I don't know about you, but sometimes I get completely overwhelmed with the sheer amount of time, energy, and raw hours that go into properly marketing a website online. The thing that gets me the most is that, with SEO and other forms of online marketing, there really is no situation when you can sit back and say "we've arrived." Once you optimize a site, there are still so many things that can be assessed, analyzed, uncovered and corrected that you never really can say, "It's Miller time!"
This is what I envy about web designers. They get to produce a finished work, then go and collect awards for their work. But, online marketing - that's a different ballgame all together. Sure, we can celebrate top rankings, but tomorrow there is another keyword that needs improvement!
Ninety percent of the online marketing services my company provides are based on the amount of time we guesstimate the job will take to get results. There are a few expenditures the clients may have to buy into (directory submission fees, requested analytics tools, etc.), but most of the cost associated with SEO services comes down to determining how many hours are needed on a month-to-month basis.
We look at time needed for researching, writing, analyzing, tweaking, optimizing, communicating, reporting and linking, just to name a few. Sometimes I think it's difficult for clients to fully appreciate the time invested in doing a job properly, especially when they see "less expensive" options floating round. Sure, you can hire some kid down the street to mow your lawn, or you can hire the gardener to take care of your lawn, garden and flowerbeds and to get rid of unwanted rodents, weeds and other pests while making sure everything is properly fertilized and pruned each week. The time difference between the two is substantial.
The problem comes, in SEO at least, when many people are expecting to hire the gardener at lawn mower kid wages. There is just no way the gardener can do their job effectively in the time it takes for the kid to mow the neighbors lawn across the street. Can't happen.
When it comes to purchasing an SEO or SEM strategy for your online business, there are two things to consider: How many hours does it take to meet your expectations, and how much are you willing to pay for each hour that goes into meeting those expectations?
Many SEOs charge a pre-determined package price. That just means they have pre-determined how many hours they will be providing you for their service. If you purchase an SEO package for $3000 per month, you can get anywhere from 30 hours ($100/hour) to 10 hours ($300/hour). The question you have to ask yourself is - can the $100/hour guy get the same results as the $300/hour team?
If you can confidently say yes, then maybe that's your guy. If not, maybe you need to consider the more "expensive" option. But we all know, cheap and ineffective usually turns out to cost a lot more than the expensive option that gets results!
Ten hours per month on SEO or SEM doesn't seem like much, but in the right hands, a lot can be accomplished. Here is a simple breakdown of what I would consider the average, high-quality SEO campaign:
That's the key question. If you're looking solely at pricing and not factoring in the actual work, you're bound to make a bad purchasing decision. The real question is, will the price you're paying (or willing to pay) give you the ROI you need to make a profit? It's probably not a good idea to purchase SEO until you can answer that question affirmatively.
Stay tuned. In my next post, I'll discuss your options for hiring in-house vs. outsourcing, and making sure you're spending your SEO budget wisely in an uncertain economy.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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