SEO Budget: How To Manage Your SEO Budget In 2024


There’s a lot of questions and doubts floating around the SEO industry right now… 

More than I’ve seen in quite some time, there’s a lot of panicking over the latest rollout of AI Overviews and the last few months of Google Updates. I get it. The chaos is real.

Let’s do a quick rundown on some of the latest changes: 

— Nine updates occurred in the SERP in 2023
— The “Helpful Content Update” shook the industry
— The Search Generative Engine launch
— Conversation UX in the SERP experience
— Obvious AI-generated content de-indexed
— Penalties given to bad actors in SEO
— Coupon pages de-indexed by Google
— The March 2024 Core Update aiming to reduce spam
— Reddit, LinkedIn and Quora start to show more in the SERP
— Google launches AI Overviews

It’s no wonder the industry feels like chaos.

These are changes that have occurred in the last 24 months. 

All that said: The industry has changed.

The SERPs have changed, and the ways brands allocate budgets have also changed. In this email, I’m going to break down how the best brands should be thinking about budget allocation for SEO. To keep this straightforward, I’ll use a $1 million budget for this exercise. I’m going to take the same experience that I’ve used as a lead strategist and SEO for some of the top brands in the world and apply it to the “general market” — I’m not saying this is exactly how every brand should allocate budget for SEO, but this break down is my attempt at a general run down on how I’d do it today.

Keep in mind:

This would have looked a lot different just 24 months ago…
I’m creating this with the assumption that it’s for a B2B brand…
I’m assuming that the brand is not a tier a brand already crushing SEO…
I’m assuming that there’s additional budget for hiring your full time team…

And with the rise of AI, Generative Engine Optimization, the SERP chaos described above, and some trends that I’m seeing — here’s how I would build out a million-dollar annual SEO budget:

  • $250k for written content creation 
  • $250k for video content (YouTube)
  • $200k for backlinks and distribution
  • $100k for strategy, PM and research
  • $50k for SEO tools, data and analytics
  • $50k for technical updates
  • $50k for content debt updates

Why would I allocate the budget this way? Here’s a rundown on my thoughts: 

$250,000 for Written Content

The internet still runs on the back of the written word.

It’s key for any brand to still have a foundational level of content for their site to rank for highly valuable keywords.

This part of the budget is intended to do two things:

  1. Lay the foundation for conversion / high-value content, and
  2. Develop rich content that is worth linking to and builds brand rapport

As a starting point, I would create some of the landing pages that I believe are a must-have for any B2B brand today. These pages include comparison pages, migration pages or solution pages — the types of landing pages that target the bottom of the funnel and tend to bring in the money. These pages are not just for SEO purposes as they can be passed off to your PPC team to leverage as well. 

Once these pages are created, it’s time to start building blog posts that are going to:

  1. Contribute to our brand’s topic authority, and
  2. Attract high-value links from third parties

I’d split my budget 50/50 between topic-driven content and high-value proprietary research assets for this work.

$250,000 for Video Content

The world of SEO loves written content, but a lot of customers prefer video. 

There’s a reason why more people have watched the Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter movies than the number of people who have read the books. People love video. It’s also why YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. So if I’m a brand looking to scale my organic traffic and reach — video content is definitely going to be playing a key role in the marketing mix. 

The way I use the video content budget might surprise some people.

All of this money isn’t going directly into video creation of net-new assets.

I would be allocating this budget to a few different things:

  • Videos developed via content repurposing
  • Net new product-related videos
  • Short-form content creation
  • Ongoing YouTube optimization

$200k for backlinks & distribution

What’s the point of having all this great content if no one finds it? 

This is where my investment in distribution will come in. I’ve called out “backlinks” specifically because I feel like a lot of brands underestimate the power of getting these. If you’re not buying spammy links on Fiverr and are instead creating content worth linking to, backlinks can be a huge signal to Google, the market, and customers that you know what you’re talking about on certain topics. 

Allocating budget to both backlink acquisition and content distribution will ensure that the research-driven pieces we create and video assets we develop get the best bang for their buck. 

$100k for strategy, PM and research

The strategy process is necessary to establish clarity on what needs to be done. It’s one thing to suggest you go after a certain batch of keywords, and another to actually understand the brand’s overarching goals for the year and build a plan to support those. 

We need to start with a strategic exercise. 

It doesn’t need to take three months. 

But starting the process by understanding the customer’s pain points, the GTM function at large, sales challenges, sales opportunities, target customers, keyword research and more — we will set ourselves up for success with all the things already talked about.

Once the strategy work is done up front, we document it, set targets, establish clear direction for the team, and divide up responsibilities. As we go into execution, PMs are involved to ensure that no balls get dropped between departments or partners. We are also going to conduct monthly research that is going to help us ensure that we’re moving in the right direction. 

$50k for SEO tools, data and analytics

I know a lot of SEOs are going to hate me for this one, but hear me out: 

I’m hiring my reporting and analytics full-time. It’s either my head of marketing or the next person down who is going to own the reporting efforts. This is mostly just going to be the budget allocated to tools, with a portion of the budget going to an audit or two from a third party over the course of the year just to gut check our direction and ensure we’re on track. 

$50k for technical updates

I’m working under the assumption that the brand has great technical infrastructure in place. 

I know — in most organizations, this isn’t the case, but if we went with the reality of technical issues then the vast majority of our make-believe budget would be gone. 

$50k for content debt updates

I’m assuming here that we don’t have a ton of content on the site. As such, we’re not going to have to do a ton of heavy lifting on content debt updates. If you’re an enterprise brand with over 500 pages, this will be way too little for managing content debt, and you should likely be investing anywhere from $20-$50k a month cleaning up your old content for SEO and CRO. 

And that’s the budget. 

What do you think? Would this approach win?

Curious to get your thoughts.