You’re one of those companies out there who has understood that the web is nothing static. You understand that there is no such thing as “building a website”, but you know that you have to “develop you website” continuously. You get that the search engines bring you about 40% of your traffic and that the SEO traffic seems to convert better than the other traffic.
Good for you, cause this blog post is for you to keep.
Setting an online budget
When you set an online budget you’ll have to break it into at least four parts. One part for infrastructure, one for fuel, one for research and one for development.
The infrastructure budget aims at giving you a framework from which you can launch content that users can use in their online activities. The fuel is the content, the media spend and the engagement you put into giving your content the proper context so that people find you and talk to you.
The research part is the funds you need to put aside to stay in touch with reality. You should never end up developing your website for today and thus you have to continuously research the web so that you always can develop for the future. Last but most important part is that of development. You should always develop your website, it should never stop. There is nothing such as a website project with a start and a finish. There is only continuous development. That’s it.
Setting an SEO budget
Your SEO budget falls within all these four parts of your online budget. You need to make the investment in infrastructure so that your content becomes shareable, crawlable and findable. You’ll have to buy marketing so that your stuff is searched for, and you need to acquire links (buy’em or earn’em) so that you rank for those search terms. You’ll have to keep on doing your research as you cannot test it all on your own.
There are millions of blogs and websites out there that share their experiences and empirical tests. Go find them, subscribe to them and then steal from them. Then you have the development part which both includes buying websites, setting them up in your own network, as well as developing new features on your website that makes it worth linking to you again and again and again.
Disposition of budget
The initial investment in infrastructure is all dependent upon where you stand and what type of technology you would like to build in. Always think communication first and then think technology. Never think of it as in “hey, I want to build this in WordPress or .Net”. That’s a not so smart thing to do and it will always make your project more expensive than if you first decide what to communicate and then look at what to use to convey this goal.
1. Infrastructure – 30%
Anyhow, here are some things you need to put a price tag at this portion of the project:
- Communication platform
- KPI analysis, implementation of analytics tool
- Wireframes and Information architecture
- Function specification
- Second opinion on SEO work (you always need a second opinion – always!!)
I don’t list them all, cause this is what you are used to do when you develop for the web. I would say this part will take about 30% of your budget. If it takes a lot more than that, then you are building too expensively. Most of you just want to publish content that people can interact with. You don’t need expensive stuff to do that. Focus on the communication and the rest will follow.
2. Fuel – 40%
This part of the project is all about your creativity. You can make even the most dull website seem attractive either through changes in the design or by publishing neat and sweet blog posts. This part is the largest chunk of your budget and should focus on:
- Video, blog posts, images
- Guides, white papers and tools
- PPC budget, Guest posts
- Other marketing activities
You might wonder what the heck this has to do with SEO as nothing seems to be talking about black ops methods, tweaking code and other such activities that you usually hear about when people speak of SEO. Well, I would say 90% of SEO is about producing neat content that people like. Even black hat projects have to be smart and fill a purpose if they are to work on the long term. You have to do your work right to begin with. Then it is all about making it good.
3. Research – 10%
I usually do my research on my way to and from work. I use my iPhone to find new sources for information I spend about two hours a day doing research and I think anyone who want to stay on top should do this. Naturally you think… what the heck… why does he say two hours and then write 10%. Well, even though I don’t work 20 hours per day I think you’ll need to have about 10% of your people’s time doing research.
- Reading from your RSS subscriptions – new techniques and link bait tactics
- Brand watching your own brand
- Watching your competitors and how they move in the serps
- Reading patents from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Yahoo
I am sure there are other ways to do your online research. Especially if you are willing to go deep into investigating what’s in the hidden web. But that’s an article on its own.
4. Development – 20%
You should never stop developing your website (huh.. have I said that before in this article). You can do A/B split testing through Google or you can do multivariate testing through your analytics tool such as through Test & Target from Omniture. You can develop tools for your users that they can use on their platforms and you can tweak your navigation, sub pages or internal linking so that any user can reach all your content with three clicks.
You can develop some new display of data or let your graphical display evolve. The most important thing isn’t what you do but that you do it. You cannot stop developing your website. If you constantly develop then you’ll be ready when you’ll have to adapt quickly. There will be problems up the road that you cannot foresee, and opportunities that you certainly don’t want to miss out on. If you work with continuous development you’ll be much better situated than the others that don’t.
Plus, you’ll get links, better rankings and a website that seems to be alive. Such websites are more intriguing and exciting to return to even for a bot crawling your stuff. If they see that you change often, then they’ll have to return often.
This portion also includes test projects that you put up on other domains before you launch them on your own website. You should buy one or two domains every month just for the laugh of it. Put up projects on these websites that you are interested in testing for your main website and see how they affect your rankings, your traffic and your general brand volumes and activity.
The above statements has to be amended with each project but it gives you a rough estimate of how you should work with your online budget and in particular your SEO budget. If you get one thing from this post, you get that you need more than just build a thing and put it out there. You need to do stuff with it in order to make it fly. yadayada…. 🙂
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