How Much Should Local SEO Cost?
Local SEO costs vary based on numerous factors, but the most significant factor is the profit margin desired by the local SEO expert. The same is said for all SEO. There is extensive time that goes into optimizing your business listing, link outreach campaigns, optimization, and drafting of content, etc. Does that mean that you should be paying a crazy amount of money per month on your search optimization campaign? No. The truth of the matter is that the overhead (or lack thereof) maintained by the SEO expert or agency plays a significant role in the pricing of their services. After all, they have to have the capital to pay for those expenses. (psst- that’s why we charge less than many other agencies- we don’t need to flaunt a shiny office)
Many SEO agencies follow a pricing model that looks at how competitive your area of business is, the amount of time and resources needed to compete with your competitors in the search rankings, etc. Others follow an ROI model wherein they charge based upon how much money your business can make with the extra clients they bring in for you. I do not agree with this model, and I am often criticized in the SEO community for it. Search optimization is a method of increasing website visitors and business contacts. Just because an attorney makes more money from a client than say a plumber, it does not mean that the EXACT SAME SERVICES should cost more. The amount of profit you make from a client should have no bearing on the prices of SEO services but instead should serve as a deciding factor for you as to whether you might see a positive return on investment. With that said, an attorney may need more work as it is a hyper-competitive market place, but that pricing would consider that as a prominent factor and not how much a business can pay.
Expensive is not always better
It is often true that you get what you pay for. This is especially true for products. Cheaper materials often lead to a product that is less than desirable based upon the expectations of the product. SEO, in our opinion, is a service. We are doing the work to improve the online search visibility of information that our clients rely on to enhance their client/customer base. Because it is a service, it stands to reason that we can charge what we value our services at, but, like above, many in the industry inflates their margin for the sole purpose of monetary gain. The scary part- I’ve been in the SEO and Web Design field now for more than a decade. I’ve done my own work, talked to others in the field, and taken tons of courses from self-professed SEO “gurus,” and the topic that always comes up is the pricing of services.
Too often in courses, I have heard people say that they should charge as much as possible while doing as little work as possible. This makes me scratch my head at the motivation of others. Don’t get me wrong- money is a beautiful thing to have, but that’s not our only motivation here. We are here to HELP businesses increase their revenue and accelerate their growth. How does charging as much as possible for our services help our clients?!
Also, in the many courses I have taken, it became apparent early on that many participants were there with dollar signs in their eyes rather than having a goal of helping others. Guru after guru, I would hear them say, “once you deposit the check, go to XXXXXXXX.com, buy this service, or these backlinks and then have that be your work for the month for that client. “Often the service they were recommending people buy was $100 or less, and they were promoting the idea of charging the client $1000/month, netting the SEO at least $900 in profit that month. So, the question for me then became, what were my own goals?
1. Have fun helping others
2. Make a positive impact on those who trust my services to help them
3. Provide as much value as possible
4. Make a living doing all of the above
You see, the goal for my own business was never to grow too large that I would be unable to work with clients personally. I never wanted a Lamborghini, I already have my dream house, and frankly, I don’t want to deal with managing tons of employees. (Been there, done that, no thank you). Instead, we have a small team, and I consult with all clients- there’s no go-between. Wherein some other SEOs charge a ton because they can, I charge as little as I can realistically while providing real value. When I talk to others about this they often are in disbelief, I mean, everyone wants to scale their business, right? Within reason, sure, but for the sake of making more money? Not if that means that the value that my clients rely on is diminished and not if that means that I do not have the time to work personally with my clients.
Too Cheap to be Good?
On the other end of the spectrum are the SEO agencies that undercut prices for the sake of getting more clients. The question I think of when I see this is how effective and efficient are these services? Are these search engine optimization companies able to keep up with their client acquisition? What are the services they are providing at such a cheap price point? Are they able to deliver quality results with the limited work budget they have available to them?
If you are paying very little compared to your expectations, you MUST keep in mind that SEO is forever, and if your SEO is utilizing cheap black hat tactics, they are risking your long-term success. I can imagine that having your entire business website become almost useless overnight would be frustrating for a lack of better words. That is the type of risk you run when you hire companies that are seemingly much cheaper than most others out there.
Ill-informed link building tactics will have your site on the fast track to being blacklisted by the search engines, and they, unfortunately, are often the hallmark of bad SEO. I’ve had the privilege of cleaning up the messes and Google Manual Penalties that result from cheap and lousy SEO, and to say that it being blacklisted can be disastrous is an understatement. Do not shop for the most inexpensive SEO unless you can uncover WHY it is so cheap.