Lately there have been a lot of rumors circling the web saying that small businesses will need to have a higher SEO budget in 2014. It’s clear that SEO efforts have become more popular, therefore more competitive, and therefore more expensive, but just how much needs to change in 2014? And what has changed in the SEO industry that is giving experts reason to say, “Yes, a higher budget is the answer to success”? Is this just a ploy by the industry experts, or will a higher SEO budget really be necessary this upcoming year – and if so, how much of an increase are we looking at here?
4 Reasons Why You Need a Higher SEO Budget in 2014
Unfortunately for many small businesses, your SEO budget in 2014 is going to need to increase if you hope to stay in line with your competition. It’s not a ploy.
On a happier note, the money spent on SEO in 2014 should be more helpful than ever, particularly when it comes to mobile marketing  and local search, as users start to change their searching habits and Google starts to put a bigger focus on local and conversational search. Below are a few reasons your SEO budget should increase:
- Your content marketing strategy  is changing. With things like the Google Hummingbird  update, it’s clear that Google is trying to move toward a more conversational approach to search as opposed to single keywords. This will change the way that you should be writing and optimizing your content, and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of experienced minds to make this transition.
- Google “Not Provided ” data has changed. Now that all organic search data is encrypted, the way that a company evaluates terms and phrases that the target audience uses is going to change. A few new strategies will need to be put in place and mastered, and again, you need a solid and experienced team to make it happen (which of course will cost a pretty penny).
- Everyone has someone in charge of social media. Believe it or not, this is actually something a little bit more recent. In past years the importance of social media has been stressed, but hiring a full-time professional to manage social media wasn’t always at the top of the priority list. This year it is, so if you hope to keep up with your competition, hiring someone with actual social media experience is going to be necessary.
- In-depth articles show that more is better. It’s true that people like to be able to glance over a piece of text and find the answers they need, but this doesn’t mean the article should be short. A long, detailed article (1000+ words), made more readable with the help of bullet points and subheadings, is often what Google is looking to rank. They recently introduced an “in-depth article section ” that showcases these longer pieces of content, so it’s clear Google hopes to move in this direction.
Of course, you still have your usual SEO work that will only need to be amplified each year. Link building is changing, links from poor websites are only becoming more harmful, and there are still Panda and Penguin updates that you need to recover from.
So how much should your budget increase?
Of course, it depends completely upon your company and your industry. Although we can’t put an exact number on it, for most companies raising your budget by 30 percent should do the trick (in my personal opinion). For example, if you had a monthly SEO budget of $2,000, you might want to up that budget to $2,600 this upcoming year. Start trying out the new budget this year and see if you can get a good structure in place so you’re ready to be successful in 2014.
A Few Reasons to Keep Your SEO Budget the Same in 2014
Of course there will be those companies that refuse to believe their budget should increase, and of course in some cases the budget really can’t be increased. This then brings about the question: Are there any situations where your SEO budget can remain the same in 2014?
It can certainly be done, and if you can’t afford a higher budget at the moment there is no reason to panic. Keep it in the back of your mind and do what you can, when you can. A few instances where you’ll be OK:
- If you’ve already been preparing for the Google changes with your current team.
- If you have a writer who writes two 500-word articles in the morning, change those to one 1000-word article so you have something detailed to work with.
- If you can’t hire a full-time social media specialist at the moment, consider shifting one of your writers focus to social media full-time. Remember, you don’t necessarily need as much content anymore, just content that is high-quality.
In the end, it’s really up to your company whether or not your budget needs to increase. Most SEO agencies and experts will tell you that it’s needed (imagine that!), and in most cases they will be right, but no one knows your company better than you. Look at your industry and look at where your money is coming from this next year, make your decision, and feel confident about it.
How do you feel about your SEO budget in 2014? Are you planning on increasing your numbers, or do you have reason to believe you should keep it the same? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
This is a guest post by Amanda DiSilvestro , who gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO company, HigherVisibility.com , that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.
Image via jaceyOphotos