A while back we discussed strategies surrounding local SEO and how businesses can rank higher when a potential customer searches for a business “near them”. You can find the full article here.
This article focuses on the financial side. While there are certain strategies to improve a business’s local SEO ranking, none of that matters if too much or too little money is invested into the project.
This is like any other business project, such as renovating a storefront. It’s incredibly important for a business to budget well for a renovation. The work is typically done by specialists as work itself is complex, and takes place over a long period of time.
Budgeting too little could mean running out of funds partway through, or perhaps worse, going into debt. This either leaves an awkward mess in the store, or an awkward mess in your bank account.
On the other hand, budgeting too much often means spending money on unnecessary things. Projects tend to use all of their budgets, and then some. So, over-budgeting means kissing goodbye to that money, and possibly not getting the return you wanted.
All of this applies to Local SEO, the art of ranking high in internet searches performed by locals. When someone searches for “x business near me”, the rankings are determined mostly through Local SEO. This means every business in Hawaii should seriously consider starting a Local SEO project.
If you’re looking for strategies rather than budget considerations, take a look at our free guide: Making Your Brand Famous In Your Area
Over the next few months, we will probably get more foot traffic to our stores. If we boost our local search rankings, we definitely will. The Hawaiian islands are beginning to open up, at least to other Hawaii residents. If you’re on Maui, you may see an influx of customers island hopping.
To make sure that locals can find us online really easily, we need to invest in Local SEO. It also helps us compete with the big dogs. Local SEO helps you carve out your niche in a market in a way they simply can’t, due to their physical location.
This also makes budgeting for these projects paramount.
When you budget too little for SEO, you run the risk of running out of funds well before the project is complete, just like with a renovation. It’s a hard-but-true fact that getting results in any SEO project typically takes months, not days.
If you budget too much though, you may be served better by investing that money somewhere else. Local SEO is fantastic, but it is not the be-all-end-all for your business. You know as well as I do that there are other expenses that need attention.
The rest of this post will clarify how you can think about Local SEO budgets, and give guidelines for how much you should budget if you’re ready to begin.
3 Principles For Smart Local SEO Budgeting
Here are three things to remember as you set your budget.
- Recognize the difference between inbound and outbound.
Every part of your marketing takes one of two forms: inbound or outbound. This refers to the general direction of the customer when they interact with you.
Outbound marketing goes out, toward the customer. We see outbound marketing at work when we see newspaper ads, mailing lists, coupon blasts, and paid ads on social media and search engines. The customer doesn’t have to go looking for outbound marketing materials; the marketing will find them.
For inbound marketing, the customer comes in. Something referred them to check out your business. Inbound marketing includes things like your website, reviews, showrooms, and even the way your staff interacts with customers.
The companies with the best products and reputation do very little outbound marketing and focus on inbound. When was the last time you saw a commercial for a Lamborghini? You haven’t, because they don’t make commercials. They have enough clout to invest only in their inbound marketing.
Newer, smaller businesses should focus more on outbound marketing. This is necessary when you don’t have a reputation yet. If you’re new and unknown, nobody’s coming to you. Nobody will click on your website if they don’t know how it will benefit them.
Thus for newer businesses, and smaller businesses who are struggling, I recommend that you don’t focus on Local SEO at all. Local SEO is inbound marketing and it generally requires more time and money to see a return.
Instead, focus on outbound marketing in the form of paid ads. Paid ads burn hotter, for shorter periods, and they get a much faster return on investment. Here’s an article that will serve as a starting point on paid ads.
2) Recognize that you get what you pay for.
As someone who cares about quality marketing, it sickens me when I see some of the so-called SEO experts on my news feed. People will promise you the entire world… for a low, flat payment. To make a profit, however, they need an incredibly high volume of clients. So, they tend to neglect your personalized needs, fail to communicate, or create harsh limits about what they’re able to do.
I’ve also met people who overcharge for their services and don’t deliver on them. Many of them like to lock clients into incredibly long contracts.
Both types of scammers will promise to solve all your problems. That’s how you can recognize them. In any specialist profession, you get more by working with someone who has a humble and realistic mindset, not someone who promises the world.
Find someone who gives you a completely honest answer about what they can do for you. In this way, you’ll get what you pay for.
3) Play the long game.
As you set your budget, determine what you can afford not just for the next month, but for the next year. As mentioned before, Local SEO usually requires at least a month, usually more, to see the results you want. Anyone promising results faster than that is probably trying to take advantage.
Ask yourself, “Can I afford to pay $500 a month for the next year? $1,000? $5,000?”
The monthly fee will generally rise according to your current ranking, website content, technical specifics “under the hood” of your site, and your end goal for ranking. A $1,000 per month rate works as a fantastic starting place for many businesses to compete in this arena.
That’s an investment. It’s far less than renovating your storefront, but it still requires clarifying your goal and committing to it.
When owners embark on a Local SEO project with a specialist, understanding the difference between inbound and outbound, and play the long game, they end up highly satisfied with the result.
If you want to know whether a Local SEO project is right for you, or simply want marketing questions answered for free by an expert, then don’t hesitate to give me a call.
Further Reading: Keys To Entrepreneurial Success