I just received my copy of Marketing Sherpa’s Buyer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms. This is the first time I’ve purchased the guide and I did it primarily because this is the first year we are listed in it. I have not done anything more than flip through it yet but one thing caught my eye. Sherpa states that many good SEO can cost about $1000 per month, which translates into about 10 man-hours each month.
I found that interesting figure considering that each SEO has significantly different pricing metrics and services offered. Many SEOs perform a one-time optimization and then maybe monthly reporting, while others perform initial optimization and require 6 or 12 month contracts for reporting, tweaking, tracking, adjusting, consulting, linking and a host of other things. Some campaigns require optimization of only a few pages while other require optimization of an entire site. Some campaigns require a great deal of monitoring and tweaking while others require considerably less.
But the more I think about it, the more I see purchasing an SEO campaign as buying in bulk. When you buy in bulk you get a lot more for less. Contracting to a professional SEO (vs. hiring in-house) you get a lot more skills, knowledge, experience, and know how, which is then spread out over a number of different optimization campaigns. Not only that but you get a greater representation of skills; copywriters, researchers, SEOs, coders, and more.
Hiring in-house SEO costs not only the expense of a full-time employee, but also the continued education of that employee as well as the cost of hiring or sub-contracting other services that the in-house SEO is not skilled in doing; copywriting, programming, etc.
I guess, when it comes down to it, $1000 per month is a steal for anybody who is serious about increasing their web traffic, hits and sales.. You can’t hire any (skilled) full-time employee for 3x that, plus you get a lot more to go with it. Does it matter that the SEO firm isn’t spending 40+ hours a week on your account? No, because time they are not spending directly on your site is indirectly spent in further education, research, and knowledge base expansion. SEOs have the distinct privilege of learning from themselves (managing multiple sites across multiple industries), just as much as the learn from other resources.
So the next time you think your SEO campaign is expensive, just remember, you’re buying in bulk and getting a considerable value over the alternative.