If you’re no stranger to digital marketing, you probably already know a thing or two about search engine optimisation (SEO). To put it simply, SEO is the practice of getting websites to the top of search engine results so that they get more traffic and sales.
There are two major branches of SEO: local and organic. Businesses can benefit from each branch of SEO differently, so it’s important to know which one to go for.
Local SEO is a location-focused approach to boosting online visibility. Designed for businesses with brick-and-mortar stores, this helps them build relevant signals in their specific area. With local SEO, they can reach a wider audience online and direct customers to their physical store.
For organic SEO, you need not specify a location for your digital marketing strategies. The goal of organic SEO is to optimise business websites to make it search-engine friendly and have it rank high for its most relevant keywords. Organic SEO is usually the best option for e-commerce websites or purely digital brands.
So, how much does good SEO cost exactly?
What it’s like working with a cheap SEO agency
We’ll be upfront by saying SEO isn’t cheap. Every business that wants to work with an excellent SEO provider and strengthen their online presence must set aside a reasonable budget for things to go smoothly at all times.
This is not to say cheap SEO services don’t exist. They do. There will be times you’ll get offers from SEO organisations with a reputation for doing shoddy work across Australia. Coined as ‘Black Hat SEO techniques’, below are some of the strategies these budget SEO companies provide that you should be avoiding:
- Sub-par keywords – Keywords are the bloodline of your SEO success. It is through keywords that customers find you on Google, making them one of the most important parts of your SEO strategies. Cheap SEO companies often suggest keywords for you but, most of the time, they’re not the ones that fit your products and services perfectly. Since these companies have little care for the quality of your campaign, minimal thought goes into the keyword generation process, giving you sub-par results.
- Keyword stuffing – One of the most egregious mistakes that some budget SEO agencies make is producing content that is stuffed to the brim with keywords. This is an old practice from the earlier days of SEO and since Google’s algorithms have evolved, it can push your website even further down search engine rankings.
- Article spinning – Another common content strategy unreliable SEO companies utilise is ‘spinning’ articles. A ‘spinner’ is a program that takes popular articles from high-ranking websites and flips the arrangement of the words, just enough to pass a plagiarism detector. The result is a plethora of badly written articles with broken syntax and a whole lot of nonsense. Bad content not only lowers your Google rank, but it also spikes up your bounce rate.
- Invisible text – Perhaps their sneakiest trick of all is hiding keywords or relevant text on your website. Sometimes, they make the text so small, it’s almost unreadable. Other times, it’s by changing a body of text to the same colour as your site’s background. Google might not detect it immediately but customers who do will be put off by your website.
You know by now that SEO is a huge investment – you’re paying for well-chosen keywords, high-quality backlinks and excellent content. If you’re getting none of those from your current provider, I think it’s pretty safe to say that cheap SEO options aren’t your best bets for online success.
Investing in SEO the smart way
Before you start shelling out cold cash on SEO services, determine your budget first. SEO packages are priced differently depending on your needs, so there’ll be a few factors you’ll need to consider:
- Your existing rankings – To determine where you want your website to be, it’s great to have a realistic assessment of where you currently stand. Do you already have a set of keywords you want an SEO provider to boost for you? Have you run these keywords on Google? Have you made it to the first page for your chosen keywords? If you answer no for more than one of these questions, be prepared to face an uphill battle. Businesses with little to no established online presence will more likely be spending more than those that already do.
- Your objectives – Before talking to an SEO agency, you’d want to develop quantifiable goals for your business. Whether it’s making it to the first page of Google for highly-competitive keywords (expensive) or you just want to boost the popularity of your website for long-term search keywords (cheaper), it’s good to know what you want so you can effectively budget your SEO expenses.
- Your timeline – The same way Rome wasn’t built in a day, online success doesn’t happen overnight. Many SEO projects take at least six months to show expected return on investments. It can be less, it can be more. Just remember that your fiercest competitors have probably been working on their digital marketing strategy for years. You’ll have to set your expectations, look for cost-effective SEO services and budget according to long-term goals.
The average cost of quality SEO services (hourly, monthly, project-based)
Let’s get to the real meat: pricing.
Many budget SEO companies price their services for as low as AU$25 to AU$50 for hourly rates. When you look at higher quality SEO providers, the rates are higher, but the cost is definitely worth it.
- Hourly rates – In Australia, Moz.com says the average cost of SEO services by the hour falls between AU$75 and AU$250. This gives you a clearer picture of how much time SEO experts spend on your website. However, this isn’t a very reliable metric in the long run. Big SEO projects take longer than what you’d usually expect, so paying by the hour might cost your business way more than your initial estimate.
- Monthly rates – Paying an SEO provider per month is what most experts recommend. There are usually fixed prices, terms and deadlines with a monthly package. This gives you enough time to sit back and watch the strategies take effect, albeit slowly. Many monthly SEO packages cost around AU$1,000 to AU$25,000.
- Project-based rates – Another common offer from SEO companies is the project-based package. Just like monthly rates, project-based work also requires contracts, but on a more negotiable level. Pricing a project-based SEO project can be also tricky, given the providers can’t dictate how long a client will be with them. These projects usually fall between four ranges:
- AU$1,500 – AU$2,500
- AU$2,501 – AU$5,000
- AU$5,001 – AU$10,000
- AU$10,001 – AU$15,000
To develop a truly realistic idea of what your website’s SEO will cost, you should seek out an expert’s advice. Especially for small businesses, getting tips on finding affordable SEO will help you save costs while you’re still aiming for growth. These experts will help you weigh out your options and figure out how much you’ll need to invest in a digital marketing strategy.
Key Takeaways for Business Owners
The question every Australian business should ask itself is not really how much SEO costs, but how SEO will benefit your business. Top marketers will agree that having your business on the first page of Google is one of the best forms of business exposure out there. With affordable but high-quality SEO services, online success isn’t too far off.