On the surface, this appears to be a simple question that is worthy of a simple answer.
There are 5 key factors that go into how much you should pay for SEO.
How many products do you offer? If you are a producer of widgets, and you have only one style available in only one color, then the number of keywords/phrases that describe your offering is limited. Alternatively if you are an automobile dealership, you have dozens of models available with multiple options, each one needing to be marketed individually. This results in dozens if not hundreds of keyword/phrases that need to rank in search engines. The more products and services that you provide directly correlates with the number of keyword/phrases that must be optimized. The price that you will pay for SEO is in proportion to the number of offerings that you provide.
How much competition is there for the services that you provide? Obviously, more competition equals more effort to outrank them. Last night I was asked, “doesn’t everyone want to be number one on Google?” The answer of course is simple…yes. The reality is that it takes a consistent effort to reach and maintain that lofty perch, and the price that you pay for SEO will depend on the number of competitors are attempting to knock you down the rankings.
Where do you conduct your business? Do you serve your local community or is the scope of your organization more geographically diverse? Do you have a regional, national or even international exposure? Your clients are searching on a local level, as such your alternative marketing efforts need to be geo-targeted to increase visibility. As the geography that needs to be covered expands, so to are the efforts necessary to achieve the desired rankings.
What are your expectations? There are many SEO providers that believe that believe that to do anything at all, is better than doing nothing. This “good enough” strategy does little to provide a return on your investment. Truth is, good is the enemy of great. Your sights should be focused on a top ranking, not just a top ten result. Complacency in this field guarantees only one result; your competition will own your clients.
How much do you want to be involved in the SEO process? Do you have the time and/or manpower to undertake such a significant process? A successful campaign is driven by content and activity. As for the content, there needs to be fresh, original on-page submissions on a systematic level. Then there is the other off-page activities which include; social networking, blogging, forum postings, directory submissions, link exchanges, forum participation, video promotion and PPC campaigns. This is an incredibly labor intensive process, the cost of which can be reduces based upon the level of your participation.
This is a long answer to the simple question of how much you should pay for SEO. The short answer is, it depends…