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Welcome to the ineedhits Search Engine Marketing blog, where we share the latest search engine and online marketing news, releases, industry trends and great DIY tips and advice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

SEO for Small Business: The Real Cost of Top 10 Rankings

Posted by @ 5:09 pm

Since launching our new premium range of SEO services, I’ve noticed some lengthy discussion around what people believe to be the real cost of SEO.

When small business owners enter the realm of SEO they’re faced with a myriad of costs and pricing models. This not only creates a world of confusion, but also leaves many with misaligned expectations on fees and deliverables.

The world of SEO is like any other industry – you get what you pay for. But what’s reasonable and what’s a rip off?

I thought I’d trawl the web to see what other people had written on the subject and I found a post by Matt McGee, a well respected SEM and small business marketing expert.

Matt’s article “Small Business SEO: Costs, Expectations & Realities” was written in response to a post by Janet Meiners and more precisely a comment on her post. The comment was:

…many companies that offer SEO services charge an arm and a leg, usually monthly (anywhere from $300-$1000/monthly) and many don’t provide any kind of guarantee on results.

Matt’s by no means the most expensive SEO consultant you’ll speak to (he comes in at about $200/hour), but his post sets out to set some realistic expectations around the real cost of SEO and deliverables.

I don’t agree with all the ideas he raised (he’s writing from a consultant not SEO company viewpoint – SEO companies enjoy greater economies of scale), but he raises some good points to set expectations around costs and outcomes.

Matt closes his post with the following summary, which is a good sanity check for small businesses looking to recruit an SEO company:

  • You have to invest either time or money.
  • You usually get what you pay for; if you invest only a little time or a little money, you can expect little success.
  • There are no shortcuts to true, long-lasting SEO success.
  • Nothing matters more than ROI.
  • If you spend your money wisely on SEO, it should bring back returns that are substantially higher than the costs.

Now if you consider a trained SEO consultant doing the myriad of SEO functions involved in a proper SEO campaign (at even 50% of Matt’s hourly rate) and it won’t take long for your monthly costs to head north of $1000 per month for a basic campaign.

Think about what’s involved in professional SEO:

  • competitor analysis
  • keyword research
  • content review
  • code optimization
  • architecture optimization
  • link building etc etc etc

So what should you expect to pay? It’s a trade off between SEO deliverables, the experience of the company/consultant and assurances about results. Just know that if you’re paying $50-$100 per month, you can’t expect to get top 10 rankings. It might happen, but it’s highly unlikely.

When you look to employ an SEO company or consultant for your small business – be realistic about what you’re prepared to pay and want you want to achieve.

Ask them to detail what their SEO service includes, the experience they have (case studies are a good measure) and what assurances you’ll get on results. With this information and a realistic idea of the costs of SEO – you should be able to make an informed decision.

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (4 - comments)

[...] Original post: SEO for Small Business: The Real Cost of Top 10 Rankings [...]

By SEO for Small Business: The Real Cost of Top 10 Rankings | world business - August 24, 2009

This site rocks!

By Bill Bartmann - September 1, 2009

Great site…keep up the good work.

By Bill Bartmann - September 9, 2009

Excellent site, keep up the good work

By Bill Bartmann - September 10, 2009

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