Understanding the Cost of Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Optimization | October 7, 2012 | By Aaron Schoenberger

Search engine optimization is often viewed as a dark and mysterious form of marketing with prices ranging from $100 per month to over $100,000. All SEO companies aim to produce the same result (top rankings), however many simply do not have the experience to deliver. And in reality, they don’t have the budgets either.

Whenever I hear of SEO companies charging a few hundred dollars per month and promising the world, it’s a big red flag and ultimately gives SEO a bad name. Promises aren’t kept, rankings hardly move, revenue stays flat, and clients aren’t happy. In the end, businesses with bad experiences look at SEO companies as snake oil salesmen, which happens all of the time.

To really see results, companies must invest in SEO and find the best SEO service their money can buy. Select a few candidates and ask them 5 questions:
1) Can you provide us with examples of high rankings you’ve achieved?
2) What types of businesses do you work with?
3) Are you familiar with social media marketing, namely blogging?
4) Approximately how long will it take to achieve our goals?
5) How much is SEO for our company and what’s included?

Questions four and five are really a trick, and any SEO company that answers right away should be immediately crossed off your list. When businesses contact me for SEO guidance, it takes at least an hour to really get a feel for how much work is involved and what the cost will be. Without taking the time to understand a client’s goals, see where their website currently ranks, analyze competition, and understand how much work I’m facing, I’ll have no idea what to charge.

Where does the money go?
Aside from the cost of hiring a search engine optimization professional with enough experience to deliver, which isn’t cheap, there are also other costs related to SEO.

For example, press releases are an integral part of SEO due to their ability to generate excellent backlinks. However, good press release distribution services charge a premium. If I’m paying $300+ to distribute a press release for a client, how can an SEO company charge $300 per month and produce the same results? Unless they want to go out of pocket, it’s not possible.

Another way to build backlinks is through submissions to relevant business directories, but unfortunately the highest quality directories are pricey. Both Yahoo! and Business.com charge $299 per year for a listing.

SEO prices are essentially based on three things: experience, workload, and hard costs. If you want something done and done right, don’t cheap out because it never pays off in the long run. As the saying goes: You get what you pay for.

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