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  • Victor Montalvo

What You Need to Know Before You Pay for SEO Services

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

What You Need to Know Before You Pay for SEO Services

Choosing the right person is crucial when it comes to implementing an SEO strategy. Conducting an audit and coming up with a plan to optimize your site for each of Google’s 200 ranking factors could result in the list of thousands. Some will be worth time, effort; others not so much--it's important you know which ones are right before jumping into optimization.

Mistakes when prioritizing tasks can be costly; focusing on wrong items leads one down an expensive path-you don't want this happening if possible because there is potential payoff at stake: bad ROI (return on investment) equals wasted money/effort. Good SEO can be time-consuming and difficult. Exceptional SEO requires expertise, experience with black hat tactics that are not allowed by Google's algorithm to attain higher ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you're not experienced or knowledgeable enough at implementing these techniques, then it might get your account suspended altogether.

Why you should hire an SEO agency

You can choose to do the work yourself, hire a full-time SEO specialist or go with an agency. Here are the pros and cons of each.

1. Optimize your own site

You can do SEO yourself. If you’re just starting out or managing a small website, then it is possible to learn the basics and use what we teach our clients about optimizing content for keywords in order to build backlinks too-it's affordable. DIY SEO is a great option for small business owners who want to save money, but they will ultimately lose out on expertise and results. Professional search engine optimization helps guide true growth in your company by providing valuable services that can't be found at an affordable price point like this one.

2. Hire a full-time SEO specialist

Another option is to hire a full-time, in-house SEO specialist. The advantage of this approach is that you're hiring someone with the expertise required and they can dedicate 40 hours per week for site optimization work which will result in higher rankings than if left up to an outsourced team or individual freelancer on contract basis only one day per month at best. Hiring a dedicated SEO Specialist is better for your company because it can help you optimize the website and attract new customers. However, this means that when there's no optimization work to be done -you still have an expense on your payroll!

3. Hire an SEO company or agency

SEO companies and agencies are like in-house specialists, bringing the advantage of experience. In fact, they likely bring more than specialists because SEO is an ever-changing field that's constantly evolving for new tactics to be used by competitors who stay on top with trends. The main advantage of hiring an agency is that you only pay for the work they do. They will conduct your site audit and provide a proposal with recommendations, as well as why those changes are necessary or how much it would cost to make them happen. You can then choose which tasks need completing in order to save money on staff costs. The cost of working with an agency can be daunting. However, make sure to consider the potential revenue growth that effective optimization will drive over time and compare it against hiring your own in-house staff for a period up front or long term costs.

What SEO services do agencies provide?

There are many different types of SEO companies out there, so it's important to find the one that best suits your needs. Some agencies offer their services as full-service digital marketing entities while others specialize more in niche areas like link building or local searches for geographical locations near you. Additionally, some SEO agencies will simply recommend tasks, while others will recommend tasks and perform the changes.

Types of SEO services you might need

Before you start the process of looking for an SEO agency, you should understand the different types of SEO services available so you can get a feel for the services your business needs:

  • On-page SEO. On-page services focus on optimizing your site, its pages, and its content for search. It includes technical SEO tasks like improving load speeds, metadata optimization, and mobile usability. It also encompasses content, media, and internal navigation optimization.

  • Off-page SEO. Off-page SEO refers to the optimization of external signals that impact search rankings. Generally, off-page SEO services focus on link-building. But social media marketing may also be part of an agency’s off-page offerings.

  • Keyword research. Keyword research is the process of collecting a list of keywords, determining relevance, user intent, and competition, and using that information to produce a list of keywords that a site should be optimized for.

  • Content planning. Content planning typically goes hand-in-hand with keyword research. The agency recommends—or creates—blog posts, landing pages, and other content types that are designed to drive quality organic traffic to a site.

  • Analytics. Analytics services may include installing tracking software, setting up custom reports, teaching business leaders how to read and interpret metrics, and/or mining analytics for optimization insights.

  • Pay-per-click (PPC). Some agencies provide services that are focused on driving both organic and paid traffic. These agencies may offer optimization services for ads hosted through AdWords or another PPC advertising platform.

  • Local SEO. Local SEO is a specialized service that caters to businesses with customers located in a specific and confined geographic area. This type of SEO requires a different approach and typically includes optimization of Google Maps and other directory listings.

In addition to these SEO-specific services, many companies offer related professional services like content marketing and social media marketing.

How to choose an SEO company

The first two steps in choosing an SEO company to optimize your site are

  1. Determining what type of provider you want to hire (a specialist or an agency)

  2. Determining what types of services you need

Next, you need to decide on a budget. Determine how much money you can afford upfront as well as an ongoing basis for SEO services and then eliminate potential providers who exceed these limitations so they don't waste your time or overcharge with their prices. Google might be your first stop when looking for an SEO company. But is it really? The best of the bunch won't just appear at the top, so don't count them out.

Why searching for an SEO agency might not be your best option

You may be wondering how a company with no web traffic can grow their SEO, but the truth is that it's easier than you think. The best providers don't rely on search engine rankings to bring them clients - instead they often use word-of-mouth advertising and referrals from existing customers which guarantees organic growth for your business. There are a few alternative resources you can use to find reputable SEO companies:

  • Ask for recommendations. If you have friends, family members, or other connections that own digital properties, they may be able to recommend SEO companies they’ve worked with that produced positive results.

  • Take advice from industry experts. One of the leading publishers of SEO industry content—maintains a list of recommended SEO companies and consultants. Companies must be nominated to get on the list, and they’re only included if they’re determined to be expert practitioners and positive contributors to the SEO industry.

  • Look for local providers. There’s nothing wrong with working with an SEO provider remotely. But sometimes it’s easier to judge a company’s reputability when you can meet with them face-to-face. For this reason, you may want to browse Google Maps or another directory to find SEO companies in your area.

Once you’ve found a few prospective agencies, set up consultations with them to help narrow down your list. It is recommended that between three and five companies be reviewed in total; once these sessions are completed it will become much easier for choosing one.

How much does SEO cost?

SEO can be an expensive investment for any company, but it's important to choose the right agency. Factors like reputation and location will affect your costs of services as well - so consider these when choosing who to work with. How do you know what a site's worth? The answer: an audit. Most SEO providers will charge for this service and then offer different packages depending on the size and scope of work required to fix your website ranking issues with Google Search engines like Yahoo or Bing, which can be frustrating because it means paying multiple times if something goes wrong later down the line. Most SEO providers will charge an upfront fee to conduct a site audit. From there, a number of pricing models may be available.

  • For an upfront site audit, you can expect to pay between $600 and $2,000 for a basic audit, or between $3,000 and $20,000 for a detailed audit (source: Forbes).

  • If you’re paying by the hour, expect a reputable SEO company to charge an average between $75 and $150 per hour (source: RankPay).

  • Monthly retainers, on average, run between $750 and $5,000 per month, depending on the size of your digital property, the amount of work being completed, and the complexity of the work (source: Search Engine Watch).

  • Per-project rates are the most variable as they are entirely dependent on the details of the project. Prices range from less than $100 to more than $250,000, though the majority fall between $2,500 and $5,000 (source: Moz).

Hiring an SEO consultant vs. a company

One final consideration is hiring a consultant. This can be a good compromise between going in-house and using an agency, but it comes at the cost that you’ll have to pay them as well!

Pricing for consultants will likely differ from either one; some may offer more personalized recommendations while others provide detailed attention like what's found within your own company walls--in other words: no telling how much they'll charge until someone hires their services.

One scenario where a consultant could be the perfect solution for your company is if you don’t have the resources to perform SEO work yourself. You may want to bring in an expert on contract who has experience with all aspects of digital marketing, including keyword research and optimization strategies like page speed improvements or local search engine rankings (LSI). Keep this person around indefinitely so they can teach your staff these best practices over time too.

This is a common phenomenon in the world of business. If you bring in a consultant for three months, he or she may be long gone before your optimization efforts have any chance to yield tangible benefits and there's no guarantee that anything will work out well with subsequent hires given how uncertain hiring decisions can feel when they don't pay off soon enough or at all as expected.

Getting started with SEO

DIY SEO is never a good idea. The wrong decision when hiring an expert can be both expensive and detrimental to your campaign's success.

Google has been known to take harsh action against companies that engage in black-hat SEO tactics, which can lead to manual penalties and even the removal of your site from search altogether. It might seem like finding an honest provider is difficult but due diligence up front pays off with increased rankings for you! To know more about SEO and its relevance to your business, connect with us today at Montalvo Marketing and we can help you reach your goals and grow your business. Email us at or call/text us at 407-838-3030.

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