How much should startups spend on SEO?

It’s a question that I’ve asked myself at different points in our startup journey, how much should we spend on SEO? The answer to this question in the early days of a startup are different years later. Also B2B and B2C companies will also have different answers since they might not get their leads the same way in all cases.

First things first – I don’t think there is one right answer to this question. That being said, I do think there is a wrong answer…cheap SEO can end up really working against you, Search Engine Journal did a solid job of breaking it down last week:

“I belong to a number of internet marketing groups on Facebook. It’s truly frightening, the number of noobs posing as SEO professionals and taking on clients.
It’s not uncommon to see a question like: “I just landed a client that wants to rank for “keyword x” – how do I do it?”
A close second is the use of link schemes, specifically private blog networks (PBNs), without ever explaining the risk to clients.
If business owners were just throwing money away, by hiring an incompetent SEO, that would be bad enough.
Unfortunately, the collateral damage from “cheap SEO” can go much deeper. It can draw a Google penalty and virtually wipe out a website’s visibility on the web.
Business owners need to keep in mind they’re ultimately responsible for any SEO work performed on their site. They should discuss the specific tactics to be used, before entering into an agreement.
I would encourage any business owner that’s in it for the long term, to insist on using tactics that comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines.”
(Source – Search Engine Land)

The article goes on to discuss strategies for coming up with a budget for SEO that’s rooted in your own metrics, which really is the only way to go. In the early days of a startup you might not know the answers so you’ll need to set a firm budget. As your startup grows and unit economics become more well known, then your budget can be a simple calculation.

At the end of the day though, there’s really no reason to panic if you don’t have a big SEO budget to start. Gone are the days of SEO being a dark art that only a few people knew about. Today, content is everything, so from running your own company blog, to writing guest posts in industry publications, to using PR to generate buzz and valuable backlinks, there’s no secret sauce any more – it’s all about content.

Still stumped on what your SEO budget should be? Conquered your SEO demons and want to share your story? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton