How much does SEO cost and why do quotes vary wildly?
The answer to the question ‘How much does SEO cost?’ depends more on the quality of agency than the size of your site. Yes a bigger site will require more resource, but a bad agency will still charge very little and the results will be predictably disastrous. A good agency will charge more because they know how to achieve sustained, quality ranking results, and will be combining technical nous with great content and PR. Think thousands of pounds per month, not hundreds.
As an agency, we are relative SEO newcomers. This has advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages – we were already very good at building amazing links and have developed an outstanding SEO service as a result.
Disadvantages – we compete with old school black hat agencies that either charge very low retained fees (a few hundred pounds a month) or charge according to the number of keywords you want them to ‘work on’. Prospects don’t understand why we charge more. They sign up with the other agency. Then they call us in six months to fix the damage done.
If you’re talking to a quality SEO agency and you’re shocked when you’re quoted more than you expect when enquiring how much does SEO cost, take a moment to consider the following:
SEO ROI is outstanding - 90% of all clicks in search engines go to organic results - where you rank matters. You don't pay for your clicks. And if you make it to page one you're capturing traffic already looking to make a purchase. Organic search is a fantastic new business channel. Why would an agency that knows how to get your company on page one of the search engine results pages not charge a premium?
It requires great followed links – great followed links are hard to acquire. These are links from other sites pointing at your site that search engines follow and use as part of their ranking algorithms. Generating links either requires a piece of amazing content able to attract links naturally (FYI 'naturally' happens rarely - if you don't have planned promo in place then you'll struggle), or they require carefully planned PR, generated, pitched and placed by a PR agency boasting great media relations abilities. Which of those options are cheap?
It requires awesome content - search engines are still pretty simplistic. They judge you based on the content on your site and the way it's marked up (with structured data etc.). If the content is thin, poorly written or duplicated from somewhere else, you won't rank. This means your SEO agency has to be adept at producing great, persona focussed, content.
It's strategic – SEO is not a quick fix, it requires a long-term plan focused on your business priorities and should be measured with bottom line focussed KPIs (enquiries, qualified leads, cost per acquisition etc.). This means you need an agency able to manage a strategy combining content, technical SEO, PR and link building.
It requires dedication – every year Google releases hundreds of updates to its algorithm – some more obvious than others. Last year we had mobile friendly updates, a Possum update and a Penguin update amongst others - how many of these are you aware of? What difference will they make to your website in the immediate future? How will they affect your marketing strategy in the longer term? A good SEO agency should be on top of these and adapting the organic search strategy accordingly.
It requires software competency - Google Analytics, Search Console, Moz, SEMrush, Screaming Frog – the list goes on. Some tools easier to use than others, all require a degree of expertise, and all can unlock the door to effective search marketing. Which response codes should you be looking out for? What's the most powerful page on your website? How effective is your internal linking? Which root domains are linking to yours? What are the affinity interests of users that complete goals in Google Analytics? You do have goals set up right? Good agencies know how to combine these tools to greatest effect – cheap agencies simply don’t bother.
Finally, good SEO is bespoke - I understand agencies used to offer cookie cutter approaches: build a load of spammy links using a low-cost team based in India or somewhere else labour's cheap, reap temporary rewards, move on to the next company/victim when it goes belly up. It's the only reason old school SEO agencies can quote a few hundred pounds a month, or price per amount of keywords when asked how much does SEO cost. But it doesn't work. Sorry. You're simply wasting your money and in all likelihood, doing more harm than good.
If you want to find out how much good SEO costs, then get in contact today – we’re always happy to chat!