Obviously you need to know what SEO costs. Along with costs, the most common (and important) question customers ask of the industry is “How long does it take?”. Below is some indicative costs and time frames, but remember it usually depends on you situation and other factors:

How much does SEO cost?

If SEO is done properly, it is generally not a cheap service. BUT, It can be a very cost effective as the results can be high impact (in a good way) and long lasting.

The actual cost to your business will depend on a number of factors including the current level of optimisation and standard of your site, your industry / competition and goals.

A good SEO provider will provide a price after carefully considering all of these and other factors. They will also outline the strategy that will be used to rank your site and they will provide a plan for it’s implementation.

But, to give some understanding of general costs of SEO, here is a guide:

Entry Level SEO:

For local SEO or very low competition search terms you may be looking at $300 to $400 per month. That kind of budget should see good local results or good results in low competition industries. There are also some services that may start low (around this level) and then increase later depending on results, and they can be quite good. Just remember that nothing is free, and what you don’t pay now, you will pay later.

Mid Level SEO:

For moderately competitive industries / search terms, businesses services larger areas, and more significant goals like business growth etc, you will need to be be spending $750 + per month and the prices can rise sharply depending of competition and the other factors mentioned.

At this budget you really should be seeing a measurable increase in business and a good return on your SEO spend.

Higher Levels:

There really is no limit to what SEO can cost. In high value and high competition industries and search terms, the costs will easily run into the thousands and its not uncommon to run into the tens of thousands per month.

There are exceptions…

You can get lucky and find a good freelancer who will be able to provide a good service and reduced costs due to the fact that they have lower overheads. If you are looking to go down this pathway, make sure they can deliver by checking past results and also question them to ensure they are using safe tactics.

Why isn’t SEO low cost service?

To do it properly, SEO takes time and resources. Time, the time for a consultant to research, do the work, plan etc. and resources such as content creation (where they don’t do it themselves), content distribution, tools and other resources.

The largest component by far is the time it requires. SEO is very time intensive. Think of how much you are looking at spending and then realistically think about how many hours of work that would cover at professional hourly rates – and that’s after other overheads.

There is some interesting informatio on the costs of SEO here:

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2267471/How-Much-Should-You-Spend-on-SEO-Services
http://moz.com/blog/seo-pricing-costs-of-services

Can One Size Fit All?

Be careful of fixed price / one size fits all packages as they may not take into account your business situation, current web presence, your industry and competition etc. therefore the results may be a bit hit and miss, for instance a local florist is going to have very different needs to a big city law firm.

They can be fine though as long as your situation is being properly considered. Make sure there is some kind of plan in place that takes into account your business before starting. Always ask what will be done and make sure they are considering your actual business goals – and get it all in writing.

Also be be VERY careful of any ridiculously cheap SEO packages. They will often be using cheap and nasty tactics, that may or may not work very short term, and will end up getting your site penalised. You will often see SEO packages being sold for $50 to $100 per month or even less (usually by email spam or cold calls from overseas) – but given all we have covered so far, you would have to ask yourself what value you are really getting.

How Long Does SEO Take?seo-takes-time

Good results from SEO do not happen instantly or overnight. If you need instant results in your business, you should look at other internet marketing options like PPC search marketing etc.

There are many factors that will affect the amount of time it will take you to start seeing returns from SEO and it’s hard to give you estimates without analysing your situation, but as we have with costs above, we will try to give you something to go by:

 

Early Results:

Generally speaking, you should start to see some kind of demonstrable results in the first month of work being commenced – like some increase in rankings of chosen keyword, some kind of increase in traffic, an increase (even limited) in enquires to your business.

Keep in mind though, the results in the first month may only be slight. Then again, if the company is good, and your site was really lacking before, you could see quite good results.

There are factors that can delay results (like Googles rumored “SandBox”, site age, previous penalties etc.) so make sure you consult very closely with your SEO provider and understand what is going on – make sure you get explanations on as much of what is happening as possible, including any thing that is taking longer than you thought it might.

As the Campaign Progresses:

You should start to see reasonable results in 2 to 4 months. You should definitely be seeing good increases increases in rankings on your agreed keywords and in the traffic coming to your site. If your SEO provider is targeting the right audience, you will be seeing increased enquiries or sales in this time.

Again, there are factors that can delay things, so keep on top of you provider. Make sure you have access to as much information as possible and make sure you understand what is going on.

Lift Off

You should be seeing good to great results after 4 months. This means the higher level goals that have been set for your campaign should be coming to fruition.

You will be seeing your relevant keywords ranking highly and significant increases in traffic, enquiries and sales.

And later it may be worth while considering widening the scope of the campaign to start getting even better results.

These timeframes are a guide only and each business situation is different. Your SEO consultant should be able to provide you with timeframes that they can stick to and most importantly, they should be able to explain why things will take the time they are quoting.

If you do not see the results you should be in the times estimated by your provider, you may need to re-evaluate the strategy being used. If the campaign has been running for a while, there should be a good amount of data collected help you make an informed decision.