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Budgeting for SEO and PPC: Finding the Right Balance

couple of hundred dollar bills, coins, a notebook, a pen, and a calculator

SEO and PPC are two precious marketing tools that help boost visibility, conversions, website traffic, and ultimately, ROI. To get that ROI, however, an initial budget must be established and costs must be controlled.

So, which marketing strategy gets the most of your budget, SEO or PPC? This is the question I aim to answer below, but it’s a tricky subject and there isn’t a blanket answer. 

Instead, to find your ideal SEO and PPC budgets, you must have clearly defined goals for each, and use a system of continued analysis and adjustment that reflects both your short-term and long-term business plan.

The Importance of SEO and PPC Budget Management

While SEO and PPC are both proven marketing methods, their effectiveness is only apparent if you make an ROI and control your costs.

The issue is, is that both processes have the potential for an unlimited spend. For example, you could keep piling money into PPC bids and creating new ads indefinitely. Before you know it, you have spiralling costs and a huge PPC budget that is way inflated past what your company can realistically maintain.

Similarly, with SEO, you can churn out more content, and more blogs, generate more backlinks, and spend thousands per month. Ultimately, there has to be a cut-off point and a realistic budget so you have funds to devote to other areas of your business like product development and research.

Which One is More Important, SEO or PPC?

I get this question a lot and there is no true answer – it’s circumstantial and dependant on your business goals.

However, new businesses that are just building their web presence can benefit from an increased PPC budget. This is because SEO isn’t something that happens overnight – it takes time for Google to index your site, for ranks to improve, and for things like backlinks to be established.

Therefore, while this is happening, you might want to increase your PPC budget as the results with this type of marketing are often quicker. Ads are published after approval, and your website and ad copy is out there for people to see much quicker than new website SEO results.

As your SEO increases and you start to see results, you could then look at altering your budget and putting more into your SEO strategies to develop them further.

Steps to Take to Find the Right Balance

Although individual business factors must be considered, there is a general process you can follow to manage your SEO and PPC budget effectively.

1. Create Goals for SEO and PPC

An effective and realistic budget cannot be set without first establishing clear goals for your SEO and PPC. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase website traffic? Boost sales? Get more people signed up for your email newsletter.

Sit down with your various teams and set clear goals for both processes. These should include both short-term and long-term aspirations as this is another important factor in managing the budget.

2. Consider long-term and short-term impact

When calculating your PPC budget and SEO budget, you have to look at short-term and long-term impacts as this could mean your budget looks different initially and will change over time.

For example, as I mentioned above, it’s often a great idea to invest more in PPC in the developmental stages of your business and website. You may set a goal of achieving 100% growth in customers for example in the first month. If your SEO strategy and website are just being setup, a larger PPC budget could help achieve this short-term goal.

3. Analyze current progress and expenditure

With goals set, you can make an initial budget for each process. This first budget could be completely wrong but that’s fine – it’s just a starting point.

The important thing is to analyze your progress after a short time period such as a month. Grab all the analytical data you can relating to your SEO and PPC and use tools like Google Analytics to help.

4. Make adjustments to both budgets based on the findings

The analytical data you find should allow you to see how your initial estimated budget matches up and what it has achieved in relation to achieving your goals. 

For example, you may find that the funds you allocated to SEO simply aren’t yielding the desired results, whereas your PPC budget has resulted in an overperformance. In this instance, you could then lower your PPC budget and use those additional funds to boost your SEO.

5. Continually review and adjust

Budgeting these two processes and making the most of your SEO and PPC services is a continual balancing act. To always have a realistic spend, you must set regular reviews for your digital marketing and use analytical data to show you the way forward.

Ultimately, your PPC and SEO budget may change from month to month – this is expected. The important thing is that your budget reflects your goals and that you are using the money effectively to grow your business.

Managing SEO and PPC Budgets is a Continual Process

I can’t give you a one-stop solution for your SEO and PPC budget as each business is different. However, there are key things you can do to keep on top of your finances and make sure that an appropriate amount is allocated for PPC and SEO marketing.

The main factors are establishing clear goals for each process and constant analysis. You can allocate a budget accordingly if you have defined goals that align with your core business values. With this budget in place, periodic reviews of SEO and PPC data allow you to make changes, and strive for continuous improvement.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.