Any marketing professional will have likely heard of search engine optimisation. It can be the marketing strategy that makes or breaks a small business.
We’ve heard the horror stories of business owners spending thousands on SEO services, only to be left with no provable results and a site that lacks authority. SEO companies can suffer a bad rap because of this, so understandably, when the question of “how much do I need to spend on SEO?” comes up, it’s a tough discussion to be had.
But it’s not just about SEO agencies and their horror stories. Search engine optimisation has changed rapidly in recent years, encompassing much more in 2020 than it did even 5 years ago. It’s because of this that the question “How much does SEO cost?” has become the proverbial “how long is a piece of string?”
It’s time to clear the air, debug the myths and truly answer the question. In this blog, we’ll cover what exactly is SEO, including the work involved, SEO pricing and much more.
In the next section we’ll cover the specifics of the work involved with good quality search engine optimisation, but for now, let’s get a broad definition out of the way:
A combination of posting regular, original content and technical updates to improve your website’s relevancy, authority and organically increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website.
Pause for a second and re-read that. There’s a lot in there that we’re going to analyse in more detail. Firstly, SEO has two elements: Content and the technical, behind-the-scenes work. No longer is SEO simply about link building (we’ll talk more about that in the next section), but you also need a solid content marketing strategy to underpin everything you do.
Next, let’s talk about relevancy and authority. Content helps both, because the more content you publish that helps your target audience, the more Google will deem your site as relevant and trustworthy, giving you more authority overall and higher organic search results.
Which leads to the question of “Do I need SEO?” Arguably, yes. If you want your site to stay relevant and authoritative in the eyes of Google, but also the eyes of your audience, you absolutely need SEO, which leads us nicely to the next section…
In order to better understand how much SEO costs, it’s important to understand the full spectrum of the work involved. Business owners are now looking for SEO to improve rankings, promote their website, social media, and more.
In this section, we’ve got a full breakdown of what a typical ongoing SEO campaign would involve:
This covers the technical side of SEO, to make sure search engines fully understand what your site has to offer. This means making sure your site is crawlable and accessible to search engines, and that your site has the best possible page speed.
Technical SEO also means making sure your site has a fantastic user experience. For one, you want to make sure your site renders and works perfectly across all devices, those being mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
Content marketing is as important to SEO as SEO is to content. They support each other. Content SEO takes the form of keyword research when writing content, titles and meta-descriptions and more. Check out this guide from Yoast on content SEO.
Good SEO means you have good quality, high value content for your audience. The more you publish content that satisfies user intent and matches search queries, the more authority your site generates.
Backlinks now form part of a much larger SEO strategy. It’s not simply about getting as many links as possible (as it once used to be). Now, it’s about natural, high quality and real links that enhance the authority of your site.
Where a lot of businesses have fallen victim to is companies that create toxic, low quality backlinks, which now only serve to degrade your site’s relevance and authority in the eyes of Google.
In our experience, there tends to be three main ways agencies charge for SEO projects: Hourly rate, monthly retainer or project pricing. In this section, we’ll look at each pricing model in more detail, including a price range of what you can expect to pay:
This pricing model is rarely adopted by SEO or marketing agencies. Instead, hourly pricing tends to be the preferred pricing model for freelancers or individuals who specialise in SEO. You can expect to pay anywhere between £60 and £150 per hour.
Hourly pricing does have its own merits, being it brings accountability and predictable costs to your marketing budget. However, hourly pricing tends to mean results are much slower, with some businesses waiting upwards of 6 months for results.
A monthly SEO package allows you to retain the services of an SEO agency to perform SEO on an ongoing basis. This is the most popular pricing model by SEO and marketing agencies, including ourselves, and a good SEO agency will charge between £1,000 and £5,000 per month.
The biggest advantage here is that there is a stronger relationship with the agency you’re working alongside, however a retainer does bring a long-term commitment. That being said, monthly retainers work well with businesses who want the flexibility of completely outsourcing their SEO.
SEO projects are good for businesses who have a set project scope and goal. In general, an SEO project can cost anywhere between £2,000 and £8,000, and bring the added benefit of one lump sum.
However, it can be easy to be overcharged when it comes to SEO projects, especially if you don’t have any prior experience of working with SEO companies.
By now you’ve hopefully realised how important it is that your SEO efforts are of high-quality. If not, we want to re-emphasise the dangers that cheap SEO can bring.
The “cheap, fast, good” concept rings true here. If you’re doing SEO on the cheap (e.g.: £15 per month, or £50 per quarter), chances are it’s cheap and fast, which means it won’t be good. Cheap SEO is ineffective, and worst-case, you could end up with significant Google penalties which you will be liable for as a business, not the cheap SEO agency you’ve employed.
Always remember to do your research when selecting an SEO agency (or any marketing agency) to work with, so that you’re confident in the work that is being carried out in your name.
If you’ve got the end of this blog post, you’ll likely agree that the answer to “How much does SEO cost?” is complex. That being said, we hope this article has helped you understand the massive scope that is involved with search engine optimisation, and it’s importance in maintaining a relevant and authoritative site.
If your website is struggling with SEO, then why not talk to us about your SEO needs and your marketing goals.