SEO or search engine optimization is necessary if you want to succeed online. Whether your goal is to gain more customers or improve your online presence, SEO will help your business. Do you know how much SEO costs or should cost? How do you know which ones are a scam or if you will see any return on investment? Use the guide below to know what to expect for the price of your program. Here’s how much SEO costs – for real!
How Much SEO Costs
You can expect a typical SEO program to range widely in price. Services offer parts and pieces of SEO all over the internet ranging from $5 one time fees to $10,000 per month. Sure, you can go on fiverr.com and spend $5 for 100 backlinks. Chances are you are going to get low quality, spammy backlinks that may end up causing a penalty on your site or getting you blacklisted on Google.
3 Levels To Search Engine Optimization:
- $100-$400/month Mediocre – Automated SEO
- $400-$800/month Decent – Weekly Reporting customized and limited SEO, local campaigns
- $800-$10,000/month Best & Holistic – Full Service Consulting & Training and website requests
On the other hand, you could hire a “SEO Expert” out of their home or a top company and they also do a poor job. If you’re paying $3,000-$5,000/month then you are more likely to get the best job and your expectations can be higher.
Mediocre SEO $100-$400 Monthly
This includes items like automated reporting where you see your website stats or analytics generated by a computer and sent directly to your email each week with a white label product. Typically, there are forms to fill out with your information. This could also include paying for low quality content or articles and doing an auto distribution across many low quality networks or new sources. It could also be automatic citation submission services such as Yext or DexKnows, usually low quality. It could be auto social media posts that are generic and ineffective or automatic adwords ads with low conversion rates.
Overall, very little impact on your SEO even if the quality is good, no matter how much SEO costs. Everything needs to work together to make your SEO effective. It’s like spending thousands of dollars on educating and training yourself in college for a job and then never applying anywhere.
Decent SEO $400-$800 Monthly
This is the cookie-cutter level. You will get SEO improvements and move up in the rankings but at a slower pace. Making specific requests for your business is limited and you own a smaller-scale business that wants to rank only locally. If you’ve ever received an automated message from a company claiming to be Google or to fill out your Google page, chances are it’s one of these SEO companies looking for new business. They sometimes include social media campaigns or Adwords. The budget is spread out thin and you may not see the results you want as a result. There are usually trying to up-charge for everything and you may not see the long term staying power of your rankings. Yellow Pages and Hibu SEO programs are examples of this.
Best & Holistic SEO $800-$10,000 Monthly
This is truly full service. There are a few options here: you could hire an in house team and receive consulting services from the SEO company or pay the SEO company in full to do everything for you or a combination of the two. Either way, you are getting a truly customized plan that will work specifically for your business. You can put in requests and ask questions along the way. Depending on the package, this can be the Rolls Royce of SEO and everything will be taken care of.
You could luck out and get a good SEO company just starting out that needs clients, therefore they are less expensive and can dedicate more personalized attention. On the other hand, large SEO firms may not have the consistency and personal care of smaller boutique firms in the same price range.
There is still no guarantee. If a keyword is highly competitive like “Best DUI Attorney” you still may not get to the top. But a good SEO company will find different ways to get you to your goal. For example, if your goal is to get more clients, then they may suggest to rank for a word that is just as effective in getting customers such as “Best DUI Lawyer in Lake County”. Less competition and easier to rank for, resulting in more customers. Trust your SEO company if you are paying them at this level. If you are paying more than $10,000/month for SEO chances are you are a large corporation with multiple locations or have an extremely aggressive SEO plan or goal. If you have any questions, please visit AwesomeDynamic.com for a free consultation!
Why Would Two SEO Companies with Good Reputations Vary in How Much SEO Costs?
If you asked two car dealerships how to sell a car, they would vary widely in their techniques even if they sold the same amount of cars each month. Even within one car dealership, two salespeople can have two completely different strategies.
The end result will be the same (as in getting on the first page of Google for keyword terms) just as a car being sold is the end result. You may just get there more slowly while taking the risk that Google’s algorithm may change any day or the customer may walk off the lot emptyhanded.
Here’s how the SEO journey varies:
- Number of keywords you want to rank for (ranking for five words is easier than ranking for 100 words)
- The area where you want to rank (How many miles your service/product can reach)
- The amount of competition for the keyword online (diamond rings can be shipped anywhere)
- The amount of competition in the area for the keyword (ex: pest control company can only travel so far)
- How aggressive each word is (ex: doing ten blogs per week on one keyword and posting 30 times on social media per week for one keyword and five landing pages per keyword)
- How much time is dedicated per month per term (ex: ranking for 1 term for 30 hours per month vs. ranking for one term for five hours per month will take longer)
- Order of SEO strategies (prioritizing backlinks vs. social media vs. adding new content)
- Pricing Structure - charging by job, monthly flat rate, retainer, six month contract, or hourly
- How many pages on your site
- How much work needs to be done (how bad of shape your site was in before)
- Special requests outside typical SEO program
What SEO Programs To Avoid
- Single Time Fees
- Lack of Transparency
- Guarantees & Promises
- Too Cheap or Too Expensive
One Time SEO Fees
Avoid any SEO companies that charge a one time fee. This is not real SEO and search engines are constantly changing and updating their algorithms. In reality, you’ll never actually be done with your SEO program because it continually needs to be managed and updated. Think of SEO as your advertising budget. You wouldn’t say “I’m going to spend $1,000 on advertising this year then I’m done advertising forever.” SEO is a continual process. There is a reason why Coca Cola is the #1 brand yet they have the largest advertising budget. Once you reach #1 on Google, you have to stay on page one.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If your SEO company is not transparent and dodges your e-mails and calls – well, it’s time to find a new agency. An SEO company should not “hide” anything from you. If you want to login to your website and change a spelling error, they should allow you to. If you want to see the backend of your Google Analytics stats for yourself then ask for it. If you want to know more details on your weekly or monthly SEO reports, they should be able to answer your specific questions.
Make sure to ask this every few months if your traffic is continuing on a downward trend: Why is my traffic getting lower and my contacts are going down on my website? What can we do to improve? What is the specific reason in numbers and data that this is happening?
Guarantees & Promises for Online Marketing
A good SEO company will not give you guaranteed results. Many agencies will “guarantee” a page one or #1 position on Google. There are a lot of black hat SEO tricks that can make this a half truth. A true SEO company will not guarantee results and they know that the industry and Google algorithms vary daily so there really is no guarantee. However, many SEO agencies will say that they will improve your current position and bring you to a much better ranking than where you started.
More aggressive SEO companies will also go as far as showing you improvement on increase in traffic, customer contacts, or sales conversion results. Real SEO companies will typically ask for you to stick with their program for 4-6 months to see any improvement at all. Unlike Adwords, this organic ranking results improvement will stick around in the long term and not disappear when you stop paying.
Low and Top End SEO Programs
It’s obvious to avoid low end SEO programs but avoiding top end SEO programs may also do you some good. For example, there are many boutique firms out there charging $3,000-$10,000/month but chances are you can go with a $3,000/month SEO firm and still get the same or similar results as the $10,000 firm. This is especially true if a company has different levels. Start a medium level then you can always ramp up your SEO once they have proven themselves after 3-4 months.
Common SEO Goals:
You may have a different goal than other companies. Make sure to voice what your online marketing goal is to your SEO company. Interview more than one SEO company before beginning work. Find out exactly what it is they do before committing. Here are some different types of SEO goals:
- Gain more customers
- More leads
- Increased phone calls/contacts
- Improved online reputation/more reviews
- Social goals: More followers/likes
- Higher sales
- Same amount of customers, but higher revenue customers
- Improvement in Analytics – site times, page load times, etc.
- Interpretation of Analytics and Knowledge for making business decisions
What Goes Into an SEO Program?
Regardless of the SEO program you choose, the following needs to be completed. The quality of these will vary based on the price you are paying and your involvement in your program. The more you pay, typically the better and faster results you will get but not always:
- Google My Business Page
- Online Reviews
- NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency
- Heavy Website Content and No Duplicate Content
- Optimized product/service pages with pictures and videos
- Social Media promotion
- Regular fresh content on site with blog or refreshing page content
- Technical updates and management
- Keeping up with new SEO trends and changes
- Individual Concerns Relating to your Industry