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SEO Bootcamp – Episode 2

Building on the stuff from Episode 1, another question that I get asked A LOT, is ‘how much will it cost me to rank on page 1 of Google for my keyword?’. This question is usually followed by my reply of ‘How long is a piece of string?’. I know, it isn’t very helpful, is it?

But the point is, every keyword is totally unique. There is no fixed monthly budget that will get you to the top of Google for every and any keyword, to think that is extremely naive. So we must take each keyword on it’s own merit.

I’ll take you through the process I use to define how much budget you’ll require to take you to the top of Google and for how long you should keep it up.

Step 1: Keyword Research – This is the process in which we take a look at the keyword (or phrase) and analyse the monthly volume of searches, the average Cost Per Click for Google Adwords, and the competition. The higher the competition, the harder it is to rank that keyword.

Now, the keywords I will use for my example will become progressively easier to rank for, by adding longer and more niche tails to them. The example client is a plumber based in Wimbledon (South West London). They are:

Emergency Plumber
Emergency Plumber London
Emergency Plumber South West London
Emergency Plumber Wimbledon


Now have a look at the table. You’ll see from this, that ’emergency plumber’ gets around 1,900 searches every month. But it is around half of that for ’emergency plumber london’. The competition for all four is high (as you’d expect for Plumbers) but notice that the suggested bid (CPC) is actually more on the london keyword, than on the national keyword. Why is that?

Well, it can be for a number of reasons, but the most likely is, that if you live in London, you want a London based plumber, right? So as a client, you’ll pay more to rank for London customers than for national. This is assuming you are a local plumber or plumbing company.

So what would we aim to rank for here? Well, my suggestion is to aim for Wimbledon first, then up to London – missing South West London out completely.

Step 2: Competitor Analysis – The next thing to do is to run a few searches for ‘Emergency Plumber Wimbledon’ and see who currently takes up the top spot, and who else makes up the first page. Chances are, the first page will be filled with quite a few ‘local’ searches, and that is something we definitely need to be a part of, but we’ll come to that in Episode 3.

Unsurprisingly, the very first natural result is for – with services like plumbing and electrics, Yell do rank very well indeed, due to the vast number of tradesmen that they have listed. But that isn’t a major issue, we can overcome that.

We’ll go onto each site in turn. We’ll check through their content, images and code structure and see what they have done. How has their site got so high in Google? We do a full on-site analysis and make sure that our site, is better. Sounds simple, and it is pretty straightforward stuff.

We’ll then run their site through a few backlink checkers. We’ll make a master list of all backlinks from the top 5 or 6 sites on the page and we’ll use that later when looking at our own backlink strategy. (more on that in later episodes).

Step 3: Plan of Attack – So, we’ve checked through what we need to rank for. We’ve check the competition out, both on-site SEO and off-site too. The next step is to formulate a plan. Now, I won’t reveal a budget here, because I don’t have the time to do all of the research for an example client. BUT, the budget would also depend on how quickly the client wants to rank.

Fast (we call this ‘boom’ SEO), with a chance of yo-yo’ing?

Or more slowly (this is ‘drip’ SEO), with more chance of sticking to that top spot?

Based on that knowledge, and all of the data we’ve compiled for the campaign, we can then work out how much budget will be required to bring the site to the top of Google; and over how many months that budget should be spread.

Sometimes, a Boom SEO strategy can work really well, especially for a specific campaign (such a Christmas) – but on the whole, I’d always recommend doing it slowly and spreading your budget over a longer period.

So that is how I work out a suggested SEO budget for my clients. The cost is dependent on how much work I need to do ‘on-site’ (but most of this get’s done by me, if I am building the site anyway), and then the main bulk of cost goes on ‘off-site’ activity. We’ll talk much more about relationship building and link building in future episodes, but we’d use the budget to have superb guest blog posts written on various (related) sites, it would also go towards my time in manually link building via decent comments on related and relevant blogs.

There are a multitude of different ways to spend SEO budget, but the key is the initial research. Without that, you might as well simply flush your money down the toilet!

I hope that’s helped you understand what goes into an SEO campaign.

Rob Fenech - Freelance Web Designer 5.0
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