Whether you’re new to the online world or a seasoned hand, you should know that the best content in the world won’t do a website much good these days if it’s not properly optimized.
Finding solid content providers is tough enough, but looking for an SEO service in Orange County is like navigating a minefield.
Now, if you’re speaking with a company offering you SEO services and they tell you this is an inexact science it’s impossible to forecast or accurately budget for, you should quickly move on.
While SEO best practices continually evolve – see how far you get with keyword stuffing and spun content in 2020 – it is perfectly possible to establish a basic budget for SEO. It’s also straightforward enough to set some benchmarks and reasonable expectations.
Here’s a snapshot of just a few of the ways you can work out how much an SEO campaign will cost, and how effective it could be.
8 Ways to Forecast and Budget SEO
- Calculate what you’re currently investing in SEO
- Everything starts from keyword research
- Set your baseline goals
- Stretch those goals
- Audit the website
- Don’t overlook the competition
- Assess seasonality and factor this in
- Budget for link building
1) Calculate what you’re currently investing in SEO
Maybe you’ve already started some basic SEO.
Perhaps you’re using a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs. If so, how much does it cost?
Have you hired a VA for link-building or do you have a small team in place? If so, what’s this running you?
Think about your web content. Are you writing this yourself or hiring writers? These costs should also be simple to calculate.
Pop all these figures into an Excel sheet and you can see what you’re working from.
2) Everything starts from keyword research
If you want to accurately forecast SEO, you’ll need to target relevant and viable keywords. Get this wrong and the effectiveness of your whole campaign will be jeopardized.
If you’re not a major player in your space, focusing on less competitive long-tail keywords is cost-effective and potentially rewarding.
Once you’ve found your keywords, slash this number in half as more than 50% of searches don’t end in a user clicking through.
Again, collate all this data in a spreadsheet.
3) Set your baseline goals
While you’ll be setting down some numbers here, view them as fluid and open to change.
Performing a trend analysis in Excel and viewing the revenue projections is one quick and easy way to get a broad overview.
How can you make these goals more ambitious, though?
4) Stretch those goals
All you need to do here is look at what might happen if you started spending more on SEO.
Look at those more ambitious potential gains and then start focusing fully on the fact that SEO (when properly executed, anyway) is an investment rather than an expense. Without the right optimization, your great content won’t be found.
5) Audit the website
Getting a website audit done the right way enables you to get a great overview of the site at URL level.
While the instant reports generated by Ahrefs and SEMrush are a bonus if you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re crunched for time, they’re remarkably inaccurate.
What can you do instead, then?
You need reports of sessions across each URL on your site. Look at how long users are spending on that page, the average order value (AOV) when they click through, and the conversion rates. When you look at the keyword that page is ranking for, you’ve got a comprehensive set of metrics you can easily grab from your Google Analytics.
Determining how well a site is performing on a URL level also prevents you from misfiring and investing money if the site is structured so growth will be practically impossible.
Now it’s time to focus on what others are doing so you can do it better.
6) Don’t overlook the competition
When you’re looking into the opposition, you should again sidestep the seemingly easy option of exporting tools.
Look manually for weak spots in your competitors. Maybe their content is lengthy but full of fluff. Fix that on your site. If they don’t address the search query fully, make sure you do. Include more rich content than the competition and make it better.
Start probing the link-building campaigns underpinning your competitors.
In overall terms, look for the length, quality, and frequency of their content. Analyze their strongest performing content and attempt to establish why this ranks so well. Don’t replicate it, try to improve upon it. Consider the role of social media, too.
Armed with all of this information, you’ll have a much firmer idea of what’s required to optimize your site so you can outrank the competition.
7) Assess seasonality and factor this in
Taking the time to explore historic data should alert you to any seasonal spikes.
If your business goes crazy at Christmas then dips in Q4 – this is pretty standard – it pays to know this so you can plan your SEO campaign accordingly.
8) Budget for link building
If you want to grow a site, there’s no realistic way you’re likely to achieve this without the right links in place. You need lots of links and you also need to make sure these links are high quality.
Explore the costs of an outreach campaign for guest posts as a starting point. This is a great way of getting organic links. Just make sure you back it up with a punchy piece of worthwhile content.
What To Do Next
If you’re hoping to grow your website and increase conversions, getting the right SEO provider is crucial.
Just like when you’re looking for a writer, you should understand that shopping SEO services based purely on the bottom line is unlikely to yield solid results. Get an accurate forecast in place and you can assess your likely ROI rather than going in blind.