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SEO or search engine optimisation is a complex marketing method, used as a tool to position your company on multiple search engines in order for potential customers to discover your business. Think of it as an online version of the old business telephone directories.

We have put together this article to help you make some sense of how much you should be paying to boost your website traffic.

If you have been in business for any period of time, you will have no doubt heard about SEO or search engine optimisation. As a business owner, you can sometimes find yourself in the middle of a sea of information. Making sense of it all can be a headache, which is just a step too far for most. As you are already busy running your business, we aim to help you save valuable time.

a graphic showing How much does SEO cost by relative marketing

How Much Should SEO Cost?

Back in 2011, who are pretty much industry leaders in SEO software and news on the subject, completed a survey of over 600 SEO agencies across the globe.

The survey found that the cost of SEO work completed on an hourly basis was $76 – $200 per hour; at the current exchange rate (30/01/17) this would look like £60 – £160 per hour in GBP.

When SEO services are used on a retainer basis, according to the survey, the two most common costs were $251-$500/month (13.8%) and $2,501-$5,000/month (11.3%). In GBP this would be £200 – £400 per month and £2000 – £5000 per month.

SEO companies also offer project-based pricing. By-the-project pricing is popular and most commonly $1,000-$7,500. GBP £800 – £6000.

This data is now a few years old and as such prices will have gone up slightly from this point. This is the most comprehensive survey done to date, however.

graphic showing what rate to pay SEO by relative marketing

So, What Should You Pay For SEO?

Well, The Answer To This Will No Doubt Be, How Long Is A Piece Of Sting?

Even though the above survey was carried out, the real truth about what SEO costs is, you can’t put a generic price on it. What we mean by this is that there are so many variables that come into play when pricing SEO services.

You wouldn’t walk into a car garage and just state “I want to buy a new car!” There are so many variations of cars these days let alone the optional extras you decide upon. Do you want a BMW or do you want a Skoda? Do you want heated seats or are you happy with electric windows? The same can be said for SEO really. What do you want from the service you are buying? Some of the questions you should know the answer to before signing up for an SEO service are below.

What Are Your Goals And What Do You Want To Achieve?

This should be one of the first questions asked when you speak to an SEO agency. If your goal is to rank in position 1 on the Google search results page for a term like “life insurance” you’re going to need a pretty large bank balance. If on the other hand, you’re looking to rank locally within a town for a very uncompetitive term like “fibreglass roofing supplies” then you could rank on this term with a relatively lower amount of work required in comparison and therefore potentially a much lower budget.

How Many Keywords Or Phrases Are You Looking To Rank For?

Depending on the number of keywords or phrases you want to rank for will increase or decrease the costs. Work has to be completed on an independent basis for each keyword or phrase as well as helping the domain authority to increase. ‘Time is money’ as the old adage goes.

What Is Your Target Market?

As per the example of “life insurance”, some industries are harder to rank for and will take a lot more work whilst others might be relatively easy in comparison.

List of top ten industries paying Google AdWords in 2011 was:

  1. Finance and Insurance (£3.2 Billion)
  2. Retailers and General Merchandise (£2.3 Billion)
  3. Travel and Tourism (£1.92 Billion)
  4. Jobs and Education (£1.76Billion)
  5. Home and Garden (£1.68 Billion)
  6. Vehicles (£1.6 Billion)
  7. Computers and Consumer Electronics (£1.6 Billion)
  8. Internet and Telecom (£1.36 Billion)
  9. Business and Industrial (£1.28 Billion)
  10. Occasions and Gifts (£960 million)

We can take from this that companies in these industries will be spending a vast amount on Organic routes to market too. The competition for those top 3 spaces is massive.

How Do You Want To Work, With An Agency Or A Consultant?

Many business owners like to completely outsource marketing to someone “with more knowledge” than themselves. Others prefer to take advice and have either internal staff complete the work or even themselves.

Will I See A Positive Return On My Investment?

Research suggests that 81% of all purchases start online. This is a huge number to be missing out on. Of course, not all of these purchases happen online and more often than not this is all about researching potential solutions to problems the user has or narrowing down the options they have available to them.

To gain a positive return on an SEO investment you need to be in front of the searcher as and when they are searching for a solution or product. This doesn’t just mean being there when their “credit card is in hand” ready to make the purchase. This means being in front of the searcher when they are starting out in the buying funnel. Commonly referred to as the awareness stage.

Searchers all over the world normally start by looking for a solution to a problem they have. “How do I waterproof my shed?” this question is at the very start of any buying process.

A good SEO strategy will use this type of question and create content to answer this specific question and each stage through the buying funnel until they have purchased the product you offer that enables them to waterproof their shed.

So, to answer the above question, Yes, if done right, you will gain a positive return on your investment into search engine optimisation.

Never Go For The Cheap Option!

We’ve seen over the years the massive negative effect of using a cheap SEO service or provider. When Google updates its algorithm, you may find your website has been removed from the search results altogether. How would this affect your sales and ongoing business health?

SEO done right is a great way to gain a long-term upward trajectory for your business when it comes to organic results.

When the Panda update in 2014 kicked in even the might of eBay lost almost 33% of its traffic volume overnight.

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In Summary

When looking to build your marketing strategy for the next 12 months you must at least have looked at SEO. With an estimated 61% of non-brand, organic clicks going to the top 3 positions in the search engine results page, there’s a huge amount of business to be generated using the right SEO agency and gaining the right results.

The key to it all is finding the right company and having the budget to make a real difference to your organic rankings.

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