Nearly every business these days needs to make some sort of investment into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and there are so many questions to ask yourself first.

  • Do we really need to spend money on this?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How much can we afford to spend?
  • Are we going to get good results for the money we fork out?
  • Can we just do it ourselves?

It can be incredibly confusing, and that’s before you’ve even started!

In this article, I’ll take a look at some reasons why you should invest in SEO, what it typically costs from an agency, what it costs to do it yourself and what’s best for you.

Let’s look at some juicy stats:

Source: Ignite Spot

  • 93% of online experiences start with a search engine
  • 82% of internet users use a search
  • 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic results
  • 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results
  • 59% of consumers use Google every month to find reputable, local businesses
  • The top listings in Google’s organic search results receive 33% of the traffic

So in a nut shell, YES, it’s worth spending money on SEO! 

What does an agency charge for SEO?

Well, how long is a piece of string? Prices vary considerably, but here’s some average prices to give you an idea (source: Moz)

  • Monthly retainer: $750 – $5,000 per month. Within this range, the price you pay depends on the size of your business and the extent of services provided by the agency. Small SEO agencies that have a limited range of services will cost less. Large, full-service SEO agencies will charge more. Most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer.
  • Contract services at fixed prices: price variable. If your business is just starting out, you may want to test the waters in SEO with a contract service to start with. Typical contract services include things like site content audit ($500 – $7,500), link profile audit ($500 – $7,500), and social media site setup ($500 – $3,000).
  • Project-based pricing: price variable. Since there are a variety of projects, there’s a wide range of prices. Most projects cost between $1,000 to $20,000.
  • Hourly consulting rate: $100 – $300/hr. SEO consultants, whether individuals or agencies, usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour. Depending on what you want and how long it takes, this can become quite expensive.

An agency will be able to take care of all the SEO for you, while you sit back and have a cuppa as you watch your website hit number 1 on Google. But, it’s costly, and many small businesses just don’t have the cashflow to afford an agency.

What does it cost to do it yourself?

Doing it yourself is a far less expensive option, but takes more time and learning. If your business is new and you have limited cashflow but plenty of time, learning to do ongoing SEO yourself is a great, long term option.

  • SEO Copywriting: $100 – $300 per page. Typically, you’d hire a Copywriter to write your website copy, which should include all your keywords, titles and meta-descriptions to give you a head start in the SEO department. The prices for website copywriting vary, so shop around and find a copywriter that you think will work best with your business and your budget. 
  • Books: $20 – $50. There are plenty of books on the subject, however the algorithms change all the time and books can quickly become outdated.
  • Research: free. You can research on the internet, which is completely free but is a bit hit and miss if you don’t really understand what you’re doing. Much of the advice is conflicting and the more you read the more confused you get!
  • DIY SEO Course: $400 – $2000. There are a number of courses available online that teach SEO, with varying costs. You’ll learn what’s involved and can maintain your own SEO long term once you know what you’re doing.

Doing your own SEO is more time consuming and you have to constantly work at it to maintain any kind of decent ranking. But, it can save you a fortune and lets you remain in complete control of your website.

Things to keep in mind

  • SEO takes time. Think of SEO as a long-term investment. Aggressive campaigns and major pushes do work, but the most enduring SEO results come from long-term consistency.
  • SEO changes, and your rankings will change too. The field is full of competitors, and rankings rise and fall with the changing of algorithms and the entrance of new competitors. ‘Set and forget’ SEO tricks simply don’t work. It takes constant monitoring to keep your website ranking well and performing at top-notch levels.
  • SEO is important. Do it. The point of your website is to increase and/or improve your business. Unless people are finding your website, it’s hardly even worth having one. The smart thing is to make sure your site is being found by the people who are looking.
  • Watch out for guarantees, instant results and link building. Any service that offers a guarantee of getting your website onto page 1 of Google instantly, is probably dodgy. Instant results often involve SEO practices that are against guidelines put out by search engines. Google seeks out these techniques and penalises them, resulting in lost rankings that can take months to recover. Before you work with an SEO agency for link building services, make sure their link building services are ethical.

Take home message

SEO is is a worth while investment if you take into account the benefits and the return you get. Doing it yourself can save you a considerable portion of your profits and keeps you in control of your website and your business.

I’d love to hear your experiences. Have you taken the time to learn SEO for yourself, and how have you gone with it?