SEO Packages - How to Choose Wisely

SEO Packages – Can Affordable be Effective?

SEO can be a difficult marketing tactic to implement. Bad SEO will fail to deliver results and can potentially have a negative effect. More often than not, most cheap SEO packages will simply waste your time and money without delivering the results.

And whilst there is no shortage of SEO tips out there, the fastest and most reliable results will often come from hiring a professional individual or company to provide a monthly SEO package – and in this post we aim to help you make that important decision.

This entire post should be readable in about 10 minutes by which time you should be able to identify the best SEO package for your small business.

The article covers:

  • What SEO is
  • Where your site will get shown
  • How do search engines work
  • What SEO involves
  • How much SEO costs
  • How long SEO takes

Alternatively – if you are time challenged then contact us today for a Free SEO Consultation and Website Audit. This will give you the strategic direction to take your SEO to the next level.

What Is SEO?

In a nutshell, SEO is the process of raising the visibility of your website for the search terms that your potential customers will type into search engines. So far so good. In practice, SEO puts your business in front of potential customers at the very moment they have a requirement – marketing magic! Whilst not strictly SEO most providers will also consider analytics, user experience and analytics to help measure success and improve the approach.

Where Will SEO Get Your Site Shown?

There are two main categories of results on a search engine page. The paid adverts (PPC) and the organic or natural search engine results.

Typically, the paid results will occupy the top portion of the screen and the top 4 listings (plus the last 3) will generally be adverts. The paid results are often larger and more prominent. You can run adverts at the top of the page by using a PPC management & advertising service or by looking into platforms like Google’s AdWords.

The image below shows the following:

  • paid results (PPC) at the top of the page
  • Local results below the paid results
  • Organic results below the local results

seo birmingham

You will notice that Bowler Hat is first in local and first in organic, meaning we have two #1 rankings for an important SEO keyword relevant to where we operate (Birmingham). We are typically very busy but if we wanted to be more aggressive we could also throw a paid ad into the mix, giving us three listings on the page and maximising our exposure.

The organic results that include the local listings and the more traditional listings below those. As you can see above, a business can be visible in both of these using SEO and Local SEO and the paid results. This is important to note as there are three potential listings on the first page for your business.

The natural results tend to be more trusted by searchers and they see the majority of clicks with some studies showing as many as 94% of clicks going to organic listings.

How Search Engines Work

Search engines have a hell of a job to do. They have to crawl the billions of websites out there. They have to understand and categorise them. They then have to find a way to order them by importance so the best and most relevant sites feature at the top of the page. Not easy when you consider Google has knowledge of 30 trillion pages: 30,000,000,000,000.

It is this categorisation and ordering that is the main way in which search engines work. Understanding this will help you better understand the activities that make up an SEO campaign.

We tend to think of this in terms of relevance and authority:

1. Relevance – do you have content that relates to the user’s search query? If I search for “emergency plumber in Sutton Coldfield”, does your website have a page that details the fact that you are an emergency plumber in Sutton Coldfield? And, are you physically located in Sutton Coldfield? Is your site relevant to the intent behind that search query?

2. Authority – there will be many sites going after the same search terms as you so Google has to organise these results. The main factor in authority is the links that point to your site. These links when from other trusted and relevant sites count as a vote helping build your authority (and improve your ranking).

Only by having relevance and authority will your website rank for competitive commercial terms that will generate more business.

What Does SEO Involve?

We must also understand what an SEO campaign looks like and what jobs must be undertaken. A skilled SEO company should offer a complete SEO service from research and strategy to the execution of work on your website (relevance) and away from your site (authority).

Market and Keyword Research: understanding your audience and what they will search for is crucial to building an SEO strategy. The output of this process is often the keywords that you will target in your SEO campaign.

SEO Audit: an SEO audit will help the company understand your current situation along with any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This intelligence will then be used to identify priorities and outline the month-by-month plan for your SEO.

SEO Friendly Website Development & Optimisation: building a site in a way that search engines can understand is crucial. Things can get pretty technical pretty quickly, but just keep in mind that your SEO must understand how to build and optimise websites. More reading: how to build search engine friendly websites.

Content Development: your website is the vessel but your content is what really matters here. Creating content that search engines understand and can classify is important across your entire marketing process. From product and service pages to portfolios, case studies and reviews. All of this content can help put you in front of users ( and convince those users to take action).

Local SEO: If you are a local business then local SEO is the process of improving the signals that Google uses for search queries which indicate a local intent (plumber near me). Typically, this includes the optimisation of your website, Google My Business optimisation, citation optimisation and the development of local links. There is some crossover with traditional SEO, but local SEO is a distinct skill (and one Bowler Hat is well regarded for as we contribute to the Moz Local SEO Ranking Factors study).

Link Building: Whilst often seen as the most maligned component of SEO, obtaining relevant backlinks is essential. The trick here is to ensure you have the right kind of links. More reading: link building for small businesses.

The main takeaway here is that there are a lot of moving parts to SEO. And whilst a package would indicate something that is an off-the-shelf approach, SEO does not work like that and any approach, packaged or not, needs customising to your situation.

How Much is a Monthly SEO Package?

This is a really difficult question to answer and the costs for SEO are relevant to your industry, current situation, and how fast you want to see results. We can take some guidance from click prices in Google Adwords PPC where certain industries (loans, mortgages etc) can see click prices in the region of £50.00. If you are a local tradesman then these clicks may come down to £1.00.

In highly competitive industries that target national or international audiences, you simply have to do some analysis of the competition to understand the competition and what needs to be done.

For small to medium businesses, it does get a little easier and you should be able to find fixed price SEO packages from around £300 per month.

At Bowler Hat, we have wrestled with pricing and have a range of SEO packages for small businesses (or even micro businesses) that start from only £150 PM. Our goal here is to create a range of no-nonsense affordable SEO packages, opening up this important marketing channel to all from one-man-bands just getting started to established businesses in competitive markets. However, we will always review your situation and objectives to advise on the most suitable package and likely timescales. There is no one size fits all SEO package!

Local Businesses

With local businesses there is a smaller pool of competition so prices typically reflect this:

              • £150 per month – micro business in very tight geographical area
              • £300 per month – small business in a single geographical area (most popular)
              • £500 per month – small business in a single geographical area but highly competitive

National Businesses

With a national business, there is more competition so this is typically more difficult.

              • £300 per month – low competition or well-established visibility
              • £500 per month – moderate competition from established competitors
              • £1000 per month – high level of competition from established sites

Bespoke

If you are in a hugely competitive field, an SEO package is often not the best fit and you will need more research to understand what is required. Highly competitive industries require SEO consultation and bespoke SEO strategy development (something we can help with).

It is also true that SEO is not always a good fit and if you are a start-up and your competition is Amazon, eBay and other online giants, you have to look at where SEO fits into your marketing strategy, as results could take considerable time.

There are also some very cheap SEO packages out there. I have seen £50 for three months so £17 per month. It’s very hard to see what can possibly be done for this money when SEO requires a detailed understanding of the business and competition. These packages do exist though, but be very careful.

I had a more in-depth look at SEO pricing here.

How Long Does SEO Take?

This is a real “how long is a piece of string?” question. But, a skilled SEO company should be able to give you a rough guide by doing the calculations. And typically, the variables here will be:

              • Keywords targeted
              • current position for targeted keywords
              • Domain Authority & Page Authority
              • Competitors’ Domain Authority & Page Authority
              • SEO budget

If we consider a site that a business ranks in 11th position for, the main keyword and the competition in places 1, 2 and 3 have almost twice as many links and double the domain authority, then we can do some rough calculations with regards to the work required.

This is part art and part science, and also a moving target as your competitors may also be doing SEO. However, a skilled consultant should be able to give you some form of estimate as part of your initial proposal.

Budget is important here. If you have £500 PM then results should be faster than if you have £300 PM. Good SEO can take time so if you need leads yesterday then your SEO should likely be developed in the background whilst looking at other more immediate forms of digital marketing (like search ads or social ads).

The project management triangle can be useful here:

Fast & Cheap – then quality will be poor which is dangerous with SEO

Fast & Good – doable but it certainly will not be cheap

Good & Cheap – sometimes possible but it will not be fast

Just remember – SEO can never be good, fast and cheap!

So… What Do You Need?

Hopefully, if you have made it this far, then you should have an improved understanding of the SEO process and how that relates to your business. This should make it easier to understand proposals and separate search engine optimisation packages that can help you from those that will waste your time and budget.

Looking at a proposal, we want to see the following:

              • An understanding of your current situation (SEO Audit)
              • A clear understanding of your business objectives
              • A list of actions that will achieve your objectives
              • Some ways in which success will be measured (KPIs)
              • A guideline with regards to how long SEO will take at different budgets

The way we tackle this at Bowler Hat is to do an analysis of your website, current position and competitors. With this information, we can make a suggestion regarding budget and detailing timescales. Whilst some competitors will over-promise and fail to deliver, we try to be honest – not always the greatest sales tactic but… that’s not our way.

SEO, when done well, will make your business more prominent and drive more traffic than any other marketing tactic – yet it is crucial to do the job well and work with a skilled provider or agency.

If you have any questions or something seems a bit off with a quote you have received, don’t hesitate to give me a shout on Twitter, LinkedIn or via our contact form.

If you would like a free website and SEO audit then drop us a line!

References & Further Reading

        1. Google Webmaster Guidelines
        2. 30 SEO Tips to improve your ranking in 30 days
        3. Search Engine Statistics 2017
        4. Moz Local SEO Ranking Factors Study
        5. Moz SEO Ranking Factors Study
        6. Google’s definition of Link Schemes
        7. Can SEO be Good, Fast & Cheap
        8. Small Business SEO Tips – Radically Improve Your SEO in Just 30 Days
        9. SEO & website design: Everything you need to know
        10. SEO not working? Learn why & how to fix it
        11. Is SEO right for your business?
        12. How much does SEO cost?
        13. Noise, Trust & The Importance of NAP Consistency
        14. Organic traffic & link building for small businesses
Marcus Miller
marcus@bowlerhat.co.uk

Marcus is our Digital Strategist. He’s been working in the industry for nearly 20 years and wears many (bowler) hats as a highly technical developer and SEO, and even has a fancy computer science degree to prove it.

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