How Much Does SEO Cost?
Wondering how much SEO costs, and whether the investment is worth it for your business? It’s a little like wondering whether to invest in that beautiful, luxury artisan stand mixer: you’ve heard so much good news about it, but maybe that price tag sends your eyebrows skyward. Well, fear not – our Brainy experts are here to unpack the question and give you the lowdown on how much SEO really costs… and, more importantly, whether it represents good value.
We’re sure you already know the importance of SEO services (Search Engine Optimisation) for improving the organic online exposure of your business. It is a strategy many business owners tend to overlook when considering how best to scale their business, but SEO is a vital digital marketing channel to facilitate ROI, lasting growth and results.
By optimising key ranking factors of your website, you can improve performance and increase the amount of exposure your website receives over time. Established companies and new businesses alike are sometimes dubious about the actual cost of SEO, and can neglect to invest their marketing budget in this vital channel. It’s crucial to consider SEO as a smart investment, something that’ll improve your organic presence and potentiality online.
In this article, we’ll be covering:
- How much does SEO really cost?
- Why is SEO expensive
- What is cheap SEO?
- The value of content
- How much should you spend on SEO services?
How much does SEO really cost? Are SEO services expensive?
It is estimated that the average SEO retainer costs anywhere between £2,000 and £6,000 per month. However, it is important to consider that the cost of SEO services varies depending on an individual business’s objectives and goals.
If you just want a brief technical overhaul, you could be looking at achieving your short-term results quickly. On the other hand, if you’re looking to build out an extensive area for ongoing content optimisation, it is going to take time and expertise to achieve the desired results. It represents a far wider scope of work, and this will, naturally, require a higher marketing budget.
In this blog, we will delve deeper into the cost of SEO, SEO pricing, and why SEO services can seem expensive. It’s important to factor in your business objectives, and think about how they impact the cost of SEO and the difference between a large SEO budget vs a small budget.
Why is SEO expensive?
Good question. Businessowners who are maybe newcomers to SEO services can sometimes be surprised at the costs involved. But, like anything in this world, good doesn’t come cheap, and you get what you pay for.
SEO takes time
There is a multitude of reasons why SEO agency services can be expensive. Foremost among them is that SEO is a long-term strategy for increasing organic online exposure. The rolling SEO services required to produce a winning strategy involve a multi-pronged approach, considering factors such as keyword research, content analysis, and competitor research.
An SEO strategy can take up to 6 months to deliver results. When you plant a tree, you don’t expect to see it fully grown and sprouting fruit after one day, right? It takes time to grow. It needs nurturing, watering, and patience to manifest the true potential it has to offer.
The same is true with SEO. It involves time spent researching the best keywords to rank for, the implementation of technical outputs, and the creation of ongoing content in addition to all of the off-page activities needed to boost authority, organic traffic, and rankings. With all of the above, progress and results will still ultimately depend on the length of time it takes Google and other search engines to crawl and index your website. It can take Google anywhere between a couple of days and a few weeks to crawl and index new content.
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SEO is made up of multiple strategies to support your business and increase visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Just as you won’t see a fully grown tree the day after planting its seed, you can’t expect an SEO company to propel you to the top of Google in just a few short days. You’re paying for specialists to spend time with and work on your campaign continuously, and as a result, this will take time. But don’t worry, good things come to those who wait!
The right SEO agency will take the time to learn about your company, goals, values and industry. Because every industry and business is different, it takes time for your SEO provider to understand what works best for your company and to create a unique plan that takes everything into account.
It takes time to develop a personalised SEO strategy; but it’s a personalised strategy that yields the best results.
SEO requires work
When assessing the costs of an SEO strategy, it is important to consider the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the campaign. The initial cost of SEO can be quite daunting, but if the campaign is managed correctly, it invariably proves immensely profitable over time.
For a small business starting out, this can be a large investment. Even an established business might wince at spending that kind of money. The truth, though, is that SEO is a lot of work. It’s definitely not as simple as making a few small tweaks and kicking back while immediate results start flooding in. It takes an in-depth analysis by skilled professionals to understand which factors are best to work on when building an SEO strategy, before optimising and strategising the outputs to ensure optimal results.
As we know, SEO is built up of many components. To learn more, you can refer to The Brain’s Glossary of Terms. Some of these include:
- Keyword research
- Competitor analysis
- Website analysis
- Technical analysis
- Onsite optimisation
- Off-page digital PR and link building
As a result, SEO requires constant analysis to ensure your website not only remains relevant but that it can also stand up against competitors, anytime it needs to. The SERPs are an ever-changing landscape that require constant optimisation to ensure maximum online exposure. As a result of this, the work needed is considerable.
Take onsite content optimisation for example. To ensure a webpage is generating the best on-page authority, it is important to build supplementary content that not only serves as a means of targeting long-tail keywords, but also offers a method of internal linking to spread authority around the site. This content, be it in the form of blogs, guides, or other long-form documentation, needs to be sufficiently detailed, comprehensive, and typically consist of a couple thousand words, minimum.
There needs to be time spent researching the topic, structuring the page, ensuring optimal internal linking opportunities, and including the correct density of your primary target keywords. Even experienced copywriters can spend hours ensuring website copy is fit not just for the reader, but that is best optimised too.
SEO copywriting is a comprehensive task, and seeing results with any sort of speed will involve your website publishing multiple pieces of content. When we consider the cost of SEO, we should always consider the work required to see noteworthy results, and how that translates into a recommended marketing budget. We can confirm that the more money spent on a campaign, the more work that can be completed, in turn resulting in more goals being achieved.
SEO requires expertise
We’ll go out on a limb and call SEO one of the most comprehensive, far-reaching marketing strategies you can undertake. There are so many moving parts needed to ensure optimal campaign performance. From content optimisation to off-page tactics and link building, there exists a real smorgasbord of factors that, when effectively applied, will work cohesively to grow campaign performance.
When we factor in SEO pricing, it is important to acknowledge the years of training and experience required to provide the right analysis, assessment, and recommendations to maximise your business goals and objectives. While you can score some quick wins with minimal knowledge of SEO, to truly leverage the online potential SEO offers your business, you will need a dedicated team with the right knowledge and expertise.
Ultimately, you’ll struggle to drive results if you don’t have prior experience with SEO. When considering the cost of SEO services, it’s worth staying cognizant that you’re not only paying for the implementation of the work, but also the years of industry knowledge and experience that come with it.
Take a car, for instance. Unless you’ve got B. A. Baracus mechanical knowledge secretly stashed away in your brain, you’ll probably take it to a local garage and have an expert look at it for you.
When you do, you pay for a professional to make the necessary adjustments to your car. It may cost more than if you were to fix the car yourself, but you’re paying for someone to use their expertise to assist you. The same reasoning applies to the cost of SEO. When you hire an SEO agency, you are paying experts to work on your campaign and drive results for your company.
What is cheap SEO?
Many people have achieved some level of success from implementing ‘affordable SEO services’, and there are definitely some great free SEO tools out there – but it’s important to flag the telltale signs that really set premium SEO services apart from the crowd.
Here are a few things to look out for that might indicate cheap n’ nasty SEO.
Repurposed SEO Strategies
If you decide to start researching ‘cheap SEO’, it’s paramount you tread lightly and research your ‘cheap SEO services provider’ in depth. What you inevitably find with ‘cheap SEO’ is a lack of personalisation regarding your marketing strategy.
As mentioned earlier, SEO involves a multitude of strategies that work harmoniously to build organic exposure. Cheap SEO companies will usually just slap a one-size-fits-all method on your campaign and call it job done.
SEO, just like other digital marketing channels, works best with a bespoke strategy tailored to your business’s needs, goals, and objectives. The strategies that work well for a business operating in finance will not generate the same results for a company that provides mental health counselling, for instance.
In contrast, a digital marketing company that dedicates significant time to an initial research phase (including persona workshops, keyword planning, and competitor research), as well as developing and implementing personalised strategies, will generate dramatically improved results for your business.
Because low-cost SEO firms use a copy-and-paste approach to SEO, they do not require experienced account managers. They quickly onboard new employees, giving them a basic script for optimising any and all company websites.
There’s no real reason for these companies to hire proper SEO specialists. They are not creating custom campaigns, or focussing on competitive keywords; instead, they provide your company with the bare minimum of recycled SEO services.
Furthermore, hiring someone with SEO experience is often prohibitively expensive for a low-cost SEO company. Not to put too fine a point on it, you get what you pay for when it comes to cheap SEO services, and when you go the budget route, it shows.
Black Hat SEO Tactics
When strategies are duplicated from one client to another, it makes it increasingly challenging for low-cost SEO agencies and providers to drive results for their clients. As a result, some low-cost SEO providers may rely on dastardly black hat SEO tactics to reap short-term rewards. A black-hat strategy employs deceptive techniques to trick search engines into improving the ranking of your website in search results – which can be majorly harmful to your business in the long run.
These reprehensible strategies are well-known in the SEO industry. In fact, they are so infamous that search engines like Google have updated their algorithms to root out and penalise these techniques. Regardless, many low-cost SEO agencies continue to employ black-hat SEO strategies.
There is a vast quantity of malicious SEO tactics to be mindful of. This can include, for example, keyword stuffing. In one aspect, finding the right balance of keyword density is paramount to ranking a website; but using too many keywords can come across as irrelevant and as manipulative, spammy content. keyword stuffing signals to search engines that the content is attempting to manipulate the organic rankings without delivering value to the reader. As we know, Google rewards content that rewards its readers. If you notice an agency is stuffing content to satisfy a brief without considering the bigger picture, it is time to run for the hills.
On the other hand, premium SEO services will include a team of copywriters who collaborate with you to understand your buyer personas, your customer journies, and what each thoughtfully-optimised page is attempting to achieve. By putting in the time to collaborate with experienced copywriters, you can alleviate the concern of keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO tactics that should always be avoided.
Lack of skill in account management
What you also find when comparing a low-cost SEO plan vs a higher-value package is a marked lack of skills in account management. Understandably, having a point of contact who can offer guidance, structure, and insight into key facets of your campaign is integral. What you find with the companies offering a low-cost SEO plan is that their team lacks the insights, experience, and knowledge of a more experienced professional – and because of this, you are unable to build a successful business relationship, as you’re not aligned with your account manager.
Account management is a priority in any service-based industry. It allows businesses and clients to work together effectively, grow and scale, and achieve new heights.
It’s no different for SEO services. A competent account manager will be able to deliver a strategic perspective that a low-cost SEO company simply won’t be able to. In many strategies, there are multiple moving parts, and many cogs in the overall machine. Your account manager must have the skills to orchestrate and plan long-term SEO activities that are aligned with your business objectives. What we find with low-cost SEO companies is that they do not have the skills or capacity to deliver on this strategic level.
The value of content for SEO growth
Over time, Google and other search engines have developed the ability to recognise and reward original, high-quality content. Content that is relevant and useful to its readers, and that is also backed by high-authority links from reputable websites, will consistently outrank content that does not meet this standard.
As mentioned earlier in this article, when you pay a premium for an agency to create high-quality, engaging and unique content for your website, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will achieve the best organic results. As a result of this content’s high quality and ability to inform, educate, entertain or engage readers, it is also far more likely to earn more reputable, authoritative links.
As we know, a common theme in SEO is that all strategies work cohesively together. The difference between premium SEO services and low-cost SEO is that the budget version will be unable to support you with both content generation and link-building – both of which are key when it comes to building your website authority.
Once again, a low-cost SEO service lacks the knowledge and experience to implement a skills-intensive strategy when it comes to creating valuable content. Not only that, but each SEO strategy should be custom-built and tailored. As we know, a lot of low-cost SEO providers use the same strategy for different businesses and sectors. We know that an SEO strategy works best with a bespoke plan to maximise online growth potential – what works for one company, may not always serve the next. When we consider cheap SEO, we’re talking about companies that implement a one-size-fits-all approach to organic optimisation.
There are multiple potential stumbling blocks to think about when investigating what low-cost SEO services involve. From a lack of industry experience, to reduced account management, and even the potential for black hat SEO tactics.
Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom. It is important to always consider what your business can afford, conduct extensive research, and gain references and reviews from clients of your prospective SEO agency, to gain more insight and understanding of what it is you’ll ultimately be forking over the cash for.
How much should you spend on SEO services?
When deliberating on how much you should spend on SEO services, it’s crucial to consider both your business objectives and budget. SEO pricing varies. If you are a new business looking to succeed in search, every penny counts. For that reason, you should be considering how to maximise every pound you spend on marketing.
On the other hand, if you already have an established online marketing presence and have used the power of SEO for many years, there is a chance that your SEO strategy may have entered a period of dormancy. In search engine optimisation, there is always the potential to achieve new heights. You need to not only ensure you are capitalising on the momentum SEO provides you, but also work with an agency that can take you to the next level.
This may involve finding a more experienced and Brainy SEO team to assess what has worked well, what is holding you back, and what can be done next to improve your organic listings.
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