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SEO is more expensive than you think

I spoke to a company recently which was paying a specialist search engine marketing agency £500 a month to maintain and improve its SEO. “How much time are you getting for that?”, I asked, and was told that they didn’t know. To be fair, even if they did, I wouldn’t believe what the agency claimed. Who would? But I’m sure the client expected more time than they were almost certainly getting.

A search engine optimisation professional might typically earn £40,000 (check out job sites to see). While that’s only £20/hour, by the time you’ve factored in the real cost of employment and the agency markup, they’re going to cost you several times that amount. So your £500 will get you substantially less than a day’s work. Or to put it another way, if you want a full day’s work for £500, don’t expect to get someone being paid much more than a new graduate salary.

And don’t forget, if you only get one day a month, a large proportion of that day will probably be taken up writing a report for you.

If SEO could be substantially automated (in the way that a lot of search advertising can), things would be different. But it’s the sort of skill that requires constant attention.

All I’m trying to say here is that if you’re going to outsource SEO work – and it can be a really good investment – the budget required is as substantial as ever. If you haven’t got thousands of pounds, spend the money on search advertising instead. Many website design agencies offer ‘ongoing SEO’ as a small added extra; that might sound like a good idea when you’re having a site designed, but it rarely is. They won’t (can’t) do much for that sort of money. And don’t get me started on the dangers of bad SEO…