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How Much Should You Spend on SEO?
If you’re like most business owners, at some point, you’ve probably asked yourself questions like: “how much should I spend on SEO?” or “how much should I invest in online marketing?” Let me help you answer that question by connecting SEO to something almost all of us ‘mericans struggle with—weight loss. It might come as a surprise, but there is a way to determine EXACTLY how much SEO you should do, AND the process is almost identical to determining how many calories you can consume per day and still achieve your weight loss goals.
Anyone trying to shed a few pounds has heard that the formula for weight loss is simple—create a caloric deficiency by consuming fewer calories than you burn. When you create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories, you lose a pound. Simple, right? Hardly.
Part of the challenge with weight loss (aside from the being hungry part) is determining how many calories your body requires to maintain your current weight. There are hundreds of formulas available online, but almost all of them are incorrect because every body is unique.
To determine exactly how many calories you need to eat to gradually lose weight, you have two options. You could go to a lab and have the PhDs run a bunch of test on you to determine your basal metabolic rate. Alternatively, you could simply select a set amount of calories to eat each day, track what you consume using an app like loseit.com, and then monitor your weight.
If your weight starts to climb, you’re eating too much. If your weight starts to drop, you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re expending. If you’re losing weight and you’re starving, you know that you can increase your consumption a bit. If you’re starving, but still gaining weight, you need to suck it up (or try exercising).
Determining Your SEO Budget Is Like Weight Loss
Similar to determining how many calories you need to achieve your weight loss goals, you have two options for determining how much SEO you need to achieve your business goals. The first option (and the best option) is to follow this process:
- Determine your business goals (ex. revenue growth, X new sales, etc.)
- Identify key business metrics like avg. revenue per sale, lead-to-sale conv. rate
- Identify key SEO metrics like org. impressions, CTR, organic entrances per web page, etc.
With the information above, our SEO experts can build a model that shows you the exact “dosage” of SEO you need to reach your business goals. The drawbacks to this approach are that it takes time (to collect baseline data for key metrics), commitment from the business owner and/or management, and a bit of money (for the right analytics tools and for the people that will translate data into insights).
If you’ve been in business for any appreciable length of time and/or you’re running a business of considerable size, you’re probably familiar with this process—you’ve probably used something similar to improve other aspects of your business. You know all too well the dangers of being “penny-wise, pound-foolish” and that a little bit of time on the front-end to do things right will produce exponentially greater results in the future.
The Challenge Small Businesses Face
Smaller or new business owners find the option above challenging. They often lack the time and the resources necessary to make the commitment. Many haven’t put in place the systems required to allow them to spend more time working “on” the business rather than “in the business.” That’s life in a new business and to be expected.
If you find yourself in this situation, there’s still an intelligent way to determine how much to invest in SEO (just like there’s still a way to lose weight without knowing your exact BMR):
- Determine your business goal
- Invest a small amount to put in place the analytics tools required to track and monitor your key business and website metrics
- Invest an amount you can afford in SEO for six to 12 months (remember – SEO is a test, so you should invest something you can afford to lose)
- Track and monitor your results and review your analytics data with someone that can guide you through what each number means
- Adjust your investment based on the results
The key is to let the data drive your decisions. For example, if you’re investing in SEO and you’re not seeing an increase in traffic, maybe you’re targeting the wrong keywords or the person you have creating the content doesn’t understand how to optimize it properly? Or maybe you’re getting traffic, but not enough leads. It’s possible that you’re targeting the wrong keywords and/or not including appropriate calls-to-action in your content. If you’re getting leads, but not sales, maybe you’re getting the wrong type of leads or you’ve got issues with your customer service/sales interaction.
The Blue Corona SEO Diet
The idea for this blog post comes from some of the analogies I’ve used over the years to explain to prospects what Blue Corona does (I think we need to focus more of our wordsmiths on our business, but working for our clients is too much fun!).
Essentially, what we do for our clients is:
- Learn their business so that we can see things from an owner’s perspective
- Help them install the right analytics tools to identify their key business and online marketing metrics
- Help them implement various online marketing campaigns
- Use the data generated to continually optimize them for better results
In a way, we’re not that much different than dietician (okay, so we’re actually a lot different, but work with me here). Want to get more traffic to your website from organic search? Create more pages. How many? Like how many calories you should eat depends on how much weight you want to drop and how quickly you want to do it, the number of pages you should create depends on how much traffic you want to generate.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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