5 Reasons You’ll Need to Increase Your SEO Budget in 2014

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With the recent turmoil with search engines and rankings, many are wondering about how much they should ask for their SEO budget in the coming year. Luckily, even with Google’s changes, SEO continues to yield a great return on investment. This article will give you 5 reasons why it is in your best interests to increase your SEO budget for 2014.

1. Gaming the System with Cheap Backlinks Will Get You Busted

Google has made it clear that they will not tolerate sites that try to “game the system”. They’ve made great strides over the past couple years to reduce many of the cheap methods that website owners often use to create backlinks. Tactics like article spinning, excessive social bookmarks, paid links, duplicate content, and keyword stuffing are no longer acceptable in Google’s eyes. For more outdated tactics as well as what works now, see “Still Relying on Old SEO Tricks? Here’s What Works Now.”

2. Recovering from Google Penguin is Expensive

Many websites have been able to recover from a drop in the SERPs due to Penguin. However, recovering is expensive. Typically, a full SEO link profile audit is needed to identify the problems and craft a path for recovery.

Even if your website has not been hit by an unnatural link warning within Google Webmaster Tools, it’s still a good idea to perform a link profile audit to identify any potential links which could cause future trouble. Preventing the problem is often cheaper than fixing it.

The lack of sufficient inbound link diversification (in terms of anchor text, domain diversity, and content type) became a real problem when Google’s Penguin algorithm was launched. Low-quality or manipulative (ie, unnaturally obtained) inbound links also pose a significant risk. A proper link profile audit will tell you if your backlinks are likely to result in a rankings drop.

3. The Right Kind of Content Marketing Isn’t Cheap

Not long ago, you could publish a couple 500-word blog posts per week and gain measurable traffic and authority with Google. While short articles do still have value, there’s definitely a trend within Google toward favoring longer content.

In the future, I expect that articles will need to be a minimum of 1,000 words in length to rank well in Google, and better yet if they’re over 2,000 words. Google’s new in-depth article section is a good indicator of where things are going. According to Google, “Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic.”

Already, Google is providing a new section within the first page of its search results called “In-depth articles.” Take a look at the screenshot below, for my query on “censorship.”

google in-depth articles

4. You Will Need a Content Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing is the new SEO, according to Neil Patel. And frankly, I agree. Building your brand by publishing awesome, useful content that closely fits the needs of your target audience is what generates real brand signals that will get your content ranked in the search engines.

This is one reason why it’s critical for your SEO provider to also provide content marketing services. In 2014, content marketing will play an even more important role in building your brand through generating traffic, leads, and conversions. Without it, your SEO firm is likely to fall back into the low quality content trap where they simply try to make the content “unique” and not care about quality.

If you’re not using a firm to help execute your content marketing strategy, these articles will be helpful in putting together your own:

5. Outsource Your Social Media to Scale It Up

We believe that in 2014 social media signals will continue to exert a growing influence on search engine rankings. One thing for certain is that social media is definitely becoming more of a factor for driving traffic and building a successful brand.

Social media positively affects the bottom line in many ways. However, is it a good idea for you, the business owner, to spend a lot of your time doing social media? Probably not. Every minute you spend participating across multiple social media platforms means that you’re not focusing on the parts of your business that only you can do.  And as the business owner, that’s all you should be doing – otherwise, you’re not maximizing your valuable time. The simplest solution is to outsource social media management. This will allow you to scale it far beyond the time you could spend doing it yourself.

Choosing an SEO Firm

One big factor to consider when selecting an SEO firm is to make sure they have a proper long-term vision of your needs. SEO, when done correctly, incorporates a long-term vision with the proper mix and integration of strong content, social media, and inbound links.

Earning high-quality inbound links is far more important than it used to be, especially since the rollout of the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. This is probably the biggest reason why the cost of search engine optimization is likely to increase, and thus why your budget will need to increase. When you include the cost of properly scaling social media to meet your growing company’s needs, it’s likely to increase even further.

I hope you have a good understanding of why you’ll likely need to increase your SEO budget in 2014. There have been a lot of changes in the past few years, and many companies have suffered as a result. Working with an SEO professional can help clarify your goals and design a plan that will help you achieve those goals.

Photo courtesy of Tax Credits

Jayson DeMers
Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or... Read Full Bio
Jayson DeMers
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  • Great points Jayson. Given the news of this week regarding not provided, #6 might be additional funds and efforts to necessary to get access to the Google referral data that will be NOT PROVIDED

    With the retirement of the external keyword tool several weeks ago, now the acceleration of the complete masking of all organic Google search referral data, the job of an SEO will require new skills and tools. What was once free is going to accessible through paid subscriptions (funds) and excel gyrations (effort).

    Maybe a related post on 5 reasons why you need to increase your PPC budget in 2014:
    1. Organic referral data not provided, 2. Not provided, 3. Not provided, 4. Not provided, 5. Not provided 🙂

    • Agreed. PPC is no longer an option but will be a peripheral part of SEO.

  • Very true, content marketing is the new SEO. Moving from 500 to 1000+ word articles is an interesting idea. The problem (and question) we’re dealing with now is how to help clients get past the keyword-stuffing-link-spamming idea of SEO. Yeah, people still think that’s what SEO is. Yesterday I lost a client that agreed on a monthly pack of 400-600 word articles and simple daily social activity for $650. He wants all that done for $300. Says he can get a local kid do that for $10/hr.
    So how do we educate clients and marketing middle-men that cheap marketing is a business suicide? In a field where expertise is the key, we’re faced with a tough situation of price-fighting. How far do we go with discounts? When is “enough” if your livelihood depends on getting more clients?

    • Analytics and data modeling are big differentiations that companies can provide that the “local kid” can’t.

      SEO also includes ensuring good site architecture, user flow, meta information, and other parts in building and maintaining websites. It’s much more than keywords and link building. Take a look outside of that silo and you’ll start to find some solutions.

      Personally, I believe that the SEOs that move towards data modeling will prove more successful than the content marketers. They’ll have the data to back them up their decisions instead of throwing so much out and hoping that it’ll stick.

  • its to helpfull

  • Thank you very much for this great article. thanks again

  • What you’re saying is happening in the SEO industry Jayson is absolutely true. However, unless you’re a medium sized to big business, I don’t think the best solution is to pay more for SEO. I think for small businesses, we’ve reached the point where the time and money it takes to get results from SEO is no longer worth the return. My opinion and what I suggest to our small business clients is to just pay for the traffic and skip over this whole process of is the website on Google? And we get the client a guaranteed result. You’d be amazed how many times I talk to a small business owner who’s skeptical of marketing on Google and who has worked with 2-3 people doing SEO that didn’t produce didly squat in results. And then we do a little ppc to get them on Google the next day and the business owner thinks we’re geniuses and signs up. I think there’s a lot of people that do legitimate search engine optimization that know what they’re doing. But I also think there’s a lot of people that do seo that don’t know what they’re doing and there’s way, way more bad seo’s than good seo’s in my opinion. To sum up my post: small business owners are fed up paying someone to do seo and not getting any results.

  • A quality SEO strategy these days is about more than simply improving your websites visibility within the SERPS. It’s about brand building by connecting and engaging with your target market through as many channels as possible. It’s PR, social media and content marketing rolled into one.

  • david

    Hi Jayson.

    Nice piece, I have one question though, which social media platforms do you think companies with limited resource should focus on? Would you value Google Plus ahead of Facebook and twitter for example?

  • Strong believer in great content. Find it somewhat challenging to solicit the clients to contribute to the effort of getting good content.
    SEO has evolved in such a manner that not one thing is the cure all any more. Having said that some of the old tried and proven methods will prevail. Long hours and steady willingness to learn more as it all evolves.

  • Yes! This is great information and definitely some good thought starters. Whatever size business you have, create a list of what’s most important to you. Content is the new SEO, that’s absolutely true. Create good content and people will follow. What is it that is going to make someone stop and look at YOU?

  • yes, i think too

    i love the 4th one

    “You Will Need a Content Marketing Strategy”
    in depth articles really driving traffic these days