SEO is vital for digital marketing success. That’s true in 2017, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of letting up. Most studies suggest that 80–95% of shoppers start their search online. With that many potential customers shopping online, it only makes sense that businesses want to be there. But that begs the question: How much should a company set aside for an average SEO budget?

SEO Is Part of Marketing

Marketing should be a line item on your P&L, there’s no doubt about it. While there’s always some debate about how much money should be allotted to marketing, the general consensus is somewhere between 6% and 20%. A recent article in Entrepreneur suggests spending more on marketing when launching and then tapering off once the business is established.

SEO should be part of your marketing budget. That’s because it is marketing! A word of caution when budgeting: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re allotting 10% of your revenue to marketing, you shouldn’t put it all toward SEO. Balance your spend among SEO, content marketing, social media, and videos, at a minimum.

Consider SEM As Well

Some companies are spending tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on their marketing budget. In some cases, a lion’s share of that marketing spend is going toward SEM, or search engine marketing. Usually, that includes a hefty does of Google AdWords, focusing on specific keywords to drive traffic to landing pages that support those keywords.

While you can include SEM in your average SEO budget, remember that they are different entities. SEM is more expensive because you’re paying for each click (pay per click). SEO builds online networks to drive links and traffic. Both are effective, so you can—and should—include both, but your overall strategy will determine your blend, which will undoubtedly change over time.

What’s the Average SEO Budget?

The range of monthly prices for SEO marketing ranges wildly. It’s important to ask questions about what your SEO company is doing with that investment. Are they just indexing your site? Is their goal to improve your on-page SEO? Are they focused solely on off-page endeavors?

Some companies are doing very little and are, therefore, charging accordingly. Some firms only ask for about $350 a month. In our experience, though, unless this money is just routed to a specific SEM campaign, it’s probably not going to be enough to be effective.

A starting investment for most SEO firms is around $1,000–2,000 a month. The more target keywords and locations you have, the more that number will increase. And if you’re incorporating pay per click to support each of those keywords or locations, expect another bump in your investment.

Focus on ROI

A couple thousand dollars a month for SEO support may seem like a lot of money or like a drop in the bucket for your firm. Either way, It’s important to focus on your return on investment (ROI). Your SEO company should be able to deliver a certain number of leads, which you’ll (hopefully) be able to convert into sales. If you’re spending $2,000 a month on SEO and gaining 5 new clients each month at even $400 a month, you’re breaking even. But if those clients are paying $400 a month and stay with you for an average of five years—and you’re adding another 5 new clients each month—you’ll quickly see that spend is more than worth it.

Get Started with Our Discovery Form

Whether you’re already working with an SEO firm or want to explore your options for moving into the digital-marketing space, we welcome your questions. Start by filling out our discovery form. For no investment to you, we’ll review your website and provide some feedback on how you can achieve your goals with SEO.

After all, doing anything new is better than doing nothing at all.