SEO & Content Budget: Definitive Guide

Written By Fraser McCulloch

Traditional marketer specialising in keyword research, SEO content plans, and content briefs. Has-been Scottish golfer. 

This guide will teach you how much money and time to allocate to SEO and content.

Shut the door, have a seat.

You: I can’t get onto page one of Google.

Google: You know why?

You: Why?

Google: Your competitors give better answers to questions people type and are better than you; that’s why. They are stronger and more experienced. So, what are you going to do?

Work out your goal

There are 2 types of business models:

  1. Those who sell products and services directly online.
  2. Those who generate inquiries for products or services.

Let’s say you’ve just launched your website on Shopify to sell a new collection of products.

  • $20,000 monthly revenue is your goal.
  • $50 is the average order value you get when you sell the products at local markets.
  • 400 online transactions are required each month to meet your goal.
  • 2% is the estimated website conversion rate.
  • 20,000 visits per month are the traffic you need to reach your goal.

Or let’s say you don’t sell online but require leads or inquiries for your services.

  • 10 new customers per month.
  • 10% of leads typically become customers.
  • 100 leads per month are required.
  • 1% of site visitors become leads.
  • 10,000 visitors per month are required.

What’s that traffic worth?

Now calculate how much these 10,000 or 20,000 monthly visitors would cost you from paid advertising.

  • $163,000 for a full-page ad in the Washington Post
  • $23,000 for a full-page ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • $2,500 for a half-page ad in a regional newspaper

Or look at the keywords competitors are bidding on in Google Ads.

If the average cost per click in Google Ads is £2, then $40,000 per month is what you need to pay for the 20,000 visitors.

However, let’s say you provide a service, and the average cost per click is $10, then $100,000 per month is what you need to pay for the 10,000 visitors per month to reach your goal.

While they may seem excessive to you, these costs are what companies are paying Google Ads for traffic to their website.

These $40,000 and $100,000 a month budgets give you a benchmark for investing in SEO.

Organic v paid traffic.

There are 2 main differences between organic and paid traffic.

How long until I get visits to my website?

A new website could take 6-12 months for SEO, but a stronger, more established website could take 2-6 months.

For Ads, you could start driving traffic within a week or less.


Rent vs buy traffic.

Look at the image below.

While SEO traffic gets off to a slow start, traffic grows over time, while PPC traffic stops when your campaign ends or your money runs out.

Payback period

Say you hire someone at $5,000 a month to do SEO for you to deliver $20,000 revenue per month.

Let’s say for the first 6 months traffic is zero, then months 6-9 traffic kicks in, and then in month 10, you start making $20,000 per month.

Your payback period is 10 months, but every month after that would be profitable.

Is there traffic potential?

The next step is determining if your audience is searching and clicking on what you sell.

Click forecasting will identify the traffic potential and the pages you should include in your content plan.

Introducing SEO Click Forecasting

Click forecasts help you determine which keywords to focus on first when trying to drive more visitors to your site.


  1. Pick keywords and topics related to your service or product
  2. Pick keywords with high traffic, low competition
  3. Use the bar chart to prioritise significant traffic-driving opportunities
  4. Select the best content format to rank the page
  5. Share with client or team and add to website plan
  6. Create content briefs and supply them to copywriters

Content production and promotion

The person you hire for SEO has around 30 hours per week to produce and promote content.

  • 10 hours – content production and optimisation
  • 20 hours – content promotion

Content production involves researching, writing, sourcing images or illustrations, and optimising and adding the page to your website.

90% of web pages get no traffic from Google because the page and website don’t earn any links.

Links don’t happen by magic, but there are 4 ways to promote content and build links.

  1. Add – add them to social sites or directories
  2. Ask – ask people to link to your page
  3. Buy – provide money in exchange for a link (ps: Google don’t recommend)
  4. Earn – earn links naturally from people visiting your statistics, data study, tools, survey, or checklist pages.

How much should you spend each month?

Depending on your goals, aim to spend less on SEO, content production and link earning than the market value of traffic (as outlined above).