When it comes to online marketing, there’s very few words used more frequently (and wrongly) than SEO. Search engine optimization is by far one of the most effective methods of improving your brand’s online presence, authority and most importantly profits.
However, many business owners don’t have much faith in SEO. As the investments are decently large and it takes months to see results, they discard SEO as a waste of time and money. Today, we’ll show you some of the many benefits that SEO can bring for your business. So, how much does SEO cost? Let’s dig in!
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Where Are You Right Now?
If you were asked to teach English to someone, the first thing you’d want to know is how much they know at the moment, so you know what you are working with. It’s similar with SEO. Some businesses have the basics of SEO covered – a site that is decently optimized and some links pointing to it. Others have a site that’s been untouched for years, with thousands of product pages that are completely unoptimized, coupled with hundreds of bad links.
At the same time, there’s the competition. For example, you could be doing business in a highly competitive niche, such as selling domains. On the other hand, you may be in a very specific niche with low competition, such as selling RGB-colored vintage style socks. The difference can be vast in terms of the links you need to build, the amount of content you need to create, as well as the number of technical adaptations that need to be done to your website.
All of these factors will influence how much SEO work needs to be done and how much it will cost in the end.
What are Your Goals?
People get into SEO for different reasons and expectations. While some may just want to increase their website’s domain authority and build a few good links, others may want to rank #1 for a term such as „used cars England“. While the first one is fairly easy to do, the second one will take considerable investments in time and money. When it comes to setting (and reaching) goals, it’s best to talk to the company who does your SEO so that you can set realistic expectations. Speaking of which…
How Fast Do You Want It To Be Done?
Quality, cheap and fast – you can only choose two of the three at the same time. That’s the rule of thumb for many services, and the same goes for SEO. Many business owners think that there’s a magic formula for SEO and that SEOs know a secret algorithm for ranking on the first page that they will share if you pay them well enough.
In reality, SEO takes quite a lot of time to do right. As many experts have confirmed over the years, you can expect the full effects of SEO work to kick in months after you’ve started. What’s more, you cannot stop at this point, because SEO is ongoing work. Keyword trends change, Google’s algorithms change, your customers can choose a different product, etc.
With SEO services, there are two main ways that companies can charge you – by the hour or by the project. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you decide to pay by the hour, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $150 for one hour. The benefits of hourly payments include increased transparency, as you will always know where your money is going. Furthermore, you can always predict how much money you will spend on your SEO services. The downside of paying on an hourly model is that it will take longer to achieve significant results. As it sometimes takes months to rank for certain terms, you can end up paying huge amounts of money and get effects that are anything but impressive.
If you choose to pay by the project, you start off with a larger sum, usually going into thousands of dollars. The benefits of paying per project include paying all at once and not worrying that your SEO expert will clock hundreds of hours for work you won’t be able to see. Also, you will know exactly what you will be getting for the price you are paying.
As for the cons, paying per project can sometimes mean that you are getting overcharged. If the client has no idea about SEO, they won’t know what element of work takes which amount of money and they may pay thousands for hours of work. Finally, you also lose flexibility and you won’t be able to change any conditions, deadlines or steer your SEO campaign into another direction.
So, which should you go for? Unless you absolutely know what you want and know something about SEO services, getting billed by the hour is not for your business. If you’re new to SEO and you have no idea what to expect and want to safely predict how much you will spend, it’s best to be billed by the project.
Finally, there are monthly SEO retainer services, where you sign up and completely outsource all SEO. This may be the best option out of all, because you establish a partnership and you can always rely on an agency taking care of SEO on your behalf.
However, retainers have their drawbacks as well. Firstly, you are committing yourself long-term, as most companies will require you to sign up for at least 6 months. Additionally, you may also end ušp wasting your money, as it will take months for results to show up. Sometimes, your 6-month contract may expire before seeing any tangible results.
Therefore, you should only choose to be on a retainer model for SEO services if you completely trust the agency, and if you’ve had previous experience working on an hourly or project model.
Finally, there’s a model where you pay for performance. This may be the best model for those looking to make a safe investment, as you won’t end up wasting your money. However, this pricing model is fairly new and there’s not many SEO agencies offering it – seeing how unpredictable SEO can be.
You Get What You Pay For
Speaking of cost, if an SEO agency is telling you results that seem too good to be true, they usually are. There are no silver bullets in SEO, and anyone promising to get you position #1 for a given keyword in X amount of months is probably A) downright lying or B) has no clue what they are talking about.
Most SEO agencies that offer dirt cheap services base them on practices that are illegal to some extent. For example, private blog networks (PBNs) are a scheme where one entity owns several websites and exchanges links between them in order to get an artificial boost in one website’s domain authority.
While SEO agencies may think they’re smart, it’s kind of hard to outsmart Google. In fact, Google has been working on building better algorithms to combat problems like this one for years now. Practices like these are only short-term solutions and won’t stand the test of time. As Google’s algorithms get more sophisticated, it’s only a matter of time before links built this way come back and punish those paying for them.
So, why do people fall for these schemes? For the most part, it’s because they don’t know any better and they’re not familiar with the basics of SEO. After all, a link is a link, and you normally won’t question where it comes from.
The second reason is the cost. Agencies offering black-hat SEO services usually charge $20-50 per month. On the one hand, how could you say no to an offer such as this one? On the other hand, how could you expect any significant SEO or marketing results for the price of a few cups of coffee per month?
The Consequences of Bad SEO
If you pay very little for SEO services and get poor results in return, you probably won’t feel that bad. However, the effects of poor SEO go far beyond wasted money.
In the case that you build bad links (or someone does it on your behalf), the worst-case scenario is that you get caught by Google and manually penalized. Penalties like these are not uncommon and in the majority of cases, they happen because an SEO agency engages in black hat practices.
Manual penalties mean that your website can be completely blacklisted by Google and you won’t be able to rank, not only for your desired keyword – but for all keywords. In other words, you can say goodbye to showing up in organic search, until your penalty is removed.
The cost of bad SEO actually piles up pretty quickly. First, you end up paying for the poor service that got you into the penalty. Second, you lose enormous amounts of money by not showing up in search engine results because of a penalty. Finally, you have to pay a proper SEO expert to fix the mess and lift the penalty.
How Much do People Generally Pay for SEO?
In one of the most popular articles on the renowned MOZ blog, the former owner Rand Fishkin goes into a detailed analysis into what people pay for SEO and what agencies charge for SEO services.
The vast majority of agencies stated that their clients pay $1000-2500 monthly on SEO services (29%) followed by $500-1000 monthly (27%). By far, the least amount of money, less than $500 per month, has the smallest amount of clients, 10%. Surprisingly enough, 15% of clients paid between $5000 and $10000 per month on SEO services.
As you can see, there are vast differences in the amount that people pay for SEO. As the article states, the differences are based on the scope and difficulty on the project.
The Issue of Return on Investment
The real question should not be “How much does SEO cost“. Rather, it should be “What does SEO bring me?“. For many business owners, they mark off SEO as yet another money-draining practice that gets them nowhere.
However, the only proper way to look at SEO is as an investment. If you invest $500 in SEO services and end up having $1000 in revenue for that month – that’s $500 of pure profit. After all, it has been proven that organic traffic has the best return on investment in comparison to most traditional marketing tactics.
How Much Should You Spend?
In the end, how much should you as a business owner pay for SEO services? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Depending on the size of your business, your market, competition, desired results and what you envision as success, you will pay a certain amount of money.
Ultimately, you should sit down with an SEO expert and discuss your current situation and what you want to achieve. Remember, try to stay away from anyone promising a certain ranking in a given time period. Read some reviews and pick the best SEO experts around, so you can ensure that money spent on SEO is an investment and not money down the drain. Good luck!
Do you want to rest assured that you’re getting the best bang for your buck in terms of SEO? Our team of experts at ADSpirine knows the right tactics to boost your SEO results, whether you’re a small startup or a multinational corporation. Reach out to us today to find out how we can lift your SEO results!