Like every SEO-related question, the answer is “it depends”. There are many variables deciding your needs and the timeline for executing a proper SEO campaign.
In this article, I’ll outline the various costs related to checking a website’s SEO and what it takes to improve it.
1. Performing a Site Audit
Cost: FREE or $500. Site audits are used to make clients aware of their need for SEO. It is a good way to find new clients, so doing free audits is an investment.
A site audit is a deep dive into a website’s functionality, site structure, and keyword rankings. It requires a manual look into all the most important pages to see if they’re loading correctly and are readable by search engines.
Next, a scan is performed by various tools that mimic how a search engine would scan the site. This will turn up all technical discrepancies with the website, such as broken links, orphaned pages, and missing tags.
A website that is not regularly optimized will show plenty of discrepancies, which is completely normal.
2. Competitor Analysis
Cost: $500. Overhead, price of SEO tools. Time and experience. Having access to tools isn’t enough. An analyst must know what the data means (insights).
It is a common feeling to be threatened by competitors who are much more established. They have a firm grip on some prime digital real estate. The good news, though, is that they’ve paved the road and built up a strong supply of data that can now be utilized.
By taking a deep dive into a competitor’s SEO, we can quickly discover everything that is working. In an instant, we can find the exact keywords for our industry and how to set up our website to get similar results.
3. Keyword Research
Cost: $500. Overhead, price of SEO tools. Time and experience.
Finding the right keywords is an art form. There are plenty of variables to consider when digging for keywords:
- Are these keywords relevant to our industry?
- Are these informational keywords?
- Are these commercial keywords?
- How often are these keywords used?
- How competitive are these keywords?
- Do these keywords need to be localized?
- How many pages are targeting this exact keyword?
- Are we already targeting this keyword?
- Are we already ranking for this keyword?
- Can we rank better for this keyword?
- What semantic keywords can we target?
Once a detailed list of qualified keywords is established, we can put them into play. They are plugged into the site’s pages, content, and meta data. From there, we track and monitor their movements over the next 5-10 weeks.
4. On Page Optimization
Cost: Variable, Fixed, or Retainer. Every page is different. The requirements to optimize a page are always changing. A simple “one-off” optimization is never sustainable.
We start by checking the page titles, headers, and URLs. This is the first point of contact made by a search engine. If these are not properly optimized, the rest of the work is pointless. We carefully select a focus keyword for each page, then optimize for that keyword.
Next, we make sure the focus keyword is mentioned enough times throughout the content, but not too much. A proper use of headers, paragraphs, and images helps to build a strong profile on any given page.
We link to other pages on the website, creating a clean “air flow” for website visitors. A link or two pointing to another website helps us as well, so we share the love and mention another website to visit. Google loves this.
Cost: $100-$10,000+. Getting backlinks requires lots of time. There are services which expedite the process.
A backlink is when your website is mentioned somewhere online. It helps to grow reputation as an authoritative website. These mentions are achieved by doing outreach to website owners and admins.
Many website admins are unresponsive or dislike being reached out to. Asking for a mention is often met with a price tag. These website admins understand the value of a backlink, so they charge for it.
Typically, a backlink is earned by providing a website admin with high-quality content provided by the soliciting website. The cost to produce the content varies.
Once the content is produced, an outreach campaign can begin. Once contact is made, negotiations can be made. There are agencies that solely focus on outreach for link building. They can save a lot of time.
6. Producing Written Content
Cost: $50-500+. High quality content is the key to ranking for more keywords.
Types of content includes:
- Product description
- Copywriting (sales)
Written content, when done right, contains all the most valuable keywords. It conforms to all SEO standards and is integrated to a website efficiently.
Creating this type of content requires more work than just typing words into a document. The content idea must be researched and compared to competitors. It must be relevant to the rest of the website.
How SEO is Billed
SEO agencies will work with a business to figure out the needs for their website and company. A plan is put in place with a set of goals and a timeline. Because of the nature of SEO services, the work is typically billed monthly.
The monthly cost for SEO can vary greatly. A service that charges $100-$300 per month is questionable. There is very little that can actually get done at this price range. Many businesses pay a cheap SEO agency and never see results.
I’ve been able to get results for my clients at this range. I am able to produce content and build links with this kind of budget. This price range allows plenty of room for growth if the industry is not competitive.
This is the most comfortable range for most businesses. The spend is a little higher than others, and it gives an SEO expert like myself to get things moving. When working with someone who knows how to get results, the smartest thing you can do is to give them “play money”.
At this range, there is enough room in the budget to spend a little extra time to set things up just right. Content becomes higher quality, backlinks come higher volume and strength.
At this range, the majority of the budget is being spent on backlinks. The website should be optimized to the teeth and is now ready to be fed like a hungry beast.
Tracking keywords and their movements plays a strong role here. Every link needs to be carefully curated. The strategy behind building lots of links requires a very deep understanding of how the search algorithm rewards backlinks. There is a delicate balance for the types of links that are being built, how many of them, how often, and how authoritative they are.