26 June 2015
26 June 2015,

What does SEO cost?

Actually, the easier question is: What is the value of SEO?  But, both questions are best answered with another question.

The question I ask to help clients understand the value of SEO is: “What new business could you capture if you could put your best presentation or demonstration of your products and services in front of people who are looking for them and are ready to make a purchasing decision?”  That would be worth a lot, right? That is what search engine marketing delivers. In fact, it is the only medium that can do that without requiring that you also pay for being in front of lots of people who have NO interest or need for your products or services.

With search engine marketing, you get a chance to show what you can do and/or what you have to sell with no restrictions on the amount of information you provide. You can use testimonials, videos, interactive graphics and special offers to get that lead or sale. And, you don’t have to find your best prospects—they find you!

So, what does SEO cost? I answer that with another question:  “What does a car cost?”

Usually, clients find that question both surprising and difficult to answer.

Obviously, there is a lot of variation in what a car costs. With that variation you get cars with different capabilities. The same is true of SEO. The cost of SEO is based upon the amount of work needed to get page one rankings for a company’s website.

And that is based mostly upon the strength of the competition you face. So, that is where choosing a race car may be the best analogy.

If you want to win at Indy, you aren’t going to be successful with a Prius. On the other hand, if it is a street race, you don’t need an Indy or Formula One car.

It may be most important to remember, though, that no matter where you face competition, there is no point in investing less that what it will take to be successful. You can spend $25,000 on a Prius, but if that isn’t going to get you past the qualification race, it is $25,000 wasted.

Similarly, if you don’t get rankings for any relevant keywords on page 1 of search engine results (even if you appear on page 2 or 3), your investment in SEO is probably wasted. So, when a business owner tells me that they want to get top search engine rankings for keywords relevant to their business, but they want to tell me how much they will spend to make that happen, I often can’t help them. SEO is not magic. The value I bring as an SEO specialist is due in part to my 13 years in the field, but it is mostly due to the amount of time and effort I put into the project. Tougher competition necessitates more work. That comes at a cost.

On the other hand, business owners should not allow SEO professionals to tell them that every business needs Ferrari-level SEO. That’s not true, either. A small local bakery isn’t going to have such high-level competition that they need to spend a lot. But, if you are a small business that must compete online with large national or international corporations, you won’t be able to achieve top rankings with a small investment in SEO. It’s just not going to happen.

All of this is to explain why I can’t tell my clients what their SEO is going to cost—until I have done some research. Then, I give them a customized proposal that takes into account things like:

  1. How strong is the competition’s existing domain, website and online reputation?
  2. How strong is the potential client’s existing domain, website, and online reputation?
  3. Which keywords are most important to rank for, and what is the level of competition for those keywords?

In fact, I share this information with prospective clients in a free “report card” that provides an index score for their business and website compared with the top-ranking competitor’s business and website. With that information, 1st Click Consulting can give a firm quote on the work needed to get started—and an estimate of the cost of any ongoing work.

Like car racing, successful SEO requires a blend of art and science. To be successful, you need a good car (a well-researched SEO strategy) and a good driver (an experienced SEO specialist that can execute that strategy). 1st Click Consulting delivers both.

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