Some time ago, we brought on a client in a pretty competitive field that had a limited budget. Our proposal outlined what we could do and also noted the limitations they would have with the budget they were willing to spend. Rankings could be achieved, but growth would be slow.
It wasn’t long before the client started noting the “slow growth” of their pet keywords and wanted to know what else could be done about that. We started talking about Link Building and the investment needed in order to do it effectively. Unfortunately, all it came to was talk and no action.
Over the course of a year, we saw some very competitive terms move up in the rankings, but few hit the first page. With the budget we had, it was really an impressive feat. As the 12-month contract came to a close, the client again started talking about increasing their budget for the next year. We gave them a number of options, all significantly more expensive, but also options that we were confident would get results.
At this point the client also decided to shop around for some other SEO options. In that process, some of the communications were passed to me as an “FYI”. I found them fascinating. One response talked about how there was a problem with the implementation of the SEO if they were not getting rankings. Interesting theory, but quite a leap.
Our client used these emails to ask us to figure out why this other SEO thinks they should be performing better than they were. My response, each time, was to tell them that we also thought they should be doing better and that the new programs we outlined for them will deliver results more quickly than the current plan.
This happened several times over a few months. Each time we’d tell them that they chose a plan that they understood would have slower growth for the most competitive terms. Growth was happening, but the new options provide something more robust.
It basically comes down to what you can offer for the cost being paid. This is something that the SEO they were shopping around to just didn’t consider. Could the total campaign be more effective? Yes. Could it be more effective on the budget they were investing? Not so easily, and only with time.
I think the client realized this once they started getting quotes back that far exceeded any of the more expensive quotes we provided. Despite all the shopping around, our client ultimately stayed with us, as we weren’t “significantly” over their budget, and many of those they contacted were.
It’s nearly impossible to analyze the quality of the results of an SEO campaign without factoring in the budget. That’s not to say you can’t analyze work that has been done, you can. But, you can’t give an opinion as to how much SEO, Link Building, Social Media, etc. has been implemented unless you consider the monthly investment.
SEO results take big-mindedness and a willingness to budget what is needed to get the results you want. If you’re coming to an SEO with a limited budget, be willing to accept the fact that the results come with limitations. Lower budgets mean more time is needed to get results. In competitive fields, if you’re being outspent by your competition, a low budget may actually get you further behind.
That’s not to say budget is everything. In fact, in the wrong hands, big budgets can still be a waste of time, at best, and detrimental to your long-term success, at worst. But, in the right hands, a small budget can perform ok, a comfortable budget can get you some good results, and a large budget can dominate the SEO landscape.
So, stop thinking small when it comes to SEO. Think big, and do what it takes to make it big!