In this article, we’ll explore the topics of Internet marketing and SEO, and help you determine just how much you should spend on optimizing, promoting, and marketing your website in order to find success online. By the time you're finished reading, it's our hope that your question "what should I spend on SEO?" will be answered.
We'll begin by explaining exactly what Internet marketing and SEO are, and why they matter.
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What is digital marketing?
Internet marketing refers to any action you take to promote your business online. This can range from advertising and social media to link building and SEO. Just like offline marketing, which is usually done in the form of printed media like ads or brochures, the end goal of Internet marketing is to convince someone to buy something from your company.
Internet marketing can take many forms, and may be paid, free, or a mixture of both. Paid activities include Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) ads, which require businesses to pay for each click on a text ad with online marketing spend, and some email marketing programs. Free activities don’t require any investment, but may be time-consuming. A few examples of these are link building, blogging, and social media.
The end goal of Internet marketing is to make money. The expectation of any marketing program is that it will increase interest in your brand, drive consumers to it, and eventually convert them into paying customers. On the Internet, the marketing activities listed above are sometimes the only way you can draw in new customers – especially if you are having trouble ranking in search engines.
One way that you can rank on search engines and drive traffic to your website is through SEO, which you can learn more about below.
What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimization. This refers to the process of optimizing your website to rank highly in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO takes several different forms, and may require changes to page titles, headlines, body copy, meta descriptions, and so more.
You may be asking why you need SEO. Well, the truth is, there is a lot of competition out there! Years ago, you may have been able to rank your website at #1 for several phrases or keywords without even trying. However, now that nearly every business is online, it is becoming harder and harder to reach that top spot.
Studies have shown that the #1 result on a Google search earns around 33% of all clicks. If you are an online business, this means that it pays to be at the top, because more than half of all people searching for a specific keyword are going to click on that result. The more clicks you get, the more likely you are to convert a visitor into a customer.
SEO requires ongoing optimization to your website’s content and pages. Because Google and other search engines frequently update their algorithms, what works one day may not work at all the next. So it is very important to understand what search engines want to see on your website, and update it to match.
What does link building have to do with search engine marketing?
Link building is an Internet marketing strategy that refers to the acquisition of links to your website. Major search engines refer the number of links a website has in order to help determine their ranking. If a website has a lot of links, it is probably very trustworthy, and should be ranked highly. If a website doesn’t have many links, its ranking may be impacted.
Gaining inbound links to your website might be easy, if your customers love you and are willing to talk about your products online. However, if you’re a new business, you may have to manually build these links yourself – hence the name “link building.”
Link building is usually done through a mixture of strategies. You can link your website from your own social media profiles or other pages, ask friends and family to link you, or email other website owners to ask for a link — and that’s barely scratching the surface! Depending on which keywords you are trying to rank for, you may need to build only a few links to your site. However, if you have very strong competitors, you may need to build a few thousand instead.
SEO and link building are both crucial parts of an Internet marketing plan. They don’t require any money to be spent on them, but they can be very time-consuming. So your online strategy needs to allow lots of time to be spent on these two activities.
Why does SEO matter?
Without a SEO strategy, it may be very difficult to rank for your desired keywords. Even if you have a well-designed website or thousands of links, search engines have no obligation to rank you. On-page content is hugely important in determining where you will show up in the search results. That is why it is crucial to use SEO strategies on your site.
Think about the last time you performed a search online. Maybe you searched for something to get to this page! To find the answer to a question you had, or to learn more about a subject, you probably typed in a few words or phrase – like “what to spend on Internet marketing.” When the results were displayed, you may have clicked or one or more of those links to find the most relevant page or website.
When you conducted your search, it’s very unlikely that you clicked on more than a few links – and almost certainly on the first page of results. Refer back to the statistic we offered previously, about 53% of clicks going to the first result. The pages that occupy that first spot most likely have a very aggressive SEO strategy to be there. Without it, they may only make it to page 2... if that.
Why does it pay to have a digital marketing strategy?
An Internet marketing strategy is crucial to success online. You can’t simply create a page and expect it to make you money. But with the right kind of marketing, a page will be profitable. An online marketing strategy that focuses on driving traffic and increasing conversions will literally pay for itself.
Just as you might have a budget for offline marketing, you should have an online marketing budget, too. It doesn’t have to be large, and you can always grow it over time. This budget should be spent on tactics that include online marketing spend like PPC ads – which often have very high return on investment – as well as email marketing, social media, and link building. All of these elements will combine to draw new visitors to your ecommerce store or website.
Some marketing agencies tend to ignore one of the most important elements of a marketing strategy: conversions. It’s great to drive traffic to your website, but that traffic is all but meaningless if no one makes a purchase or fills out a form to become a business lead. Your website should be built to inspire conversions through compelling text, beautiful graphics, and inspiring calls to action.
Actively marketing your website is one of the best ways to get the word out about your brand. Without Internet marketing and SEO, you stand very little chance of being found online – even if you sell a fantastic service or award-winning products. Sometimes, you simply have to spend money to make money.
Can I rank on Google without SEO?
It’s not impossible to rank on Google, or other search engines, without an SEO strategy. Years ago, search engines took a very long time to discover and crawl pages, so it was days or sometimes even weeks before new content had a chance at appearing in search engine results. In the present time, however, Google is crawling websites much more often than before. This means that you stand a good chance at finding a newly published page or blog post in a search very quickly.
However, without taking actions to optimize your website, it is extremely difficult to rank for keywords and phrases with a lot of competition. In order to do so, you will have to build a website that is nearly perfect on every other ranking factor. This website would need to have hundreds or even thousands of high-quality inbound links, a high conversion rate, a very low bounce rate, and great social signals, like thousands of engaged Facebook or Google+ fans. Doesn’t seem so easy, does it?
The truth is, if you are planning to compete with larger websites or retailers who have been in business for a very long time, you will need to undertake some kind of SEO program to rank well, and to preserve your ranking. Although SEO is not the only thing you need to hit that coveted #1 spot, it definitely helps.
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How much does it cost to hire a SEO company?
If SEO seems like it’s complicated, that’s because it is. Search engines like Google change their algorithms frequently, and it’s hard to keep up with their lists of acceptable and unacceptable methods. These updates can also have a devastating effect on websites that rely on Google for traffic and new customers. Even if a business is unintentionally doing something wrong, it can take weeks, months, or even years to recover from a search penalty.
The best way to get a handle on your SEO and rankings is to hire outside help. The cost of hiring an SEO company or SEO professional can vary. SEO pricing typically depends on the types of services offered, the number of keywords or phrases you want to optimize for, and how many pages your website contains.
WebFX is one of the only companies to publish our SEO pricing online. We believe that in order to make an informed decision about SEO on your website, you should have all the details right at your fingertips. We have a variety of SEO plans to choose from, and can help with everything from writing keyword-rich content to creating “link bait” that will drive valuable backlinks to your website. The best part is that our SEO plans start at around $400 a month—far less than you would spend to hire a dedicated employee!
You may find that some SEO companies claim to be able to boost your site to #1 on Google overnight, or build 500 links to your website in a week. Be wary of these so-called experts. Real SEO professionals know that it takes time, hard work, and dedication to see results. The old adage holds true for internet marketing just as much as it does elsewhere: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Can digital marketing & SEO be done for free?
Many internet marketing programs, and the process of optimizing your website for search engines, do not actually cost anything. For example, social media platforms are often free to join, and link building is also free.
However, the biggest cost of marketing your website is time. It takes hours of valuable time to not only create your marketing goals, but also actively pursue them. Building new links to your website may require dozens, if not hundreds, of emails to be sent each week. Monitoring your social media networks, and responding to comments, can also take up a lot of time. As a business owner, you know how valuable time is… and how easy it is to run out of it!
Unless you are prepared to aggressively expand your staff, it may make more sense to pay an online marketing firm like WebFX to handle your online marketing activities. We can help you optimize your website, manage your online reputation, and create great content at a fraction of the cost of one or more full-time marketing employees. We can also work in tandem with your team to supplement their social media activities or blog.
By relying on WebFX to help with your internet marketing, you will be able to take back the valuable time you may have once spent writing website copy and building new links.
So... how much should I spend on SEO?
Here's the answer you've been waiting for: how much you should spend on search engine optimization depends on how much SEO you need to rank.
Basically: if you have little competition, your site is already in good shape, and you have a dedicated marketing department, you may only need to spend a few hundred dollars a month on SEO. However, if your competition is tough, your site is not at all optimized, and you have no employees dedicated to marketing, you should expect to spend much more, at least initially, on SEO. Many companies spend somewhere around $1,000 per month, and find that this is a good amount to start with, as it allows them to scale up or down easily depending on their needs. The ROI on this investment is also typically very high.
WebFX has affordable SEO plans that start at around $800 per month. You can learn more about the plans we offer, and see all our pricing, by clicking the button below.
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How can I get help with marketing & SEO?
At WebFX, we believe in a multi-faceted approach to internet marketing. We know it’s about more than traffic: it’s about finding more visitors and converting them into customers. We can help you with every aspect of your internet marketing strategy.
Want some proof of our success? See how we improved organic traffic for our clients in as little as 90 days, or watch the video below to learn how search engine optimization helped one WebFX customer succeed: