How much does SEO
cost? A difficult question
I have decided to write this article following the challenges raised when I have been asked the spontaneous question “How much will SEO cost for my site? I hope that, after my cathartic analysis, I will be able to provide more details in my answer than the simple “It depends”. The cost of SEO actually depends of multiple factors, some elements needs to be known before giving any evaluation.
In this article I refer only to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and don’t address other approaches such as Google adwords campaigns (PPC). SEO is used to get a good ranking in the free part of the Google search results.
Your success in SEO depends first on your personal involvement and visibility objectives. The most effective SEO requires long term consideration and an investment of time; the first results take several weeks and have to be maintained thereafter. Then, the more competitive your market is with others using SEO, the more investment will be needed.
Other factors depend directly on the site build and content. It is necessary to perform a semantic and technical audit of your site to see if it is built well. An overview of the code, such as the use of keywords and title hierarchy in the proper tags will reveal key elements about the application of some SEO basic rules. The technical performance of your site (eg., page load time & type of hosting) also influence your ranking in the search results, as does well written editorial content with the correct amount of good keywords and frequent updates. Finally, your activity on social networks cannot be ignored.
SEO is an ecosystem and its results are measured at the crossroads of multiple factors (marketing, competitive, technical, editorial). For this reason there cannot be a fixed price. A rate cannot be estimated until a preliminary study of your project and your environment is complete.
This reveals that SEO is not a matter that can be put solely in the hands of an external service provider. For SEO to be truly optimised for the long term, the website editor must often to change habits and embrace the requirements too. Sometimes a complete overhaul is necessary as the quality of the publication and the way that is managed affect the visibilty of the site.
That is why over time SEO work needs to be internalised, at least in the large part, ideally leading to simple monitoring work from the provider. We can not reasonably consider that the work of an SEO service provider is to patch/compensate for specific intervention weaknesses of the site editor.
Beyond the light that I hope to have brought, and to go back to our initial question about cost, an hourly rate will allow a price calculation of the most suitable package. A budget can therefore be established by the gathering of some pre-audit information which will define the size of the project. At Thank You Ted our hourly rate at the moment is £30. Typical rates in the UK range from £20 to £200 (freelance consutants to big agencies). Time to spend on SEO can range from 10 to 15 hours during the first month for small businesses. When the project is signed, we produce a report, define the actions required and give guidance to their implementation. In this process we will have transmitted SEO knowledge to our customers. Giving maximum autonomy to the site editor / customer optimises the conditions for good SEO. Then, the intervention of a provider such as Thank You Ted makes sense in the smaller tasks of reporting and monitoring, therefore reducing costs.