Affordable SEO services on your mind?
It's interesting how often my inbound marketing agency bids against SEO firms for the same clients. Orange Pegs is all about inbound, so although we include SEO as a foundation to our services offered, it is but one of MANY tactics we deploy.
Mind you, it's ingrained in just about everything we do, so after facing this situation as long as we have, I thought I would bring some interesting points of discussion to the table in regards to affordability.
First off, it's all relative..
With SEO services, or the scary SEO ninjas, the end-game tends to be focused around generating traffic to the website, and traffic alone isn't going to move the needle... is it? After all, how can one pay the bills or hire employees with traffic by itself?
But, let's be clear, those are and SHOULD BE the expectations if you're considering a straight up SEO agency.
So, once you're in there trying to compare a professional SEO service provider against a social media management agency, or a full-suite inbound marketing agency, and you're determining which is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, there are many areas you should explore.
1. Marketing objectives
SEO alone generates traffic. If your objectives are bigger than that, as in, you want to generate customers, SEO alone is likely not going to be enough. This means you're going to have to invest in other marketing efforts in order to make SEO a worthwhile investment.
2. Actual traffic
Yes, traffic is important. You're tired of paying those endless PPC fees, and you want better conversion rates, and you should be able to know what kind of traffic you can expect based on your investment.
To help in this discussion you should know your existing conversion metrics, as in, how many visitors you have, and what percentage of your visitors turn into leads and customers through your website currently. Knowing this will help them determine how much more traffic you're going to need to reach your marketing objectives.
3. The quality of the traffic
Measuring quality is where it gets a little tricky. On one hand, you have that "contact us" page sitting there waiting for people to hit that precious "submit" button. But do you really think that all of your good traffic is going to hit that button?
Not everybody who visits your site is ready to buy, and if you don't have other reasons to prompt them to give you their contact information and permission to market to them, then all they will ever be is a blip on a report somewhere, while somebody else deploys inbound tactics that drive the conversion and allow them to nurture and close the deal.
How is your SEO service provider measuring quality? With inbound, we do it with leads and customers.
4. The speed in which it is promised
Are they offering the number one spot in Google searches for high-volume keywords overnight?
Run... run far, far away.
5. How, exactly, do they do it?
This is an important question, because SEO isn't some strange, enigmatic service. Google and friends have made it very clear that they are going to promote quality, educational content. Loopholes and ninja-like efforts where the formula is held in a secret lab somewhere don't work like they used to.
SEO comes from putting together a keyword strategy - one that uses word-strings (long and short) that, when typed into a search query, pulls up answers to searchers questions. A good keyword strategy puts you in front of problems your business solves.
This comes from a solid on-page strategy, blogging, social media marketing, and back-links from authoritative domains. The latter is where it gets muddy for some, and if they can't clearly explain to you how they do their job, it's probably not supported by Google, and will therefore blow up in your face at one point or another.
6. Clear & cohesive messaging
A big thing about SEO today is that keyword stuffing doesn't work. Google wants to be sure your site makes sense and delivers on the promises made by the words contained in the body of your pages, and in your headers and titles.
If these professional SEO services can't write a simple email with grammatical or punctuation errors, I can't imagine the website will be any different. Then, when people DO arrive to your site, and they see those issues, how likely is it that you think they'll stay around?
7. Customers from the traffic
How many customers will they help you acquire, or do they stop at generating traffic?
8. Agency fees
Okay, so no we've identified the questions you should be asking when determining whether their services are affordable, or just another scheme to suck away your precious marketing budget.
Now, how much are they charging? I've seen agencies fees anywhere from $500/month - $10,000/month, most landing in the $2,000 - $6,000 range.
9. Other costs involved in converting the traffic into customers
Again, I want to refer back to your marketing objectives, so we can determine what other costs are going to be involved in achieving them.
Once visitors get to your website, how are you converting them into leads and customers? SEO stops at traffic. Inbound takes it to the finish line, because we install mechanisms that convert the traffic with content offers, and nurturing tactics that qualify and help you identify the best leads for sales contact.
If you're doing this ala-carte, you'll have to pay for a content developer to help you create ebooks, white papers, and other electronic pieces that you can exchange for their contact information. You'll also need to invest in email marketing, blogging, and social media.
Email marketing is how you nurture, blogging is how you keep your SEO alive, frame and promote your content, and actually engage your visitors at all stages of the buyer's journey, and social media is how you keep your finger on the pulse of your market and drive more engaged traffic.
I've seen agencies in each of those categories charging $2,000+ per month.
10. Potential future costsIf you didn't run when they wouldn't tell you their secret sauce or when they promised the #1 Google spots overnight, you'll eventually find yourself paying them again to have your old SEO strategy disassembled when you are penalized for your black-hat tactics.
Affordable SEO services exist, but only when you think big picture.
One of the reasons why so many agencies and businesses turn to the inbound marketing methodology, even after years of investment in SEO alone, is because it is so much more cost effective to roll it up with your other efforts.
SEO is the foundation to everything we do in inbound marketing. It's in our blog posts, website pages, content downloads, social media posts, and emails.
So, I do find it quite interesting how often we are pitted against SEO agencies, when all they are providing are paths to traffic, as our clients tend to be looking for a whole lot more.