Real Talk: What Will It Cost You to Get Safe SEO? / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Find out how much you can expect to spend for organic SEO services that won't put your website in the penalty box.

SEO is a critical consideration for any entity that wants to manage a strong web presence.

Anyone that takes SEO seriously understands there's more to it than selecting a list of keywords and throwing them into content.

SEO is research and everything from compelling content to back linking and smart videos.

It's also a task better handled by a team of professionals with an understanding of your goals, industry and search engine optimization.

But just how important is it in terms of your budget? It has been estimated that 93 percent of online interaction of any kind begins with a search engine. You need high rankings since 75 percent of users never go beyond the top three rankings, let alone the first page.

Lastly, while social media is still a powerful SEO tool, search engines beat out platforms like Facebook by more than 300 percent in driving traffic.* What's that worth to you?

Related Article:Search In the New Year: Understand the Scope of Search Engine Optimization in 2016

How Much Are You Spending?

If you have looked at organic SEO services, you've probably found you could spend as little as a few dollars a month and up to tens of thousands per month for SEO. Does spending more mean better? Let's take a look. What follows are some of the more common SEO pay structures used to establish pricing and how to choose the best services alongside pricing.

If you think you can manage your own "Search Engine Optimization" and only want guidance or review of your website, you may only need periodic hourly services. This will not be inexpensive if you want a quality service. A reputable and experienced company that provides good SEO counsel could run you in the vicinity of $100 per hour. A contractor may bill you up to $50 an hour.

Comparison Shop

Consumers also have the option of working with a company on a specific service, like optimizing Google AdWords or improving their social media profile. SEO companies will charge you only for the services you ask for.

Compare the price of individual services like this against packages that may include them and other convenient services. Compare prices among companies offering the same services. Determine if your bottom line is better off with specific service charges or if you'd do better with a package.

Many companies have pricing models for projects, which can include optimized online marketing campaigns, fundraising, email blasts and more. If your company uses an SEO professional frequently for projects, you probably have a good idea of what the costs are.

If not, talk with reps at these companies and get estimates that outline costs of their services and the total cost and time needed to complete a project. Payments may come in a range of options, such as a certain amount upfront and at the end of the project or monthly payments broken down by project time.

Related Article: What Google Wants: Why You Have to Track Search Engine Optimization KPIs

Pay for Performance

Like any investment, fear of the unknown can stop someone from taking the leap. We wonder if we're going to get a reasonable return. This is where pay-for-performance comes in. It's a great way to find out if you've found the right service. Locate an SEO company that offers pay-for-performance. But do be aware of potential restrictions in this area.

You may only be allowed a certain number of keywords with the firm only getting paid based on ranking. This could mean the company not taking the long-term impact of their work on your online presence seriously, instead aiming for a quick return. This is something we might have found exciting five years ago, but in 2016, we know this is not a practical approach to SEO.

Pricing Packages

Many SEO companies have common pricing models and packaging with features that fit individualized needs. They can come in monthly and annual prices. On average, if you want the services of a top-flight SEO company, expect to pay at least $750 a month. This figure can change based on what you're looking for. If you're not interested in full services, you will pay less.

But that leaves you to navigate the murky waters of what you choose to leave out, for instance, link building, elements of an optimized page or content that Google can't resist. Take into account, the competition may be willing to pay for what you won't, giving them the edge that you need. Remember, cheap SEO gets you cheap results.

Related Article:Stuck on Page 13? 4 Ways to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

Final Thoughts

If you want to maximize your SEO and want to work with a company that focuses on service and ROI, put as much emphasis on quality as you do cost. A cheap service could be a costly mistake. Always take into account you get what you pay for.

Many website owners have learned to regret using the most affordable option, some without ever realizing the failure of their campaigns or websites were the direct result of saving a few dollars on the power (or lack thereof) of their SEO.

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