The second question we most often hear after, “How much will my website cost?” is usually, “How much does SEO Cost?” Naturally, our clients want a great looking website and they want to occupy a coveted 1 – 3 ranking position in the search engine ranking positions (or “SERPs”) for their desired keyword or keyword phrase.
Of course, the websites that occupy those 1 – 3 positions don’t want give up that spot! After all, they probably paid a significant sum of money to get there organically, and if they didn’t, they almost certainly invested a great amount of time and effort to achieve that position. So, with the recent changes that Google has put in place to to ensure that organic rankings remain just that – organic and not manipulated – how does one approach the now very different business of search engine optimization? And more to the point: How much does it cost? Well, there is no simple answer to this question. This is because the whole point of organic rankings is to produce results for the user that were not purchased by the highest bidder, but are the truest, most accurate and most relevant results for the users key term. As citizens of the search world, don’t we deserve that?
SEO today is a very different animal than it was a few years ago. Until a few years back, it was possible to achieve great results by manipulating search engine algorithms and basically tricking them into thinking that your website is way more popular and full of great content than it actually is. The methods for doing this have changed over the years, and I won’t get into this too much because that’s an article for another day.
In today’s post Penguin and Panda search world, Google now expects the sites they present as the top sites to be truly deserving of that position; to have the most, GOOD (and I stress good), relevant AND interesting content.
So How Much Does SEO Cost, Really?
Where am I going with all this, because after all you wanted to know how much SEO costs, not why rankings can no longer be “bought” so-to-speak. Well, unlike the token animals that heralded in the big changes, the answer to this question is not black and white. When pricing out SEO, the questions to ask are: How much work will be needed on the website itself to make it’s content rich and interesting with the optimum keyword density? How many hours will need to be spent promoting the website naturally through other reputable online sources (high page-ranking sites)? Will it require a lot of content building (writing good articles or ebooks, building infographics, videos, etc. on-site or off-site)? These are just a few factors that add up to how much time it will take to build up your Internet presence into being the one that deserves that coveted spot. Even if you don’t know what an infographic is or how to make a great viral video for the web, it still sounds like it might be a lot of work to get to be number one, doesn’t it?
So, with all of these things said, I’ll give you the ballpark numbers, as I know them. For a locally targeted organic search campaign to be successful, you will need to budget around $400 – $600 per month for at least 6 months. Most nationally targeted campaigns should most likely fall within the range of $600 – $1,000 per month, depending heavily on the target key terms and the how competitive they may or may not be. Why 6 months? Any less time and you are not truly giving your key terms a chance to find their place within in the SERPs.
Why does SEO cost so much?
As I’ve tried to lay out here in this article, SEO is a lot of work; plain and simple. The good news is there are many useful books, ebooks and other resources out there that have wonderful information about how to do it yourself. Also, content management systems like WordPress have excellent plugins that make it easy implement your on-site optimization. Additionally, there are sites like moz.com that are full of incredibly helpful, rich tools for doing SEO yourself. It’s relatively easy to learn how to use such free resources like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for tracking your site’s traffic and search behaviors, etc. If you’re willing to put the time and effort you can save yourself this expense and be pretty successful with your do-it-yourself SEO campaign. It’s just a question of what your time is worth to you and how hard you want to work.