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How Much Does SEO Cost?
How Much Does SEO Cost?
Whether you like it or not, SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of the most important parts of modern business. No matter what sector or industry you work in, your ranking position and appearance on the internet are vital.
In fact, SEO and your digital footprint are so important, it can be the difference between a successful business and bankruptcy.
One downside of SEO, is that it is fluid.
The internet is constantly changing – with search engine algorithms (such as Google) and consumer demands in continual flux. This means selecting the correct SEO services or digital marketing agency is key. Making your website search engine optimized is crucial for your business success – but how to achieve this is often a mystery.
For many businesses, the answer is simply to hire an SEO company who can help ensure that your website appears on the first page of the organic search results for keywords that people are searching for.
But with so many technicalities and ever-changing criteria, the cost of SEO can range from a simple investment to astronomical monthly retainer fees.
So how much does it cost to get good SEO services? and what can you expect from an SEO company?
To get the most out of your SEO activities (writing high-quality content, performing outreach campaigns etc.), you need to know what your goals are, understand your marketplace and competitors, and be prepared to set a budget and stick to it.
We’ve broken down everything you need to know about SEO and how much you can expect to pay for monthly retainers.
Why should I have an SEO budget?
Some businesses take an ad-hoc approach to SEO. This means only spending money on SEO activities when there is spare cash, which isn’t often! There is always something else to spend the money on, and SEO can fall to the bottom of the list.
This means that any SEO performed is inconsistent and with literally billions of websites on the internet, those with very little SEO content marketing, or poor-quality web pages, won’t make the first page of search engine results.
It is proven that by infrequently performing SEO, it will yield very few tangible results. This can lead to inexperienced bosses believing that SEO is a waste of money. As a result, SEO falls even further behind in terms of being allocated a dedicated budget.
SEO experts generally agree, that even if you can only portion a small amount of your budget to ongoing SEO tasks, you should commit as much as you can. Getting to the top of organic search results takes time, so consider SEO as a long-term strategic investment. Small, irregular spending will be ineffective and is basically a waste of money.
There is no such thing as “cheap SEO”, SEO requires commitment, but the payoff will be outstanding.
The best way to ensure that you continuously invest in SEO, is to make it a part of your monthly budget as a fixed cost. Just like rent and salaries have to be paid every month, so should SEO be a fixed cost.
Allocate part of your monthly budget to SEO before spending money on other overheads, or other advertising channels. By seeing monthly retainer SEO costs as an integral part of your budget, it’s easier to commit to spending money on SEO regularly, in the long run, you will see the full benefits.
How much should you expect to pay for SEO?
Like everything in business, the cost of SEO varies greatly, and therefore it is tough to estimate a standard or average SEO cost. SEO can be hugely expensive or reasonably affordable – from one-off costs for website content marketing optimization to ongoing SEO services as part of a digital marketing monthly retainer.
Depending on the range of SEO activities that you require, you can get an estimate of what your SEO prices can reasonably be expected to be. We’ve broken down approximate SEO costs for 2021, but please keep in mind, these change and fluctuate regularly and will largely depend on the size of your website and how much competition is in your marketplace.
£0-£500 per month
If you’re budget only allows you to spend at the lower end of a few hundred pounds a month, it’s better than nothing, and consistent work will pay off, but this is the smallest amount you can expect to pay for a SEO professional.
This will get you the basic building blocks of SEO, including keyword research, link building, and some content marketing. However, the backlinks will generally be of low quality, as will the content. For smaller, local businesses, you may also receive some geographic SEO optimization.
£500-£1,000 per month
Once you start spending a little more on SEO, the quality of your SEO services and content produced will significantly improve. Although you still won’t get a fully customized SEO strategy for these SEO prices, you can expect some medium-quality link building and content creation as part of a monthly SEO campaign.
Generally, SEO agencies that charge in this fee range will focus on quality, not quantity. You should start to see results after several months of consistent effort; you will see tangible and measurable results on a local level.
£1,000-£5,000 per month
For businesses operating in saturated sectors with lots of competition, you’ll need to set aside several thousand pounds each month to get any results at all. The more competition a business has, the more common keywords and phrases are in demand across multiple websites.
Investing around £5,000 in monthly fees means you can expect high-quality SEO content marketing which should set your business apart from competitors. You can also expect a detailed strategy, one to three digital marketers working on your account and a specific timescale for growth improvements.
£5,000-£10,000 per month
In this SEO price range, you’ll start to be able to work with established and proven SEO companies who can guarantee results. You will likely get a dedicated team to work on your account. The SEO company will create a bespoke strategy and will employ additional SEO experts to focus on specific elements of SEO.
For example, rather than a generic copywriter writing your new web content, they will employ professional SEO copywriters. You will get to work with technical SEO specialists, receive monthly analytics reports, along with recommendations for bigger search engine optimisation campaigns, as well as, web development, suggestions, and support.
If you have lots of competition in your marketplace and want to make a significant difference to your business, this is how much you should be prepared to spend per month.
£10,000+ per month
At more than £10,000 a month, you will be a large company who require vast amounts of content and updates or for very specialist SEO support.
If you spend this much each month, you can expect the very best UK SEO experts working as a team on your account exclusively. They will work every day to partner with other companies and create strong SEO content, backlinks, social media outreach (possibly private blogs), look at website design (you can view web designer costs here) and user experience, data analytics, and manage projects from beginning to end.
You can expect to receive detailed reports on the success to date and what can be improved. The SEO agency will do lots of research and will be at the forefront of the changing face of SEO, rather than just reacting to it.
What are the costs for?
When it comes to your internet presence, you can spend money on targeted ads to make sure that your business is visible to your target customer. But SEO costs are diverse, and you should understand where your money is being spent to make sure it’s being spent in the right way, and you’re actually getting what you pay for.
Believe it or not, backlinks are not free.
Backlinks from other websites to your website builds authority because search engines see this as a type of “vote” and that your website is one which people might want to see.
Cheap SEO backlinks are around £3 per link and are usually come from overseas or irrelevant websites, which won’t do much good. More expensive backlinks from reputable sites can costs upwards of £1,000 per link.
Getting good, high-quality links is more important than getting 100 bad-quality links. In fact, Google algorithms deliberately penalise websites which use low-quality backlinks or backlinks which are against their guidelines. Google can tell when you are cheating!
So, keep an eye on any money spent on generating backlinks to ensure it’s being spent in the best place and in the right way.
Basic SEO content just uses a few key phrases and can be written by a reasonably inexperienced copywriter. However, more expertly crafted content uses the optimal number of keywords and phrases and associated words, a targeted tone of voice, a certain number of images, captions, and headers, and much more.
This requires more thoughtful work and so costs more. When spending money on SEO content, check how many words you are getting for your money and ask the writer to specify how the content is optimized.
SEO is constantly changing because people’s demands are constantly changing. To ensure that your SEO is still as optimal as possible, SEO agencies will perform lots of research. This costs money, but it is worth it.
You need to make sure your website targets the right people, and you need to know what those people are typing in the search bar i.e. “what to rank for”. You also need to know how long they spend on your website, do they use a competitor, what do they like and dislike.
Research informs every SEO choice you make, so money invested here is money well spent.
All the costs we’ve looked at so far are based on hiring an external SEO expert or SEO agency. But there is a third option: hiring an in-house SEO expert.
Some businesses accept the need for ongoing SEO support and so decide to create a new role within the company. This can help reduce costs over time since a salaried staff member costs less per hour than a SEO consultant’s hourly rate .
An in-house SEO expert can also help smooth the process along. They can be included in projects from an earlier stage and provide feedback in meetings and design consultations from the start. The result is that SEO will be considered crucial to the companies success, so you won’t need someone to come in and change all your hard work at the last minute to meet changing SEO expectations.
However, a suitably qualified and experienced SEO expert can expect an annual salary of £50,000-£100,000. A starting wage for a less experienced SEO is at least £28,000 (which may seem more reasonable to most companies).
Whoever you hire, will need regular SEO training to keep up with the ever-changing world of the internet. And unless you are a small business, you’ll probaly end up needing to hire more than one person.
You Get What You Pay For
When it comes to SEO pricing, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” really does ring true.
Some SEO agencies might offer what appears to be very financially attractive SEO pricing. If you are on a tight budget, this can be very appealing. However, low-cost options generally yield fewer results.
SEO can really build momentum, and investment from the beginning may mean you can pay less later as natural success and online attention drives your business forward. It’s better to spend on SEO as much as possible, get good results, and then scale back your budget than invest half-heartedly and get no results.
Having said that, it’s better to set aside smaller regular payments for continuous SEO improvements, rather than spend all the money at once and then be unable to pay for any SEO later. Like most parts of business, SEO is an investment. You will need to manage your financial resources to ensure that you have the funds to keep investing in your online presence.
Knowing what you are paying for, doing high-quality research, and ensuring your money is being well-spent will mean you get the most out of your SEO budget.
There are plenty of free resources and information sources online to help you better understand the ever-changing world of SEO. If in doubt, contact a SEO agency and speak to them about their pricing model and ask for a free consultation. They will be able to look at your business and tell what they would do and what their hourly rates are.
This can give you an idea of where you should be spending your money and provide valuable insight into how much SEO costs.
Why ROI is important
Whether you decide to go it alone or choose to work with an SEO expert or an agency, make sure you have a clear set of ROI metrics from the beginning.
ROI stands for Return On Investment, and you should have been clear on what you expect to get from investing in SEO. SEO is hard to accuratley measure because you may never know if the increase in sales in the last month is due to SEO or some other form of advertising. It takes time to climb the search engine rankings and to notice a trend which correlates with your SEO strategy and investment.
But there are simple things that you can measure to give you an idea of how your investment is paying off. You will want to know if there is an increase in organic traffic to your website, or are people spending longer on your site, more people getting in touch, new orders, or orders of a higher value.
The important thing is to make sure that you have tracking in place, for example Google Analytics, so you can measure the SEO performance, and get an indication if your SEO budget is being spent in the right place.
Set your ROI metrics from the start and evaluate them regularly to make sure you’re on track. If you aren’t seeing changes in the right areas, it might be time to sit down with your SEO team to discuss how the SEO cost can be reallocated to better serve your business.
You won’t get it right the first time. SEO is constantly evolving and is difficult to get right. It might take a bit of trial and error. But you can take steps to make sure that when you invest in SEO services, you will get positive results.
Make sure you know what you’re paying for, and you will soon see that investing in SEO is the best thing you ever do for your business.