One of the first questions people have when they look into SEO for their website is, “How much is this going to cost me?” It’s a fair question, since obviously you have a business to run and a budget to manage. At the end of the day, the best question to ask yourself isn’t how much you’re paying for SEO, but how much you’re investing into it. For most companies who invest in SEO, the expense is worth it: one study found that seventy two percent of business owners who used SEO felt that it improved their bottom line.
The next thing to consider is: what are you trying to accomplish with SEO? If your website isn’t getting any traffic, it might be because it’s not showing up in your target audience’s online searches. That’s where SEO comes in. Ninety-three percent of online experiences start with a search engine. An SEO expert’s job is to optimize your site so that search engines like Google recognize its quality and rank it higher in search results. You could have an awesome looking website, but if it doesn’t rank then no one will ever see it. If your goal is to gain more leads, SEO can help you get there, but you may have to spend a dollar to get two back, so to speak.
How Much Are Your Competitors Spending on SEO?
You might also want to think about what your competitors are spending. If your competitors are getting top rankings by investing in quality SEO, your company may want to take some cues from their strategy. If they’re spending $2,500 a month on SEO and PPC services, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the same results by going with an SEO company that’s only charging you $500 a month. You’ll have to determine how much you’ll need to spend to outrank your competitors and earn more business.
SEO Cost Varies By Market
Another question to ask yourself is: how competitive is your market? The larger and more competitive your market, the higher the cost of SEO services can be. That’s because you need to beat out more companies that are using the same keywords and vying for the same customers. If you’re an international company with a popular service, you should expect to be paying higher prices for more aggressive, in-depth marketing. But if you’re in a specialized service that limits you geographically--like landscaping in a small town--then you might be able to rank faster because there is a smaller pool of competitors to beat out.
In-house vs hiring an Agency
A lot of companies wonder about the cost of in-house marketing versus hiring an agency. Having a member of your staff do your SEO in-house might seem like a way to save money, but effective, well-done SEO takes time. If you do your own SEO, you’ll need to dedicate at least several hours a week to it, after all the initial education and background research. This costs your business time, money, and manpower--and your staff member probably isn’t an SEO specialist. An agency already has the education and experience to immediately start working on your site. Add in the fact that only eleven percent of marketers who do SEO in-house are satisfied with their performance, and you have a solid case for investing in an agency.
Hourly Rates vs. Monthly SEO contracts
Lastly, when combined with all the above factors, one of the things that’s going to seriously determine your SEO costs is your payment plan. According to marketing analytics company Moz, if a firm is charging you hourly for their services, on average you’ll pay anywhere from $76 to $200 per hour.
If you’re going by a month-to-month contract, the variance in cost is even greater. Small, geographically-limited businesses (like a one-doctor dental practice) may get by with a monthly retainer of about $500. However, prices this cheap usually lead to shady SEO tactics, so proceed with caution. For similarly-sized companies who want to target a larger population, they will likely need to pay $700 to $1500 to see results. And that may not be including other marketing materials like video production or web design. If you’re a regional, national, or international company, your SEO services will probably start at $2000 for niche markets for a very specific service. The more “mainstream” or common your service, the more you may need to spend in order to beat out competitors. Huge companies with a mainstream product or service should expect to pay $10,000+ for high-quality content and SEO services.
SEO is a long-term investment and when it comes down to it, you get what you pay for. A qualified and reputable SEO company will offer fair but competitive pricing for their services. And as we’ve said before, anyone who offers instant results at outlandishly low prices is suspicious. If you trust a shady company, you’re gambling the success of your business.