How Much Does SEO Cost?
How much does SEO cost? Well, after answering this question far too often I decided I wanted to write a post about how much SEO costs but whilst trying to do that, realised just how difficult that is (hence no blog post for a week). I kept coming to this article, trying to pin down some good price examples and ultimately, I hit a brick wall. So, I figured, let’s look at why it is so difficult to price up SEO and what the various factors are.
Hopefully, whilst this won’t give a general and definitive answer due to there being too many moving parts it will let you get a handle on what SEO would likely cost you.
SEO Pricing Study
A little earlier this year SEOMoz ran an SEO Pricing study which came back with some general figures regarding the hourly rates of SEO’s and some other relevant information (it’s worth a read). The average hourly rates worked out somewhere between $75-$200 (£50-£125) and whilst this is useful, it tells us little about what SEO costs for your average client and how much they can expect to pay long term.
Why is it difficult to Price SEO?
The big problem is that the work required for your website is going to be very specific to your website and market area. Are you setting up a new online book store? Well, best of luck with that as you are going after Amazon and other well-established players so, I would not say this would be impossible, but you are probably going to want to look at various streams of marketing with SEO as a long term goal. Not to say you can’t go after fringe and long tail keywords guerilla style and be a bit more flexible than the Amazons of this World but still, this is going to take some time, lots of effort (money), years maybe, before you can play with the big boys for the big keywords.
Alternatively, if you are a local plumber, just looking to generate some enquiries and build up a customer base then it may be easy. You may, in fact, need nothing more than a well optimised Google places page, some reviews from existing clients, some informative content and a few links from local business directories to get you all the visibility you need.
So, the main reason it is so difficult is due to the variables involved, which include, but are by no means limited to:
- Where are you currently? Dead last?
- Do you have any problems or penalties due to low quality, historical SEO
- Who are the competition?
- What assets do you currently have? Have you done some SEO historically?
- Can you provide content for the site?
- Do you need results now?
So, first up, to get any idea of what SEO will cost you we have to understand where you are and where you want to be and then determine some metrics regarding what it will take to get there. So, if you want to rank for the search term ‘black suits’ and the number one player for that term currently has 100 links and you have ten then you need to build 91 good links to beat him.
Note: SEO Metrics are imprecise at the best of times, but this at least gives you some kind of quantitative approach to help in pricing up an approach.
Fixed Price SEO Services
Despite this difficulty in pricing services, there are some areas that you should be able to get a fixed price for:
- A site audit – a review of your site with actionable suggestions to improve your on page SEO
- SEO Consultation – you should be able to buy consultation by the hour to provide guidance, support or help diagnose specific issues
- Link Building Strategy – if you are willing to do the groundwork then for a flat rate you should be able to buy a strategy consultation
- Local site optimisation – if you are a small business, optimising for a local
Link Building Prices
This is where it tends to get really sticky and we have to clarify a couple of things here. Firstly, that old way you were building links, that worked, but has now got you banned, there is no alternative to that. You can’t chuck $500 at an offshore company and expect the kind of results this once generated. Sure, you may get a hit for a while, but don’t expect it to last long and you are dooming your site in the long term so… don’t do that.
If you want good, honest link building then there are things that can be done and one of the ways this tends to get tackled is through guest blog posting. Done well, this is a good approach and can get you links, but it does not scale so well. If you need 100 links then you have to identify 100 sites, pitch an idea to them, write the content and then you get your link but, damn, if this is not tied into some larger process then it is hard work and if you are tempted to go a cheaper route then you are just going to run into problems.
With regards to pricing guest blogging – well, it depends on the quality of the site and we would charge anything from £100 to £1000 for a single link. If you wanted some strategy and to identify one hundred sites that would be a good match, well that can be done as well, considerably cheaper, but you then have to pitch and create the content so it has internal time requirements (costs).
Now, I like guest blogging, but I tend to like it more when it is tied into some larger link building program – for instance:
- Find out what content is needed in your niche
- Identify bloggers and folks that are talking about or linking to similar content
- Identify the big influencers in your niche
- Network with the bloggers and social influencers
- Create your amazing piece of content
- Make sure the folks that link to this kind of content know about it (social / email)
- Make sure the influencers know about it and can share it
- Consider guest posting about your amazing piece of content on the influencers sites
- Do you have any great content already or do we need to create it?
- Can you create the content or do you want that doing? Whilst not technically SEO a well researched and put together piece of content can cost anything from £500 to several thousand pounds depending upon your sector.
- Can you do the social outreach? Do you have a network of blogger buddies or do we need to build that up?
SEO Prices – Still non the wiser?
Unfortunately, there are far too many SEO firms that are prepared to sell you £500 worth of SEO a month when what you need is going to cost way more. Likewise, there are lots of smaller businesses that have been buying duff links (that worked) – but things have changed in the last 12 months.
Post-Penguin you can’t just pay someone to build you links for your targeted keywords – you, yes you, have to get involved if you want the best results. Sure, you can appoint a company and it is possible to outsource the whole process but it will be expensive if this is the approach you would like to take and building links now has to be done properly if you want any kind of long term results.
Getting a Price for SEO
Ultimately, the best way to get a price for SEO is to become an informed buyer and get a quote from a well-regarded company. Find out what approach they are going to use to build links and what metrics they are basing their approach against and you should do okay.
I would love to hear any experiences – good or bad you have had with your SEO and link building and please share this article if you found it useful.