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How to Budget for SEO: Budget Allocation for B2B SaaS

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How much should your B2B SaaS brand spend on SEO if you are already doing paid search campaigns?

Thinking about an SEO investment is very different than planning for paid advertising. SEO is a longer-term investment that may take 6-12+ months before you get noticeable traction and ROI. Pay-per-click, on the other hand, should turn a positive ROAS in 2-3 months.

The Challenge of Budgeting for SEO

When you’re allocating your SaaS marketing budget, you have to think about SEO and pay-per-click budgets differently.

With paid advertising, it’s best is to start with a fairly small budget until you establish unit economics and prove that it works. Next, you can steadily scale it up and reinvest those profits back into this ROI engine until it no longer yields profit.

Because SEO is much more of a longer-term investment, you don’t see that ROI immediately, so you don’t really know if you’re investing the right amount. Maybe you should pull back, or maybe you should invest more?

Why Is SEO Budget Allocation for B2B SaaS Different?

While planning for the SEO budget is difficult for any brand, B2B SaaS companies usually have a small advantage. Here are some of the factors that make search engine optimization comparatively easier for software-as-a-service businesses:

Websites and CMS Platforms

Compared to eCommerce or big media websites, B2B SaaS brands usually have significantly smaller websites. Instead of having to optimize over a million pages, the SEO teams’ efforts can be focused on the few pages that matter – the homepage and main navigation.

Keyword cannibalization and duplicate content issues are less common on smaller websites and can be resolved much faster.

SaaS websites commonly use SEO-friendly Content Management Systems such as the WordPress platform. This also gives them an edge with SEO work – optimizations such as editing meta tags and redirects are easier and more scalable.

Tech-Savvy In-House Team

One of the significant advantages for B2B SaaS businesses getting ready to improve their SEO is their own in-house dev team. Most of the technical SEO implementations could be carried out in-house, which is very cost-efficient.

More importantly, when their own team is making the backend optimizations, this cuts down communication and implementation time, and the results will be visible sooner.

How Much to Budget for SEO?

The best strategy for SEO budget allocation is starting with a budget that’s a small percentage of overall revenue.

Decide on an amount that you are comfortable investing in SEO for several months in a row, perhaps 5% or 10% of your current revenues.

As you start seeing traction and get more confident in the approach, you can steadily invest more in what’s already working.

When Will You Start See Results From Investing in SEO?

SEO is a long-term investment, and while some changes can affect your website’s organic performance within a month, most of the results would take 6-12 months.

With search engine optimization and content marketing, you should be looking at a payback window of 6 or 12 months, sometimes even longer.

While this is a hard pill to swallow, the fact is, that SEO takes time. On the positive side, once you start seeing results, they will be steadily increasing for a very long time.

Should You Bother Investing in SEO?

It’s not great to hear that you’d need to invest something for a year, before you start seeing results. If this is the case, can you skip SEO?

Why not just allocate all of your marketing budget into more ROI-possitive strategies, such as paid campaigns across Google and social media?

You could, but not for a very long time. If your marketing budget is limited, the best approach is to start with paid campaigns. But you’d still need to make sure you’re sending traffic to pages that are well-optimized, and that your website is in good technical health.

To help paid campaigns perform better, you’d need to create brand awareness with top-of-the-funnel content. This brand bias would work in your favor, lowering the Cost Per Acquisition, or CPA. It would also attract new audiences for you to target with ads.

With SEO and content marketing, you’d get more real estate in the search results. As some people prefer to skip the ads and click on organic results only, your brand could be visible both among the ads, and among the organic raking pages.

If you’re still considering investing in SEO, take a look at our 4-step guide on how to make SEO work for B2B SaaS brands. In addition, we have a useful and actionable resource on how to track SEO results. We’ve created a dashboard for SaaS SEO that you copy and put to use right away, plus a video walk-through to help you get going.