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Can Small Businesses Really Afford SEO?
Lately, around the Pole Position Marketing office, we’ve been discussing the cost involved in providing top quality search engine optimization. All too often we find value added services or strategic improvements that require more time than initially anticipated. How much additional value can we provide without increasing fees?
While those questions continue to be bantered around, it got me thinking about the cost of SEO in general. As more and more avenues arise within the search marketing landscape, costs of total inclusive SEO services can be quite hefty. And that’s not even considering the SEOs that charge $500-$1000 per hour. The sheer number of hours involved in SEO can make it an expensive venture, whether you’re doing it yourself, engaging a consultant or hiring an all-inclusive firm to manage it for you.
Can small businesses really afford SEO?
That’s the question that many small businesses are asking. And depending on who you talk to, you’ll get answers from “yes” to “no” to a qualified “maybe.”
The trick to keeping your SEO costs down is efficiency. That can mean different things to different people. Finding the most efficient balance between time, budget and what is absolutely necessary for success, is the only way to keep your SEO campaign affordable.
Investment of Time: Time is one of the primary investments of SEO. You’re either spending your own time, paying for someone else’s time or a combination of both. With the vast amount of work that goes into SEO it all boils down to how much time one has, vs. how much time any particular task takes. Depending on those two factors, you then need to factor in which tasks are more urgent—more worthy of the time being invested. Focus on those first and then start working your way down to the less important tasks.
Another component of time comes into play regardless of who performs your SEO and that is simply one of waiting. Very few sites can become an overnight success. Any investment you make into SEO must consider the period of time it takes for SEO changes to work through the system. The length of this time can vary on a number of factors so you should have understanding of this ahead of time.
Investment of Budget: The next consideration to balance into SEO is your budget. Budget can help you determine whether you invest in your own time or someone else’s. But budget itself should not be considered without understanding the value behind the work being performed. Such value should be determined by the quality of the information gathered, the skill of the person implementing the information and the ability of the implementation to achieve positive results. Paying more does not necessarily mean that you get more value. On the other hand, rarely can you find great value on the cheap.
Investment In What Is Necessary: There are a lot of components to SEO, not all of them necessary for every campaign. By and large I would say that the most successful SEO campaigns utilize all possible forms of online marketing, but success itself is not determined merely by doing everything possible. Success comes from doing the right things at the right time, in the right way. If you can determine what avenues of SEO need to be pursued for your campaign, then you’ll ultimately reduce the “cost” involved in getting results.
SEO can always be affordable
SEO doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, expense is just relative to the return. To some, anything more than a few hundred dollars can seem expensive. But if the value returned is several thousand dollars, then it’s not so expensive after all. The same holds true if you invest several thousands of dollars. It’s only expensive until you get multiple thousands in return.
A little can go a long way. But since SEO often has much more value than the sum of its parts. The more time, energy, knowledge and skill you invest, the more exponential the returns tend to be. The idea is to invest what you can, where you can, when you can. And when the returns come, reinvest that even further to expand your campaign and your return on investment. As long as your marketing campaign is returning a positive ROI, then the true cost of SEO is affordable.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.