How Much Should You Be Paying For SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on improving your search results to get you found on search engines, in particular, Google. SEO practices increasing traffic to your site through organic results. However, the hope is that the traffic you are getting is quality leads that turn into customers. The important question many people tend to ask themselves is how much should I be paying for SEO?
The four main goals of SEO are:
- Improve rankings
- Drive traffic
- Increase awareness
- Create relationships
Living in a digital world has turned SEO into a necessity rather than an extra. There is less print, less cold calls, and more online interactions. With that being said SEO should be an expense that is included in your ongoing marketing budget. The question then becomes how much money should you be allocating to this initiative?
Answering the cost of SEO is quite difficult for a few reasons. Different agencies charge clients differently, and experience plays an important role in how they charge. Typically SEO marketing agencies work on an hourly rate. Thanks to a poll created by Moz we know that on average the rate for SEO work ranges anywhere from $75 to $175 based on experience. Hourly rates aren’t the only way agencies work. Some agencies agree to work on performance-based or on monthly retainers. If you employ an agency based on a monthly retainer the average monthly budget is between $1500 to $3000 again based on experience.
What we do know for sure is that the saying “you get what you pay for” still plays true in the matter of SEO. Those who are willing to do the work for an unusually low price should typically be avoided as to ensure your SEO isn’t done using black hat techniques. Black hat techniques are strategies that can land you on the bad side of Google and may result in penalties. These techniques that you should look out for and avoid involve:
- using unrelated keywords
- gateway pages
- spam blogs
- duplicate content
- hidden text
- page swapping
- link farms
- domain squatting
- cookie stuffing
- and more
All frowned up by Google.
When allocating your SEO budget talking to a specialist will help you to better understand what your costs will look like. An agency will look thoroughly into your site and determine a plan of action. Factors that determine cost are:
- where your site is currently in terms of design and SEO optimization. what is your current situation?
- where you want to be: what are your goals here? Traffic, revenue, ranking.
- how much time you have. How fast do you want to improve and reach those goals?
- If you are looking for long-term strategies or short-term
All of these can affect the cost. How many hours is the expert going to need to get you to where you want to be and over how much time do they have to do that. SEO results take time and don’t happen overnight. It will take up to 4 months to see any results of SEO work.
If you are willing to accept a longer frame of work you can split up the cost over a longer period of time and assign a smaller monthly budget. However if your site needs a lot of work and has been minimally optimized for SEO thus far and you want to get everything done in a shorter period of time and then halt your SEO efforts you will be looking at a higher cost due to the amount of work the SEO expert will have to complete in much less time.
Although we are aware that some people only maintain an SEO budget for a few months we do not suggest that you stop working on SEO altogether. Over time if you no longer work on your SEO techniques and remain up to date with the trends you results will wither, rankings will drop, traffic will start to decrease, and new customers will stop coming in from your site. We highly suggest that, if you are considering SEO for your marketing budget, you plan to keep it as an ongoing strategy.
As a general rule data provided by SBA, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between 1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business(campaigns, advertising, events, etc.).
Let’s take a quick look at the survey done by Moz that we mentioned earlier. The survey question was:
For those clients, your service with ongoing/multi-month contracts, what is the average client’s monthly billing?
Results were as follows:
- 10% — less than $500
- 27% — $500-1,000
- 29% — $1,000-2,500
- 20% — $2,500-5,000
- 15% — $5,000-10,000
This survey wasn’t focused on specific business type or size and results are all relative, so we can assume that those who are paying less than $500 are small businesses. The level of difficulty of the project at hand and the scope of work play a role into these costs so be aware of the level of work that you are putting on the table for the SEO expert to tackle.
In conclusion, there is no set price for SEO so unfortunately, you will need to determine for yourself how much your business can afford and how much work needs to be done. Also, take into consideration competition for your industry. A highly competitive industry will take longer to rank above top competitors in so it will take some extra time and work.
So before setting a budget for SEO take the time to review your current standing, your goals, your competition, and your timeline. Then you can take the next step and get quotes from agencies based on the level of expertise and experience which suits your expectations. After speaking with an SEO expert you will have a better understanding of how much you need to set aside for these marketing efforts.
Miami, Florida Based SEO Experts.