Search engine optimization (also called SEO or SEO optimization) is one of the most important marketing projects you can take on. But there are a lot of misunderstandings around the topic, including a key consideration: How much does SEO optimization cost?
Done right, SEO optimization leads to a net gain in business. Over time, the cost should be eclipsed by the new prospects you attract to your website and convert into paying customers. But it won’t happen overnight – that’s one of the drawbacks as well as its core strength.
Why Should You Pay for Search Engine Optimization, Anyway?
One reason SEO is confusing is business owners don’t always know exactly what they’re getting for their investment. SEO is a collection of best practices in marketing, technology, and user experience that all come together to make your website more valuable to search engines.
Given there are so many pieces in the SEO toolbox, it’s not easy to judge the merit of any one practice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure the results you get from search engine optimization. In fact, there’s an easy way to see the results: Prominent placement in searches related to your business.
When your company appears near the top of the results list for terms your potential customers search for, they see it as an endorsement and a mark of quality. Meeting them at this vital moment, when you can help them with a problem or question, sets the stage for a relationship of trust.
Without search engine optimization, you’ll never get noticed.
If you don’t capture the right traffic – preferably when prospects are early in their search for solutions – it’ll be next to impossible to yield bottom line value from your website. Without that, a website is pure overhead and other digital marketing techniques, like email marketing, can’t work to their full potential.
It may take 90 days or more for a search engine optimization strategy to start bearing fruit. Over time, however, you’ll see your website rising in relevant searches and getting more attention from the most authoritative websites in your field. Soon, you’ll convert that into appointments and sales.
So, How Much Does SEO Optimization Cost, Really?
As with so many things in the world of digital marketing, the only honest answer is “it depends.”
To achieve excellent results with search engine optimization, you don’t need to find yourself at the very top of the results page for every query. Even Fortune 100 enterprises need to pick their battles. For the service-based businesses we work with at New York Ave, SEO often focuses on local search traffic.
That traffic originates from within your service area, a radius of about 30 miles from your locations. So, you’ll never find yourself competing with national or international firms with a 10x budget. Nor will you end up trying to appeal to people who will never travel all the distance it takes to see you.
Beyond geography, three key issues shape your SEO budget:
If you had all the search engine traffic in the world, what would that look like?
For most businesses, it would be a monkey’s paw scenario. First of all, the vast majority of that search traffic would be useless to you. It wouldn’t lead to more revenue since it wouldn’t relate to people who are ready to hear what your brand has to say. It’s as simple as that.
But even if you could swoop into that coveted #1 spot on Google for the top 20 search results pertinent to you, it could still have unintended consequences. Many companies have gone viral only to crash and burn when they need to accommodate a thousand “extra” customers.
For an SEO campaign, your objectives consist of:
- How much traffic you want
- Over what period of time
- What you want to do with it
Each keyword you rank for represents another chunk of traffic helping you reach your ultimate goals. But there are several ways to treat that incoming traffic. On top of getting more sales, you’ll want to develop a relationship with things like social media and email marketing.
New York Ave listens to your needs and translates them into concrete objectives that match your capacity. As you leverage a growing base of monthly traffic, your SEO scales up. Gains of 1%-5% every month soon compound into lasting advantages no competitor can duplicate.
Just by having a website and updating it on a regular basis, you’ve already made some impact on search results in your category. The challenge is that without a reliable and repeatable approach, you won’t get very far. Instead, you’ll be stuck on a see-saw: Up one month, down the next, and so on.
This seasick feeling is caused by all the other brands and individuals publishing things related to your industry each month. Individually, none of them make a big enough impact to change customers’ lives. Collectively, though, it gives the appearance that search engine results jump chaotically back and forth.
With SEO optimization, your team looks at the relevant keywords you’re already rising in the ranks for. There are bound to be a few, and these represent the easiest place to start. Once this low-hanging fruit transforms into easy wins, you could be seeing hundreds or thousands more visitors each month.
Successful SEO starts by digging deep into what each search query means. What are the motivations behind them? What problem or question is the person expressing – and how close are they to finding and buying the right solution? This deeper insight enables a targeted approach.
Sometimes, a keyword that only gets searched 100 times a month (and has barely any competition as a result) will be ideal for you, because you’re perfectly positioned to meet the need the keyword represents.
It’s not a matter of doing everything, but the right things.
Even the best strategy isn’t much more than talk unless it’s something you can actually afford.
Like any other form of marketing, SEO should offer a clear path to ROI. But you’ll need to invest if you want to plant the seeds – and those seeds will need time to grow. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank on SEO fees. Even a modest effort, delivered consistently, makes a measurable difference.
Typical SEO fees range anywhere from $1,000 per month to $5,000 per month. A sound budget comes down to a holistic review of all the factors. Unlike online advertising, spending more on SEO can create bigger results, but not faster ones. Staying on the path month after month is the critical point.
No matter what portion of your budget ultimately goes to SEO, you can rest assured that hiring a marketing agency is the best way to invest your spending. You’ll get 5x the work at 10x the quality for half the cost compared to employing even a single marketing director in-house.
Contact us to learn more or get started.