How much does SEO cost? It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer.
In order to even have a chance at answering it, we need to juggle dozens of different factors and variables. No two SEO situations are alike, and giving you an average number like “$500 per month” is simply misleading.
So, how much should search engine optimization cost? The short answer is it depends. The complete answer is the rest of this post, where we’ll go over all the most important factors you need to consider before you sign up for SEO packages.
Factor 1: Keyword Competition
We’ll start with the most important factor of all: how hard will it be to rank above your competition? Some jobs are easy, like trying to rank for “Lackawanna Carpet Cleaning.” These projects won’t require very advanced SEO techniques and therefore shouldn’t require a great deal of money to achieve. You can expect an SEO cost anywhere between $300 and $800 per month for keywords like this.
If your keyword is a bit harder, like, say, “New York Carpet Cleaning,” the price will usually take a considerable jump. And the reason is clear: a company ranking #1 for “New York Carpet Cleaning” stands to make much more profit than someone ranking #1 for “Lackawanna Carpet Cleaning.”
And the beauty of it is, your SEO payments will one day stop but your customers can be with you for life. In most cases, all you need is one extra customer per month in order to make back your costs due to the simple fact that each customer will probably be back for more a few weeks, months, or years down the line. SEO costs for keywords like this go anywhere between $800 to $2000 per month, depending on the SEO company and keyword.
How much would you pay to have 85 people walk through your door every hour?
Finally, some keywords are nearly impossible to rank #1 for unless you’re prepared to shell out a great deal of money to do it. A keyword of this nature would be something like “Carpet Cleaning.” Let’s think this through: the United States searches for the exact phrase “carpet cleaning” 2000 times per day, or about 85 per hour.
How much would you pay to have 85 people walk through your door every hour? How much extra profit would you make if you had an additional 730,000 visitors to your website every year? This is the kind of traffic we’re talking about. You’re going to have a serious spike in profits with an extra 2000 visitors per day.
And this isn’t to mention all the searches for “Professional Carpet Cleaning,” “Dry Carpet Cleaning,” “Cheap Carpet Cleaning,” etc. You’ll see traffic for these keywords, too.
How much does SEO cost for these kinds of keywords? Anywhere between $1000 and $10,000 per month.
Factor #2: Number of Keywords
This one should make sense. Google is extremely sensitive to keyword variation, so they’ll see “carpet cleaner” and “carpet cleaners” as two different keywords. In other words, it’s possible to rank #1 for “carpet cleaner” and #2 for “carpet cleaners.” And in fact, Scroogle shows that to be the case:
A lot of people mistakenly think Google doesn’t tell the difference between singular and plural keywords because they bold the plural version of words when you search for their singular version. But this is just for convenience. When it comes to SEO, they definitely see them as different keywords and you’ll need search engine optimization for both of them.
What all this means is that even if you’re only interested in a very specific niche, you’ll almost always need to target multiple keywords. Let’s stick with the earlier example. If you own a carpet cleaning business in Lackawanna, you know you’ll need to optimize for “Lackawanna Carpet Cleaning,” but how about “Carpet Cleaning Lackawanna”? That makes two.
Of course, you’ll also need to attract searchers for “Lackawanna Carpet Cleaners” and its singular version, “Lackawanna Carpet Cleaner.” And don’t forget their inverses: “Carpet Cleaners Lackawanna” and “Carpet Cleaner Lackawanna.” That makes six.
Now add the word “Services” or “Company” to the end of your keyword, and all of a sudden you’re looking at over 10 keywords for such a tiny niche.
What usually ends up happening is that companies realize they won’t be able to optimize for every single keyword possibility, so in order to keep the cost of SEO services down, they decide to focus on the most important 5, or 10. We’ve found this to be the best strategy.
Factor #3: Quality of SEO
Unlike keyword difficulty or number of keywords, the quality of your SEO company is hard to measure but it will seriously affect your search engine optimization cost. A new company who doesn’t have much SEO experience probably won’t charge you more than $400 per month, even if the keywords are competitive. They simply can’t do business charging like the big boys because they’re untrusted.
There are two reliable ways to recognize a reputable SEO company: their web design and their Google ranking.
There are two reliable ways to recognize a reputable SEO company: their web design and their Google ranking. If a site looks like it came straight out of 1999 and their footer still says “© Copyright 2002,” that’s a sign to look for someone else.
By the same token, if a site ranks #34 for its target keyword, how can you trust them to rank your own site? Either they’ve gotten lazy and stopped optimizing or they simply don’t know how to do SEO. Either way, run.
Real SEO companies don’t just charge more for the heck of it. Their actual SEO services cost more to provide than cheap SEO providers. Cheap SEO is just that: cheap. It consists mainly of automated software that cost them $49.99 to buy. They send thousands of spammy backlinks to your homepage and call it “SEO.” If you ask us, that’s no way to treat a business that you put your heart and soul into every day.
Contrary to this is what I sometimes call “real SEO,” which is also exactly what it sounds like. It involves gaining high quality backlinks from trusted websites, creating high quality content, and creating stable, long-lasting results.
The SEO cost for these services will be higher, but your profit down the line will also be higher. On top of that, you don’t have to constantly go through the trouble of hopping from one crappy SEO company to another.
So, how much does SEO cost?
By now you should realize it’s not a cut and dry answer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. If you know your keyword is an easy one to rank, don’t let an SEO company charge you twice as much as you need to be paying. And by the same token, if you know that your keyword is really tough, be suspicious of companies offing you “Guaranteed SEO” for just $299 per month.
Here at Emineer, we’ve priced our SEO packages at exactly the cost they’re worth. So do your research, shop around. Be a responsible consumer so that when you do finally pull the trigger and choose an SEO company you trust, you know exactly the reasons why.