SEO professionals are asked ‘How much does SEO cost?’ everyday and everyday have to give the same answer of ‘it depends’. The process of SEO is not an exact science so setting prices is an impossibility without first completing research into the website and sector that the customer is enquiring about.
When a customer goes into a shop and buys a new DVD there is a set price tag on it as every copy of that DVD will be exactly the same. However, SEO cannot work like this as every website is different and has many outside factors and influences which will have an impact on the level of SEO needed to make it a success.
The internal factors of the optimisation of a website include adding quality content, ensuring that the meta data is updated and relevant to each page and headers are appropriate. Whilst the basic principles are the same, the execution can be very different. For example, updating and making relevant the meta data for a website with 15 pages will take a lot less time than a site with 50 pages; the service is the same, but the time taken to complete the task is different therefore the SEO cost for the 50 page site will be bigger than for the 15 page one.
External factors pay a large role in the cost of SEO as they determine the amount of research needed into the sector and how difficult it will be to gain a place on Google page one. For example, a client has a website selling car insurance who wants to be on page one for the term ‘car insurance’. This is a very competitive term as there are many websites in the industry all optimising for the same key words; therefore, this will take a lot of optimising, link building and time to see an improvement in ranking. In contrast to this, a company in a niche or specialised market will have a lot less competition for keywords and so it will be easier to rank for preferred keywords. This is also the same for companies who wish to focus on localised searches e.g. Chelsea hairdresser rather than London hairdresser as less people will be fighting for that keyword.
Ultimately then, asking ‘How much does SEO cost?’ is like asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’, it depends. A price should be individual to the client and campaign, taking into account all outside factors and a realistic time frame in which results are expected.