This is a question I get a lot. Unfortunately there is no set price for search engine optimization. As with most things in life, you will come across companies charging what you consider to be arm and a leg, and you will find companies that charge so little it is hard to imagine them making a profit.
When you decide to work with a big agency, you will be charged quite a good deal more than when working with a smaller company.
Big agencies vs small companies
Big agencies have more overheads (fancy offices, company vehicles, call centre agents, etc) that must be recovered somehow. The question you have to ask yourself, how much of your hard earned money is going for actual marketing of your website, and how much of that is going towards fancy offices with big boardrooms?
On the other side of the spectrum, you will find companies willing to work for only a couple hundred rand a month. Again, you have to ask yourself a question.
How many clients would a company need to make a living if they only charge R300 or R500 or R750 per month?
You are bound to be one of dozens and dozens of customers, meaning you are likely not going to be a top priority.
What to expect from a good SEO company
Any reliable SEO worth his or her salt, will sit with you to learn more about your company, the services you provide and the margins you make on your products and services. By understanding your business, a good SEO company will be able to create a personalized search engine optimization campaign that makes financial sense for your company.
No two companies are the same, and each industry poses its own challenges. A company selling medical aid will be competing against big companies with big budgets (think Discovery, etc), while a carpet cleaning company in Pretoria East will be competing with smaller companies with much smaller marketing budgets. Your SEO consultant should discuss your competitors with you, to get a feel of what they might be doing in terms of search engine optimization.
After all, with SEO it is a case of beating the competition. If your SEO doesn’t mention your competitors, you should be alarmed! If your search engine marketer doesn’t know who your competitors are, how can he\she beat them?
Different industries and different areas
In the same way that no two companies are the same, no two industries are the same. Plumbing companies and dentists are completely different, and their search engine optimization will also be different. In the same way, there might be a company in your industry and area that are spending a lot on SEO. That will only be obvious if your SEO is doing his homework, and investigating your competitors.
Let’s be honest, with SEO (and anything else), do you want to pay someone who are just grabbing figures out of thin air with no knowledge about your company and your situation, or would you rather trust your hard earned cash to someone who knows and understands your business?
Hari Menon (a good friend of mine), who runs a search marketing firm in Sydney, Australia, believes that ROI is the main factor when determining the success of a SEO campaign.
With all that being said, I want to turn this question around and ask…
How much does BAD search engine optimization cost?
Many, many companies have been burnt by bad SEO over the years. Each year Google becomes more strict with their rules. Techniques that worked well two years ago, have become incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands.
Your website is a valuable asset, and you should protect it. For many companies, a website being penalized or de-indexed can be catastrophic. Think about your website as a tap, and your customers as the water that flows from that very tap.
Google can at any time close the tap, and your steady flow of customers will be gone.
So, be very wary of hiring the cheapest internet marketing service you can find. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. And in this case, you could cause alot of damage to your business.
The Cost vs Investment of search engine optimization
This is a very important concept to grasp.
Search engine optimization is marketing.
If your company is still looking at marketing as a cost, you are going to battle to beat out your competition. Marketing (when done right) is an investment into your company.
That’s why any half decent SEO will talk about return on investment (ROI). This is a figure that indicates how much money you made back from the investment made.
Return on Investment Example
You invest R2000\month on your SEO.
You make R10 000 more in sales than before.
Investment: R2 000
Return: R10 000
Return on Investment: R10 000/R20 000 * 100 = 500%
In this example, you are making R5 back for every R1 you invest into SEO.
Think about it this way, if I told you I would give you R100 right now if you first gave me R20 (with no strings attached), would you take me up on my offer?