It’s very important to know the latest online marketing trends, which is why we’ve been discussing online marketing trends all year! We wanted to take the time to further explain these trends by talking about online marketing budget trends and how much money you should set aside for SEO. In this Daily Brown Bag, you’ll learn about the online marketing trends survey that we conducted in December and online marketing budget trends stats for small business. You'll also learn how SEO is a part of a diversified marketing campaign (SEO just isn’t a standalone service anymore) and how much money you should be spending on SEO.

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Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about online budgeting market trends. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. This is a cool part in our series about online marketing trends in 2015. We’ve been talking about it all year, Chad, and today we’re trying to further the discussion to get more into budgeting trends.

Specifically, we get this question from our white label SEO resellers all of the time: “How much should a small business spend on SEO?” It begs the question, what does the data say? What are the trends around budget, and how much money should be going to online marketing?

There are a couple of points I’ll make to open this up, and then we’ll get into some data:

SEO is a long-term commitment.

We say it all of the time. It bears repeating. This is not a short-term fix. SEO is not something that will give you immediate results, like PPC. (Although PPC takes some time to burn in). Relatively speaking, PPC is the quicker route to make the phone ring and to get leads in through your website today.

SEO is a long-term investment, and that discourages some people, but the data trends show that there are still a lot of people in this. They’re just trying to understand, how much should I be spending on a small business? How much money should go towards this?

SEO should be an on-going effort.

If you view SEO as an ongoing effort, it starts to feel a little bit more like a utility bill. It’s sort of the slow and steady approach to online marketing. But, the good news is, unlike your utility bill, the more time you spend on it, the better your return on investment is going to be. I know, Chad, you have all sorts of data that you share with our resellers all of the time, showing where that inflection point is, building equity in SEO to the point where return on investment flips positive -- that can be six months, that can be 12 months. On some very difficult keywords, that can be 24 or 26 months.

Online Marketing Trends Survey:

To get into the data, we want to share what we’re seeing in the trends. We conducted a survey of small online marketing agencies in December and we wanted to share a couple of highlights about small business and online marketing budget trends.

Online marketing budget trends stats for small business:

  1. First, we discovered that most small business clients budget between $500 and $1,500 per month for their search marketing efforts.

  2. Thirty-six percent of the marketing budgets were dedicated to SEO, which was double what they said they were dedicating to PPC and social media and email, which is an interesting statistic and is in-line with other stats we’ve seen showing what the return on investment (again, long-term) for search engine optimization really is.

  3. The kicker on this is something we really have to talk about when setting people’s expectations about their marketing budgets. For $500 per month, they do have big expectations. I think, Chad, my question for you is: Is this realistic? What does this data tell us? What trends are we seeing in our white label SEO reseller community about what they should expect and what they should spend?

It’s a tough question to answer because there are a lot of variables that go into it.

  • The first thing that you want to think about when you’re looking at this is, how old is your site -- what are you starting with for a website?

  • Are you new to SEO? Because a new website is much more difficult to establish and make it rank against competitors.

  • Look at the market that you’re in. If you’re competing in a relatively uncompetitive category in a smaller market, a $500 budget may be more than enough. If you’re trying to rank on national keywords, even if you are a small business, it may not be enough. So you really need to look at the market.

  • Most importantly, look at the competitors in your market. What are they doing for SEO today, and what budget you need to overcome those efforts. In order to get to the top of the rankings, you have to knock out the people who are currently ranking there, and those people aren’t going to go willingly. They’re going to want to fight against any effort you put in to outrank them.

SEO isn’t just a standalone service anymore.

The next thing that it gets into -- and this is really one of the overall budget trends we’re seeing in online marketing -- is that SEO isn’t just a standalone service anymore. It’s a part of a diversified marketing campaign.

So when you’re thinking about the budget, it might be okay to say, “Yes, I’m going to spend $500 on SEO,” but $500 on SEO may get you a few articles and some promotion to try to build references and citations back to your website. But you’re really going to do a lot better with SEO if you’re able to couple in some social media, to couple in some perhaps even email marketing to get people to be aware of your content, to help them share it better. So there are a lot of other parts that you can’t just say, SEO is one part, and you’re going to do $500 worth of SEO and be done. It really is part of a bigger budget.

How much should YOUR business spend on SEO?

I think then, what you really start to dig into in terms of establishing what the budget is: What do you need? If you can write your own onsite content, that’s going to save you a little money, but if you need someone to help complete a blog (which is necessary to generate interest in your website and build an audience and be able to promote it via social media), there are budget constraints there. So figure out what you can do and what you need to outsource.

Again, I think the big trend in online marketing budgets that we’re seeing here is really that you have to do more in order to compete against people who have now been in the market for many years. So, really, when you’re looking at “Is $500 enough?” , it probably isn’t unless you’re in a very small market and maybe just need local search rankings.

Takeaways On Online Marketing Budget Trends & SEO Budgets

Again, to summarize some of the points here, when you’re thinking about a budget and the trends that we’re seeing for SEO budgets, you really want to look at it. This is not a short-term gain. You don’t really want to blow your budget in one month. This is something that, as you said Adam, takes many, many months.

You want to be able to stand the test of time so don’t go out and blow your whole annual budget in two or three months because you think, “I’ll get there faster.” You want to think about a consistent effort over a long period of time. Again, be in it for the long-term, because what we’re seeing now is rankings that used to be attainable within 90 days are now taking six months or maybe even 12 months. If you really have a mentality that this is going to pay off in the short-term, you really need to be thinking in a much longer term mindset.

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