An in-house SEO, If you were given $16K a month to spend, where would you spend it?
I work at a startup that's about 3 years old. About 9 months ago I transitioned from being a business intelligence analyst here to the head of SEO (long story, but the short of it is that I knew a little from doing some SEO on the side and we didn't have anyone to head up SEO efforts, so they took a chance on me).
My work has taken us from basically 0 organic traffic, to now organic search makes up ~25-35% of our revenue. This has the entire C-suite and the board very excited about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and they have asked me "how can we make this go faster??" They are willing to invest heavily in this, and they've given me a budget of anywhere from $15-20k a month to work with.
Right now I'm using it to produce more high-quality blog content and to work with a white-hat link building agency (since I am a team of one and I don't have time to do link-building on my own here). However, altogether that only costs ~$9K a month.
I've told them repeatedly that SEO is not the kind of thing where you can just spend more money and make it "go faster," and I think that they understand this now. Still, my question for you all is, if you had this kind of money to spend as an in-house SEO, where would you deploy it?
I know that ultimately a good answer to this question requires context, though, so briefly– we are a company that operates in the service industry; blog traffic is pretty much non-existent, averaging maybe 70 sessions a week; our link profile is pretty healthy and with our natural link trajectory we are set to overtake our competitors within the next year (roughly).
Sorry for the long post. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!
One thing I'd look into if I were in your shoes would be getting software or tools developed as an extension of your business (depending on your industry).
For example, if I was a real estate agent and my business revolved around buying/selling houses – I'd get a tool developed (under a completely different name) that helped people calculate how much their house is worth in our area.
You could create several different tools over the course of the year.
This helps your industry grow (thus helping your business) and tools are more likely to get links than businesses (IMO) – thus giving you a strong web property that you can use to link back to your business to help further SEO growth.
That's just something I'd do.
This is an awesome idea. Thanks!
Would you recommend hosting these tools on your site? Or try to create high-authority separate "tool sites" that then link back to your original site?
I'd host each tool on it's own domain.
Each tool can link back to your business site.
I am a newb to SEO and online marketing and I am wondering, why not built that tool into the website in the first place?
You can and still be successful, but I wouldn't.
From an online marketing perspective (specifically SEO), the more powerful properties I have, the better.
My business is a separate entity than each tool.
If I sell my main business, I can monetize the tools via ads, sell backlinks, or even package them into the sell of my main business.
If I launch a new business or website in the same niche, I can use the tools to help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of the new site without having to promote it on the old business site (which I'd have to do if I built the tool into the website)
I also think people link to standalone tools more than they link to tools that are hosted on a business's site. I imagine most users feel like the tool is less biased if it's not on a business's website. But I could be wrong.
Overall, It's not neccessary to make the tools standalone. Just what I'd do
I would not start a brand new domain unless I had the resources on hand to maintain it. Then you are doing double work to gain authority you could spend that time just getting backlinks from domains that are relevant and already have authority to the new content you put on your original domain.
That makes sense as well
As you seem to recognize, a lot depends on context.
Generally speaking, heres my advice:
Don't over commit to content. Ranking #1-3 for one killer group of keywords is going to be more valuable to you than ranking 6-10 for a lot of other keywords. Of course, targeting additional keywords with already well-ranking content is always a great idea; I mean don't fall into the trap of developing 5 new major pieces of content targeting 5 major keyword categories when you could dominate one category by focusing your effort.
don't be afraid to buy (quality) links from legit sites. I see a lot of outreach campaigns approach linkbuilding by opening conversations with dialogue along the lines of Hey SITENAME, I was just reading your INSERT POST URL and thought it was really INSERT EMPTY FLATTERY. I actually INSERT RELEVANT PROJECT and thought you'd be interested in RANDOM PIECE OF CONTENT. This is largely the approach taken by many so-called Outreach Experts, and has very few derivatives. In my experience, simply contacting sites and being very forthcoming about intent, asking about posting opportunities, and being willing to spend some money is often more cost effective. $125-$200 is a pretty standard fee for decent sites. Just ask for a sample of what to expect and avoid sites that label posts as sponsored or guest posts. This is in violation of the Webmaster Guidelines on their behalf, but usually of little worry. At scale, you'll be able to get more links faster and can even skimp on content since you're paying sites. In most cases, this results in less time spend finding willing host sites, less time communicating with them,and less time developing content for those posts.
Use tiered linking to bolster existing back links. Boosting the page rank of other pages linking to your site can help dramatically improve rankings, in my experience. Web 2.0 sites are great buffer sites to blast with a lot of contextual stuff. Find someone that is really good with automated software like GSA, and blast the hell out of social media post, profiles, and stuff like Web 2.0s.
Create other properties which target more niche segments odd your market and use them to add a lot of context to your website. If you've got the budget, you could buy existing sites that rank ok for keywords of interest and then optimize them to support your site.
For 12k/mo. you should be able to do some damage, though some higher competition segments might take some really creative thinking.
A side thought, developing entertaining tangential projects is a great way to get powerful editorial links to improve overall domain authority. Things like interactive market data or other wild anakytical presentations kill it when trying to get natural backlinks from major websites. A good ruke if thumb; seek to create data somehow and find a fun way to present it.
What do your in-house resources look like?
thx for the points!
Depending on the size of the industry/vertical you're in $16k/mo is enough to make some big moves. I would run a waterfall budget where up front you invest heavily in cornerstone/evergreen/TOFU assets for the site itself, and do so with a process that allocates time and resource to run surveys and data collection across your target audience.
From there, get your on-site content in order so you have targets to point links at as you move into the next phases of the marketing strategy which would be off-site content and then running link building campaigns.
Unlike some of the answers here I personally track total number of keyword rankings at the site level as a leading Key Performance Indicator (KPI). This helps you gather data on what's actually sending conversions / creating qualified visits for the site and then you are in a position to make more educated decisions about where to allocate additional resources to push rankings onto page 1 and then up through the ranks. I prefer this approach over assuming I know what the best keywords will be and only focusing on getting top rankings for those terms opposed to building a more comprehensive keyword footprint.
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