When we want to do SEO for our site or on behalf of a client, it is often necessary to quantify our actions and organize a budget. Indeed, the multitude of tasks and professions constituting the “perimeter of SEO” continues to increase, budgets also, and the need to carry out a business plan is increasingly felt. Overview of my experience with SEO costing.
SEO is a field that leaves nothing to chance.
It takes strategy, investment and time. Being an SEO consultant means analyzing, forecasting, implementing a plan… and sometimes even supervising a shock team.
Because, around the profession of SEO consultant revolve dozens of others. Web Writer, Web Designer , UX, Developer, Integrator, Netlinker… a whole set of skills that is commonly referred to as “SEO perimeter”. And to involve them on a mission, to coordinate these talents by integrating them into the client’s budget, to avoid any bad surprises and ensure their own profitability, you need a business plan.
I didn’t know that at the very beginning. Because I was just starting out in my business and in the business of an entrepreneur, I did like everyone else: I got by. I got straight to the point, without a planned and costed strategy.
But, very quickly, my activity caught up with me and forced me to exercise.
Beginner’s mistakes not to make when starting SEO
When I started in 2014, I was a very voluntary consultant. I still am, of course, but I don’t exhaust myself anymore. Because at the time, I did everything… except the content. I sold SEO audits, consulting and even total project support.
At that time, I told myself that if everything went in my pocket, I didn’t really have a reason to make an investment plan or to build a real business model.
But no one remains a beginner all his career. As I progressed in my entrepreneurial journey, other product and project ideas formed. Make videos, make guides, do training, a book and, why not, SEO tools.
For these ambitious ideas, I stuck to my current process. After all, it worked, didn’t it?
So I threw the whole start of the implementation on my own and… I ran out.
I suddenly lost my motivation in front of the magnitude of the task, and I ended up accepting that I had to delegate for the good of my company.
As an echo to this reflection, client projects were becoming more and more ambitious and I myself wanted to specialize, so I called on other talents more. And the budgets had to be structured quickly. The clients needed my help doing the costings, and what did I do…?
I opened an Excel and laid it all out for me and my clients.
The exercise of the business plan that I found, when I started out, totally unnecessary had become essential 5 years later!
A step-by-step lesson that I intended to retain.
How do you put together a business plan for SEO?
As we do with any other activity, in the end!
In SEO, there are a lot of things to buy: content, web development, backlinks, web design, UX, hosting, NDD, tools… Everything has a price!
And when we do an SEO audit for our client, we highlight the problems and we are able to prioritize. From there, we can establish the quotes and see what we validate together with the client, or not.
But to this part can be added digital marketing: Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEA in general, SMO, e-mailing … all this constitutes a real budget which allows to “better sell” the company and its products (yours, like that of your customers!).
This represents several lines on your business plan, in the “financial forecast” part where you will also find the cost of your work place, any employees, electricity, insurance, lawyer / accountant … in short, everything what you are going to have to pay for your activity. And we quickly see that we are far from the idea of a “cheap” and “easy to assemble” profession.
Once you have all these costs in mind, you will optimize your business plan to see directly what is wrong with you or could hurt your profitability. And you do it in the short, medium AND long term.
And there, because everything is square, you know what to invest in, in which direction your activity is going.
And your goals are less scary, because you know “where you are going”.
Not to mention the motivation which is skyrocketing, because it also allows you to preview the expected gain…!
Good, and if you plan to convince investors or collaborators for some of these projects, you put all of that in a nice editorial part. You detail, you highlight the strengths and weaknesses, the competition, the market; in short, you contextualize, but above all: you sell your project!
Note that doing this exercise for yourself will always help you reboost yourself. Selling your work to yourself is a great way to stay motivated!
That’s what I ended up doing, and it allowed me to get back to work with, as a bonus, my heart to work!
Finally, some tips to avoid missing your business plan
Because I myself had to learn this on the job, I am passing on what I understood to you.
Be pessimistic. Plan for higher costs, lower revenues. Thus, you will avoid unpleasant surprises.
Try to use analytical tools like PESTEL (a must in business strategy!). Personally, I do this in three cost columns (if it goes wrong | site goes well | And I take the average) to make sure I’m realistic.