Now that we’re at the end of 2017, search engine optimizers and marketers everywhere are working on establishing a budget for their 2018 goals. But with all the recent changes in SEO norms, strategies, and requirements, you may find it difficult to determine a precise dollar amount for the coming year.
The purpose of this guide is to help you understand how SEO changed in 2017, what challenges you’ll face in 2018, and how to determine the right dollar value to spend to achieve the goals you want in the coming year.
Setting realistic Goals
Your first step should be to look back at what you did in 2017, and how you performed. Last year’s budget can serve as a template for this year’s budget; for example, if you enjoyed your results, but want more for this year, increase the amount by a percentage proportional to your desired gains. If you feel you misspent the money, consider dialing down your budget and focusing on the work that really counts.
You should also take this time to establish some goals for your campaign; for example, if you’re trying to boost traffic by a certain amount, you can use your historical data or case studies by external sources to figure out how much you’d need to spend to see those results. If you’re trying to outrank a competitor, your budget may need to be more fluid.
Your next job is to distribute your budget to specific areas, so you can maximize your performance and get closer to your final goals. In 2018, content remains king for SEO, but you’ll need to allocate it slightly differently to stay up to date:
- Quality and originality. Content marketing has flourished for years now, and millions of brands and individuals are constantly publishing content to reach their audiences. If you want a chance at standing out, you’ll need to invest serious resources to create the best content you can. It’s better to invest a bigger portion of your budget to a smaller number of content pieces, so long as they’re proportionally higher quality; an abundance of lesser-quality articles will only blend in as white noise. Don’t be afraid to pay top-dollar for better content.
- Video. Video traffic has grown considerably, year after year, for more than a decade. By 2021, it’s expected that as much as 82 percent of all web traffic will be for videos. If you want to reach your audience in a relevant way, at least some of your content budget should be dedicated to producing and distributing videos.
- Support and promotion. The dream is to have a piece of content that’s so good, readers can’t help but share it, and purely through the course of nature, it will spread virally and earn your brand the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, that rarely turns out to be the case. If you want your content to succeed and earn more links, you’ll need to dedicate at least some of your budget to supporting and promoting that content, through social channels, press releases, and possibly even advertising.
- Mobile focus. Finally, make sure all your content is consumable for mobile audiences. By 2015, mobile traffic had overtaken desktop traffic by volume, and its share has grown even further since then. You can no longer succeed by targeting desktop users exclusively.
You should also take the following points into consideration when deciding on the specific targets for your campaign (and therefore, the destination for your spending):
- Voice considerations. Between 2008 and 2016, voice searches multiplied 35-fold. This year, smart speakers expanded voice search even further. Make sure you’re taking voice search—with its more complex, conversational queries and screenless interface—into consideration. Better long-tail keyword research and featured snippet optimization are great tools here.
- Audience understanding. Audiences are also demanding more personalized, specifically targeted content. Set aside some money to perform more in-depth market research or interview your readers so you can create content specifically for them.
- Local options. Local search is getting even more local—and even more rewarding for businesses who pursue it. If your business is locally relevant, your standard SEO efforts should be enough to build a strong foundation, but you’ll still want some extra money to put into local review development and other locally-specific strategies.
Despite all the advancements by Google’s algorithm and new tactics from SEO practitioners, link building is a necessity for a successful SEO campaign, and should represent a significant share of your budget. Without engaging in a manual link building campaign, you won’t be able to build authority directly; you’ll be left relying on the natural links built by your readership and others on the web.
Make sure you’re dedicating enough resources to gain at least a few high-authority links every month, no matter what your goals are.
Making the Most of Your Budget
Overall, you should be looking to spend at least a few thousand pounds a month, even if you’ve just got a small business; that should get you a minimum threshold of quality and quantity of content, and allow you to stay competitive with some of your biggest competitors.
However, one of the biggest variables in your SEO success isn’t related to how much you spend, but rather, how you spend it. A $1,000 budget that’s wasted on low-quality content and obsolete strategies is worthless, while £1,000 spent on a single piece of standout content, with the right amount of support, can give your campaign a huge boost.
When drawing up plans for your budget, make sure you’re spending it with in-house talent, SEO agencies, or contractors who know what they’re doing and are committed to giving you the best possible ROI.