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How much to budget for SEO when working with an agency

Last update : 23 November 2020

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Have you heard about SEO, done some research on Google to see how your company is doing and found that some competitors are doing better than you? You probably think it’s time to take action and start benefiting from the enormous potential of SEO too. But what budget should you invest in your SEO to get meaningful results? How much does an SEO agency charge? This is what we will explore in this article. Have a good read!

What are your SEO goals?

As usual when it comes to defining a budget in general, the question of how much to invest in SEO is complex. In the same way that you need to define your goals/needs when buying a car, house, computer or phone package, the same goes for SEO. You also need to understand that investing in your SEO is indeed an “investment” and not an “expense”. If your SEO package is an expense for your company and you don’t see a return on your budget, contact the SEO agency that takes care of you immediately!

If your goal is to rank first on Google for all the keywords related to your services, in French and English, throughout Quebec or Canada, even in the United States and Europe, it is not the same as if you were only targeting a few keywords, in French, for a small remote town.

As you can see, the more ambitious your goals are, the more effort, time and therefore budget will be required to achieve them. When you start investing in your SEO, you need to take into account the competitiveness of the keywords you are targeting, which is directly related to the search volume of these keywords and the number of companies that are also trying to position themselves on them.

What is your current SEO situation?

You might already have good Google rankings for some keywords when you haven’t made any specific effort. This is normal and even reassuring since it shows that SEO is still (a little) natural today. The first step to evaluating your SEO status is to perform an SEO audit. This involves going through a number of factors that Google takes into account to assess the quality of your site (from an SEO point of view) and to define the position of your pages on its search engine.

Free SEO tools

There are tools available to perform free SEO audits but they are generally unreliable and it is often difficult to understand what these robots show in their analysis report. You will need an SEO agency or an independent SEO expert if you want a reliable analysis of your SEO status. A real SEO audit with all the necessary explanations costs between $800 and $2,500, depending on the size and complexity of your site. The SEO agency that conducts your audit will review your entire website and identify areas to work on to improve your SEO:

  • Loading speed of your website
  • Overall user experience
  • Display optimization of mobile pages
  • 404 errors
  • Duplicate content
  • Number of quality external links (backlinks) that refer to your site
  • Number of external spam links that refer to your site
  • Presence in local directories
  • URL structure
  • Title tag structure
  • Meta description and meta title analysis
  • Presence on social media (if relevant)
  • Competitive analysis
  • Content analysis of your pages
  • Analysis of page structure and general website organization
  • Analysis of the site plan
  • Etc.

The SEO audit will provide an overview of the time it takes to resolve the errors identified. It is also a good introduction for those who are not yet familiar with how SEO works since your SEO agency will explain why a particular problem raised has an impact on your natural positioning.

What SEO strategies are your competitors using?

As explained above, the SEO efforts to be made depend on various factors, including the actions your competitors take to rank at the top of the search results. If your competitors are inactive, the path is clear and you can easily take the first spots on Google without too much effort, perhaps even without having to work with an SEO agency.

If, on the other hand, you see that for every keyword you enter on Google, your competitors (even if they are not always the same) are systematically present, this is a sign that more effort will be needed.

However, make sure not to confuse natural referencing (SEO) and paid referencing (SEA). If you do a Google search and the first 3 or 4 results are marked “ad” under their title (as in the example below), they are advertising results (via the Google Ads platform) and not natural referencing.

SEO Budget Google Ads

Natural results are the results that are displayed below the paid results. For maximum visibility on Google, it is recommended to invest in both natural and paid SEO since you will appear at least twice for the same keyword, which will increase your website traffic.

How do you currently generate your sales/leads?

There aren’t 50,000 ways to make sales on a site or get qualified leads (calls, contact forms). Either you do canvassing (yourself, via a salesperson or a specialized firm), or you do marketing (local press, the Yellow Pages, radio, TV, the Web). The only companies that do not/no longer need to invest in their marketing or sales strategy are companies that already benefit from a high profile and a non-competitive market that makes word-of-mouth more than enough for them. In other words, it only applies to a very small number of companies.

If you aren’t satisfied with the return on investment of your current actions or if you are wondering which lead generation/sales channel to choose, you can rest assured that SEO will bring you one of the best returns on investment.

In effect, SEO is the opposite of traditional marketing, which involves displaying your company to as many potential customers as possible in the hope that your message will interest some of them. SEO consists of positioning your company solely with the people who are currently looking for your services. There is no need to convince them that they need you, they are already looking for a company like yours!

Okay, so how much should you budget for your SEO?

There’s no need to prolong the suspense any longer, it’s time to provide some concrete answers to the question of how much of your budget to invest in your SEO. Generally speaking, regardless of the size of your company, plan a minimum budget of $1,000/month for your SEO. If your market is competitive and/or you have a large number of services/products to rank, plan a budget between $2,000/month and $4,000/month.

It is highly likely that the majority of people who read this think that “it is too expensive”. As an SEO agency in Montreal that has been working with many clients since 2013, we can confirm that it is too expensive! This is what happens when there is only one search engine that dominates the online search market. Everyone wants to be on it and prices are bound to rise.

Tell yourself this: if you only had to invest $500 or even $2,000 once to be first on Google and get the majority of your sales through it, the companies that are already on Google by the time you read this would already dominate your market and you couldn’t do anything because you would arrive too late. Fortunately, companies that can afford it can become the leaders in search results in a matter of months.

$500 SEO agencies

To return to the previous point, ask yourself how SEO agencies can offer packages at $1,000/month and above while other, “cheaper” agencies will offer packages at $500/month. Do you really think these two packages are worth the same? Of course not and you only have to compare the Google/Facebook reviews of these different SEO agencies as well as their own Google rankings (watch for poorly shod shoemakers) to see the differences.

In the same way that you wouldn’t entrust your accounting to an accountant who displays prices at $10 an hour, don’t entrust your SEO to an agency whose main argument is the low price because it often means low quality as well.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our article about the budget to invest in your SEO. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like a free assessment of your SEO needs or if you have any questions about SEO. Thank you for taking the time to read our article and we look forward to speaking with you.

Eugénie
Eugénie

Co-founder and SEO-SEM Specialist

Eugénie began her web marketing career at Microsoft with partners that included Hewlett-Packard and Dell. In 2013, she co-founded My Little Big Web with Maxence to help SMBs optimize their web marketing. Her SEO, online advertising and user experience skills help My Little Big Web's clients quickly and lastingly rank at the top of search results. Since she is committed to sharing knowledge, she teaches many internal and external workshops and gives talks on various topics related to digital marketing.

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