Over recent years, search engine optimisation costs in 2015 have risen and it has become a far more major undertaking compared to the old methods employed by SEO’s of yesteryear.
For a national business, advertising on a national level, the days of banging keywords and directory listings in has long gone; you require national SEO budgets. Far too often, I see small business owners who all of a sudden want to sell their wares to the entire country and no matter how much I overstate it, that website is doomed to stagnation without an SEO campaign in place. It’s a horrible, horrible thing to witness
The website is just the beginning of something much larger.
This article explores just where the search engine optimisation costs come from and concentrates on on-page and off-page editorial factors, as well as assuming the business is in a high competition market. The business owner can tackle a great deal of these tasks themselves, given enough free time to accomplish it, although we’re back to the old chestnut of ‘running business vs marketing time’.
Let’s start breaking those costs down.
Editorial content has a dramatic impact on search engine optimisation
By editorial content, I’m referring to content in two places – on-site and off-site. Let’s start with your blog. Effectively, writing a creative, well written blog post is an extra search result in Google. Using a modicum of cunning, keywords in the right place and a subject that appeals to your demographic audience achieves a number of things, including:
- Brand and business recognition
- A demonstration of your abilities to fulfil a service
Companies that increase blogging from 3 to 5 times a month, to 6 to 8 times a month almost double their leads. In fact, I’ve just gained a lead from a Canadian insurance firm, purely based on a blog post; there’s no way on earth they’d of found me otherwise, as my marketing and SEO is contained to a small section of the UK.
For business to business companies, the effects are even more extreme – two posts a month can create a stunning 70% more leads than those who don’t blog at all.
Figuring in the costs of those blog posts
- An effective blog post needs to be between 800-2000 words.
- Totally fresh, unique content that puts a new spin on the subject.
- The content need to be GREAT content that converts visitors to customers, not just filler.
- The subject matter needs researching.
- Keyword analysis MUST be performed – it’s no use writing if nobody searches for it.
Even for a fast copywriter, that’s a lot of time. Lets say, to be truly effective, that article will take three hours.
Take my base rate, which is a relatively small £20 GBP per hour. Multiply that by 3 and you have £60. Let’s assume that you want 8 blog posts written per month. You’ve just spent £480.
But that’s not the end of the process – now you need to publicise those posts across social media. Whether it’s yourself performing this task or a social media manager, you’re paying no matter what; time costs money and it’s difficult to make it an effective social media campaign when you’re tied up with day to day business activities.
The blog isn’t the end of it – the importance of back linking
I can’t overstate just how important back-linking as part of your SEO campaign is. A website targeted at a generalised or high competition market just cannot rank well without these ‘upvotes’ from Google. In 2015, it essentially build down to:
- A great piece of content you’ve written as a guest on someone else’s website that’s relevant to yours.
- A link, either in an author box or within the article that points to YOUR website.
The costs are effectively the same for off-page back linking purposes, with some added caveats.
Outreach to website owners hungry for new content. For this, the costs of communications need to be factored in:
- Pitching article ideas
- The time spent finding those website owners
- The cost of writing those articles
Lets say, for the sake of keeping everything natural and organic and with an emphasis on a few high quality links per month, rather than a scattergun of useless low value ones, we’re going with 9 editorial pieces a month on high value guest sites. You’ve just logged another £480.
Analysis takes time = money
And the costs of an effective SEO campaign climb even further. It’s not going to be very effective if you’re not measuring a host of metrics (and believe me, these are just the basic ones)
- Search engine ranking & share of market between differing engines.
- Conversion rate by keyword search.
- Unique keywords sending traffic to particular pages.
- Opportunities for fresh keyword targeting.
Consider retainers for search engine optimisation
Although all this can be scaled back for businesses that operate in a restricted area or a very niche market, the days of £250 a month SEO are well and truly over. With a whole swathe of link building techniques capable of sinking your business via Google penalties, the focus has very much changed to providing value to the end user – which is as it should be.
Often, this is the reason for retainers – it keeps the costs to a set amount, rather than a varying bill month to month for different tasks. It also fosters longer term relationships with larger businesses and institutions and enables the client to protect a vital long term investment. With the continuing shift every time a search engine makes a new algorithm change, it’s important to have someone on board with a reactive attitude to these changes.
It’s also worth noting that the business owner is perfectly capable of performing EVERYTHING I’ve just stated, but getting it wrong can mean ranking one day and vanishing the next.
It’s a massive learning curve, but to sum up – the search engine optimisation costs in 2015 are your time vs the budget of bringing in an SEO. The important thing is to ask yourself where the end value lies and how valuable your time is.
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