One of the most common questions about SEO is “How much does SEO cost?” Honestly, it can be difficult to answer.
So many variables affect SEO costs. Some are obvious, some are not. With SEO, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
SEO is an investment, but if you invest it right, it will definitely pay off in the long run.
The Two Biggest (and Obvious) SEO Costs
The two main factors that contribute to your SEO costs are your people (both in-house and/or agencies you hire to help) and the SEO software and tools you invest in. This is where most of the costs occur.
Let’s break them down.
Hiring someone to manage SEO in-house versus hiring an agency with an SEO team to help optimize your website has its pros and cons. I don’t go down that rabbit hole very often. Remember, whatever you choose, you get what you pay for.
The more knowledge and experience an individual or team has, the more expensive the service will be. It may sound obvious, but paying for someone’s expertise is often overlooked or undervalued.
SEO involves many strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all formula that can magically boost your website’s rank and increase conversions. An SEO specialist or team must adapt and adjust their strategy to meet unexpected challenges.
For example, when Google releases changes to its core algorithm, it can negatively impact your SEO by lowering your client’s ranking in SERPs. In such cases, SEO specialists should adjust their strategies to take into account the ranking signals that Google currently prioritizes.
2. SEO software and tools
Other significant costs associated with SEO are the software and tools needed to do the job.
There is no shortage of SEO tools available, both free and paid. They all market themselves as well, claiming to make optimization easier. But again, you get what you pay for.
Free tools are great for small businesses just getting started with website optimization, but they don’t give you all the information you need to do the full job. It may not have been intended.
A prime example is Google Ads Keyword Planner. It’s a great tool for paid search marketing efforts, but not for SEO. Keywords used in PPC may differ from those used in SEO.
A common mistake many people make is paying for many SEO tools and software licenses that basically do the same thing.
Again, these are obvious costs, so don’t go down the rabbit trail, but auditing, research, and crawling are examples of the tools you need here. You can find them all in one suite, or use individual applications to meet your needs.
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Other (less noticeable) SEO costs
SEO teams rarely, if ever, reach a site without errors. So the first thing most of his SEO professionals do is perform a technical audit of the website and fix any errors they find. Because we know that your on-page, content, and off-page SEO efforts will be wasted on a website with a lot of technical issues and ultimately a poor indexing and ranking site.
Technical errors vary in complexity. So the time, effort, and cost to fix them also varies, but often requires the help of an IT person or her web developer. This often adds costs (either internal or external) that you end up paying.
4. Content creation
Another unexpected cost is the amount you have to pay to create quality content.
Having high quality content is an important factor in your SEO strategy. After all, you have to have something to optimize for, right?
If you’re not creating quality content, it’s not going to rank or have organic visibility. We prioritize providing high quality content to our users. Therefore, creating content that appeals to your expertise is essential to boosting your rankings.
The cost of a good copy of your website depends on the request and the individual or team responsible for creating it. But it’s a priority expense in his SEO budget.
5. Visual content
Another cost to consider in your SEO costs, especially if you’re doing SEO in-house, is visual content. Requires subscription service or investment in original photographer images.
There is a “free” option available for sourcing photos. However, we do not recommend using them. It’s not uncommon to receive injunction letters from attorneys telling you that you’ve violated copyright laws by using these “free” images, or worse, that you’re seeking thousands of dollars in damages. am.
Therefore, best practice is to either sign up with a stock image service (Shutterstock, Bigstock, etc.) or hire a professional photographer to take photos for your website. Costs in this range, but still add to your budget.
6. User Experience
Improving the user experience (UX) of a website is often required when working on SEO. If your end goal is conversion, you can optimize more deeply for what happens after a user visits your site and clicks through.
UX includes making your website a pleasant experience for your users and enabling them to efficiently achieve their goals. UX related tasks often include improving site speed and navigation, making pages mobile friendly, compressing photo and video files, and more.
But like everything else, conversion rate optimization, which often involves UX work, comes at a price.
7. Local SEO
Local SEO efforts can have hidden costs associated with many of the things outlined, especially UX, copy, and the need for visual content.
Beyond that, specifically subscriptions to data feed services (to scale what was previously manual) and map pack ads (or others) in Google Ads (or others) , there is a need to compensate for visibility.
Local searches often feel like they can be done quickly and on a budget. Small businesses often do. But keep in mind that the more complex your competitive industry and business model, the more tools, content, and time it takes.
8. Additional tools
Additional tools may be needed to test things like:
- User interaction.
- Search and monitor potential plagiarism.
- Heatmapping your website.
These tools come with a price and aren’t necessarily something you need to budget for right away, but they can come in handy later on.
What You Can Do to Avoid Unexpected Spending During Your SEO Campaign
fair warning. These can be expensive. A comprehensive site audit may take 3-4 months for SEO services.
A comprehensive site audit focuses on three key elements:
- technical factor
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO or external factors
It might sound silly to do an expensive site audit before doing any real SEO work, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, the advantage of performing a comprehensive site audit is that you will know in advance what problems may arise when optimizing your website. This allows you to budget for these fixes now, so you won’t be surprised if problems arise later.
Knowing where things lie across the spectrum of search variables and needs can uncover hidden costs that need to be factored into the true total cost of SEO for an organization.
SEO is a big investment. But in the long run it will definitely pay off. Understanding your obvious and hidden costs will help you prepare your budget and measure your ROI from SEO.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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