Two of the top questions we get asked by companies we meet is “How much should I spend on SEO?” and “What should I be getting from my SEO budget?”.
In this blog, I am going to look at the second question and I am going to base my answer on a recent conversation. Identities protected!
I went to see a professional services company that is well known locally but would like to promote their full range of services across a slightly larger geographic region.
If you know their name you will find them on the internet straight away – but if you put in the generic name of a service they provide, you will never find them online without adding a relevant geographic term.
So the conversation with their new marketing person goes like this…
Question: Is your company doing any SEO?
Answer: We have an SEO budget of £500 per month, which we give to someone external.
Question: And what do you get for that?
Answer: I am not sure.
Question: Have you asked the SEO provider what they do for you each month?
Answer: Yes I talked to them [long pause] ..but I am still unsure what they do for us!
My immediate thought was to reflect on my client-side marketing days and wonder if I had ever paid a supplier and not understood the service they delivered.
I don’t think I did – but I did take over some “spends” I couldn’t fathom and no one could justify. They went quickly!
So whose fault is it that good marketing folk are paying real money – remember the above example is £6k per annum – yet can’t explain what they are getting, let alone the RoI?
First and foremost I point the finger at the so-called ‘snake oil’ SEO agencies, who peddle a mystic formula of link building, keyword optimisation and meta-stuff.
This “technical-lead”, tick-list approach – including buying 1,000 links for $9.99 – is exactly what Google and other search engine operators are fed up with.
It is outdated and doesn’t work on its own. The search engines are gradually working out new algorithms to get around this “short-cut” approach and rewarding something for which there is no shortcut.
What’s that? Great, relevant, easy-to-read, customer-centric content.
Secondly, marketing departments spend £6k per annum (or more) on something they have been told they must have but don’t understand – time to change! £6k per annum could buy you some fantastic content production targeted at converting prospects to customers.
And the crying shame is that Google publish their own guide to SEO (free at www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf ) so you can read up on it and then buy exactly the help you need from a position of understanding.
So let me answer the question… how will I know if my SEO budget is being well spent?
If you get a proposal for SEO services and it’s 80% a checklist of ‘technical-sounding stuff’ and a reminder to create some content – then run for the hills. If it’s 80% content strategy, content creation, buying personas, blogging etc. with a bit of technical ‘must do’s – then you’ve found someone worth talking to.
Go check your SEO spending!
Dave is Toast’s Managing Director and also heads up the digital team. He’s been a designer, illustrator and web designer for over 25 years and has worked on a diverse range of projects across many industry sectors.