The question of how much SEO costs is asked again and again.
The answer is: How much is SEO worth?
But let's first clarify the question of what SEO is in the first place and a few other questions. Then the answer to the original question will be self-evident.
What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization (search engine optimisation). Ultimately, the aim is to be displayed on the first page of search results in search engines for relevant search terms (keywords). If possible, at the top of the first three positions in the organic search (i.e. not in the ads).
How much is SEO worth?
I would argue that it is worth a lot if you can get a website listed on the first search results page. Because potential customers who are looking for something rarely go to the second page of the search results lists. So if you are listed on the first search results page (and are also among the first 3 results), then the probability that you will gain customers is very high. Every customer brings money. How much money depends on how much your product, service, etc. costs.
What criteria must be observed to ensure a good search engine ranking or position?
There are several hundred different criteria that are responsible for a website ranking well.
Here is a small selection of the criteria:
- Page loading time
- Voice Search
- Backlink profile at domain level
- Number of backlinks
- Holistic content
- Diversified backlinks
- Keyword and title tag
- Subpage authority
- Content length
- Data quantity of the code
- URL length
- Structured data
- Dwell time
I will not explain the different points here, as they are not part of the actual topic. Please also read the articles SEO Trends 2021 Part I and Part II and / or google the topic on the internet.
High-quality content has been one of the most important criteria in the past and will continue to be so in the future. High-quality content can compensate for other criteria that you cannot / do not want to fulfil for various reasons.
SEO is a strategic task
It is important that you always keep in mind that SEO is a strategic task. Success rarely happens overnight. A delay of a few weeks or months is common.
A recent case in point
In early May 2019, I was commissioned by a client to improve their positioning in search results. We started blogging. Every week 2 posts were published on the same days. The client had not blogged before and there were very few competitors in their industry who blogged. In addition, the competitors rarely provided content. Beforehand, we made an analysis of the website and did extensive keyword research. From this, we eventually created an editorial plan and published content on a weekly basis. After 3 months, the client called me and said he could hardly save himself from orders. It was a craft business. At the beginning of June 2020, the client stopped blogging. It was agreed that I would continue to monitor the development of the site.
For about 6 months after blogging stopped, nothing happened. In other words, the client continued to be well positioned, the positioning even improved without blogging until mid-December 2020. Then came a Google update at the beginning of December 2020. From that day on, 25 fewer pages were placed. The average position in the search engines deteriorated by 6. The number of page 1 placements worsened by 40.
The visibility for the observed keywords (this does not mean the visibility from Sistrix) has deteriorated from 77 to 36.
What do we learn from this?
A position that you have fought hard and cost-intensively for with SEO must never be taken for granted. The development must continue to be observed. And at the latest with the next Google update, you will receive the "reward" ("punishment") for neglecting SEO.
How certain is it that SEO activity will be / is successful?
The extent to which a website is well placed in the search engine results lists depends on the type of SEO and also on the consistency of the search engines' algorithms. There are criteria that used to be important but no longer are. One example is the domain name. It used to be the case that the domain name should contain the topic. That is no longer relevant today. In short: the search engines change their criteria from time to time - old ones become unimportant, new ones become relevant. But what has not changed in the past years and has always remained constant: content. Content was important in the past and will become even more important in the future. Everyone agrees on that.
How successful SEO activities are or will be in the end can only be stated in probabilities, which will NOT come close to 100 percent!!!
A 100% guarantee for SEO does not exist!
At the end of the day, there is no 100% guarantee - not even by tendency.
In my opinion, the probability that SEO activities will be successful is between 50 and 90 percent. Who knows today how the search engines will change their algorithms tomorrow? To be honest, no one. Unless the search engines announce it.
Now comes the crucial question: how much should SEO cost?
How much should SEO cost?
I would like to give a "best practice" example of this. The website of Liebscher & Bracht. And in this context, please listen to the Liebscher & Bracht SEO Podcast an. The interview lasts about 67 minutes and is worth every minute of listening! Here, the company's SEO, Jan Brakebusch is interviewed. It's all about how he managed to increase the visibility index. In this case, the visibility index of Sistrix is meant.
First of all, the visibility index from Sistrix
The visibility index from Sistrix is set to this page explained.
Sistrix invented the visibility index in 2008 and has since been the Gold standard for SEO success measurement. All other visibility indices do not offer what Sistrix offers. In the end, it's about a website ranking high for as many relevant keywords as possible. Then a domain is visible. No more and no less. With other SEO tools, for example, you enter the keywords for which you want to rank. At some point, the system "spits out" a visibility of e.g. 50% compared to the competitors (e.g. with SEOPROFILER). This also makes sense. But if this keyword has no search volume, then this is of no use either. SEOPROFILER does not take search volume into account when it comes to visibility. SEOPROFILER also does not talk about the "visibility index" but about the "visibility" compared to the competitors. That can be helpful. But if you want to rank for the word "roofer", for example, then the SEO analysis by Sistrix simply makes more sense.
The visibility development of Liebscher & Bracht
Here is the graphic first:
Image source: Sistrix
What is striking about this graph is that visibility remained in the "below 1" range for a very long time. From August 2017, an almost rapid increase to a final 10 in 2020 can be observed. The increase began hesitantly in 2017 until the development was "rapid" from 2018 onwards.
If you listened to the interview linked above, you also heard that a team of 5 editors plus the SEO Jan Brakebusch have been working on this development and are still working on it.
This answers the question of what SEO may / can / should cost. And please listen to the whole interview on! I don't know what the editors and the SEO earn. I also don't know whether parts of them work part-time or something else. But it should be clear to everyone that such a team costs money. And this investment has definitely paid off for the company, I would say!
SEO is time-consuming and costly and a constant process
SEO is extremely time-consuming. It starts with the analysis of the actual website. This is followed by competitor observation and keyword research. Finally, an SEO strategy and KPIs are developed and implementation begins. As said, you can never be 100% sure that the SEO activities will be successful. Therefore, a constant control of the success is necessary. The strategy may have to be adjusted.
Does it always have to be a complete SEO team?
No, it doesn't have to. In general, it depends on the industry you are in and how active your competitors already are. Above, I described a recent case that was successful in the SEO sector even without a team, with a "one-man show".
I am a new starter - how much do I have to spend on SEO?
Good question, next question. In general: if you do nothing, you will not rank. Unless you are in a niche where there are no or very few competitors. The important thing is that you do something. There are also cases where simply using the standard tools of an SEO is enough to get started.
The Standard or Beginner or LowLevel - Tools of the Trade of an SEO
The standard craft of an SEO definitely includes: registering with GoogleMyBusiness, with Google Search-Console and submitting the sitemap to Google. That's at least something and at this point in time probably more than your competitors do. But the times are currently such (Corona) that many are going digital. Many try their hand at this "craft". Furthermore, it is part of the "standard craft" that you regularly use GoogleMyBusiness.
If you want to be successful online, SEO is mandatory. To what extent you can or want to do it depends on you. But doing something is definitely better than doing nothing. Or in other words: "If you don't advertise, you die".