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What do you think SEO is worth?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Jemma, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Jemma

    Jemma New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Would love to know what everyone's thoughts are on SEO and what you think it's worth to your business.

    If you currently employ SEO for your website - are you happy with the results? Do you know the return on your investment?

    If you don't currently employ SEO - what would be the most you would be willing to pay for SEO?

    I'm trying to put together some SEO packages for small online businesses but getting the happy medium between quality and low price isn't easy so would really appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks heaps in advance!

    Jemma
  2. JohnW

    JohnW Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jemma,

    I forsee difficulties with your approach.

    1. First you need to define, "what is SEO?"
    I'm willing to bet that you won't find any agreement on this among all the users of SEO services nor all the suppliers of SEO services.

    2. The second problem is that every website is totally different in what needs to be done to implement SEO.

    For a start, you will discover that maybe 25% of websites have structural, configuration, design problems or have been hacked to the point where Google has deleted them from its index. Sometimes you have to tell people that if they want optimal SEO, they will need a complete site rebuild. Do you consider fixing these sorts of problems part of SEO? You can't find a "happy medium" when a website has this magnitude of problems.

    You will find the most common SEO problem has nothing to do with HTML code or links, it is lack of site content. Most shopping cart sites hit this wall. Are you plugging copywriting services into your SEO costing model? How much of it? Depending on the site you are assessing, this could be its single biggest SEO problem and the single most expensive to remedy.

    Then there is the online competition variable. This has nothing to do with the size of the business. An independant mortgage broker is in the same search market as major banks. An independant estate agent is up against multi-million page websites. How do propose to address the cost variances attributable to this factor?

    Next there are the variables of:
    the size of the site
    the existing volume and value of links to it

    If you don't address all these issues and more then you can't provide an effective SEO service.

    "SEO Packages"? I'm sorry, in 16 years I've never seen any that weren't over priced or ineffective.

    I'm all for assessing ROI but until you can define SEO costs, you can't arrive at ROI.

    Regs,

    JohnW
  3. websitedesigner

    websitedesigner Well-Known Member

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    Here's one way to look at it.

    1. Estimate how much it will cost you to get the site onto the front page of Google and keep it there.

    2. Use Adwords to work out how much the person would have to pay per click to get to the front page using Adwords

    3. Estimate how many clicks you are likely to get being on the front page of the natural listings - your experience with other sites with similar competition (Google keyword tool gives you rough guides to how competitive certain terms are)

    That will give you one measure of how much it is worth to be on the front page. You might be surprised in some industries clicks are costing up to $5, if you are getting 1,000 visitors via Google's natural listings each month its a lot of money.

    It's just one way of looking at it and perhaps one way you can sell it to clients.
  4. JohnW

    JohnW Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dan,
    This introduces more variables into the equation.

    Getting a page 1 ranking is irelevant. Getting click throughs is a starting point.

    You have two different strategies you could pursue.

    a. Buy one keyword
    b. Buy the least expensive keywords

    Let's assume a sponsored link click through rate (CTR) of 0.3% which Google says is pretty average.

    In the home loan market you could buy "home loan calculator" ($11+ per click) and this would cost you $10-$12K per month to attract 1,000 visitors. Alternatively you could buy thousands of $0.09 per click keywords and spend $90 per month.

    CTR will be very different for natural search results vs sponsored links. Do you target the same single keyword as the sponsored links campaign or do you target many less frequently used keywords? How many keywords will you need to target with your SEO campaign to attract 1,000 referrals? How will you work out your "SEO package" prices for achieving natural rankings click throughs?

    I'm not trying to be smart or argumentative here, just point out that it is very difficult if not impossible to provide "pat" answers. Every web site in every search market is different and you can only arrive at the numbers to make ROI calculations after you assess the website, its competition and the budget that the site owner wants to invest in SEO.

    Regs,

    JohnW
  5. JohnSheppard

    JohnSheppard Active Member

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    The correct way to quote it would be an hourly rate then? or an analysis/consultation package, followed by a quotation/advice report?
  6. JohnW

    JohnW Well-Known Member

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    Hi John,
    I usually suggest starting with a website & SE assessment.

    Then you have a document that lists existing site problems and opportunities. It should also include baseline SEO performance numbers.

    It will identify remedial action options which are separately costed.

    It also includes implementation schedule options/recommendations.

    Now you have something that you can discuss with the site owner and help him/her to establish an ongoing SEO program that suits their budget while still demonstrating meaningful results over a period of time. If they are not happy with the results, they can pull out of the program at any time.

    A side benefit of this approach is that it educates the website owner into how logical and controllable the SEO process is and how as a result, they can make better decisions about its implementation.

    I don't suggest this is the only way to do it. It's how I operate.

    Regs,

    John W
  7. JohnSheppard

    JohnSheppard Active Member

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    Heya John,

    I think tho that packages attempt to simplify something that can't be simplified. At least thats the gist of what I think I hear you saying?....I know little about real SEO, but it seems plausible to me....

    Packaging anything complex, while neat and easier to sell, will never produce the best results for the client.

    The flip side of producing individual assessments is needing to convince your client you're an expert and justifying the extra associated costs. A large portion of customers just don't go for that.

    As to the original post, from a client's perspective (mine), I would choose the non-packaged style of provider as I would feel the ROI would be well and truly worth it. I think those with less knowledgeable of Internet would go for the packaged type of deal however. But that's just a guess. So if you want to be in a higher end niche, do the nonpackaged thing, if you want to be in the lower end niche do the package thing.

    As a customer, I just want to know; what results will I get? how much will it cost? how long will it take? and Proof that it's happening.....can you package that?

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts, perhaps I'm rambling off topic.
  8. JohnW

    JohnW Well-Known Member

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    Hi John,
    Those numbers, expectations and time frames roll out of the post site audit meeting when the client decides on his/her SEO implementaion program.

    SEO is an ongoing process. That means you can implement some elements of it then measure results.

    The best measurement tool is your site's traffic reports. You want a pre-SEO benchmark that looks at:

    Total visits
    Source of visitors
    No. SE referrals
    No. of unique keywords
    Keywords analysis

    For pre-existing websites you would expect to see significant improvements in all these metrics in the first full month post-SEO.

    Regs,

    JohnW
  9. Jay-T

    Jay-T Member

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    Charge as much as you want. Really. I do.

    I just finished a deal where the person i was speaking to was surprised to see that my fee was almost 5 times what she'd paid in the past using "other consultants"

    I got around this by positioning myself as not a consultant but a "turnaround specialist" and outlined the difference with confidence. positioning is important.

    Anyway I got the deal.

    The price is based on the value that you deliver if you bring a person $100k in sales why not base your fee on against that number - let them decide the value let them tell you what a lead is worth, what a conversion is worth, what the annual value is worth, what the lifetime value is worth.

    Never base your fee on time always base it on value - when I say value I mean money as it's highly measurable and is important.

    If you're not sure what to price look at everyone else and go higher.

    The client I was dealing with was accustomed to consultants who were charging x price and I re-positioned myself and got over 4x that fee - price is pretty much perception. Just be sure to deliver the goods.

    What I'd do is find an area that your target market typically usually suck at and create a package around that.

    For example I know Beauty Therapists suck at lead capture and follow-up so I might design a "Beautician Lead & Follow-up System" for their website to help them capture visitors by getting prospects to enter their name and email in exchange for a special offer that gets sent to their email then you can create a series of follow-up emails for your new lead that builds out the relationship educating them and encouraging them to keep them coming back. So then I'd:

    • Create a sales letter promoting the idea and mentioning that you're going to follow-up with a phone call
    • Follow-up and qualify them
    • Set up consultation (needs analysis)
    • Find the value to the salon in sales every month/year
    • Set up system + seo stuff if need be
    • track results

    Keep fine tuning the system until it's working consistently and predictably now you've got a proven marketing campaign.

    Then I'd go and hunt down all the other salons in my area then adapt it for hair salons and then real estate agents etc you could probably just do this one package and do really well from it.

    Find a niche > find an expensive problem > create a product to solve it > systemize it and re-sell it.
  10. JohnW

    JohnW Well-Known Member

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    Hi Willa,

    Completely agree. SEO is a waste of time without implementing conversion activities.

    I'm smiling at the assumption that packaged SEO is cheaper.

    Here is an example of an SEO "packaged" service price taken from an Australian company's website.

    No. of Keywords Optimised: 15

    Includes:
    A SE and website assessment
    SEO of 15 existing web pages or creation of new pages
    Publishing 1 client's page on the SEO company's website.
    Publishing 2 client pages on other SEO company websites
    100 external link submissions to other sites (How many actually link generated is not specified.)

    Cost: $6,589

    This mob told a client of mine that his site did not use any SEO. (I immediately ran an audit of over 400 keywords where my client's site ranked in the top 10 results.)

    My client had a brand new 60 page website, SEO and content management system for much less than this SEO company charges for 15 keywords.

    Seems I saved my client over $100,000 on this example of "packaged" SEO pricing.

    At least I can look at myself when I shave each morning. :)

    Regs,

    JohnW
  11. CarolP

    CarolP Member

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    Willa,

    I agree with your comments that basing SEO on value is the way to go. it all comes down to ROI. If it delivers the client value, then the fee is worth it.

    I've seen agencies develop $500k websites that are poorly optimized and that don't convert very well. And the client does not know any better. I've also seen them pay higher pay per click rates because the website does not convert well.

    Having the right keywords is the foundation to any website. Paying $100K for an SEO package is a better investment than a poorly optimized website that costs $500K and does not convert.

    Cheers
    Carol
  12. Debra

    Debra New Member

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    Good ideas guys Ive been studying SEO for about 3 months now, and have gotten some great page 1 results for myself and friends businesses, I want to look at doing a Local Business Specialist for SEO soon what extra training do you guys think is worth paying for?

    Thanks
  13. aajvcad

    aajvcad New Member

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    Hi,

    I like all the comments so far.

    The way I see it: It really depends on your experiance and how you feel about the service you will provide.

    Charge what you feel comfortable with.

    On the other hand every business you promote will be different. I have cliants that pay as little as 690/month all the way up to $3500.

    Usually the higher paying cliants are in very competative niches and have alot of money. like lawyers. for $3500/month, they expect resaults and you have to deliver.

    Only their main webpage on forst page of google is not enough, for this price I position 3-5 of their online properties on the first page.

    To keep cliants happy you might have to create additional web properties and rank them high aswell.

    So charge according to the work you will have to put in, the niche competition and your skill.

    Hope this has helped.

    Any more questions please ask.

    Alem
  14. marketingweb

    marketingweb Active Member

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    SEO is worth the extra business that is able to be generated based on being on the front page of Google. No point being #1 if it generates no extra business. If it generates $1 million in extra revenue, then $50,000 would be money well spent as a marketing expense.

    To aajvcad's previous comment, $3500 a month would be cheap in some industries, but on the low end of $690 mentioned, this is way above what some local businesses need to pay.

    FOR EXAMPLE - one of my customer sites Twin City Mowing Services is #1 for virtually everything everything he wants to be, and in the top few for anything that isn't #1. But his target phrases are "lawn mowing albury", "lawn mowing lavington", "lawn mowing thurgoona", "garden care albury" etc. With a limited geographical area and low competition, there was only a couple hundred dollars in SEO work (beyond the website website development costs) and it pretty much sits there at number 1 with minimal ongoing link building.

    To a business like this one my service was brilliant value. If he needed to pay $690 a month - it would be completely uneconomical for him as he is really only looking for a few new clients a month to be successful.

    For anyone who care's reference, my services for SEO start at $150 per month with a minimum 3 months for low competition locally based phrases. But I was asked to quote on something like "mortgages" or "real estate" I think I would just put a 1 and the hold down the 0 key for a couple minutes to give me a figure! lol

    Matt
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  15. Heidi Price

    Heidi Price Member

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    hmmm.....

    this thread has got me thinking - because the basic SEO we include with a website package consistently results in first page rankings. We are not charging extra for it.

    For example, one site we manage is outranking its suppliers for product searches. All these suppliers are household name, international companies.

    This is because we have a natural-born SEO-er in house!

    But just maybe we should start charging a separate fee......
  16. marketingweb

    marketingweb Active Member

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    Hi Heidi,

    It's an interesting point and one I definitely have found myself although in most cases it hasn't been against international brand names - sounds like you are doing very well, congratulations on your success.

    One thought though - I ALWAYS find it easier to rank a site i've built myself than an existing site someone else has built, unless I basically rebuild the site's structure, content etc pretty much from scratch. I think what we both realise is that if you build a site correctly from the ground up you can't help but rank it reasonably well. But if it's not built right then it's a bigger job.

    Hence why treating SEO as an afterthought is a bad idea, and why "build it once, build it right" is the key message, the whole site needs to be built with SEO in mind, and why working with a designer such as Heidi Price (or humbly, myself) who "gets" SEO will get better results then treating it as an addon later once the site is built.

    That said though, some industries / niches will rank fairly well with a well built site, but link building still does come into play.

    Matt
  17. seocourse

    seocourse Well-Known Member

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    Well, no suprise then... I mean...
    I just read your site and I find amazing you charge people $199 for search engine Submission

    mmmm is that SEO from the 90's ???
    Come on dude... do you really call yourself an SEO professional and you charge people to submit to SEARCH engines?

    I hope your customer don't read this

    http://seobullshit.com/seo-myths-crap-submitting-search-engines/


    Amazing... god save us from these "SEO companies" flooding the Internet.
  18. Heidi Price

    Heidi Price Member

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    Abso-bloody-lutely!
  19. JohnSheppard

    JohnSheppard Active Member

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    I see many seo people say this, but what are the hard things that you need to keep in mind when building a site? I mean the ones that can't be changed easily afterwards?

    Content is easy to change, tags are easy to change? Does your markup quality count? That I could see as hard to change, Getting your CMS wrong, THAT is hard to change, but what else?
  20. marketingweb

    marketingweb Active Member

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    Hi JohnSheppard

    I take your point that most things can be changed. To answer your questions though, it's probably best to mention some of the many many things I take into account SEO wise when I build a page. Probably giving away a list I should blog about this rather than just posting here as it's good stuff, but here goes off the top of my head.

    1) Content written with both search engines and humans in mind
    2) H1, H2 etc tags used to define the page structure (as they should be) rather than just to "make text bigger"
    3) Title Tags and Meta Descriptions (easy to change though)
    4) Alt tags on all images
    5) SEO friendly URLs
    6) Page structure to allow maximum text without compromising page look.
    7) Page footers
    8) Menu Structure & Design (ie text based links if possible)
    9) Menu link texts
    10) When using a CMS, ecommerce etc other things apply:
    a) Permalinks structure
    b) Avoiding duplicate content via multiple URLs to same content
    c) Avoiding variables in URLS (eg osCommerce's osCid= string) OR ensuring rel=canonical header tag is set so ensure Google knows what the "real" URL of a page is.

    And probably some more I've forgotten that I just do naturally without thinking.

    SEO is about three things - on page content, on page structure, off page link quantity & quality (ie linkbuilding, link baiting etc).

    The off page stuff you can do with any site. But based on my above list, how much of this is easy to change without basically rebuilding the entire site? For example, changing title and meta description tags is easy, but if this is all you consider to be onpage SEO, well, lets say it's just the "easy part" and leaning to put these in is about 1% of the way to becoming a genuine SEO specialist.

    Adding alt tags on every image...easier to do up front but can be done later. Stuff like getting the menu and page structure right can involve changes that take as much work as rebuilding the site from scratch would. And then, say you change all of the page file names from say about.htm to about-freds-widgets.htm, you then have to put in a series of 301 redirects from old to new - all stuff that wouldn't have to be done if it was done right.

    Given that in a lot of cases you would basically have to rebuild the entire site to get some of this stuff right, yet that isn't in the client's budget as they just want you to "SEO it", it means the basic things like title tags and mabye a H1 gets added in, and the rest gets left. With quality link building it's still possible to rank, but takes a lot more work in that area to make up for deficiences on the page itself.

    Obviously the more complex a site and the more willing a client is to let you change things and invest the time/money, the more you can overcome it not being done right at the start. But most clients AND inexperienced SEO's are so convinced that "title tag + description tag + a heading tag + link building = SEO" that they don't appreciate the value of the rest - plus their idea of linkbuilding is ofter so bad that they fail in this area as well!

    Matt

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