How to Plan an SEO Budget for Your Company?

November 3rd, 2009 · No Comments · Business, SEO

Some people who buy into an SEO solution for their website don’t have a minimum or maximum SEO budget. They just wing it! There is no SEO budget and no SEO plan. This is a common mistake.

Having an SEO budget (and plan) is essential. But the SEO plan can come from your outsourced SEO company. The problem with exploring SEO without a budget is most search companies have different ways of pricing and prices can differ greatly depending on the company. If you don’t have a SEO budget in mind then you can easily be thrown into a loop.

Knowing when to hire a full-time employee instead of a consultant can get tricky, but a good rule of thumb is to hire employees when the position directly relates to your core business and hire a consultant when you need assistance for something outside your direct business. An example would be a web design company would find great use in hiring a full time web designer, but a construction company may not have a need for a full-time web designer, therefore a consultant will be a better choice.

At current the normal going rates for SEO is (somewhat) as follows,

US/UK/CA SEO Consultant – $25-$200 per hour
Offshore SEO Consultant – $10-$50 per hour

Entry Level SEO Employee – $25K-$50K per year
Junior Level SEO Employee – $40K-$75K per year
Senior Level SEO Employee – $60K-$125K per year
Principal/Executive Level SEO Employee – $80K-$250K per year

Here’s some things to consider when creating a SEO budget for your company,

Hourly rate

It all starts with an hourly rate. Your company should decide on an hourly rate which is considered fair compensation. Choosing an independent consultant or outsourced company will usually cost more in terms of hourly rate compared to a full-time employee.

However, you should be aware that while hiring an employee is commonly cheaper in hourly cost, there are other miscellaneous costly expenses such as health insurance, 401K, personal days, vacation days, training, office space, work materials, and other expenses — therefore the cost between the two can even out when you factor in the whole picture. So when you budget an hourly rate for an employee versus a consultant make sure you include the miscellaneous items.

Goals & Objectives

Determine your goals and objectives. If you are looking for immediate results in terms of traffic and rankings then you more than likely need a paid search solution, such as Google Adwords management. Paid search can get your website to the top of the rankings literally overnight and drive mass amounts of traffic, however there is a cost association. If you are outsourcing then you’ll have to pay for the managed labor hours as well as pay the spend cost (ad budget) on the pay per click networks. So if your consultant tells you their hourly cost is $50 per hour, then you’ll have to pay for the hours spent managing the campaign at $50 per hour then you’ll have to pay for the amount of money being spent for advertising and promoting your website on Google Adwords and other paid search networks, such as $100 per day (or $3,000 per month).

If your goal is long term management then you should budget for the long term. If you only need a specific task completed, such as keyword research, competitor analysis, on page optimization, then this can be a short term project and your SEO budget should conform.

Amount of Hours

Determine the number of hours you’ll need to accomplish your goals so you can stay within your SEO budget range. In most cases a single SEO campaign will never need a full 40 hours of work each week, even though the more hours poured into the campaign then likely the more effort which leads to more rewards.

Whatever the case you will still have wait time which cannot be escaped, search engines must take notice to your website SEO efforts, evaluate your website, then rank your website — this process can take months of trust building. The point is no matter how fast you build your online presence you’ll still have to wait for search engines to play catch up, so there is no need to rush things.

Extract a number of hours you are willing to invest each week to employ an SEO employee or SEO consultant services. If you are unfamiliar with online marketing then you need to just jump in and go quote shopping. Find companies who are willing to give you a free detailed quote. Telling you at least what you need to get started with Phase I, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. Get quotes from several companies to compare and get an average starting point for your campaign.


Determine what your SEO provider responsibilities. If you are paying your SEO to be accountable for your website leads and sales then make this known upfront and expect to budget for such responsibilities. If you are using the SEO to drive traffic then you should fairly compensate for traffic driven results. If your SEO provider is only responsible for consultation then likely you’ll pay an initial retainer fee then an hourly rate beyond anything consultation related.

When your company decides to outsource their SEO solution then you are expected to pay for time, effort, and strategy. A skilled consultant can cut the time it takes to rank and achieve online success in half the time if they have the right SEO budget. is not responsible for changes made to the Web site by other parties that adversely affect the search engine rankings of the CLIENT’s Web site, i.e. web design changes which removes all search engine optimization tweaks and results in the loss of rankings.


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