How much does SEO cost?

How much does SEO cost?

By Luke on April 22, 2010

SEO - written in money (dollar bills)

From our experience, most companies that contact us regarding our SEO services are already pretty sold on the idea of online marketing (even if they don’t know that much about it!), however the biggest obstacle they face is cost; so how much does SEO cost?

Well unfortunately there is no set answer to this. The cost of every clients online marketing campaign will be different based upon a great number of factors (some of which we have explored below), but as a general rule I would take caution if any SEO company gave you a cost over the phone before exploring these factors. Some companies may have predefined packages such as bronze, silver, gold, platinum etc and these may work well depending on you specific requirements (many clients like the idea of going onto a package, however I feel they can be too generic especially for SMEs) however we tailor our campaigns to the clients exact needs, and our costs are purely the amount of time / work required each month to meet the targets.

So what are some of the factors?

How well is the site currently optimised?

Assuming that you already have a website, how well is it optimised? Also, how complex is the website? An ecommerce website with 1000’s of products and complex additional functionality is clearly going to take much longer to optimise than say a 6 page static site in HTML (although if you had a 6 page website, you need to add some more content to it – perhaps by integrating a blog into your current site).

How well is the site performing?

If the site is already performing quite well, perhaps it is on page 2 or 3 in the SERPs then you have a good starting block, as opposed to a site that isn’t even in the top 30 pages.

How competitive is the industry they are in?

If the site is in a very competitive industry, such as hotels or holidays then you know that a lot of work and considerable investment is going to be required in order to compete with the more established companies / websites. In less competitve industries such as niche services or products, you may get great results with much less work.

Geographic factors

Does the client have a global customer base, or do they only target customers in a particular country, city or even village! Optimising for smaller target areas will dramatically reduce the competiveness of your keywords.

Are they using the “phrases that pay” or what keywords do they wish to optimise for?

When a website is initially built by a web design company, chances are that they won’t have optimised the site or the keywords. The keywords may not exist, may have been chosen by the client, and almost definitely won’t have had any prior research. Finding the “phrases that pay” at the start of the SEO campaign is crucial to it’s success. For example, very competitive keywords may result in no traffic because you don’t rank high enough in the SERPs. Less competitive keywords may get you a higher position in the SERPs, but if no one searches for those keywords, again you will have no traffic. Finding the phrases that pay is based on current search trends, combined with the competition of those keywords and how well targeted they are to your business.

What are their primary goals?

Does the client just want to get to the #1 spot in Google for their keywords (it’s all about position for some clients), or is their real goal simply an increase in traffic and ulitimately sales? Ideally your SEO company should be looking at short-term and long-term KPIs (key performance indicators) to make sure that the online marketing campaign is performing well, and measuring it at key intervals against pre-determined KPIs will make sure that it is on track.

How many links do they have?

Links are obviously very important for SEO, and naturally link building strategies should play a key part to any campaign. But how many links do they currently have and what is the quality of the links? How many links will be required in order to beat the competition? Also, different industries may result in more difficult aquisition of quality links which can prove more costly.

Competitor analysis

Looking at the direct online competitors you can get a very good idea of just how much work is going to be required in order to get the best results. If there is a huge number of long established, strong websites competing for exactly the same keywords it could involve more of an investment.

SEO companies individual pricing costs

As previously mentioned, every SEO company will cost up a campaign differently. Some will have predefined packages that they will put you on (and again some clients prefer this approach), but personally I prefer working out the cost based on the amount of work required to give a tailored cost to the client, which a lot of companies also do. If this is the case, the final cost will depend on the rates of the individual SEO companies.