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All about SEO budgets

We get requests for SEO proposals all the time.  Many begin with “I’m just starting out and don’t have much money” and move right on to “I want to rank #1 for dentist” or another very difficult term to rank for.  And then there’s the popular “I’ll pay $5 an hour”, which is less than the minimum wage in this country.

In the past, services connected with Internet marketing were priced low because the effort required was not that great and there wasn’t much competition to contend with.  Now, there is competition on every page of search results, because every page has potential revenue for someone.  If there are Adwords on the page, there’s money to be made and if there’s money to be made, there is value in being there.

So what is a reasonable budget for SEO work?  What is one visitor worth to you?  Not clicks, actual visitors.  We tell site owners that they really need to get a handle on their conversions to know how many visitors will turn into paying customers.  What is the lifetime value of that customer?  These are all metrics that companies with sophisticated marketing staffs monitor on a daily basis.  So if your competitor thinks each client is worth $200 per transaction, are you willing to pay $20 to acquire that customer?  Most companies would say yes because that customer may bring in $2000 over time.  The ROI on that acquisition is 1000%, and you can’t get that kind of return on most investments these days.

To take this example further, if you could get 1000 new customers this month, would you pay $20,000 if it meant your sales would be $200,000 more than last month?  You bet you would.  That is the way your competition is thinking.  That is why you won’t get the results you want for $5 per hour and certainly not first page results where all the monetizable traffic is.  Everyone else is thinking in terms of ROI and conversions, and you are thinking in terms of money out of pocket.

There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for.  And even though the Internet is relatively new in human history, that old adage still applies.