At this point, I hope we can assume you know what SEO is and how it works. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Its goal is to make your website as appealing to Google as possible. This can be done through various methods such as content, backlinking, speeding up the website, and more.
Why Does SEO Matter?
SEO is a driving force for Google and other search engine results. More people than ever are typing in their questions, comments, and concerns into Google looking for answers.
Those questions can have buyer intent behind them. For example, let's say a person is searching for something like, "Should I power wash my house?" If they are met with an article on google titled "Should I Power Wash My House or Hire A Professional," they may learn the pros and cons of power washing their home.
That searcher may want to power wash their home, but if they don't think they can do it themselves, they may want to hire a professional company for it. This is important because not all searches are looking for a local pressure washing company, but they may be business owners looking to either hire or do research. They, too, have buyer intent. The main difference here is that the amount of money they can spend is usually significantly higher.
When you rank number 1 on Google, the number of clicks you can earn to your website can be substantial. In a world where numbers are one of the most important metrics, if you convert 1% of the visitors to your website into customers, you know you need to get more people to your website in order to get more customers. Now, this is a drastically oversimplified description of how it works, but in theory, it is accurate.
People trust Google sometimes more than they should. Google is a zero-sum program, meaning it will do its absolute best to give you the right answer. If it doesn't have the right answer, it will give you something that may help.
SEO agencies understand how potential buyers think and what they will type into Google. When working with a company, they will help those businesses show up on search results ranking higher than competitors, thus driving more organic traffic and potential sales to a company.
What Is Involved With SEO?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on the internet describing what is involved in SEO. Typically SEO is broken down into two main parts: On-page and Off-page SEO.
On page is everything that you can do on your website to optimize it for the Google algorithm. Off-page, just like the name suggests, is everything you can do outside of your website.
Can you do things off your website?
Think of it like this: On-page SEO is like your own self-improvement from eating healthy and going to the gym. It's taking care of all the important aspects of the website to give it the best health and chance of success possible.
Off-page is doing everything you can to get people to like you. That could be contributing to your local library as an expert, or maybe to a local publication to help others and to prove your credibility. This relates directly to your website.
On-page is taking care of important self-improvement tasks, and Off-page helps you build credibility on the internet. Both of these are critically important to your SEO strategy and will help develop your online presence.
Why Do I Need to Pay For SEO?
The simple answer is that you don't. Performing SEO on your website isn't something you need to hire an SEO agency for, and there are tons of resources online to help you. If you want it done right and to save time, you may consider hiring an SEO agency.
Like many things, you don't have to pay to have someone else do the work. Tools like SEMRush, AHREFS, or UberSuggest can tell you exactly what you need to fix. The question then becomes, are you doing it right?
More often than not, people try to do SEO on their own. This usually results in 1 of 3 things.
1. They fail horribly or make things worse because they didn't dedicate hundreds of hours to learn how to do it correctly.
2. They make some improvements but don't get the results they want. There is only a slight increase in traffic they see on Google Analytics.
3. They understand the basic concepts, write crazy good content in low competition niches, rank #1 for hundreds of keyword searches and drive tons of organic traffic to their website.
Think of SEO as more of a practice rather than something you simply need to "just do."
Many SEO companies hire SEO experts to help their clients succeed. This not only gives the SEO company the ability to fix your website but allows the team to bounce around ideas and other possible solutions. There is and always will be a proven strategy that works, but many times there are more challenges than you might think.
If you're in a competitive field, it can be significantly harder to show up in organic search than in a low competition field. For example, this article is being written, but the topic of SEO is extremely competitive because all the other SEO experts and SEO agencies understand the importance of creating content. On the other hand, if you were to write about how to grow mushrooms in your backyard, there would be significantly less competition. There are fewer people doing it and even fewer creating content on it.
So, no, you don't need to pay for SEO. However, if you're unsure about how to do it and don't have the time to invest in learning, it is best to hire an SEO agency to help build your online presence and rank in search results.
Why Is SEO So Expensive?
SEO isn't something you can learn overnight. You can learn the basics in a couple of hours, but like many subjects, the amount you can learn is nearly limitless. Every time you go poking around the corner, a new subject is there to be learned.
There are three main factors that drive up the price of SEO, and each one impacts the cost of hiring something differently.
1: The competition.
Believe it or not, your industry will determine the cost of how much SEO is going to cost. For most industries, there is plenty of competition, but oddly enough, there isn't that much on Google.
If you were to compare website design companies to ground soil testing in North Carolina, there would be some major differences. "Web design companies" is an extremely competitive keyword search, and with so much competition, it's going to be extremely hard to rank. In contrast, ground soil testing in North Carolina is going to have significantly fewer competitors. This is because there are fewer ground testing facilities in North Carolina, and most of them aren't ranking or trying to rank on Google for that keyword.
The exact opposite is happening with the term "website design agencies." Business owners of these agencies understand if someone is searching for that keyword, they want a website and the ability to work with anyone around the world. Because of this, there is a lot of competition for that keyword which makes it harder to rank for. This can increase the amount of content, backlinks, and optimization needed to rank on Google.
2: Level of expertise in the subject matter.
Seo isn't easy. Some of the most successful SEO experts on the internet have been studying and practicing SEO for many years. Many of them have over five years of experience in just one niche, and that doesn't include their previous experience in areas around that field, such as web design and user experience. Just like amazing doctors can charge extremely high fees for their years of experience and outstanding skills, so can SEO experts.
Many SEO consultants' starting hourly rates are around $100 per hour and work their way up to $1000+ per hour. If you want the best of the best, chances are good you'll be spending on the higher end of the hourly rates. There is an incredible amount to learn in this field, and with Google constantly making updates to their algorithm. You have to be willing to learn constantly.
3: Cost of content and links.
After your website is optimized to the best of its ability, there are two areas that need to be focused on: content creation and link building.
Content creation consists of blog posts, YouTube videos, and even podcasts. These can be posted on your website to help drive more traffic to the website. Link building is important to help drive credibility to your website and increase Domain Authority. This is how much trust Google has in your website.
An SEO agency may hire a writer, depending on the field, for anywhere between 4 cents to 25 cents per word for articles. That doesn't include the markup, editing, and optimizing when they get the content in their hands. Adding in these additional factors can increase the cost between 50-100% or more depending on the agency. That means if they are buying content for 10 cents per word from a writer after they are done, it can cost you as the consumer between 15 cents and 20 cents per word. That means a 1000 word article will cost between $150-$200.
Each of these three variables plays a massive part in the cost of SEO. Something else to think about is that every website has words on it. Larger websites with more words have more opportunities to rank on Google. This doesn't mean they will rank higher, but they have the opportunity for more words to show up in the search algorithms. If you're just starting out or even if you're an established company, it's important to analyze the competition.
SEO Takes Time
Although this doesn't impact the cost of SEO prices, it's important to mention that SEO is a marathon. Most companies aren't willing to take on the huge upfront cost of outranking their competitors, and even if they are and want to make a "sprint," it's still a slow process.
Most business owners can see results for their SEO efforts in 6-12 months. This is backed by data showing most blog articles take an average of 35 weeks to rank on Google, and most website updates will typically show results on Google in 2-3 months.
You can't treat SEO like planting a garden and then never touching it. Just because you planted the seeds, gave it fertilizer, and plenty of sun doesn't mean it's going to continue to grow. Your SEO plans need to include a regular posting process of high-quality content and backlink development. Understand this is something you are going to adopt and work on for years to come. The results will follow.
No one gets skinny by going to the gym once or even for a couple of weeks. It takes repetition and work to consistently go to the gym. The results will not only appear but last for years to come.
SEO Takes Research
Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, more research may need to take place. Everyone wants to show up on Google for the "hot" or "trendy" keywords, but chances are those are already dominated by competition.
If you're just getting into SEO, it's important to identify low-competition keywords that your potential customers are searching for. These keywords need to have a healthy amount of search volume and search traffic, but not enough to catch the eyes of the big players. Following this methodology can help increase visibility in search engines and allow you to begin ranking. An effective SEO campaign will have a good mix of low and mid-competition keywords to help you rank online.
This factor alone will contribute to the cost of professional SEO services because it's a time-consuming process. Identifying the right target keywords usually takes between 2 to 3 hours of work. This needs to be done before content can be made and link building can begin.
SEO Takes Expertise
As stated before, SEO is a highly skilled job. It's something that takes years to master, and the landscape is changing all the time. The Techniques that worked 10 or 15 years ago no longer work today and are even banned by Google's terms of service. As a result, it's important to understand when you're hiring an SEO expert that they are not only working on client projects, but a small amount of their time is spent learning and staying up to date with what's going on in the industry. This helps them broaden their knowledge of SEO and understand and develop new strategies for identifying relevant keywords to plan for better search engine visibility.
SEO Requires Work Maintenance
Like many things, SEO takes time. During that time, the digital landscape is changing, and so are your SEO rankings. Because of this, new discoveries, rules, regulations, and best practices change as time goes by. For some, they may rarely change while others are constantly being updated. Therefore, it is important to understand that your old content still needs to be updated to be relevant for searchers on Google.
An end-user who types in a query and hits the "search" button is hoping to get up-to-date and accurate information. If your content, new or old, fails to meet the mark, Google will begin to lower your rankings. This results in less search engine visibility and will drop the quality of traffic to your website. Either way, it's bad. Keeping content fresh, new, and updated e is important for search engines.
How Expensive is an SEO Campaign?
For most people, an SEO campaign can range between $1,500-$10,000 per month, with the median falling around $3,500.
This range is so massive because competition per industry changes drastically, and the more difficult the keywords are, the more work that needs to be done with them. This can vary tremendously based on your business goals and how valuable clients are. For some companies that have a low turnover of clients, their lifetime customer value can be significantly higher. For others, it's turn & burn. With repeating customers are far and few between.
Not all SEO agencies have transparent pricing, and in many cases, the packages and solutions they offer are tailored to your specific needs.
Cheap SEO vs. Expensive SEO
In many cases, you get what you pay for. Most companies that offer "SEO" don't actually do SEO. They have no idea how to offer it, how to sell it, or how to show results. High-end and proven SEO experts can demand top dollar, and even beginner SEO practitioners can earn enough to make a good living.
Typically, when you get a higher-end SEO expert, there are a few things you should see. They will have an idea of where your company is and where it needs to be. They will also have an idea of what your search presence looks like and will perform a link audit to see where you currently sit. After that, there should be a clear roadmap of what will be done month-to-month and the results you can expect along the way. They also understand your business goals, can paint a picture of what the future will look like, and develop a long-term plan to follow.
SEO Costs in Perspective
Most people look at SEO as being expensive, and they would be right. There is something business owners need to take into consideration when looking at SEO pricing - the lifetime value of their customers. Let's say I can help client X get an additional two customers per month, and that customer is worth $100,000 per year to the company. Is the $5,000 SEO campaign all that expensive? Two new customers per month spending on average $100,000 per year is a lot of money.
Take a look at this chart. This shows an SEO agency that brings in two new clients who spend an average of $8,000 per month and usually stay with the company for a year.
Overall that's a sizeable amount of money the company makes, even if their margins are only 20% profit.
Navigating SEO - How Do I Find SEO for the Right Price?
If you aren't sure how much you should spend on SEO, don't be alarmed. You're in the same boat as millions of companies worldwide. The first thing to do is start googling the keywords that you want to show up for and visit those competitors' websites. If you want to show up for the keyword "promotional products," type it into google and visit the top five or ten websites that appear. Look at the pages on the website.
- Is the content in-depth?
- Do they have a thorough and robust website?
- Are they constantly adding new blogs to their website and keeping the content up-to-date and fresh?
If you start to go through their website and realize the top competitors have amazing websites loaded with information, it may make sense to start looking for alternative keywords that you can rank for. Don't worry; this is completely normal.
If this is something you are starting to see and you are keen on ranking for the keywords you have picked, be prepared to pay a little more.
SEO Plans & How SEO Agencies Charge
When it comes to SEO pricing, there are three common structures you need to know about.
First: Performance SEO
Now, this SEO pricing structure relies on a dynamic pricing model, which means you pay more for the rankings you get. While this may sound appealing, it's too easy to manipulate.
Agencies can rank you number one for keywords that no one is searching for and charge you $1000s. Think of it this way, what value is there in ranking number one if no one is searching for your business?
Second: Hourly SEO
The average rate of an hourly SEO professional is between $80 and $200. But here's the thing, SEO takes time to see results. So while hourly SEO may sound appealing, the cost can quickly add up, ballooning to hundreds, even thousands more than you budgeted for each month.
Third: Monthly SEO
The average cost of monthly SEO is between $1000-$10,000. This is the most popular pricing model when it comes to SEO. This way, your SEO agency isn't limited by time and can focus on getting your results and ROI. Best of all is accountability. Your SEO agency can't say they didn't have enough time to deliver the results they promised.
There are four factors that you need to take into account to find out how much to pay for SEO.
- The number of keywords you wish to rank for.
- Your current rankings for those keywords.
- The level of competition for those keywords.
- The amount of work required to move you from where you are to where you need to go.
Now, it's tough to know exactly how much you should spend on SEO without knowing everything about your business. But an introductory offer of around $1000 per month is a great place to start.
Don't think you have to start spending $2000, $3000, or even $4000 per month to see results. Start small and scale up if it works for you. At the same time, anything around $500 per month is likely to do you more harm than good. Cheap SEO companies can deploy black hat techniques that may work in the short term but can be detrimental to your business in the long term. It's a bad habit to get into, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Here at Growth Generators, we love to work with small to mid-size clients, with many of them spending around $3,500 per month. This gives us the flexibility to create great content, develop strong backlinks, and help drive conversions from visitors to leads. The SEO cost can vary by company depending on how difficult it is to rank for certain keywords. It can be confusing, but we are here to help. We offer a free one on one consultation to help give you a snapshot of where your company is and to find out if SEO services are a good option for you.
Remember, SEO is an investment, not a cost. Don't fall into the common SEO traps.
February 27, 2022
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