What is the best way to spend an initial budget of $1000 on SEO?


We recently launched an online quoting SaaS and are targeting some fairly competitive keywords (e.g. quoting software or quoting system). Because the domain is relatively new (~6 months), I know it will take a while for us to build up some authority in Google. We have a reasonable amount of experience in on-site optimization (link is in my profile if you're interested), but wanted to see what others recommend for off-site SEO. We are a startup and have set an initial 3 month budget of $1000 to get the ball rolling on the off-site SEO front. We are considering spending the money on:

  • Paid directories (e.g. Yahoo, Business.com, BOTW, others?)
  • Link building company
  • Targeted PPC (e.g. through getapp.com or capterra.com)

We are most interested in building up our organic rankings, as we see that as the most effective means for marketing our software.

  1. How can we get the most bang for buck with our initial $1K over 3 months?
  2. What free techniques can we use to build our organic rankings?

Marketing Bootstrapped Inbound Marketing SEO

asked Jun 10 '11 at 08:35
252 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Keep in mind, SEO is slow. About 60% of your initial efforts will pay of much later. What keywords are you trying to rank for and how much traffic do you need? – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • Thanks for your comment. I understand that SEO is a slow process... That said, everyone starts somewhere and we would like to give it an initial big push if we can. We are trying to rank well primarily for "quoting system" and "quoting software". We're starting to focus more on quoting system to start, since it's less competitive. As for how much traffic we need, we're most interested in traffic that converts into customers, not just volume. – Mike 13 years ago
  • I am not certain that "quoting software" will convert because it is an ambiguous term. I mean everything in the world has some quoting, but your product is likely more specific than that. Do you maybe need like "XYZ quoting software" - that will be waay easier to rank for as well. – Genadinik 13 years ago
  • We've been optimizing for terms such as "online quoting software" or "web-based quoting software", but they don't see a ton of search traffic. I do know where you're coming from, though. We're working on integrating with Salesforce and Highrise, so maybe trying to rank for thinks like "Salesforce quoting system" etc. will help grab more long tail search traffic. – Mike 13 years ago
  • Another consideration is to look at what problems your customers are trying to solve. Like "quoting errors" or something related. And try to write content that helps them fix those errors and also suggest that they sign up for your service. – Genadinik 13 years ago

4 Answers


$1,000 budget and a plan:

  1. Market Samurai - http://www.marketsamurai.com/ - $149
  2. Do a lot of keyword research
  3. Fine-tune 100-500 long-tail (3-4 word) variations
  4. Write a blog post about each variation (at least the important ones to start)
  5. Spend some money on istockphoto for pictures in your blog posts
  6. Build some links to it from external sites
  7. Try and hire someone to create something highly linkable or embeddable (think white paper, widget, infographic)

Basically after you can do keyword research: Poor all your money into content.

Long-tail is awesome. Read SEOmoz like a religion. Also, read HubSpot. If you had a bigger budget - I would tell you to do a couple things differently, but we did this where I work and I jumped from very few keywords to ranking number #1 for 200+ keyword variations in a year.

I don't work in a high linking area, but I would think a well designed infographic might get you a ton of links. Something like the average number of quotes vs sales. Number of mistakes made on a quote. Avg cost of a mistake etc. How long does it take for quotes to be seen...

Some examples

  1. http://blog.gist.com/2011/06/07/the-new-workstyle-leaving-the-old-behind/
  2. http://searchengineland.com/matt-cutts-webmaster-video-infographic-80290
  3. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/icloudcom-speculators-vs-cybersquatters-infographic/10270
answered Jun 10 '11 at 21:32
Chris Kluis
1,225 points
  • SEO is an art more than science. Beware the charlatans. Remember content & links are the bulk of what matter. – Chris Kluis 13 years ago
  • thanks for this, could you briefly state what you would do with a larger budget? – Nikolay Piryankov 13 years ago
  • Good advice for getting started with a minimal amount of money. Thanks. – Mike 13 years ago
  • I'm on vacation for a week. Email me your budget considerations and I'll give you some pointers when I get back. – Chris Kluis 13 years ago


I would not pay for any of those things you listed. Spend time learning SEO, and maybe go to a conference where you can get ideas for how to do this yourself.

SEOMoz or SEOBook might be the best resources who do some hand-holding.

I have gotten 2 sites to be in the top-10 for their main single-word keyword, and doing it with a 3rd one. All self-taught, and self-done. I wouldn't hire a link-building company to do this.

answered Jun 10 '11 at 08:43
1,821 points
  • DIY is great in theory, but for someone trying to focus their time on running a business, it doesn't always make sense. I've spent quite a bit of time learning SEO and on-site optimization, but to really be successful time needs to be spent building quality links. I don't think that's a valuable way to spend my time. – Mike 13 years ago


Everything I learnt about SEO I picked up off the net. There is a lot of information there that will not only save you money but ensure that you follow the steps to do the right thing and not get downgraded by the likes of Google for shady practises.

Another point of doing it this way is that should you wish to pay for SEO in the future then you will know how to tackle it and can direct your funds appropriately.

Get the basics right (on page) and then move onto off page, but start now. Don't delay. It takes time to do this and people promising to get you to the top of Google immediately are lying.

answered Jun 10 '11 at 11:52
Smart Company Software
1,190 points


There's a ton you can do. A company of mine is an expert in SEO and has provided SEO services to a number of higher profile cleints. There's a lot I can help you with. Some good advice has been provided above, but there's better ways.

Before doing this I have to ask you one key question: have you bought any google adwords ppc yet, to see if it brought in leads, and even further were you able to "close" these leads?

The most important thing you must do before spending your money on an SEO campaign is ensure that such a form of advertising will deliver an ROI. You can also get an idea of what your ROI will be. What if it costs $100 to get one lead? Would that be worth it? It might make you reconsider the entire endeavor.

Many times I also see companies who would benefit from PPC/SEO but whose website is not properly optimized as a landing page, meaning, they get the clicks but not the conversions. This means you need to tweak the page around, in particular your marketing messages and calls to action. Sadly a lot of these companies just blow off SEO/PPC as a "waste" rather than optimizing the problems on their landing pages.

The web is a funny place. Sometimes it takes a couple tweaks to a web page and all of a sudden the leads just start pouring in.

answered Jun 11 '11 at 13:59
31 points
  • We used to have a page on our company website for our product (with minimal info and no easy way to "sign up"). We set up a PPC campaign for about $100/mo. and found a few keywords that resulted in quality traffic (low bounce, high pages/visit, time on site). Since then, we've built a full website around the product (in my profile if you're interested) that is much more optimized to convert. We should probably explore the PPC route a bit further with our new site before we put too much time into SEO. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts/suggestions regarding our site/targeted keywords. – Mike 13 years ago
  • Hi Mike. Ok I took a look. The site looks great. I would definitely experiment with a small budget of PPC. My main concern is that the only way to try your product is by buying it. This breaks a key rule of many SaaS experts. The free trial will help you grow users fast and you need to consider it a marketing cost. For example, I actually thought I might try your product, but I dont want to put a credit card down. I just dont need the product that bad, but if I used it, I might find that its exactly what I need or better yet that I cant live without it. – Nfriend21 13 years ago
  • Thanks for your comments - you make some good points. We've given careful consideration to having a free trial but settled on going with a 30-day money back guarantee instead. Our theory is that if people are interested in the product and see the value, they won't mind giving a credit card, especially if they can get their first month back if it doesn't work for them. That said, we plan on trying this first and measuring the results, and may consider offering a free trial down the road to compare findings. – Mike 13 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Marketing Bootstrapped Inbound Marketing SEO