SEO tools are the key to success in the world of online marketing. However, since money doesn’t grow on trees, budgeting for SEO tools should be an integral part of any company’s marketing strategy. To get an idea of how the pros are doing it, I asked some internet marketers how they budget for SEO tools.
“It really depends on the client or project. I tend to look at how simple the project is and if I’m just using the basics and free tools (e.g. Google Keyword Planner) or if it’s a larger project where I need enterprise data. Typically, I start with Authority Labs and Moz, because it sets my baseline, and I go from there. I would say I spend no more than $250 monthly on tools for a project, on average.”
Alan Bleiweiss – Forensic SEO Consultant at Alan Bleiweiss Consulting
“I don’t budget for SEO tools per se. I have several I already pay for to help me in my audit work, and from time to time I reevaluate if I think another tool will help me be more efficient, or provide more insights for clients in various situations.
From there, I consider whether the cost of the tool is worth the knowledge and increased efficiency or is worth the bother. That’s my entire ‘budgeting’ process for tools.”
Michael Bonfils – President at SEM International
“We assess every tool to make sure it’s a fit for the client. Enterprise clients usually see the value in broad, high-level reporting tools. Smaller clients tend to see the value in more strategic tools, which will give them an edge and insight into a specific niche. Many of our clients are agencies; in those cases we utilize their tools.”
Jon Cooper – Founder of Hyperlynx Media
“Budgeting for about 80% of the SEO tools out there can be done simply by answering one question – do we generate more profits with it? Yes, there will be some management tools that you may need purely for scalability reasons, which are difficult to measure the ROI of in the short-term. However, for the vast majority of them, it hasn’t been difficult for me to nail each tool’s value down to a quantifiable number that makes the decision process easy.”
Annie Cushing – Independent Consultant
“I budget for SEO tools according to the urgency of the data needs they meet. Tasks I do often, like data gathering for site audits, get star treatment as they are the most essential to my success as a forensic marketer.”
Victoria Edwards – Digital Strategist at Florida Blue
“While I am on the content side of my industry, I heavily focus on SEO. I’m constantly trying to promote the benefit of SEO and show that we need to invest in the proper tools to help us determine what we need to improve on. I am fooling around with Screaming Frog and may purchase a license, but as of now I rely heavily on Google Analytics and Web Master Tools. 2014 is being budgeted for now, and I’m trying to see about getting another tool, but basically just a lot of praising SEO for now and how we need to focus heavily on it, no matter what department you’re in!”
“I don’t think you can make money in this business and/or be effective without tools, so they are part of monthly costs; I treat them like the electric bill. With each monthly client there is a cost that technically goes toward tools. The more clients you have the more tools cost. The word ‘how’ isn’t in it for me; ‘must’ is a better fit.”
Jon Henshaw – Co-Founder of Raven Internet Marketing Tools
“When your budget is tight, SEO tools can seem very expensive. However, if you pick the right tool, it should easily pay for itself. For example, what’s cheaper? Paying someone hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of dollars to aggregate data and create monthly reports or paying $99 for an SEO tool that can create all of the reports for you?
The same is true with SEO tools that provide unique data. If a $49 per month tool can provide insightful data that can then be applied to profitable marketing tactics, then you should be paying for that tool. Ultimately, regardless of which SEO tools one uses, the cost of those tools should be factored into the service fees for clients or the budget for an in-house marketing department.”
“At Vizion Interactive we work the cost of the tools into our hourly rate for all clients. We look at the cost of tools and compare that to time savings. If it can save us more time than our hourly rate is doing it manually then we’re likely to sign up for that tool.”
Melanie Mitchell – Senior Digital Marketing Strategist
“We have a yearly SEO tools budget where we evaluate several areas:
- Benefit/Differentiator – either proprietary or can build custom data and reports to differentiate us
- Overlap of reports across tools – in order to make decisions on if we still need to invest or can cut
- Coverage – can it cover multiple media outlets (display, SEM, social, etc.) for large programs to look at consumer journey
We don’t silo SEO, as we feel it is important to understand what the consumer is doing overall and where to better understand the areas to place investments to test, optimize and scale. SEO tools are roughly 15%-20% of our overall media tool investment. We then submit the complete list of all media tools with monthly/yearly costs, ranked in priority order, to finance for approval. Some tools are an investment to use in pitches, some are used as a value-add for clients, while others may be an additional charge to the client.”
“Same as any other budget item: if the tool matters, I find the money. Beyond that, I look for tools that have some stability, backed by solid support, and give me the ability to get data out if need be.”
How do you budget for SEO tools?