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Why Search Engine Optimization Cost Is High & What You Can Do About It?

Updated on February 6, 2012

Search engine optimization cost is not cheap because it involves painstaking efforts over a long time. On one hand, it is not possible to avoid SEO for any website wishing to draw natural traffic on a sustained basis.

On the other, the cost for hiring an SEO practitioner can be pretty high. And therefore for small websites, it becomes difficult to balance the expenses between doing what is a must and what isn’t.

In this article we will look at a SEOmoz survey on search engine optimization cost but before that let us briefly examine the factors responsible for high SEO costs.


Main determinants of search engine optimization costs


  1. One of the 3 main pillars of successful SEO is the selection of relevant keywords. Though the AdWords Keyword Tool is a good help to research keywords, it may not give you the most ideal and ‘money-earning’ keyword suggestions. Therefore, you may need to buy/hire other keyword tools.

  2. The second important pillar is writing relevant contents in the website. This may seem easy, but in reality, striking a balance between keyword enriched content and making it readable and helpful for the visitors is often difficult. The problem becomes acute when you realize that you need to write quite frequently in order to remain in the reckoning. All of that mean that you may need to hire content writers, and believe me…the good content writers don’t come cheap.

  3. The third – and some would say the most important – pillar is about getting links from the other websites, the weightier the better. This job is laborious to say the least, and costly too. First, you need to have the proper tools to not only search the link prospects for your site, but also look behind your shoulder as to what your competitors are doing. The rewards from good link building can be immense, but the downside is that if you or those whom you hire pursue *bad* link building practices, your site may sink without a trace in the search results.

  4. If getting visitors to your site is one part of search engine optimization, the other part is retaining them in your site for sufficiently longer time so that they do what you want them to. This is where SEO is different from all other web marketing include PPC ads because in the latter’s case the job is up to the point of bringing the targeted visitors to the site. After that it is the onsite SEO that takes over.

    That being the case, the entire works between the coming of a visitor and her leaving the site fall in the domain of onsite SEO. You can easily imagine that the search engine optimization costs rise here because you need to properly do things like landing page designing, ensuring ease of navigation, engaging attention with innovative concepts, and finally measuring the visitors’ performance with good analytics program.

  5. Contrary to what many newcomers feel SEO is not a one-off affair. The costs may be relatively more when a website is about to take off, and then reducing over time. Surprisingly however, many websites find the SEO costs rising as the time passes. This happens because the websites now need sophisticated tools and expertise to track and improve the visitors’ performance so as to keep increasing the revenue.


What the survey reveals


The SEOmoz survey was based on about 490 responses from 6 geographic regions (see the infographic below).

Infographic on Search Engine Optimization Cost
Infographic on Search Engine Optimization Cost | Source


The survey reveals some interesting findings as under:

  • Most SEO agencies are small in size, employing no more than 1-5 people. India is a notable exception as the number of people hired per company is quite large. This I believe is because many Indian firms do the outsourced works from other countries, and it is likely that many of these works are factory-type routine things like content *manufacturing*, article submission, link *manufacturing*, and so on.

  • In India and Australia-NZ a large number of SEO agencies are 1-2 years old, while elsewhere, especially in the US and Canada, more agencies are in practice for 3-4 years.

  • Small and medium businesses are the most common client types without exception, even though in Canada and AU-NZ even smaller businesses are more in number.

  • Among the payment models, project-based pricing is the most popular, followed by monthly retainer, and by-the-hour consulting.

  • $2501-$5000 range of project-based pricing is more in number in all the countries except in Indian and UK where projects costing between $1501 and $2500 rank first.

  • In India the hourly charge of $25 is very popular, and this, it seems, is because of outsourced works.


No succor for small businesses?


The answer unfortunately is ‘no’. There is no shortcut, so to say, to search engine optimization. Even if you are able to spend large sums of money for advertising your website to bring in the visitors, you will still need to incur costs for onsite SEO to make your site attractive to the visitors so that you can make money.

Having said that, small businesses do have recourse to lessen the search engine optimization costs by doing the things themselves. For them my online course on learning SEO to actually boost business may be a good choice to begin.


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