Getting the most value from your SEO investment isn't always easy. There are a lot of factors that go into every SEO campaign and it's not always easy to cut something out without negatively affecting something else, or worse, the entire campaign. I addressed some of these issues in my last post linked above, and here I wanted to provide some additional insights on ensuring your SEO investment is a valuable one.

Comparing In-House vs. Outsourced Costs

The number of hours "needed" to optimize your website can fluctuate from one SEO company to the next, as will the hourly rate. Assuming that the cost of a quality SEO team runs $150-200/hour, you can see it's not difficult to reach a monthly investment of $3,000 or more. For a lot of small businesses, this is no small chunk of change. Many small businesses will look at a $36,000 per year investment. At that rate, you could just hire a full-time employee!

While true, you also have to consider other questions as well. The main question is this: Can a single person do everything a team of experts can? Can they efficiently research, write, optimize, link build, implement proper IA to the same degree and hit expected results?

It's rare that you can find one person who is an expert in all these things. Then throw in the education time they'll need to not only become an expert in each of these fields, but to keep up with the latest trends and algorithm changes. You're looking at a lot of education, time and money!

When you outsource you don't have to pay for education time, only hours worked on your site. When you hire in-house, you have to pay for education time, materials, conferences, travel and everything else needed for a quality education. Let's not even get into benefits, holidays and PTO!

Sometimes the hard part for the SEO provider is convincing clients to invest in our time. But this isn't the correct approach. We should be convincing business owners to invest in their website. It's not how much money the client pays for SEO; it's how much return they are getting for the time they are investing into their online marketing strategies.

Cautious Spending in an Uncertain Economy

I'm as cost conscious as the next guy, but there comes a point when pinching pennies is counter productive... especially in business. When I look at various on- and off-line marketing campaigns, I don't look at the cost so much as I look at the overall return on the investment being made (ROI). Sure, a big price tag makes me think long and hard before investing, but what I want to know is, will I get my return on that investment?

The bigger the price tag, the harder it is to jump into an unknown investment. This is just as true with SEO as with any form of marketing, but perhaps even more true with SEO because the return is not instant. SEO requires a long-term commitment before you're going to get the results you want to see.

Making any business succeed requires an investment of both time and money. Consider this:

If you have neither time nor money, there will be no success.

If you have time and not money, success can come, but you may run out of time before it happens.

If you have money but not time, success may come, but it will be fleeting without proper preparation and planning.

If you have both time and money, success may come, but only if you have implemented a strong plan to achieve that success.

Obviously, the best option is to have both time and money and be willing to invest it, if you want your SEO to succeed.

Spend More to Get More

Growing profits means you need to get more conversions (sales, signups, proposals, customers, etc.) for less money. To achieve that often means you have to spend more, not less.

We all know that you have to be willing to spend money to make money. If you've seen the show Shark Tank, you know how much of their own money people often invest to get a business idea off the ground. You gotta risk it for the biscuit!

What you have to think about is whether increased spending will give you an even greater return. Spending less would be nice, but you have to get out of that mindset. Target, Walmart, Pepsi and Coke all continue to spend, spend, spend on their marketing because they know it gets results. And the second they stop spending, they know they lose market share to their competition.

If your online marketing efforts are working they way they should, your marketing budget should always be increasing rather than decreasing - assuming, of course, that you can handle the increased business that the marketing efforts are bringing in.

As a smart, savvy business owner you have to consider all your options. Pricing alone isn't a strong enough indicator on whether you can "afford" a particular company or not. You have to consider what is being offered, the history of success the company has, the communication they provide in meeting your needs and a whole lot more. Just because it's more expensive doesn't mean you can't afford it. You just have to determine if you want some kid to mow your lawn or a gardener to make your whole yard beautiful.

Follow me at @StoneyD and @PolePositionMkg.

November 9, 2011

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.


I think it really comes down to finding what is right for your organization. Having an SEO firm the meshes with your business type is really important. You have make sure you are all on the same page from day 1 to build a long last relationship.

This post is very true, and it can often be very difficult for marketing departments to implement external SEO campaigns effectively as it is common for the directors to be constantly on their back wanting positive metrics, not understanding that effective SEO will take time.
Another good point when selecting an external SEO company is to assess their current and previous clients, this way you can see what they have done, and how any similarities may benefit you.

I think it is always good to outsource your SEO efforts, coz the most important factor is COST! you can get great deals if you hire some one online. Have your precautions and take proper interviews, check references before finalizing some one, coz if you are trusting some with you site, you better get results.

One thing that i have learn form my experience is that if some one over promises in SEO, just dont go with it..

"there comes a point when pinching pennies is counter productive... especially in business."

Couldn't agree more! Being penny wise, pound foolish will cost you a lot more in the long run than the initial investment would have been. But a lot of site owners don't think like that. They have investors/stock holders/managers breathing down their necks to produce. So they do what works now, instead of what will work for the long run.

There are great marketing points here, like the team work of experienced SEO company is much more beneficial than hiring somebody to do in house SEO. I think that in general SEO should come from educational approach and not soliciting using foreign cold calls companies.
Nice article...


I would like to add human resources aside from time and money. These three are the most important resources in any business. Whether your SEO is being outsourced or in-house, the bottom line is you need to have someone who's good or expert in SEO. If you don't have that kind of human resource, your SEO investment will just become a trash.

"Can a single person do everything a team of experts can?" really is the main question. If we are talking about SEO for big site, with big competition I shurely say you need a team. If you need SEO for small local site, with no competition at all, then a person would do the job.

The fast changing search engine algo, the backlinks that work once are no more. And many changes make SEO investment more risky and single person having specialization is very rare, if you find such guy. they generally be SEO guru and know how to make $3k in a few days than working for a month to earn it. :)

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