) to over $10,000 per month (for a global brand campaign). Most contracts will lie somewhere in the middle.

Why Not Just Hire My Own SEO Staff?

Hiring an internal team or staff member to handle SEO marketing is another option. But depending on the size of your business and your SEO needs, the cost for hiring internal staff likely to be more than contracting with a firm.

Most SEO professionals earn an average salary of anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 per year. And while that number may roughly compare to your SEO agency budget, there are other considerations in hiring versus outsourcing. The cost of benefits, the time to hire and train, the cost of turnover in the position, and any other perks that your company provides will add to the overall cost of an internal hire.

While hiring one SEO manager might be an option for your company. But, you should also consider the fact that one person might not be able to handle the entire job. SEO marketing is a combination of content management and technical expertise. To get high quality in both areas, you may need to expand the SEO to at least two to handle the job.

What Will I Get for the Money?

The first steps in determining SEO cost is to determine the services that your company needs from the SEO provider. Your budget will be based on the SEO needs, the agency you choose, and the extent of the work performed.

SEO agencies offer a variety of services. Contracts and services can be expanded based on the agency’s capabilities and the business’ need. An SEO campaign typically includes the following components:

  • Technical SEO audit
  • Keyword search and mapping
  • Website speed optimization
  • Content creation and research
  • Link building
  • Content optimization
  • Analytics tracking and reporting.

Determining ROI on the overall cost may take some time to realize actual results compared to the company’s goals. Generally, you should be able to make the connection between your SEO campaign and your desired results within about 6 months.

Finding the Right Firm

Whatever your company’s goals are for your marketing campaign, a careful search for the right SEO agency is a must. Find one that understands your needs, can provide value for your marketing dollar, and one that you trust. Be careful of very low priced options on the market, you will get what you pay for. A good agency will be able to provide advice, expertise and confidence in your marketing campaign.

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