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Why Is SEO Expensive?

Well, the truth is, SEO really isn’t that expensive.

We get this question from potential clients from time to time.  Sometimes a prospect comes to us after getting pricing from another agency and is looking for a second opinion.  They usually see a number in the same ballpark (providing the general scope is the same) that they got before and think, “that sounds like a lot.”  Other times they’ve been burned by someone performing low quality SEO for $300/month and have gotten no leads, or even worse, been damaged by the campaign.  Then, they get pricing from a reputable agency like ours, and don’t understand why the services cost more (not realizing that they were paying for bargain basement quality SEO at a bargain basement price).

Or, we’ll have a client utilizing some of our other services that wants to explore SEO, and is not aware of the cost and scope of SEO.

The true issue really isn’t the cost, it’s a matter of perspective and understanding.  Here are a few points that should help bring an understanding of “why SEO is so expensive.”

    1. SEO really isn’t that expensive. Typically, people focus on the wrong numbers.  For example, let’s say you go to the mall.  Is $100 too expensive?  Well, it is if you’re only getting a coffee from Starbucks (though the prices feel like they’re approaching $100…).  If you’re getting a new mattress from the department store in the mall, $100 is a really good deal.  It all depends on what you’re getting for it.That is why you should focus on the ROI.So, for another example, if there were a stock that had a track record over a period of 10 years of providing a 400% return on investment every single year, would you invest in it?  What if there was a minimum investment of $5,000?  Most people would, and that’s how you have to look at SEO.  What is the return you’re getting for the investment?Just like the stock market, SEO results are never guaranteed.  There are changes in what your competition is doing, algorithm changes that affect previously encouraged and legitimate techniques, and industry changes.  However, if you can find an agency that has a track record over a period of time and that has sustained changes with Google, that is a pretty good sign that they will be able to deliver results (and if you’re really scared, look into an option in which the agency will share some of the risk).What you want to look for is proven results over time. If the agency has that, then think about the size of the investment you want to make, knowing that it will be directly proportional to the results the agency will be able to provide. Smart managers know that the cost is a pretty insignificant factor when the likely return is significantly more.
    2. SEO is labor intensive.  There used to be a day where you could largely automate SEO.  Computer software could spin content (take the same article and rewrite it, though in poor English, to create additional content with no effort) and automate link building throughout the Internet.  Those days are long gone.  Google is most concerned with true links (not ones built by machines) and quality content (which also comes from human authors).  On top of this, there are many factors in SEO which need to be analyzed and implemented from a technical level.  Competitive research and keyword research need to be performed to make sure your campaign is optimized towards the right goals.In other words, there’s a lot of effort that goes into this.

      Our contracts often have 1-2 pages just detailing the specific types of services that we perform.  There is a lot of manual labor that goes into making sure that a site performs well.  The more time that needs to be put in will ultimately drive up the cost (just like any industry).  However, extra effort and services provided in SEO typically results in higher end value.

    3. You are paying for tools and expertise.  Most doctors and surgeons have a very specific skill set which is crucial to the work they perform.  Yes, doctors are known for charging a lot for their services, but that is because, among other things, they have a unique skill set that few people have and there are certain costs associated with a medical practice (insurance, facility, etc.).  Though marketing agencies don’t charge the same rates as doctors, the same principles typically apply.Marketing agencies have specific tools that they use to best perform the job, especially in the areas of research and analysis.  They also have a specialized skill set to perform this function.  Yes, you could save money by asking a college student to build a website and perform SEO, but they don’t have the same skill set, experience, and ability as a full agency to make sure you maximize your ROI.  Understand that when you look at agency rates, they often directly correlate to the skill level and ability of the agency.
    4. There are options to save you money.  Most medical practices will benefit from an agency handling SEO and other marketing efforts.  There are alternatives that are available, and these alternatives may be good for smaller practices and companies.  However, understand that there are drawbacks to these options as well.  Typically, “you get what you pay for.”To throw a third analogy in there, it’s similar to buying a car.  You can buy a new Cadillac, a relatively new Honda Civic, or a 1976 Chevy Nova (or really, anything in between).  One may be a little more than you need, but you know it will look good too.  One will take you where you’re going, be reliable, and is a stable investment.  One will likely be in the shop when you need it, providing only a fraction of the service you wanted to get out of it.  You need to decide the best way to spend your money for your needs.Here are two examples of how to save some money, and what they entail:
      • Freelancers are usually much cheaper – sometimes as much as a third of the price of agencies.  The benefit is that these are often (but not always – be careful!) people who work in the industry full time, so they have the experience and knowledge.  The downside is that you’re getting them in their “leftover time” either at nights after a long day or on weekends when they’d rather be at the beach.  This can also make things difficult for things like meetings during a normal workweek.  It also means that you’re working with one person who cannot have expertise in every area of SEO as opposed to an agency of professionals that can provide high-level expertise in multiple areas.
      • Package differences can also help you save costs.  Less content development is a big way to save costs, but it will also limit your effectiveness.  Infrequent reporting, less promotion of the website, and smaller ad spends can all help you save, but the result is likely obvious.

Is SEO really expensive?

The bottom line is that SEO really isn’t that expensive when you look at the bottom line, and is worth every penny – as long as you’re getting the services through someone reputable with a track record.  If the cost seems steep at first, ease your way in.  Just don’t skimp so much that you can’t see a return on an investment.

So, how much should you ultimately spend on SEO?  We’ll do a complimentary SEO evaluation for you and create a customized pricing plan.  Just contact us or give us a call, and we’ll be in touch to get started!