One Month With $3,000 In SEO Budget For A Local Business

There are few things more frustrating for a marketer who specializes in SEO than a client or business owner who wants instant results on a shoestring budget.

After all, SEO is a long game.

It requires patience and strategy.

However, this scenario happens all the time.

So, as marketers, we have to know how to adapt and get good results quickly and on a shoestring budget, especially if a client or our boss gives us one chance to prove our worth.

Achieving good SEO – no, great SEO – is certainly possible in a short period of time. I did it. My team did it.

The key is knowing which SEO tasks to prioritize.

To illustrate my point, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite virtual client, Voltage: The Salon.

This salon wants to market Millennial and Gen Z products by offering high-end, upscale services.

Planning for one month initial SEO budget of $3,000 AUD

This salon wanted to work with me because it’s new.

They are not currently rated well [salon near me] or any other relevant keywords.

They also don’t have a list of Google Business profiles.

We really are starting from scratch.

$3,000 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s squarely in the $1,000 to $5,000 range identified as the most popular average budget in SEJ’s State of SEO report.

This is what 26.8% of respondents said they work with; Another 23% are asking for $500-$1000 per month results only.

Back to the salon: Their business goal is to get more clients and increase revenue.

To do this, they need more conversions, which they measure in two ways:

  • phone calls.
  • and appointments booked on their site.

They decided that the way to do this was to “show on Google”.

I convinced them that SEO is the best way to rank well on Google in the long run.

They gave me $3,000 and a one-month trial period.

At the end of that month, we’ll see where the website is and decide how to proceed.

You know as well as I do, I better be able to show results or they’re not going to put another $3,000 into SEO next month.

Key details

  • industry: Gamal.
  • Business: a hairdressing salon.
  • Monthly search engine optimization budget: 3000 Dollars.
  • My wages are by the hour: $100 dollars.
  • Total allocated hours: 30.
  • timetable: 1 month.
  • Location: Kansas City Metro.
  • KPI: Increase calls or appointments booked using the form on their website.

SEO week by week

The best SEO work often begins with a technical audit, especially in such cases where it is a brand new post.

We don’t know the history of the site and need to uncover any potential issues that could sabotage our best SEO efforts.

the first week

If you are short on money and time, don’t use what little you have trying to improve a website that is not performing well due to technical errors. That would be a waste.

A technically sound website provides a solid foundation for excellent SEO results in the future.

With that in mind, I’m using my SEO tools to make a comprehensive technical overhaul of Voltage: The Salon’s website.

It only takes an hour or two to crawl this site because it is not very powerful.

After my SEO tool finished crawling the site, I revised my list of errors to find that it was longer than I expected.

I embarked on Prioritize the most important mistakes to address. I make a list.

We are now three hours down.

Next, I divide my list into bugs that are easy to fix in a short amount of time and ones that aren’t. Standard practice is to fix bugs marked as “critical” or “bug” first, so I start from there.

The most pressing errors I notice are:

  • Pages that do not pass the Mobile friendly site testing.
  • Several pages are blocked for indexing.
  • redirect loop.
  • Pages with very slow page load times.

I estimate that these fixes will take about five hours of work to process, and I intend to complete them this week.

Unfortunately, things did not turn out as I had hoped.

While I was fixing bugs, I had to do additional work adjusting server settings and digging into my hosting account to find the easiest and most sustainable areas to improve page speed.

Furthermore, some of the admin functions weren’t working as expected, which usually made quick edits devolve into research and troubleshooting.

The five hours I expected to spend fixing these bugs turned into seven.

That leaves me with about 20 hours for the rest of the month.

  • Hours used this week: 10.
  • Estimated amount of remaining hours: 20.

Two weeks

I fixed the technical bugs, but it took longer than I expected.

This set me back a bit, but it was necessary to set up the site for success.

Regardless, my priority for this week is setting up my client’s site on Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profiles.

I start with the low fruit and set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

I provide the sitemap and move on.

Next, Google Business Profile.

I put more time into this task because I understand its importance and I need to do some work to improve my “hair salon near me” and “best hair salon near me.”

This takes about an hour.

I thought ahead and asked the owner of Voltage: The Salon to claim their listing and now I need to make sure the information listed is correct.

This includes the NAP (name, address, phone number) and services provided by my client.

I’ll work on optimizing the Google listing after I complete some keyword and content research.

Creating these accounts takes about three hours.

  • Hours used this week: 4.
  • Estimated amount of remaining hours: 16.

the third week

To make the most of the time I have left, I’ll do keyword, competitor, and content research.

I devote a reasonable amount of time to each of these tasks but all in all, I hope you don’t spend more than 10 hours doing it.

We start with keyword research.

As expected, there is a fair amount of competition for this keyword, but the search volume for applicable keywords has been high.

I set out to determine which keywords are best for that specific site.

I put these keywords into my favorite SEO tool to track them and start competitor research.

I want to see what their competitors are ranking for and what kind of content they are producing, and to do that by doing a gap analysis.

As it turns out, well-rated salons in the area produce a fair amount of written content.

This comes down to my list of things I want my clients to work on in the future.

I was able to get back the hour I lost at the beginning of the month because this task only took me 9 hours to complete.

  • Hours used this week: 9.
  • Estimated amount of remaining hours: 7.

fourth week

This week is all about keyword optimization for which I want Voltage: The Salon to rank well.

I will do it with on and off page SEO.

I know content creation is a priority, but now I’m more concerned about poor site architecture optimization in general.

I’m fixing it in hopes of improving user experience, crawlability, and more.

Then, I optimize the page builder and image sizes to further improve site speed.

This takes about three hours to complete.

I add meta tags, titles and body copy that are specific and keyword focused on my lead generation pages.

Next, I index the pages I’ve worked on.

This also takes approximately three hours.

Finally, I spend about an hour adding content to this client’s GMB-list including photos, posts, and more.

At the end of the month, I check to see how the site is performing and generate a report detailing:

  • my results.
  • What the customer can expect to see in terms of future results.
  • And my recommendations for continuing your SEO work.

I did this on my own two cents as I saw it as an added value and also for my own benefit to show the opportunity for further work and partnership going forward.

My report details the amount of work I’ve done, in the same way I’ve done it here.

My goal is to communicate the value of what I did and showcase the foundation that was built for future SEO success.

My plan to continue with the SEO work is to enhance the content on the site, continue to target keywords related to user intent, and build a local search presence for that customer so that it ranks well both organically and in map packages.

  • Hours used this week: 7.
  • Estimated amount of remaining hours: 0.


My goal for the first month of this campaign was to lay the foundation for good SEO in the future and start the client down the path of ranking well for keywords related to their services.

Overall, you have accomplished this goal.

I solved the technical glitches, created the Google Business site, completed the necessary research, and started doing the on-page SEO work.

Voltage The salon website is now in a position to rank better in organic search results and to appear well among other map package listings.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, where your client expects the world on a shoestring budget, don’t panic.

SEO requires patience and planning, but you can get the results you want and your client expects if you can prioritize what’s most important.

More resources:

  • SEO Cost Calculator: How Much Should You Budget for SEO Services?
  • The state of SEO customer insights: budgets, traffic, and SEO tactics
  • SEO Strategy: Complete Outline (+Template)

Featured image: patpitchaya/Shutterstock

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