Insight into R&D Tax Credits for SEO Projects

Insight into R&D Tax Credits for SEO Projects
The software underpinning RDRelief was sold to one of the big-4 professional service firms in 2018. Consequently, the brand is no longer in operation.
  • R&D Tax Advisors are invited to find out more about the claim preparation software.
  • Otherwise, please feel free to continue to browse this website for useful information regarding claiming R&D Tax Credits in the UK. However, beware that none of the information has been updated since 2018.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engine organic results. Much of the work undertaken within SEO will be to apply standard techniques to a website to improve its presence, however, much of effort goes far beyond this through the development of completely new Technological knowledge as to inner workings of system to improve presence, or the creation of systems to help automatically improve websites for SEO purposes.

Eligibility Criteria

Main article: Eligibility Criteria
The types of projects that qualify for R&D Tax Credits have been specifically defined by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This briefing will help you determine the types of SEO projects that are eligible and what costs could qualify.

Technological Advance in SEO

The Scientific or Technological Advance must be relative to the current industry baseline within SEO. Hence it can't be that you are applying Technology for which there is already a publicly available reference. Likewise, it can't be a commercial, business or functional Advance - it strictly must be a Scientific or Technological Advance.
Where you are developing new SEO capabilities (new systems, functions etc) to be able to detect and improve SEO for clients and where you are developing new knowledge (above and beyond what is available within the public domain) as to how the Technology can be changed to improve performance, this can be a strong contender for R&D Tax credits.
However, where you are applying standard techniques, such as refactoring HTML/content and building links, this would not typically qualify as R&D

Technological Uncertainty in SEO

Companies may be seeking to develop new SEO analysis systems, in which case the Uncertainty could be related to how to design and develop the systems and underlying algorithms themselves (see more about general software development R&D).
Alternatively, for more direct SEO activities, the Uncertainty could be encountered in attempting to improve the performance of a Technology, so that response times can be reduced and search engines recognise the site with a higher rating.

Includable Activities

Unlike most tradition project timelines, an R&D Tax Credits project starts when work to resolve Uncertainty commences and ends when the Uncertainty is resolved or work otherwise ceases.
Any time spent on optimising client websites, by applying standard SEO industry knowledge and capability must be excluded from a claim. As soon as the pursuit of new SEO Technological knowledge (or capability) commences this would be the start of the R&D claim period.
You can then include all time spent overcoming the Uncertainty until the point that the Technological Uncertainty has been resolved.
Line management, production support, routine bug fixes, user documentation are examples of activities which are typically seen as not contributing to overcoming Technological Uncertainty are should be excluded from the claim.

Example of a Successful Claim

Here we will provide details of one of the R&D Tax Credit claims that the RD Relief experts have helped to support including the types of activities undertaken, the basis of eligibility and which costs were eligible and ultimately included in the claim.

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