If you own a business, allocating a percentage of your budget to SEO is not just a good idea – it is necessary. Why? If your customers cannot find your website, social media profiles or online business listing, they cannot make purchases from you or frequent your brick-and-mortar location.

Consider the following:

  • 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day, according to SEO Expert Brad.
  • 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else, according to SEO Tribunal.
  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.

SEO establishes and builds brand awareness, drives inbound traffic and improves your ranking in search results. While the benefits of well executed SEO are obvious, the amount of money you spend on it can vary significantly depending on your company’s goals and budget and the extent of the efforts you spend on it.

So, how do you determine how much your business should spend on SEO?

Set Realistic Goals

Think about what you want to accomplish with your SEO efforts. While you should always reach for the stars and remain optimistic about your business endeavors, it is critical to set realistic goals. You do not want to overshoot and end up spending more on SEO than you can afford.

In general, lofty goals are more expensive to execute. Regardless, when you are setting sales goals, you should estimate how much you are willing to pay for the desired results and how it could affect your future expenditures.

Decide Between an Agency and Doing It In-House

The right decision varies from one business to another. Your company may reap more benefits from one option than another company will. There are factors to take into account for each.

If you decide to use the services of an agency, you will likely need to choose between different payment options. The most common are a retainer and getting billed hourly. If you choose a retainer, you will pay a set monthly fee for a predetermined scope of work. If getting billed hourly sounds better to you, there is no cap set on the amount of money you could be charged in a month.

Some companies have ongoing SEO needs that call for hiring an SEO manager, strategist or specialist. Keep in mind that if you hire someone in-house, you will need to account for their salary and the cost of any benefits you offer them. Salaries for SEO professionals vary widely and are contingent on their experience level and the location of your business. If your business operates in a big city with a steep cost of living, you will pay a pretty penny to hire them.

The bottom line is, your SEO expenditures will not look the same as those of another company. There are several factors you should weigh carefully when deciding how much of your budget to allocate to them. The good news is, SEO that is executed well pays off in great dividends when it comes to driving traffic to your business.