Article Updated: 12 January 2020
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO as it is more commonly known as) is one of those areas of digital marketing that creates more questions than answers! For years, SEO was actually seen as a "dark art", a mysterious area of the internet where those who knew the secrets could manipulate search engines such as Google into ranking a website at the top of its search engine results page.
Luckily, this is no longer the case and Google itself, has helped clean up the industry. Today, SEO is more about following a set of proven processes and activities. Unlike before, these activities are actually visible and tangible, which has helped SEO agencies like Nexa, to provide much more clarity in terms of our pricing policies.
So, What Determines How Much SEO Costs (in Dubai or Anywhere else)?
Quite simply, it comes down to two main areas. The industry you are in and activities carried out by the SEO agency in order to be able to show you the results you desire.
Why are these related?
Again, there's a simple answer here and it comes down to how much competition you have online. Some industries have an extremely aggressive competitor set (think banks, real estate companies, dentists etc) where many of the companies have a strong online presence on the search engines and social media. Many of the top ranking competitors may also have high quality websites, which is also a ranking indicator used by Google to determine an industry's best companies.
What this all means is that businesses in a highly competitive industry will have to work harder than companies who have less online competition (think steel manufacturers and other industrial, B2B companies).
How is SEO Priced?
In order to answer this question, let's go back to the activities. Generally there are a number of set stages that need to be followed in order for any SEO activity to have any level of impact at all and these phases may differ from agency to agency.
SEO Cost Breakdown: Technical Stage
This should normally be the first stage of any SEO activity. The technical stage will include a full analysis of your website including the website structure, SEO-friendliness and content analysis. Once this is complete, a recommendations document will be provided to you or if agreed with the SEO agency, any recommendations provided will be implemented directly onto your website. Also at this stage, the agency should ensure that your website is prepared for any on-going or content activity on your website. For SEO to work for you, you will need to regularly add content to your website so your site needs to have sections available for this. The most obvious area of your website for this is a blog and your agency may include the adding of a blog onto your website as part of this process.
There may be a separate cost of this activity outside your on-going retainer based agreement. At this point you may see an instant impact in the rankings of your website. But it's highly important to understand and remember that despite the rankings improving, there has at this point not been any actual ongoing SEO activity for your website, which may mean that any boost in rankings is short-lived and unsustainable.
It's the on-going SEO guides that will provide you with what we regard as fully sustainable search engine rankings (i.e. rankings that wont fluctuate up and down sporadically).
SEO Cost Breakdown: On-Going Activity
Once the technical stage is completed, the actual meat and substance of your SEO activity can begin. It's important not to jump to this stage before the technical activity is complete as the impact of any work down on a structurally better website is significantly higher than with a website that isn't Google-friendly.
This stage can be a stage that takes as long as 12 months but if conducted and implemented properly can start producing results for your business within just a couple of weeks.
The activity within this stage is based around actual work that is completed and hosted on your website and is centered around content. We recently wrote an article about how Google works and much of this article was focused around content and what Google's objectives are as a business. To summarise though, Google's main objective is to provide the best quality search results for its users. This means providing the best possible answers or information to the questions that are being typed into Google. Therefore, if your website contains the most relevant and quality information, there is a good chance that your content will be ranked above other sites that perhaps do not answer the search query as well.
The cost of this SEO activity is therefore fully linked to the content that is created for your website. It is also dependent on the type of content that is created. Below is a list of the type of content that you should consider creating that can have a positive effect on your SEO activity and some approximate prices for each of the below. Based on this, you will be able to work out how much you should be paying for SEO activity.
- Short Form Blog Articles: Generally 300 - 750 word articles (From US$ 175 per article)
- Long Form Blog Articles: Generally 800+ word articles (From US$ 300 per article)
- Videos (From US$ 1,500 per video)
- Infographics (From US$ 1,000 per infographic)
- Audio Content (eg Podcasts)
The cost is therefore highly dependent on the volume and type of content created for you. For most businesses, creating 4 to 6 blog articles will suffice and allow you to target a range of highly relevant keywords. For businesses in more competitive industries, we would recommend creating around 15 to 20 long and short form articles per month and then supplementing this with occasional videos and infographics.
Important: An often tell-tale sign of whether an agency offers Google-compliant services or whether they offer unscrupulous activities designed to wrongly-manipulate Google's algorithms is if they offer a "no-fee until we show you results" deal. As attractive as this sounds, this often means that the SEO agency have some machine-driven SEO activity, which creates thousands of bad links back to your website. Google have targeted this type of activity and can remove any website found guilty of this from its search engine. Bottom line: Don't take the risk.
SEO Cost Breakdown: Social Media Activity
This may not be included in the scope of work for a SEO Agency but social media is having an increasingly important impact as far as SEO is concerned with there being more than enough evidence to suggest that there is an impact on SEO rankings based on social media activity.
Conclusion and why you should invest in SEO
To conclude, we hope that we've made it clear that despite the obvious reasons why, the cost of SEO fluctuates not just from agency to agency but also from industry to industry. If you are in a highly competitive industry, it may only make sense to invest in SEO if (a) there is enough search volume to justify your investment and (b) the revenue or profit from a sale allows you to generate a worthwhile return on investment for your business. If any of the above do not apply, you should seriously re-consider your efforts in other areas of marketing that may produce a more desired income and return on your investment and effort applied.
We hope that the above article is helpful and allows you to budget what you should be investing in SEO with an SEO agency and what you should be receiving in return. There's no doubt that SEO today is absolutely vital for any business looking to build a sustainable long-term digital marketing strategy. Aside from the online visibility, there is a high level of credibility that can be earned by being found at the top of a search engine results page.
Pay-per-click costs are increasing as more and more people use the platform and therefore organic clicks (those from search engine results pages without the little 'Ad' symbol) can save company's thousands of dollars especially for highly competitive search terms.
One last thing. Be wise. Your company's online reputation can significantly impact your business and its future. If you speak to a SEO agency that promised you the world and more, take a step back and think. Don't take unnecessary risks that may get your website blocked from Google.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
If you would like to talk to us about SEO or perhaps understand how much you should be looking to spend on a strategy that will work for your business, please click on the button below: