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4 Key Things Entrepreneurs Should Know Before Planning a SEO Budget SEO is no magic bullet. You need to understand its key elements before entering into an SEO campaign.

By Vivek Patel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


SEO is no magic bullet. You need to understand its key elements before entering into an SEO campaign.

The marketing industry is all about ideas and strategies. The options to promote brands are so diverse it can often overwhelm entrepreneurs. Moreover, each of these marketing platforms has its own advantages when it comes to helping your company to grow. That said, most startups can't invest time and energy into all these marketing efforts due to budget constraints.

Businesses, large and small, should always plan and budget their marketing activities in advance to keep things under control. Yet, as a local search specialist, one area I continually see out-of-control expenses is SEO. One reason is that many find planning a marketing budget an elusive task. But this doesn't need to be the case. All you need is a simple plan and budget that is easy to stick to.

Related: Good Social Media Boosts SEO Even Though Nobody Understands How

But before you begin the process, you need to understand a few things about SEO before you start spending your dollars.

Here are four things you must know before planning your SEO budget.

1. It is a long-term strategy

SEO isn't a one-time project but rather a long-term assignment. While the search engine will start crawling your website as soon as you make it live and will visit often as and when you add new content, the algorithm is designed in such a way that it will take some time to recognize the changes. The results usually start appearing from the third month onwards, although they will be minimum. It will take at least four to six months for the SEO to start working, and you'll need to wait another six to eight months to see more complete results.

Whatever you do, you won't be seeing the real effects of your investment until the second year; so you must set your budget accordingly.

So, it is important to understand that SEO isn't a fad or ply. Instead, it's a series of proven methods to improve your website's organic ranking. And as in any scientific process, search engine optimization includes a lot of discovery, planning and auditing in the initial days.

Because you won't start seeing the real effects of your investment until the second year, you must set your budget accordingly.

2. SEO isn't cheap

Contrary to what most people will say you, SEO isn't really cheap. That said, the cost per acquisition for this marketing tool is second cheapest after email marketing. But still, you will need to shed off a significant amount of money every month for your SEO activities.

Related: 5 Sources of High-Quality Links for Local SEO

Google has extremely complicated algorithm, which is difficult to comprehend if you aren't from the SEO industry. You will therefore need to hire a quality SEO and digital-marketing company that provides comprehensive SEO services. They are likely to charge you anything between $2,500 and $5,000 per month (or more), meaning you have to invest around $60,000 in a year to start your SEO campaign. Although there are some companies offering SEO services for less, they are often not specialized and can do more harm to your business than doing any good.

3. Don't forget SEO SWOT analysis

As most of us are aware of, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is a must for all your business efforts, including your SEO campaigns. Using this approach will help you determine the areas where you need to focus more so that you can adjust your budget for those aspects.

Here is an example from MOZ of what your SEO SWOT should look like:

Once you complete your own SWOT analysis, you need to turn your weaknesses into strength and your strength into opportunities.

4. Your metrics to measure ROI

How would you measure your ROI for your organic search? Many incorrectly use ranking as a metric to measure their return on investment but this is typically a bad metric to focus your SEO efforts on. The reason being is that you may have achieved a top ranking on Google for a particular set of keywords, but what about the traffic? Do you have a steady flow of traffic? Do visitors come back again and again for more? Is your traffic converting? What about the bounce rate? What does your sales report indicating?

There are much better metrics to focus on instead of trusting your ranking reports. Think in terms of traffic, repeat customers, leads, conversion rates and sales.

SEO is no magic bullet. You need to understand its key elements before entering into an SEO campaign. More importantly, take the time to plan and budget your campaign in a measured way and make sure you are spending your money wisely.

Related: 10 Tips for Combining SEO and Content Marketing

Vivek Patel

Local Search Specialist at E2M

Vivek Patel is a local search specialist at E2M, a digital marketing agency based in India that is committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing services to encourage and drive strategic and sustainable business growth. He covers local search optimization, organic search tactics and content marketing strategies.

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