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What should I spend on SEO for my company?

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What is SEO to You?

If you are serious about your organizations image.  And if you truly understand how important online presence is to success, you need to decide how much to spend on search engine optimization (SEO). There is no way around this; it is not an if or when question.  Online marketing is the key to success in an era that is controlled by the web. 

Business owners, executives, and marketing departments must find the answer to the question, “How much are we going to spend on SEO?” I will take you through the ins and outs in of SEO, what to expect, and help you understand what it will cost and why.

Search Engine Optimization Payment Structures

To really grasp the specifics of payment and what SEO will cost, you first needs to understand various payment models.  The following are typical of what you will see from most SEO agencies, including JSX Design:

  • Monthly (Annuity)/Retainer Model: This fee structure is where you pay a set monthly amount in exchange for a group of services.  This is the structure you will see most frequently because it directly translates to the highest return on investment (ROI). Common services you will see in this type of agreement are: regular analytic reporting, content improvement and management, link building, search engine indexing, index health management, online reputation management, social media management, site optimization.
  • Fixed, One Time Fee Contract Model: The first step in most situations is to develop an initial contract service plan.  This step is not always necessary, but it is helpful if you are not ready for an annuity plan or retainer agreement. A service that you typically see in this form are SEO audits which provide analysis of your current situation, outline of profitable keywords, and an outline of strengths/weaknesses and potential areas for improvement.
  • Project specific Model: Project pricing is similar to flat rate contracts with the exception that they are created from scratch for your needs.  Pricing ranges widely based on your needs.  A small business in need of social media presence, for example, may elect to pursue a project contract to create and/or manage their social media accounts (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.).

 

Depending on the size of your organization, commonly you can expect a combination of these types of payment structures.  Most common situation we experience is a combination.  For example, a company may want an analysis of their current situation (contract model), enter into a long term service retainer (annuity), and establish their social media accounts (project model), essentially engaging all three models.

So What’s It Going To Cost You?

Here is an outline of the range of costs involved when considering the models listed above.

 

  • Monthly (Annuity): $750-$9,000/month. This range offers a general feel for what you may pay depending on the size of your organization, and how in depth you would like to go. This ranges from limited services for a small organization to complete packages including all services for large organizations. Commonly, small businesses spend $750-$1500 a month where large businesses are in the $2500-$4500 range.
  • Contract offerings. Pricing is determined by many variables.  Contracts for SEO copywriting ($20-$150/1k words), website content analysis ($300-$6000), link-in and link-out profile ($300-$10,000), social media setup ($300-$8500).
  • Project model pricing. There is an endless number of possibilities for custom projects.  Typically we see these in the $700-$2500 range.

 

Of course, there is the option for hourly rated work – typically in the $75-$150/hr. range.  We factor in figures from a seo survey by SEOmoz in 2011 and adjust our fees according to our business model and our fees charged to our many happy clients.  Our lower overhead translates into our unique price offerings where the savings on overhead is passed on to the client.

Below are a few paraphrased exerpts taken from the SEOMoz survey,  by Rand Fishkin.

Hourly SEO Costs Vary but $76-$200/hour is Most Common
With the exception of India, hourly costs of $76-$200 (representing three responses) covered 50%+ of all firms…. this is a wide range, but it provides the answer to a frequently-asked question from those seeking SEO services for the first time.<br>

Project Model Pricing is Popular – Commonly $1,000-$7,500
70.1% of respondents said they offer project-based pricing (the most common pricing system selected in the survey). 43% of consultancies were represented by the four price ranges: $1,001-$1,500, $1,501-$2,500, $2501-$5,000 and $5,001-$7,500. Obviously, there’s a wide variety of prices here, not surprising given that the types of projects offered may be quite diverse.

We all hate fine print and bogus “hook” offers… well accept for those on the giving end.   Many SEO agencies lack the moral fortitude necessary to offer clients complete transparency and honesty.  A good way to spot these agencies is to look for unrealistic or unnatural promises:

  • Any company offering guarantees about the outcome of their work should raise red flags immediately. The SEO industry is constantly changing so, like the stock markets, predictions are educated guesses at best… unless you are Martha Stewart of course. JSX promises to do the best possible Search Engine Optimization work to the best of our abilities – but cannot give a guarantee that is simply not possible as the only thing guaranteed in life… is death.
  • Along the same lines as bogus guarantees are promises of instant result. With today’s technology it is not possible for search engines to monitor everything on a continuous basis so naturally “instant results” are not likely and cannot be promised unless…well… you cheat. I will refer once again to Miss Martha because the SEO equivalent to insider trading is seedy practice such as mass link building and keyword spamming.
  • Search Engine Optimization changes. Promises of consistent results often falter. Variability in search engine results is part of the deal.  Websites evolve and devolve every day.  Algorithms change and new companies enter the market every day.  One-And-Done simply does not cut it.  Think of your website as a flower.  When care of a flower overlooked the petals wilt and the flower begins to die – SEO is no different.
  •  I was taught (by a plaque in my dentists office as a child) there are two things you should never seek at a discount rate: Parachutes and Dentistry.  If ever there was a similar plaque for business, web design, development, and SEO would be the top three.  Not all SEO is created equal.  The SEO game is not about finding the lowest prices: it is about results.

 

Check out this article: Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm: The Definitive Guide by Jayson DeMyers for a good overview of what measures Google employs to not only uncover sites using “worst SEO practices”, but also how your site may be penalized as a result.  We take pride in our work.  Our SEO work is only proven by clean, organic search results produced by our proven technique.

SEO is important! Your organizations website is there to drive and translate traffic into business.  As you consider you options (hopefully with JSX!) keep a few things in mind.

SEO done right takes time.  Annuity or Monthly services are often the best option. SEO is an investment.  You put money into your physical store, and invest in products needed to carry out your business, so do the same with your website.  SEO services go a long way in making your website work for you.

SEO IS IMPORTANT!!! No way around it.  SEO is solely responsible for the health of your Google, Bing, etc. index. Don’t ignore your SEO, don’t ignore your health!

The Ball is in Your Court

Savvy businesses do not decide if they need to spend money on SEO, the question is how much. The decisions you make dictate your company’s future.  For most businesses today, SEO is the highest ROI marketing effort. Hiring a good SEO service directly translates to ROI and revenue.  You decide what progress is worth to you.

 

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