The Rising Cost Of SEO

This time last month I wrote about the rising cost of SEO (here). To anyone that understands SEO, this can’t be much of a surprise. As Google becomes ever more complex, the effort and skill required to build a website into something that deserves to rank highly and generate lots of visitors continues to mushroom.

In the last few days there have been two posts in the blog section of Moz.com that reinforce this perfectly. For now, more and more people within SEO are understanding that their work needs to be highly valued, it is just the purchasers of these services that are yet to catch on…

First comes this post about improving a site to try and prevent a Google penalty. As SEOs, we all expect penalties from time to time, no matter how good a job you are trying to do, but still, it is good to try and work the angles to prevent them.

The post itself is a whopper! It is indepth, very thoughtful, impressive and (to most clients) totally incomprehensible. I think I’ll show it to potential clients for a while to scare them 😉

What is really interesting though when it comes to budget is to be found in the comments section. For example, “say we are working with several local dentists with 1 office. Their budget for SEO/Content is sub $600 per month. And some cringe every month writing the check, while others fully understand it could be MUCH more.”

That is answered with, “You ask a great question and I think the reality of the situation is something many people don’t want to hear- you just can’t do much SEO for $600 a month these days.”

In the next comment, “We have had to turn down a lot of businesses who either didn’t want to take the time to be educated because “they know a guy in their networking group who can do it for $200 a month” or they do get it, but don’t have the budget to define the means to invest.”

The author, Pratik, then chimes in with a thoughtful reply, including, “Your question is absolutely fair, but as Google is becoming more and more advanced with what they want from a business to do in order to stay up there in the search, it is becoming more and more difficult as time goes on order to deliver excellent/convincing results to a client having budget of $600 per month.”

He then offers a handful of tasks that would help a site in a very limited way, and this parting thought, “I still believe this would purely be based on who is helping this client out. If an SEO is charging $100 per hour, it would be impossible to do many of the things I mentioned above.”

In other words, if you are a small business with a budget of around US$600 per month (which is actually quite high for most small businesses) you can’t expect a professional to get very much work done.

The second post looks at the average salaries of people in the internet marketing space. None of the numbers are particularly high, especially considering the skills required to perform most of the functions on the list. Still, it is worth any reader noting that the days of finding a web professional for cheap are pretty much over.

The Thing That Small And Medium Sized Businesses Don’t Want To Know
The rising cost of SEO is just one aspect of a greater trend. The reality is that most skilled tech professionals are paid more than most of the managers and owners that need to hire them! There are reasons for this and the main one is that the work of a conversions specialist, or a growth hacker, or an SEO is much more difficult than the work of most middle managers.

Obviously, most small businesses will respond that they cannot afford such rates, which may be true. In which case, the business is probably in trouble (long-term) as their competitors that can pay for these skills are able to leverage the web more and more towards them and the smaller firms fail to keep up.

The internet is finally going to start forcing more and more small firms out of business and concentrating more and more commerce into the hands of the bigger and better financed companies that remain.

See also: