How will SEO be priced and sold in the future?

Source : https://www.onlinekickstart.com/seo-cost-and-price/

In this blog post I am going to provide you as much insight about the process as possible so you can make an educated decision about what to pay for SEO and how to work with your chosen agency.

How much is this going to cost me and tell me why?

This is typically one of the first questions I get asked  by business owners or marketing people like you, once they’ve decided to go with SEO as their primary traffic strategy.

The answer is “It depends”.

You hate that answer right?  We all do.  You hate it  because you think it’s just another angle  digital marketers use to squeeze more money out of your wallet.

The reality is that there are many things that go into determining the right price you should be paying for digital marketing and seo services.

In this blog post I am going to provide you as much insight about the process as possible  so you can make an educated decision about what to pay for SEO and how to work with your chosen agency.

I’m also going to give you my opinion about how SEO services will be bought in the future.

The Importance of SEO

In my time as a digital marketer,  I’ve seen “SEO” sold from anywhere from $499 a month to $40,000 a month.

Value can be found at each of these price points and anywhere in between – depending on your specific circumstances, but to make sure  you are getting value you need to understand in detail what SEO is and why it’s important for your business.

Amongst business owners there continues to be a lot of confusion about SEO, with many people still confusing Paid search and Non-Paid search.

With Google being the largest referrer of search traffic, both paid and non-paid, SEO is critically important if you want to have a steady, consistent flow of targeted traffic to your site.

SEO helps search engines understand what your page is about and how relevant it is to users. And if your pages are relevant and sufficiently authoritative, you will be rewarded with a high visibility search listing and traffic to your site.

What do SEO’s actually do for their money?

When you engage an agency to “do seo” for you,  they traditionally do any or all of the following activities.  This list is constantly growing along with the changing nature of the role of the SEO agency.

Some of these activities are one-off and might only occur at the commencement of a campaign;  others are ongoing.

Read the list below and take the time to understand what your agency is doing for you.  That way there  will be fewer surprises and you’ll be able to ask more insightful questions.

Market Research

This involves researching your company,  its competitors, your products, your industry  and the online marketing tactics and strategies that are most effective in your space.

In Depth Competitor Research

Involves researching your competitors and their marketing tactics and strategies in  detail. Specifically their online marketing activities that assist with growing their visibility in search engines. This includes analysing:

  • Their link profiles to understand how they are acquiring quality  back links, critical to strong rankings and visibility
  • Their on-site optimisations to understand the keywords their pages are targeting
  • Their content marketing activities to understand how they are using content for link attraction – a critical element in the current Google environment.

Strategy Development & Implementation

This involves developing strategies for your business to help improve your sites’ performance in the organic search results. For most  small businesses these strategies are mostly the same.

Larger clients in competitive markets however,  require a little  more creativity to develop  approaches that  get results in the face of stronger competitors.

When you have a strategic engagement that costs many thousands of dollars, you are paying for the experience and creativity of the SEO consultant involved.

If you are investing a bunch of money in SEO you should expect a strategy that is more than just “We’re gonna get you these awesome links – 50 a month guaranteed.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the heart of everything an seo does.

In the past this was a simple process of researching the keyword phrases that prospective customers typed into the search engines, making an assessment of the relevance and competitiveness of the keywords, choosing target keywords for your websites pages and then drafting the require on site optimisations to help pages rank for these keywords. (Simple right?)

Even with the changes in Google where all searches are encrypted and the keywords people use to find you are not passed into your analytics, understanding keywords is still critical because they help you to understand your customers and how they search for you online.

This in turn helps your SEO team write compelling content, page titles and meta descriptions. (Those bits on the page that help Google figure out what a page is all about)

For smaller  businesses with a small number of pages on their site, keyword research  typically happens at the beginning of an engagement and helps the SEO team  the preparation optimised  page titles,  meta descriptions and content improvement recommendations.

On larger sites such as e Commerce sites keyword research is typically an ongoing activity that drives monthly optimisations to help get more and more pages ranking in the search results.

On site Optimisation and Recommendations

This involves anything to do with optimising the pages of your website.

Based on their research, your SEO agency will be drafting page titles and meta descriptions, recommending or making updates to content, creating new pages, improving internal linking, fixing duplicate content issues, setting up and configuring your blog, installing social sharing buttons.

Pretty much anything to do with your site that will improve the search engines ability to find your content and rank it is what they will be taking care of.

On site optimisations are where some of the biggest gains can happen. The simple act of  including the right keywords in a well crafted page title often sees  pages suddenly jump into the rankings now that Google knows what it is about.

A good example of onsite optimisations can be seen on a recent e-commerce site that I launched. www.MyKidsShoes.com.au

Looking at the spreadsheet below you can see the wide range of keyword phrases that have been included in the page titles of the category pages.  This requires the completion of detailed keyword research which then drives the creation of the page titles and meta descriptions.

mykidshoes-onsite-optimisations

In the past your SEO agency might have been chasing links to these pages with these keyword phrases in the anchor text.  The reality is that Google is smart enough to figure out what keywords are relevant to rank for.  You and your agency should focus on building the overall domain authority and trust which will help these pages rank for the many keyword variations included in the page titles.

Content Strategy and Development

With the importance that quality content now plays in getting found online, most seo’s now offer content strategy and or content development services.

This can be as comprehensive as a Content Marketing Plan for your business or as simple as sourcing blog posts for your blog.

Most agencies now offer content marketing as a separate service that they want you to purchase in addition to SEO.

The reality is, given it’s importance, content strategy and development should be considered a key element in any ongoing SEO engagement.

If your SEO agency is not doing this for you then you need to be asking hard questions about why not?

Rich Snippet Optimisations

Rich snippets simply refers to the extra bits of text and images that appear around your content in the search results.  Google Authorship is a type of rich snippet which is no longer being used.  Others include star ratings on product review ratings, recipes, videos.

For a simple explanation of what Rich Snippets are check out this post.

Reporting and Insights

Reporting is an activity that can vary greatly in terms of what you get and the time invested in producing the reports for you.

At a minimum you will (or should) get a set of standard SEO reports that might be as simple as some traffic reports and ranking reports.

Better SEO agencies will provide information on goal conversions (whether they be sales, sign ups or other goals) and the contribution that SEO or organic search made towards these goal conversions.

Larger clients with more complex businesses should  get more than just a data dump.  They should receive “insight” into what is happening, why and what this means in light of your business goals.

Information about which traffic sources are driving the best (or lowest cost) conversions, information on competitors and about updates in Google’s algorithm and what it means for your strategy.

Expect to pay extra for additional reporting or insight above the standard reports that everyone receives.

Account Management

Broadly speaking this is the cost of taking care of you, the client.  It includes the time an account manager spends talking to you about your campaign goals, briefing the SEO team and meeting with you to discuss your report and results.

If you are a small client you will typically get only nominal account management which might be at the on commencement of an SEO campaign and monthly when the report is delivered.

If you are investing under $1,000 a month don’t expect to be talking the ear off your account manager unless you want to reduce the time spent on actually working on your account.

[themedy_pullright colour=”yellow” colour_custom=”” text=”Get better educated and ask better questions and you will get more value from your account manager.”]

I’ve seen agencies where this role is done by a dedicated account manager and agencies where the account management role is taken on in part by an seo campaign manager; that is a technician who knows a lot about SEO.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. With a dedicated account manager, the agencies  SEO team spends more time actually “doing SEO” for you while the account manager answers your questions.

However in the situation where you are an enterprise level client you  expect to be able to ask questions and get insightful responses quickly.  Sometimes having to go through the account manager results in miscommunication via Chinese whispers and wasted time.

If you are a big enough client ask to talk directly with the seo campaign manager to get your technical questions answered directly.

Just be aware that as an enterprise client, you will be paying for the account managers time whether you are aware of it or not.

Remember from the agencies perspective, this can be a massive time and cost sink if not managed correctly.

As long as both you and the SEO agency are aware of the account management cost and both of you have matching expectations, any friction can be minimised. You can get the information you need while the agency can get on with doing the work needed to get you results.

 

SEO Pricing Models

Now to the Meat n Potatoes.

There are various pricing models for the delivery of SEO services.  The choice depends on your specific needs and the size of your organisation.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are often used when the work can be broken into many discrete tasks and you juts need those specific tasks done.

The benefit is you can easily allocate a discrete cost to each activity and make sure you are not getting charged for inefficiencies.

However expect to pay more per hour to compensate the consultant or agency for the costs associated with managing time and billing at an hourly rate.

If you are using hourly rates for anything make sure you review the output after an agreed upon set of hours to make sure you are getting value.

Fixed Price Services

Most SEO agencies have a list of services  they offer for a fixed price.

Typically these are the component tasks that make up a larger seo campaign.

Good examples of these services include:

  • Keyword Research
  • Conducting an SEO Audit
  • SEO Migration Planning
  • Drafting On site optimisations such as page titles and meta descriptions

Fixed price services are an ideal way of testing out a new SEO agency before committing to a longer term retainer.

Project Based Pricing

Where your needs are more complex or you have a fixed period project like a new mini site to build, SEO agencies are open to quoting on a project basis.

Depending on your projects needs they will provide you with a custom proposal to conduct specific SEO work on your behalf.

Project based pricing is good when you already have a creative agency or web design company doing most of your work and you need the services of a real SEO specialist to take care of your SEO needs for the life of a specific project.

Retainer

The retainer model is the most common form of pricing model in the SEO industry.

Retainers make sense because of the broad ongoing nature of SEO work.

Most SEO campaigns have a discrete set of activities which logically follow a set order.  In the beginning agencies do the research. They make and implement recommendations about fixing technical issues on your site. Then they  move onto ongoing marketing activities.

This way each month specific activities are conducted by the agency for you.  Then each month you get to assess how much this activity contributed to the online performance of your business.

Agencies like retainers because they can budget revenues and costs and plan activities for the months ahead.

Heres how to make retainers work:

  • Collaborate with the agency in the development of a 6 or 12 month campaign.
  • Take the time to understand what the agency will be doing for you each month
  • Make sure you are aware of your commitment in terms of resources, providing answers promptly to questions and implementing optimisations when requested
  • Involve the agency in your traditional marketing plans for the year ahead so they can tailor their strategy to leverage any offline work being done.
  • Get clear about how long things take to happen.  SEO takes time so in those early months track the agreed upon activities in the absence of high search visibility and sales which might take a few months to kick in.

This gives both you and the agency visibility into what is going to happen and when. That way they can plan their activities around your traditional offline marketing activities while you can manage your expectations as to what the results will be and when.

Retainers are typically offered as Packages at different price points.  In the next section I’m going to discuss these in more detail.

If you are interested in what pricing models to avoid check out  Four Pricing Models to avoid on EConsultancy by  Ben Potter @BennaP.

Which SEO Package Should I choose?

The SEO Package is simply the best way to sell SEO retainer services.  There is a package to suit each budget and requirements level.

This is done for several reasons.

The first is that you have the ability to  self-select depending on your budget allowing  you to test SEO at a price point you can afford.

The second is pricing packages allow agencies to create a standard set of services, which they know in advance how much it will  cost them to deliver.

This allows them to budget revenues and costs and resource for the delivery of SEO services.

Most Retainer packages typically fall into the following general categories. (Allow for regional variations but the types of businesses that fall into these bands is generally accurate.)

Small – Generally Up to $1,000

Suitable for companies just starting out, or which have a single local geographic area.

Think local retailers, local service providers such as plumbers, electricians, doctors, cosmetic surgeons, new small commerce businesses.

These campaigns typically should include local search optimisation to help you rank for local searches.

The type of work you should expect from an agency would be the acquisition of local directory links and citations to support  their optimised  Google My Business listing.  An example of this includes sites like Rubber StampsAustralia which are in low competition niches.

Medium – Between $1,000 to $4,000

Suitable for businesses with an established online presence,  which target a national or international audience or operate in more competitive niches.

Think multi-unit retailers, larger online retailers, wholesalers, larger brands making the move into online marketing.

Other local type businesses that would potentially fall in this pricing bucket include local electricians and used cars dealers in competitive markets.

Large or Custom – $5,000 and above

Budgets beyond $5,000 are typically for enterprise businesses targeting  national or international audiences in very competitive markets.

Think car insurance, life insurance, travel, tertiary education, credit cards, home loans and personal loans.

An example of this type of enterprise client is Tours to Go.  They are a national travel tours company selling a wide variety of highly competitive products.  The site has many thousands of pages which require optimistions, copy and content creation.  It’s important to make sure pages have the opportunity to get indexed so they can rank.

For example if, you look at this page promoting tours of the great ocean road, you can see the opportunity to expand on page content, site load speed and keyword targeting.

At this level an agency should have a strong focus on technical seo as which has the potential to benefit the site much more than a few more links.  In addition,  the agency would be providing strategic content marketing advice as well as competitive analysis and tracking.

Which package you choose depends on:

  • The size of your business and your budget
  • The geography you target,
  • The competitiveness of the industry in which you are competing
  • Your specific business goals,
  • And your level of understanding of what you are engaging the SEO agency to do for you.

The more educated you are about online marketing, the better you will be able to choose an SEO package that suits your business needs and the less chance of mismatched expectations between you and your agency.

SEO Ranking Guarantees – Real or False

I’ve always disliked SEO guarantees. Many (not all) of them prey on the ignorance of the customer and their trust in the agency to do the right thing.

Typically an SEO ranking guarantee says “We guarantee to rank your website on page 1 for your keywords within 3 months or else your money back”

Here’s the problem with that statement.

Which search engines?

The guarantee typically does not state in which search engine so it could include Yahoo or Bing which provide very little traffic when compared to Google.

Which keywords are they targeting?

The agency offering the guarantee typically selects easy keywords that might have very little search volume or competition and are easy to rank for.

Why are they easy to rank for? Because they are completely irrelevant and no one else in their right minds is chasing them.

Some of the keyword phrases they include as evidence of the guarantee could have been ranked for by simply publishing a blog post with the keyword in the title.

Furthermore, keyword rankings in and of them selves have long since lost their position as the number 1 KPI or metric.

There are broader metrics that are better aligned to your business goals or are better indicators of improved organic search performance such as Non-Paid Organic Conversions or the # of unique keywords bringing visitors to your site.

So take SEO guarantees with a grain of salt and don’t rely on them for assurance that you are getting a no risk deal. 

How to Get the best out of your SEO Agency

I bet through this blog post you’ve been waiting for this section right?  How to I keep my agency accountable?

Most areas of conflict arise because of issues around expectation management.

That is you did not get what you thought what you were getting or the agency thinks you are demanding more than they promised or sold you.

Key areas around which conflict arises include:

What are you doing for me?

If you don’t understand what the agency is doing for you then you will get frustrated when their bill arrives.

Make sure before you start you have a detailed campaign plan that breaks down the proposed SEO activities by month.

If you don’t know what these activities are, make sure you ask your account manager in advance.

How do I know this is working?

If you are looking at the wrong metrics or your expectations about how long positive results are going to take are misaligned then you are going to get really frustrated.

Before the campaign starts, make sure both you and  the agency are clear on what your business goals are and how the SEO agencies activities are going to contribute to helping you achieve them.

Decide on the metrics that you are both going to track and make sure the metrics tie back to your business goals.

Create a simple report tracking these key metrics and just focus on them.

Chasing vanity rankings is no longer a viable goal. SEO is now a much broader more complex activity now than ever before.

This SEO thing is taking far too long?

If you need or expect instant traffic then SEO might not be where you should be investing your online marketing dollars.

Safe, sustainable SEO takes time to implement and get results but once your site is performing well it’s the gift that keep on giving.

If you need instant traffic then you might be better served by using Paid Traffic such as Google Adwords rather than SEO.

To learn more about the discussions that occur between agencies and clients watch this discussion between @rand and @dejanseo about the future of SEO and agencies.

Read the full post here:  http://dejanseo.com.au/an-interview-with-rand-fishkin/

 

The Future of Buying SEO

The SEO world has changed massively in the last two years.

In the past,  you were able to “manipulate your way to top rankings” with paid or artificially created links.  Many companies were happy to take the risk of link building this way because the payoffs from a page 1 ranking were huge.

However, things have changed.

Google is getting more effective at detecting and penalising ranking strategies that go against their terms of service.

Nowadays to get sustainable rankings and organic visibility  you need to earn then through well promoted quality content;  with the goal of acquiring enough links, authority and social signals so that Google will grace your site with higher visibility in the search results.

How will SEO be priced and sold in the future?

Here are some of my thoughts on how SEO services will be priced and sold in future.

  1. There is going to be a large growth in agencies offering you content marketing services, whether included in your SEO campaign or sold separately.  It’s already happening now.  At the smaller end of town this will be in the form of blog content creation services and social media services.  At the top end of town in the form of strategic content marketing campaigns covering  content strategy,  content development  and  content promotion.
  2. Good SEO agencies are going to change the conversations they are having with you as a business owner.  They will be talking with you about sustainable SEO, content marketing, social media and it’s importance as a part of content promotion, new ways to measure SEO performance.  If you are not having these discussions you are talking to an agency that hasn’t kept up with the times.
  3. SEO guarantees will be gone.  A guarantee implies they can control the outcome.  SEO agencies will stop offering these as business owners like yourself become more educated.
  4. Retainers will continue to be the dominant way to provide SEO services. The composition of work done will change however. Think more content marketing.  There will also be a large growth in providing educational services where your agency will help you and your team understand the massive changes in online marketing and how to take advantage of them in your business.
  5. There will be less “SEO Services” and more “Online Marketing Services sold.  The reality is that while SEO is a critical part of making sure your website gets visibility in search, now more than ever it is just one part (albeit an important one) of the full range of online marketing services you need to bring to bear to make your business successful online.  For some insight into how the responsibilities of SEO have changed in the last few years check out this blog post from Moz.com called The Responsibilities of SEO have been upgraded.
  6. SEO & PR.  At the end of the day they do the same thing.  There is going to be more focus placed on how the traditional PR and promotional activities you implement can be optimised to benefit your online visibility.

 

Key Takeaways for Business Owners and Marketing Managers

Here are the key things you need to be doing as a business owner to help ensure a successful SEO engagement with your agency.

  1. Educate yourself.  A more educated business owner or manager can make better decisions.  Too busy to learn?  That’s not an excuse anymore is it? Subscribe to the Moz.com Blog and review the content weekly or choose an agency who is interested in educating you.
  2. Have better discussions with SEO providers.  The ideal SEO agency should be trying to educate you about why you need to invest in content, blogging, audience development etc.  If they are simply talking about tactics like article marketing, comment spamming, or  #1 rankings, ranking guarantees then walk away.  They haven’t kept up with the times.
  3. Demand and work to a detailed plan.  Have a detailed plan in place so you know what is being done each month.  The plan will help manage your expectations and give you an assurance that you are getting value each month.
  4. Embrace content marketing & social media.  Miss the old days when you didn’t have to invest in blogging and content?  Too bad.  You now have the budget for it because within 2 years the old paper-based Yellow pages will be gone and you can invest that money in content and building a social media audience that can be used to promote your content. Great examples in boring or traditionally “hard to write for industries” like used cars, industrial are the Used Cars Buying Guide created here.
  5.  Choose the right metrics.  Take the time to work with your agency to develop a simple way of tracking the right metrics for your business.  There are a ton of good articles about this.  If you and your agency agree on these metrics up front there is less chance of disagreements down the track.

 

In Summary

SEO as a service you buy has evolved massively in the last two years.  So should the way you engage someone to “do SEO” for you.

In all likelihood, the retainer model will continue to be the most popular way to engage an agency to deliver these services for your business.  However what will change is what you get for your money.  More content marketing, more social media, more education and consultation.

As a business owner and manager,  you need to get more educated about what is being done for you and how long it will take to deliver a return for your business.

Got question?  Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said?  Please comment below and let’s have a chat.

In this blog post I am going to provide you as much insight about the process as possible so you can make an educated decision about what to pay for SEO and how to work with your chosen agency.

How much is this going to cost me and tell me why?

This is typically one of the first questions I get asked  by business owners or marketing people like you, once they’ve decided to go with SEO as their primary traffic strategy.

The answer is “It depends”.

You hate that answer right?  We all do.  You hate it  because you think it’s just another angle  digital marketers use to squeeze more money out of your wallet.

The reality is that there are many things that go into determining the right price you should be paying for digital marketing and seo services.

In this blog post I am going to provide you as much insight about the process as possible  so you can make an educated decision about what to pay for SEO and how to work with your chosen agency.

I’m also going to give you my opinion about how SEO services will be bought in the future.

The Importance of SEO

In my time as a digital marketer,  I’ve seen “SEO” sold from anywhere from $499 a month to $40,000 a month.

Value can be found at each of these price points and anywhere in between – depending on your specific circumstances, but to make sure  you are getting value you need to understand in detail what SEO is and why it’s important for your business.

Amongst business owners there continues to be a lot of confusion about SEO, with many people still confusing Paid search and Non-Paid search.

With Google being the largest referrer of search traffic, both paid and non-paid, SEO is critically important if you want to have a steady, consistent flow of targeted traffic to your site.

SEO helps search engines understand what your page is about and how relevant it is to users. And if your pages are relevant and sufficiently authoritative, you will be rewarded with a high visibility search listing and traffic to your site.

What do SEO’s actually do for their money?

When you engage an agency to “do seo” for you,  they traditionally do any or all of the following activities.  This list is constantly growing along with the changing nature of the role of the SEO agency.

Some of these activities are one-off and might only occur at the commencement of a campaign;  others are ongoing.

Read the list below and take the time to understand what your agency is doing for you.  That way there  will be fewer surprises and you’ll be able to ask more insightful questions.

Market Research

This involves researching your company,  its competitors, your products, your industry  and the online marketing tactics and strategies that are most effective in your space.

In Depth Competitor Research

Involves researching your competitors and their marketing tactics and strategies in  detail. Specifically their online marketing activities that assist with growing their visibility in search engines. This includes analysing:

  • Their link profiles to understand how they are acquiring quality  back links, critical to strong rankings and visibility
  • Their on-site optimisations to understand the keywords their pages are targeting
  • Their content marketing activities to understand how they are using content for link attraction – a critical element in the current Google environment.

Strategy Development & Implementation

This involves developing strategies for your business to help improve your sites’ performance in the organic search results. For most  small businesses these strategies are mostly the same.

Larger clients in competitive markets however,  require a little  more creativity to develop  approaches that  get results in the face of stronger competitors.

When you have a strategic engagement that costs many thousands of dollars, you are paying for the experience and creativity of the SEO consultant involved.

If you are investing a bunch of money in SEO you should expect a strategy that is more than just “We’re gonna get you these awesome links – 50 a month guaranteed.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the heart of everything an seo does.

In the past this was a simple process of researching the keyword phrases that prospective customers typed into the search engines, making an assessment of the relevance and competitiveness of the keywords, choosing target keywords for your websites pages and then drafting the require on site optimisations to help pages rank for these keywords. (Simple right?)

Even with the changes in Google where all searches are encrypted and the keywords people use to find you are not passed into your analytics, understanding keywords is still critical because they help you to understand your customers and how they search for you online.

This in turn helps your SEO team write compelling content, page titles and meta descriptions. (Those bits on the page that help Google figure out what a page is all about)

For smaller  businesses with a small number of pages on their site, keyword research  typically happens at the beginning of an engagement and helps the SEO team  the preparation optimised  page titles,  meta descriptions and content improvement recommendations.

On larger sites such as e Commerce sites keyword research is typically an ongoing activity that drives monthly optimisations to help get more and more pages ranking in the search results.

On site Optimisation and Recommendations

This involves anything to do with optimising the pages of your website.

Based on their research, your SEO agency will be drafting page titles and meta descriptions, recommending or making updates to content, creating new pages, improving internal linking, fixing duplicate content issues, setting up and configuring your blog, installing social sharing buttons.

Pretty much anything to do with your site that will improve the search engines ability to find your content and rank it is what they will be taking care of.

On site optimisations are where some of the biggest gains can happen. The simple act of  including the right keywords in a well crafted page title often sees  pages suddenly jump into the rankings now that Google knows what it is about.

A good example of onsite optimisations can be seen on a recent e-commerce site that I launched. www.MyKidsShoes.com.au

Looking at the spreadsheet below you can see the wide range of keyword phrases that have been included in the page titles of the category pages.  This requires the completion of detailed keyword research which then drives the creation of the page titles and meta descriptions.

mykidshoes-onsite-optimisations

In the past your SEO agency might have been chasing links to these pages with these keyword phrases in the anchor text.  The reality is that Google is smart enough to figure out what keywords are relevant to rank for.  You and your agency should focus on building the overall domain authority and trust which will help these pages rank for the many keyword variations included in the page titles.

Content Strategy and Development

With the importance that quality content now plays in getting found online, most seo’s now offer content strategy and or content development services.

This can be as comprehensive as a Content Marketing Plan for your business or as simple as sourcing blog posts for your blog.

Most agencies now offer content marketing as a separate service that they want you to purchase in addition to SEO.

The reality is, given it’s importance, content strategy and development should be considered a key element in any ongoing SEO engagement.

If your SEO agency is not doing this for you then you need to be asking hard questions about why not?

Rich Snippet Optimisations

Rich snippets simply refers to the extra bits of text and images that appear around your content in the search results.  Google Authorship is a type of rich snippet which is no longer being used.  Others include star ratings on product review ratings, recipes, videos.

For a simple explanation of what Rich Snippets are check out this post.

Reporting and Insights

Reporting is an activity that can vary greatly in terms of what you get and the time invested in producing the reports for you.

At a minimum you will (or should) get a set of standard SEO reports that might be as simple as some traffic reports and ranking reports.

Better SEO agencies will provide information on goal conversions (whether they be sales, sign ups or other goals) and the contribution that SEO or organic search made towards these goal conversions.

Larger clients with more complex businesses should  get more than just a data dump.  They should receive “insight” into what is happening, why and what this means in light of your business goals.

Information about which traffic sources are driving the best (or lowest cost) conversions, information on competitors and about updates in Google’s algorithm and what it means for your strategy.

Expect to pay extra for additional reporting or insight above the standard reports that everyone receives.

Account Management

Broadly speaking this is the cost of taking care of you, the client.  It includes the time an account manager spends talking to you about your campaign goals, briefing the SEO team and meeting with you to discuss your report and results.

If you are a small client you will typically get only nominal account management which might be at the on commencement of an SEO campaign and monthly when the report is delivered.

If you are investing under $1,000 a month don’t expect to be talking the ear off your account manager unless you want to reduce the time spent on actually working on your account.

Get better educated and ask better questions and you will get more value from your account manager.

I’ve seen agencies where this role is done by a dedicated account manager and agencies where the account management role is taken on in part by an seo campaign manager; that is a technician who knows a lot about SEO.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. With a dedicated account manager, the agencies  SEO team spends more time actually “doing SEO” for you while the account manager answers your questions.

However in the situation where you are an enterprise level client you  expect to be able to ask questions and get insightful responses quickly.  Sometimes having to go through the account manager results in miscommunication via Chinese whispers and wasted time.

If you are a big enough client ask to talk directly with the seo campaign manager to get your technical questions answered directly.

Just be aware that as an enterprise client, you will be paying for the account managers time whether you are aware of it or not.

Remember from the agencies perspective, this can be a massive time and cost sink if not managed correctly.

As long as both you and the SEO agency are aware of the account management cost and both of you have matching expectations, any friction can be minimised. You can get the information you need while the agency can get on with doing the work needed to get you results.

 

SEO Pricing Models

Now to the Meat n Potatoes.

There are various pricing models for the delivery of SEO services.  The choice depends on your specific needs and the size of your organisation.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are often used when the work can be broken into many discrete tasks and you juts need those specific tasks done.

The benefit is you can easily allocate a discrete cost to each activity and make sure you are not getting charged for inefficiencies.

However expect to pay more per hour to compensate the consultant or agency for the costs associated with managing time and billing at an hourly rate.

If you are using hourly rates for anything make sure you review the output after an agreed upon set of hours to make sure you are getting value.

Fixed Price Services

Most SEO agencies have a list of services  they offer for a fixed price.

Typically these are the component tasks that make up a larger seo campaign.

Good examples of these services include:

  • Keyword Research
  • Conducting an SEO Audit
  • SEO Migration Planning
  • Drafting On site optimisations such as page titles and meta descriptions

Fixed price services are an ideal way of testing out a new SEO agency before committing to a longer term retainer.

Project Based Pricing

Where your needs are more complex or you have a fixed period project like a new mini site to build, SEO agencies are open to quoting on a project basis.

Depending on your projects needs they will provide you with a custom proposal to conduct specific SEO work on your behalf.

Project based pricing is good when you already have a creative agency or web design company doing most of your work and you need the services of a real SEO specialist to take care of your SEO needs for the life of a specific project.

Retainer

The retainer model is the most common form of pricing model in the SEO industry.

Retainers make sense because of the broad ongoing nature of SEO work.

Most SEO campaigns have a discrete set of activities which logically follow a set order.  In the beginning agencies do the research. They make and implement recommendations about fixing technical issues on your site. Then they  move onto ongoing marketing activities.

This way each month specific activities are conducted by the agency for you.  Then each month you get to assess how much this activity contributed to the online performance of your business.

Agencies like retainers because they can budget revenues and costs and plan activities for the months ahead.

Heres how to make retainers work:

  • Collaborate with the agency in the development of a 6 or 12 month campaign.
  • Take the time to understand what the agency will be doing for you each month
  • Make sure you are aware of your commitment in terms of resources, providing answers promptly to questions and implementing optimisations when requested
  • Involve the agency in your traditional marketing plans for the year ahead so they can tailor their strategy to leverage any offline work being done.
  • Get clear about how long things take to happen.  SEO takes time so in those early months track the agreed upon activities in the absence of high search visibility and sales which might take a few months to kick in.

This gives both you and the agency visibility into what is going to happen and when. That way they can plan their activities around your traditional offline marketing activities while you can manage your expectations as to what the results will be and when.

Retainers are typically offered as Packages at different price points.  In the next section I’m going to discuss these in more detail.

If you are interested in what pricing models to avoid check out  Four Pricing Models to avoid on EConsultancy by  Ben Potter @BennaP.

Which SEO Package Should I choose?

The SEO Package is simply the best way to sell SEO retainer services.  There is a package to suit each budget and requirements level.

This is done for several reasons.

The first is that you have the ability to  self-select depending on your budget allowing  you to test SEO at a price point you can afford.

The second is pricing packages allow agencies to create a standard set of services, which they know in advance how much it will  cost them to deliver.

This allows them to budget revenues and costs and resource for the delivery of SEO services.

Most Retainer packages typically fall into the following general categories. (Allow for regional variations but the types of businesses that fall into these bands is generally accurate.)

Small – Generally Up to $1,000

Suitable for companies just starting out, or which have a single local geographic area.

Think local retailers, local service providers such as plumbers, electricians, doctors, cosmetic surgeons, new small commerce businesses.

These campaigns typically should include local search optimisation to help you rank for local searches.

The type of work you should expect from an agency would be the acquisition of local directory links and citations to support  their optimised  Google My Business listing.  An example of this includes sites like Rubber StampsAustralia which are in low competition niches.

Medium – Between $1,000 to $4,000

Suitable for businesses with an established online presence,  which target a national or international audience or operate in more competitive niches.

Think multi-unit retailers, larger online retailers, wholesalers, larger brands making the move into online marketing.

Other local type businesses that would potentially fall in this pricing bucket include local electricians and used cars dealers in competitive markets.

Large or Custom – $5,000 and above

Budgets beyond $5,000 are typically for enterprise businesses targeting  national or international audiences in very competitive markets.

Think car insurance, life insurance, travel, tertiary education, credit cards, home loans and personal loans.

An example of this type of enterprise client is Tours to Go.  They are a national travel tours company selling a wide variety of highly competitive products.  The site has many thousands of pages which require optimistions, copy and content creation.  It’s important to make sure pages have the opportunity to get indexed so they can rank.

For example if, you look at this page promoting tours of the great ocean road, you can see the opportunity to expand on page content, site load speed and keyword targeting.

At this level an agency should have a strong focus on technical seo as which has the potential to benefit the site much more than a few more links.  In addition,  the agency would be providing strategic content marketing advice as well as competitive analysis and tracking.

Which package you choose depends on:

  • The size of your business and your budget
  • The geography you target,
  • The competitiveness of the industry in which you are competing
  • Your specific business goals,
  • And your level of understanding of what you are engaging the SEO agency to do for you.

The more educated you are about online marketing, the better you will be able to choose an SEO package that suits your business needs and the less chance of mismatched expectations between you and your agency.

SEO Ranking Guarantees – Real or False

I’ve always disliked SEO guarantees. Many (not all) of them prey on the ignorance of the customer and their trust in the agency to do the right thing.

Typically an SEO ranking guarantee says “We guarantee to rank your website on page 1 for your keywords within 3 months or else your money back”

Here’s the problem with that statement.

Which search engines?

The guarantee typically does not state in which search engine so it could include Yahoo or Bing which provide very little traffic when compared to Google.

Which keywords are they targeting?

The agency offering the guarantee typically selects easy keywords that might have very little search volume or competition and are easy to rank for.

Why are they easy to rank for? Because they are completely irrelevant and no one else in their right minds is chasing them.

Some of the keyword phrases they include as evidence of the guarantee could have been ranked for by simply publishing a blog post with the keyword in the title.

Furthermore, keyword rankings in and of them selves have long since lost their position as the number 1 KPI or metric.

There are broader metrics that are better aligned to your business goals or are better indicators of improved organic search performance such as Non-Paid Organic Conversions or the # of unique keywords bringing visitors to your site.

So take SEO guarantees with a grain of salt and don’t rely on them for assurance that you are getting a no risk deal. 

How to Get the best out of your SEO Agency

I bet through this blog post you’ve been waiting for this section right?  How to I keep my agency accountable?

Most areas of conflict arise because of issues around expectation management.

That is you did not get what you thought what you were getting or the agency thinks you are demanding more than they promised or sold you.

Key areas around which conflict arises include:

What are you doing for me?

If you don’t understand what the agency is doing for you then you will get frustrated when their bill arrives.

Make sure before you start you have a detailed campaign plan that breaks down the proposed SEO activities by month.

If you don’t know what these activities are, make sure you ask your account manager in advance.

How do I know this is working?

If you are looking at the wrong metrics or your expectations about how long positive results are going to take are misaligned then you are going to get really frustrated.

Before the campaign starts, make sure both you and  the agency are clear on what your business goals are and how the SEO agencies activities are going to contribute to helping you achieve them.

Decide on the metrics that you are both going to track and make sure the metrics tie back to your business goals.

Create a simple report tracking these key metrics and just focus on them.

Chasing vanity rankings is no longer a viable goal. SEO is now a much broader more complex activity now than ever before.

This SEO thing is taking far too long?

If you need or expect instant traffic then SEO might not be where you should be investing your online marketing dollars.

Safe, sustainable SEO takes time to implement and get results but once your site is performing well it’s the gift that keep on giving.

If you need instant traffic then you might be better served by using Paid Traffic such as Google Adwords rather than SEO.

To learn more about the discussions that occur between agencies and clients watch this discussion between @rand and @dejanseo about the future of SEO and agencies.

Read the full post here:  http://dejanseo.com.au/an-interview-with-rand-fishkin/

The Future of Buying SEO

The SEO world has changed massively in the last two years.

In the past,  you were able to “manipulate your way to top rankings” with paid or artificially created links.  Many companies were happy to take the risk of link building this way because the payoffs from a page 1 ranking were huge.

However, things have changed.

Google is getting more effective at detecting and penalising ranking strategies that go against their terms of service.

Nowadays to get sustainable rankings and organic visibility  you need to earn then through well promoted quality content;  with the goal of acquiring enough links, authority and social signals so that Google will grace your site with higher visibility in the search results.

How will SEO be priced and sold in the future?

Here are some of my thoughts on how SEO services will be priced and sold in future.

  1. There is going to be a large growth in agencies offering you content marketing services, whether included in your SEO campaign or sold separately.  It’s already happening now.  At the smaller end of town this will be in the form of blog content creation services and social media services.  At the top end of town in the form of strategic content marketing campaigns covering  content strategy,  content development  and  content promotion.
  2. Good SEO agencies are going to change the conversations they are having with you as a business owner.  They will be talking with you about sustainable SEO, content marketing, social media and it’s importance as a part of content promotion, new ways to measure SEO performance.  If you are not having these discussions you are talking to an agency that hasn’t kept up with the times.
  3. SEO guarantees will be gone.  A guarantee implies they can control the outcome.  SEO agencies will stop offering these as business owners like yourself become more educated.
  4. Retainers will continue to be the dominant way to provide SEO services. The composition of work done will change however. Think more content marketing.  There will also be a large growth in providing educational services where your agency will help you and your team understand the massive changes in online marketing and how to take advantage of them in your business.
  5. There will be less “SEO Services” and more “Online Marketing Services sold.  The reality is that while SEO is a critical part of making sure your website gets visibility in search, now more than ever it is just one part (albeit an important one) of the full range of online marketing services you need to bring to bear to make your business successful online.  For some insight into how the responsibilities of SEO have changed in the last few years check out this blog post from Moz.com called The Responsibilities of SEO have been upgraded.
  6. SEO & PR.  At the end of the day they do the same thing.  There is going to be more focus placed on how the traditional PR and promotional activities you implement can be optimised to benefit your online visibility.

 

Key Takeaways for Business Owners and Marketing Managers

Here are the key things you need to be doing as a business owner to help ensure a successful SEO engagement with your agency.

  1. Educate yourself.  A more educated business owner or manager can make better decisions.  Too busy to learn?  That’s not an excuse anymore is it? Subscribe to the Moz.com Blog and review the content weekly or choose an agency who is interested in educating you.
  2. Have better discussions with SEO providers.  The ideal SEO agency should be trying to educate you about why you need to invest in content, blogging, audience development etc.  If they are simply talking about tactics like article marketing, comment spamming, or  #1 rankings, ranking guarantees then walk away.  They haven’t kept up with the times.
  3. Demand and work to a detailed plan.  Have a detailed plan in place so you know what is being done each month.  The plan will help manage your expectations and give you an assurance that you are getting value each month.
  4. Embrace content marketing & social media.  Miss the old days when you didn’t have to invest in blogging and content?  Too bad.  You now have the budget for it because within 2 years the old paper-based Yellow pages will be gone and you can invest that money in content and building a social media audience that can be used to promote your content. Great examples in boring or traditionally “hard to write for industries” like used cars, industrial are the Used Cars Buying Guide created here.
  5.  Choose the right metrics.  Take the time to work with your agency to develop a simple way of tracking the right metrics for your business.  There are a ton of good articles about this.  If you and your agency agree on these metrics up front there is less chance of disagreements down the track.

 

In Summary

SEO as a service you buy has evolved massively in the last two years.  So should the way you engage someone to “do SEO” for you.

In all likelihood, the retainer model will continue to be the most popular way to engage an agency to deliver these services for your business.  However what will change is what you get for your money.  More content marketing, more social media, more education and consultation.

As a business owner and manager,  you need to get more educated about what is being done for you and how long it will take to deliver a return for your business.

Got question?  Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said?  Please comment below and let’s have a chat.

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How Much Does SEO Cost?

How much does SEO cost? How much should business owners be expecting to pay for SEO?

These are typical questions that come to the mind of any business owner when trying to make sense of pricing within the SEO industry.

Some say $99 a month, others start at $2,000.

So what gives? Why the huge difference?

Confusion about SEO pricing

There’s an enormous amount of confusion about how much SEO costs and that’s for good reason.

To demonstrate my point, I did a little bit of research across a number of websites offering SEO services and found that out of the sites I looked at, pricing varied enormously. Some providers were offering SEO services for just $99 per month, whilst others ranged anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 per month and beyond.

seo-pricing

So what the hell is going on here?

How can business owners make any sense of this? I understand there are obviously differences in quality and service offerings, but how could the gap be so wide?

Let’s look a bit closer at some of the existing problems.

Many business owners don’t understand the service offering

Let’s say for instance a business owner is faced with several sites – some offering SEO services at $99 per month, whilst others are in the thousands.

If the business owner has no idea what any of the service offerings mean, then many SEO packages might look something like this.

confusing-seo-pricing

 

And when this happens, they focus on what they DO understand – which is price.

When there is a lack of understanding of the actual service offering, it becomes near impossible to differentiate between good SEO and bad SEO.

Needless to say, when there’s a level of uncertainty or confusion, many business owners might try to minimise the risk by throwing the smallest amount of money at it in hope that it works. Again, this happens because they don’t understand the service offering.

Of course this isn’t going to be true in every case – but according to some studies, many site owners are spending as little as possible on their online marketing. In my experience, most that I’ve seen are small business owners.

I don’t know how many business owners I’ve worked with that have used cheap SEO agencies, have said,

“We really had no idea what they were doing, or what we were paying for – but at $199 a month we figured we didn’t have much to lose, so we gave it a go”.

Taking this approach (decision making based upon price alone) especially in the SEO space, is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

Cheap SEO is incredibly expensive

Firstly, what would I define as “cheap SEO”?

Anything less than $500 a month. Definitely anything in the $99-$299 range. Infact I would go as far as saying anything less than $1,000 per month.

Why?

It comes down to paying for time (I’ll cover more on that below)

Before I continue, I want to point out that expensive SEO doesn’t instantly mean “better SEO”, but it should at the very least indicate a level of care and quality. Investing in very cheap SEO is extremely dangerous because it can work out much more expensive in the long run.

To give you an example, let’s say there’s a problem with your car, and you take it to a professional mechanic. The quote comes in at $2,000 to repair your car. You think to yourself “This is ridiculous, I can’t afford this”, so you call your brother in law (who knows a guy that knows a guy) who can do the job for $800.

So you take the car, and get the work done.

Everything seems fine until a month later when suddenly – BANG!

Your engine literally explodes and you’re left on the side of the road, stranded.

Realising the terrible mistake you’ve made, you return to the original workshop where they shake their heads and say “Oh mate, this is really going to cost you now because the repairs are going to be far more extensive than they were before.”

So now you’re out of pocket the initial $800, plus $160 for the tow truck, and now it’s going to cost $6,000 to get fixed instead of $2,000 (plus your car is going to be out of service MUCH longer)

All because you tried to save a few dollars.

cheap-mechanic

I see this ALL THE TIME in the SEO space, and as a result I find business owners that have –

  • Lost all of their site revenue
  • Been burnt by some cheap SEO agency
  • Had their sites penalised as a result of dodgy work
  • All of the above

When this happens the damage has been done, and in many cases it becomes extremely difficult to undo it. Sometimes the damage is so bad, the business owner has to dump the domain and start over. That can be an incredibly expensive exercise, especially if it’s going to impact your branding (vehicle decals, signage, uniforms, print media, stationery etc)

Again, expensive SEO doesn’t immediately mean “instant success”, but there are signs to look for. (I’ll cover those in a moment)

Many business owners consider SEO an expense

SEO will be nothing more than an expense if you’re not focusing on the metrics that matter.

If you’re paying for SEO, then you should be focusing on putting a dollar in, pulling the lever, and getting 2 dollars out – not just rankings.

A great deal of business owners make the mistake of focusing on rankings alone. Infact, I had an interesting discussion with a client recently, who said “We don’t care about the money, we just want to rank”.

This was said in response to me trying to educate the client about the importance of measuring their marketing efforts. Having comprehensive reporting in place so that they knew how their site was performing.

Within any SEO campaign, you should know –

  • What percentage of traffic you’re receiving is organic search traffic
  • What percentage of that traffic is actually converting
  • What your conversion rates are
  • Overall site revenue (per month)
  • …and whether or not your numbers are improving each month

Having this information will ensure that you can work towards making your site profitable – and when that happens, SEO is no longer an “expense”, but an “investment”. That should be the whole point of the exercise.

Making your site profitable – NOT RANKINGS.

This is where cheap SEO fails every time, because service providers in this space offer useless features like –

  • Directory submissions
  • Social bookmarks
  • Free crappy press releases
  • SEO articles

None of this stuff is going to make any difference to making your site profitable in any way, and this is what separates the cheap crap from good quality work (that you pay for)

Any reputable service offering is charged accordingly

Here’s an interesting diagram that I did up based upon a survey carried out at Moz. This diagram shows average hourly SEO rates within Australia.

hourly-seo-rates-australia

As you can see, the majority of hourly rates falls between $76 to $200 an hour. Here at Works Media, we charge anywhere between $75-$125 an hour, depending upon what type of work is being performed.

It’s interesting to note how there are a small percentage of firms charging at both the high end $750 an hour (which is extreme) right down to less than $25 an hour which is typical of rates that you might find overseas (India for example)

What this diagram shows us is that any reputable SEO company, in order to provide a quality service, and run a profitable business – needs to be operating within that $100-$200 per hour range.

This is why I shake my head at site owners investing in SEO at $99 a month.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out exactly what sort of work you could expect at such a small fee.

SEO takes time. Time is money

I’m not quite sure what site owners are expecting to happen at $99 a month, but I can tell you it won’t be much. Infact, it may be nothing at all (yes, I’ve heard of SEO companies taking payment then doing absolutely nothing) The problem that exists when you’re talking about such small fees are – profit margins.

If you’re paying an agency say, $99 per month, then for them to be making ANY sort of margins, they’d need to be making at least say $50 out of it – which leaves $49 to go towards your marketing. Seriously??????

But SEO agencies can charge so little because they’ve got thousands of clients, right?

Exactly, which brings me to my next point.

Churn and burn.

Agencies that push clients through the wringer at $99 a month couldn’t give a SHIT about the success of their clients, let alone be able to service them in any effective manner. I mean seriously, how could you possibly provide any quality of service to clients when you have thousands of them?

You could, if you had hundreds of staff, but how can you pay for staff when the margins are so small?

It just doesn’t work unless –

  • The entire system is plugged into some crappy PBN
  • The work is being outsourced overseas at $5 an hour
  • Customers are being fooled into thinking work is being done, where nothing is being done at all

For effective SEO, there needs to be bums in seats.

That is, staff doing the actual work. And staff expect to be paid.

Keeping perspective

What I find irritating is how some business owners actually expect results for just a few hundred dollars a month. That is – build their business and enhance their marketing and sales, for just a few hundred dollars. I’ve sat on calls with potential clients that have said, “We want at least 6 enquiries a day (each lead was worth several thousands of dollars) and our budget is around $500 per month, can you help us?”

Needless to say I ended the call quite quickly.

$500 per month equates to $6,000 per annum. That, in terms of marketing is ridiculous.

Let me ask you something….

Would you work as an employee for someone at $500 per month? Of course not.

Infact according to this article here published by news.com.au points out that the lowest paid job right now in Australia is a “Fast Food Cook” who earns just $37,705 a year.

$37,705 a year equates to just over $3,100 per month.

Even fast food cooks wouldn’t get out of bed for $500 a month. So why are business owners expecting to pay that for marketing?

It’s ridiculous.

How to make sense of the costs involved

I’ve never shown this before, but this spreadsheet helps us calculate the costs involved for each campaign we work on. This spreadsheet is actually a customised version of one that was originally put together by Lane Boland – so I want to give credit where credit is due.

keyword-seo-calculator-estimation-tool

Firstly, you have the top 10 keywords as chosen by the client. (no we’re not talking about PPC, keep reading)

These keywords are entered within Google’s Keyword Planner to identify the CPC or “cost per click” for each term. As you can see, each keyword has a value, along with estimated traffic and the cost of acquiring that traffic. It should be noted that we use Adwords to get an idea of what a client would be paying if they used paid traffic as opposed to organic SEO.

We then calculate the estimated traffic x cost, then total it up.

In this instance, it comes to $14,447.40.

We then divide this figure by 10% to calculate our monthly SEO fee. (We charge 10% of what paid traffic would cost). Here, the total comes to $1,444.74. We then add 10% of the LTV (the lifetime value of the customer) to this total which now gives us $1,524.74. We then calculate the difficulty rating of the chosen industry using a proprietary difficulty measuring tool to get an average of the difficulty overall. In this case it’s 25%. So we add that percentage of the total, BACK to the total. More competitive markets result in much higher ratings, therefor costing more.

So we’re now at a total of $1,905.93 cents which we round up to the nearest dollar – $1,906 per month.

This equates to 15 hours worth of work per month, (again rounded as it went slightly over) to which we can then present to the client within our proposal and quote.

From here two things can happen –

  • We go ahead at the agreed quote
  • We negotiate the amount of hours the client wishes to work at, if we are above or below the clients allocated budget. Some clients want more hours, others less.

At the end of the day, it equates to roughly $125 an hour.

You might be asking, “Well if it’s a flat hourly rate, why not just offer fewer hours to accommodate cheaper clients?” ($500pm)

There’s good reason why we don’t, and it’s because putting in 4 hours of work per month on SEO would be a complete waste of time. It’s just not viable, especially when some areas of what we do may take 10 hours or more (eg research, onpage optimisation etc)

You get what you pay for

To finish up, I want to say – as with anything, you get what you pay for. SEO is no different.

Here’s a simple diagram that illustrates my point. You can see that anything around the $25 an hour mark has the potential to be spam, which could damage your site, or there may be no work performed at all. At the other end of the scale you have agencies with large teams that may charge up to $200 an hour or more. Typically agencies of this size are heavily involved with media, and only work with large corporate organisations such as banks and government.

I think anywhere in the $75 – $200 an hour range should see decent quality work performed that will bring about tangible returns on investment.

seo-cost-quality-chart

Conclusion

It really amazes me when business owners just throw their sites over to some random SEO agency for a few hundred dollars a month, and they think they’re going to get some sort of valuable service in return. I mean, trolley boys collecting trolleys at Coles wouldn’t work for $300 a month, and you’re asking for BUSINESS MARKETING services?????

Really?

Here’s the thing – SEO takes time, and that time needs to be applied for any successful campaign.

So next time you’re on the phone to an SEO agency, ask them “How many hours per month do I get for X$?” and I will almost guarantee you that they will stumble and stutter through some illogical response and eventually admitting that they don’t break their service down into “hours”, which is total bullshit.

They’ll say something like “We don’t charge an hourly rate, we just have deliverables each month”.

Again, total BS.

For a few hundred dollars a month, they’re not going to do a damn thing. I mean, would YOU work for $300 a month?????

As with anything, you get what you pay for.

I know when it comes to pricing, it’s a very sensitive subject and many may argue against some of the points I’ve made in this article, which is a good thing. If you have something to say, I want to hear it. Post up your thoughts below, and let me know what you think.

Source : http://www.seopoint.com.au/blog/how-much-does-seo-cost-how-much-should-you-be-paying/