How much should I pay for SEO?

One of the biggest questions many clients ask is: how much should I pay for SEO? This is an important question not only because marketing is a fundamental part of any business , but because online marketing is an essential investment if you want to reach more people. You may already know this rule of thumb that SEO companies live by: the more people discover you or your product(s) exist, the higher the chance they will contact you or buy your product(s). The less people know about you or your product(s), the less chance there is that they will. If you want to stand out from the competition, get ready to pay us a fortune.

The other question that follows the first like a shadow is who should I choose to do SEO? There are so many SEO companies out there! All of them have stellar reviews. All of them are quoting me astronomical prices. How do I ensure I will not end up spending a fortune without any results? Or if you have had a bad experience already: how can I ensure that will never happen again? How do I make sure that I will not get scammed out of my hard-earned money?

Here is one thing that no SEO company will tell you: their fees do not depend on the actual work they do, but on the number of employees and time needed to get the work done. How much time that actually takes is determined not only by market trends (Eg. what is the most effective approach and what are others doing along with the cost of backlinks, guest posts, website tweaks, etc.) but also by how many people and how much time they actually choose to dedicate to your SEO project. This is why the monthly costs of any SEO agency you turn to on the first pages of Google will quote you similarly high prices. Now the question becomes: how much of that money is being spent on actually getting the work you need done so you get results? This part of it can vary widely and this is what determines whether your project is a success or not.

Keep in mind that SEO is currently a granular process, where a consistent implementation of various time-intensive tasks over a certain period of time will yield results. The actual time-intensity and number of tasks needed to yield results is subject to change based on the whim of the current search engine giant, Google. This applies to you unless you have an active online word of mouth with a link attached to it. If you do not have the celebrity/influencer buzz, you are going to have to turn to SEO.

As of right now, the level of “bang you get for your buck” is up to the company you hire because their interests come first and yours second. Out of the 5k per month you will pay, 90% might pay for company expenses while 10% will go to the actual work needed on the project. Any SEO companies reading this might want to interject here to say that the allocation of your budget is not like that. Well, it kind of is more or less. I worked at an SEO company for 5 years and the percentage of the budget that actually goes towards the actual project really depends on how much profit the company wants to make. Do we sacrifice 25% of the budget and make our client’s business make phenomenal gains or keep it at 10% so we can expand, hire and get more leads while our CEO takes a vacation? It really is up to how much the company stakes on short-term vs. long-term reputation. That is why you see SEO projects with a 5-10k per month budget showing minimal or no results after 6 months. The company prioritised their needs instead of yours and you ended up with a hole in your pocket. Not all SEO companies do this, but it is very difficult to find a SEO company that will actually dedicate itself to progress vs. profit. It is also difficult to find a professional SEO company or individual that actually knows what they are doing. The ideal combination is out there, but hard to find, just like true love is.

An analogy of SEO work would be multiple spiders spinning a web. Each string is progress all by itself, but it is not enough. If the strings are not attached or connected effectively, you may end up with a poorly built web. The goal of SEO is to create a web that will help you effectively catch customers. If the web is not spun effectively, the higher the chance that customers will slip through it or it will collapse by its own or external factors. The web needs time to be spun. The more effective you want the web to be, the more time needs to be spent spinning it. The web also needs constant maintenance. Some strings might break over time and needs to be repaired. Then consider the spiders. You need to know that the spiders know what they are doing.

Take a look at this image from a study by NASA on how different chemicals can impact a spiders’ web:

You are probably wondering what this has to do with my analogy. Well, just as different chemicals influence a spider’s web, an SEO company’s approach to spinning your web will be a deciding factor in the end result of your SEO project. You also have to keep in mind that the more complex a web you are looking for, the higher your budget will have to be. It does not have to be 5k, but it might be an accurate quote for what you are looking at as an end result.

Smokyfish Ltd. has experience working with SEO companies and we know what red flags to look out for. We also know what you as the client will need to pay attention to when looking to choose an SEO company for your project. Contact us for a consultation so we can discuss your expectations. Smokyfish Ltd. can also help you choose an SEO company that will deliver results or consult you on what you need to watch out for when making a decision. We want your project to be a success, not to keep you on the hook for more money.

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