Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important to any successful business and your company will just have to grin and bear the cost. In fact, I would say that most business owners simply underestimate just how important SEO is and for most businesses, it is an absolute necessity. Ignoring it means simply missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers online.
However, the real question is how much should it actually cost? With so many SEO companies out there and monthly retainer prices ranging from $500 to $20 000, it’s difficult to ascertain that you are getting what you pay for. Furthermore, as with many other things associated with the web, there are scams abundantly waiting for you to fall into their traps.
Consider what you are paying for
The first point to clarify when determining the true cost of your SEO is defining what exactly you are getting as part of the overall package. Good SEO providers should include website speed optimization through to comprehensive content research, split testing and technical SEO. Then you need to consider what an alternative marketing campaign might actually cost you.
Considering that a couple of years ago the average cost of SEO services was approximately $50 per hour, or a minimum monthly retainer of $500, a safe bet would be to look at now spending on average $2500 per month for a good service according to BMP, a Minneapolis SEO Company.
Consideration also needs to be put into the SEO provider’s reputation and whether or not they follow the rules and guidelines set out by large companies such as Google. It should make sense to even the un-savvy of business minds out there that you won’t be getting a legitimate and excellent service from a shady backdoor operator who claims they can give you the world for $50 per month. So, yes, beware of the tricksters.
Be clear on what your dollar should be buying you
The most common billing method these days is the monthly retainer fee over and above the hourly rate option. The fee should cover analytics, implementation and setup, keyword search, SEO audit, site speed optimization, link building and campaign tracking - even in the most basic of campaigns. So, if you break down the costs slightly and estimate between 2 and 4 hours for content research at $50 per hour ($200) and add SEO content development for $500, 3 hours for link prospecting ($150) and link outreaching at approximately 10 hours ($500), you can see that a decent campaign is going to cost you in the region of $1500 per month.
We also have to keep in mind that a huge portion of the SEO campaign will probably go into link building. Let's consider for a moment how a true white-hat link is built:
- Link Prospecting - Find potential websites that would link to your website.
- Outreach - You now have to reach out to these website owners, depending on how good the outreach is will determine the success rate at this stage.
- Content - Now whether you have a great piece of content on your website, or you are providing content as a guest post on the website you are trying to get a link from, both methods will cost time and money.
If you followed all of the above, you will probably have a total of 5% placement rate which means you will have to prospect 20 websites, contact 20 webmasters and write 1 piece of content good enough to earn a link from. I found that if you are doing this whole thing in-house, you are probably paying around £100 in time/wages to get a single backlink. This is excluding the fact that it is 2018 and most webmasters know the value of links, thus there is usually a publishing fee of $100-$300 charged on top of that.
The cost can be greatly reduced by outsourcing a portion of the link building process, but that comes with a few sacrifices including reduced placement rates due to poorer content and outreach.
So next time somebody offers you 100 backlinks for $5, you would have to ask yourself if this is really within the method described above, or is someone simply using a bot to spam your links on comments all over the web?
Securing a good SEO provider
Being prepared to spend a little more on quality, as mentioned earlier, is going to help you achieve your objectives far more effectively than opting for the quick fix back door man. Therefore, when choosing the ideal SEO provider, you should ensure that they work within, and implement Google guidelines. You want a dynamic company that is going to ensure that they boost your traffic and increase your rankings. Make sure that they have a proven track record in boosting company rankings and work for both large and small companies.
At the end of the day, its all about ROI, maybe not immediately as SEO is a long-term investment, but eventually. Let's consider, for example, an industry such as self-storage. According to the SSA report for 2017, the average customer stays at the facility for 10 months and has an average lifetime-value of £1200. If we take a city such as Manchester, which has over 2000 self-storage related search terms, we can estimate an average of 700 visitors per month to the website. That is provided the SEO can rank the website at the top for all those terms. At an average conversion rate of 5%, we can estimate an average of 35 bookings per month. Multiply that by 12 months and that is £504,000 of total revenue!
You can be far more modest with your estimates but the numbers will still be well into the positive ROI, and that's just for a year, whereas the effects of SEO would usually last for many more years. When we start looking at the numbers and the potential, we start to understand why companies have spent over $65 billion on SEO recently in 2016.
SEO agencies such as BadgerSEO and UK Web Geekz work internationally, they have a large portfolio of websites and online assets which certainly helps sell their services and should place them high up on your consideration list. They are a truly transparent company, working for both small and large companies and there are no false promises or shady tricks and we have partnered on projects many times with them.
Ultimately, employing such a company may cost you a bit more but then the results will be well worth it in the long run. Now that you have a better knowledge on how much and what you should be paying for SEO and know what you should be getting out of it, invest a little, reap a lot!