As a business owner, you should have an online presence.
The internet represents a whole world of possibilities that didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago. With digital marketing, your business has the opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds.
But for that to happen, you have to be found.
You could have the most exceptional website in the world, but if no one can find it, your business will still fail.
So how can you make it easier for potential customers to find you online?
Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is a modern marvel of marketing — there’s no better way to get your business seen.
But how much does it cost to run an SEO campaign in 2020? Is it worth the money? And, most importantly, what kind of return on investment can you expect?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the price of SEO, detailing not only what it is but why it’s so crucial for your business.
We’ll talk about how SEO pricing is determined, the services it includes, and the benefits you can stand to reap from running a killer SEO campaign.
What is SEO?
SEO is a series of content and website improvements that act as a guide for popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
When someone types a search into Google which is related to your brand, product, or service, you want to show up. By utilizing search engine optimization, you will.
Since Google gets more than 75% of the internet search traffic on any given day, that’s the service we’re going to be focusing on.
Don’t get me wrong, both Bing and Yahoo are great, and you should take their algorithms into account, but Google is the big dog in the search engine yard.
Unfortunately, 75% of the people who perform a Google search will never scroll past the first page. That means you need to optimize your site if you want to be found.
Through SEO efforts, you’re able to help Google’s search bots understand not only who you are but what you do. That’s super important from a search perspective.
While Google already understands the name of your website, you have to do a lot more legwork to get it to comprehend the actual content fully — that’s where SEO comes in.
SEO is comprised of on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and Technical SEO.
On Page SEO
On-page SEO involves adding keywords to your page body, titles, meta descriptions, and headers. Those keywords should be chosen carefully, with market research.
You have to know what your audience is looking for, how those terms are relevant to your business, and the frequency that they are searched for.
Keywords should also be added to image titles and alt text.
That’s because Google’s search bots can’t see images. They know that the image is there; they just don’t know what it is. If you have a photo of a sailboat on the page, it doesn’t know that it’s a sailboat.
But if you specify that it’s a sailboat in the image title and alt tag, you’ve successfully informed Google and helped it to index your site’s multimedia content.
You also have to crosslink between your pages, ensuring that your articles all connect to one another. This creates a bath for Google’s spider bots to crawl.
For SEO to work, your content should be updated regularly to keep up with search engine algorithms. Google is constantly changing its ranking factors, so it’s important to stay on top of it.
Link building is an important part of off-page SEO. You’ll need external links if you want to rank well. You also have to get relevant outside sources to link back to your site. This is the most challenging aspect of SEO.
Another vital piece of the off-page SEO puzzle is creating a buzz and building a reputation on your social media accounts, all of which should be linked back to your main website.
Site performance is also a factor. Page speed and other technical elements go a long way toward determining your placement. This is called technical SEO.
Most experts recommend including responsive design in your site in order to improve the user experience. With 60% of Google searches occurring on mobile devices, this is incredibly important.
Navigation should be streamlined to make sure that once someone is on your site, they can find what they’re looking for. Google takes this into account because it wants only to recommend quality sites to consumers.
For more information about how you can learn more about SEO, click here.
Do You Need SEO?
You absolutely need SEO if you want to remain competitive in today’s market. As we mentioned above, it’s vital to be on the first page of search results in order for your prospective customers to see your brand.
More customers will be able to find your business and interact with it. That means that your conversion rate will skyrocket, and profits will increase.
You should make it a point to be ranked in the top results for most of the high-value relevant keywords associated with your business.
The potential for a return on investment is enormous.
SEO can drive a conversion rate of 14.6%. To put that in perspective, the top converting sites online convert at only a little more than 5%.
Traditional strategies like direct mailers only have a 1.7% conversion rate, which means they’re grossly ineffective today.
SEO also drives 10 times more traffic to shopping sites than social media.
Of course, social media is essential, and you still need it to be successful. But it’s a piece of the overall marketing puzzle. SEO is a much more significant piece.
Not only do you need SEO, but you need to be on page one of Google. The number one organic result on Google has a click-through rate of 31.7%. To put that in perspective, only 0.78% of users clicked something on page two. Anything beyond that practically doesn’t exist.
But, as you’ve seen, there’s a lot that goes into SEO. It’s a valuable service in 2020. Unless you’re an expert, it’s not recommended that you take on the task of doing your own SEO.
You need to contract with an SEO specialist and understand what you should be paying.
What Should You Spend on SEO Services Per Month?
Now that you understand the need for an SEO company, it’s time to talk about what it costs and what you should be paying out of pocket.
However, it’s important to develop a smart budget that is personalized to the specific needs of your business. What’s suitable for one company might cause ruin for another. It’s all wrapped up in your business model, your current profits, and what your services cost.
Your budget is going to boil down to what you can stand to make vs. how much money you’re putting into this.
Remember that there is a “you get what you pay for” reality to this. You might come across an SEO firm that is severely undercutting the pricing models of all of the others. But don’t be fooled. Discount SEO services are often too good to be true.
These smaller discount SEO firms tend to cut corners, using “black hat SEO” tactics, or fail to devote the necessary amount of time to your campaign. When that happens, it’s like you’re throwing your money in the trash. What you see as affordable SEO is not good SEO.
A typical SEO budget can fall anywhere between $400 and $10,000 per month. Of course, this is dependent on the size of your business, the amount of competition you have, and the level of service you choose.
But there should never be a flat price point for SEO services. If you see a company offering that, it should be an instant red flag. Your budget is based on your specific goals.
One size fits all pricing doesn’t cut it because every SEO campaign is unique. You market a shoe store differently than you market a plumber. Likewise, national SEO takes a much different approach than local SEO.
It’s important to remember that this is not a one-time cost. It’s not as if you’re going to do SEO for six months, get that number one spot, and then it’s yours forever.
SEO is an ongoing process. It never stops. You rise to the top and then defend your ranking. Remember, you have competitors out there, and all of you are gunning for the top of the search engine mountain.
What is Included in SEO services?
Typical SEO services that you purchase through an agency are composed of several elements.
Social Media Optimization
Social media is one of the best opportunities to build links. Social media is built on sharing content. The more content you share, the more likely it is that other people will share it and link to it.
Content marketing is at the heart of SEO.
SEO improves through tweaks made to your website content. Content marketing uses relevant content to drive a specific action from your customers.
Once your content is optimized for SEO, drawing new eyes into your page will also urge them to action.
You have to understand where you are to better determine where you have to be.
By analyzing your conversion rate, you can better get an idea of how many people you have to draw in using SEO in order to achieve your goals.
SEO relies on links — It’s incredibly important and equally as difficult.
Many SEO firms write content and shop it around to industry relevant websites in an attempt to get links listed back to your site.
Back End Optimization
The back end of your site has to be optimized for SEO as well, and technical issues are usually discover in an initial SEO audit, which is typically including in a full service package.
This includes your meta descriptions, title tags, alt tags, and more.
Remember, firms should be well versed in all five of these areas. Make sure you ask about their strategy and success record when it comes to getting you ranked.
How Are SEO Prices Determined?
There is currently no industry standard for SEO pricing among agencies. It is up to the consumer to decide if a price presented by an SEO consultant is fair and fits into their budget.
That’s why it’s important to create a budget with return on investment (ROI) in mind. If you enter into an SEO contract with all the bells and whistles, you need to make sure that at the end of the day, you will bring in more money than you put out.
The overall budget could be anywhere from $500 to $30,000, depending on how much work has to be done.
There are four different payment models that most agencies follow:
1. Monthly Retainer
When you’re putting an agency on a monthly retainer, you’re typically paying anywhere from $750 to $5,000 per month.
Under a retainer, clients pay a monthly SEO fee for the services they’ve selected, and that covers all the time that the SEO agency dedicates to your campaign.
2. Fixed Price Contract
When working on a fixed price contract, SEO Copywriting, a form of content marketing, will run from 15 cents to 50 cents per word. The site SEO audit, which examines your conversion rate among other things, might cost between $500 and $7,500 depending on the size of the site.
Link profile audits, which gauge the level of link building that has to be done, can run you from $500 to $7,500. For social media setup, you’re looking at $500 to $3,000.
Under a fixed-price contract, clients have the ability to pay for the services that they want specifically. This can go beyond what is listed here and differs agency by agency.
3. Project-Based Pricing
Project-based pricing is one of the most straightforward contracts you can enter with an SEO firm. Essentially, you’re paying a predetermined fee for ongoing custom services.
Depending on the level of service you’re asking for, expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000 for the full project. At the end of the contract term, you can renegotiate.
4. Hourly Rate
Hourly rates are considered consultation fees. Much like working with an attorney, the firm will keep a running log of the hours that they spend working on your SEO strategy.
It’s not uncommon to see hourly rates from $100 to $300 per hour.
While there’s a lot of variety in the prices we’ve listed above, it’s important to remember that SEO packages charging less than $750 per month should make you wary.
Another important fact to remember: Search Engine Optimization takes time. It’s not an instant thing. Sometimes it can take up to six months before you start to see a return on your investment.
When it’s time to write a check for your SEO services, it’s important to remember that you’re making an investment that could shape the future of your entire company.
That’s why, before you make that first payment, you should have a strong understanding of SEO pricing models as well as why you need it.
You should also be able to identify the various ways that most agencies price these services and be wary of anyone trying to set even local SEO pricing at less than $750 per month.
By keeping all of this information at the forefront of your mind, you will be able to make an educated SEO budget and ensure that your Search Engine Optimization campaign will be profitable for the long haul.