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Why Is Quality Search Engine Optimization So Expensive?

By Michael Pedone
Posted Thursday, October 16, 2003

Gasp! It costs HOW much??

If you’ve ever gone shopping for professional yet affordable search engine optimization, the sticker shock may have caused you to reconsider that “$99 search engine submission special” you saw advertised. After all, it’s a field of expertise with no regulatory body and no simple answer to the question: Just how much should an online business pay a search engine optimization company?

I know how much we charge at http// and our clients say it’s worth every cent. But there are plenty of other SEO services out there that may quote you rates much higher or much lower.

So it’s up to you to examine your priorities. Is a bargain basement package more attractive than increasing your rankings, sales, and revenues via up-to-date, effective SEO techniques that may cost a little more?

Are momentarily high rankings more important than a guarantee of “clean” search engine optimization that will keep you competitive over the long haul?

Are you willing to sacrifice effective SEO strategies in exchange for a discount solution?

Search engine optimization is an incredibly time-consuming task that requires specialized skills and constant research to stay on top of the changing SEO landscape. If the fee is tantalizingly low, well, like they say, “if it walks like a duck...”

On the other hand, if you opt for quality SEO, here’s what your money should get you. This will explain why professional optimization is not cheap:

1. Keyword phrase identification. Finding that handful of perfect terms capable of turning a sale is the first order of business and it gobbles up vast amounts of an SEO expert’s time. And here’s a surprise: coming up with a list of 100 keywords that apply in general is far easier than developing a short list of the most relevant, hardest-working ones.

2. Web design consultation. If your site layout isn’t spider-friendly, no amount of SEO finesse will solve your traffic problems. So a search engine expert also has to be up on web design issues and know how to fix the trouble spots.

3. SEO copywriting. It isn’t enough to drive herds of traffic to your site. The masses need to be informed and sold once they get there. That’s where SEO copywriting comes in. (Bargain optimizers always scrimp on this one.)

4. HTML optimization. Keyword phrases also play a starring role in your HTML tags. Knowing which tags are hot and which are not (in the eyes of the engines) is the purview of a truly clued-in search expert.

5. Site registration. This does not mean submitting to Google and the Open Directory Project, then going for lunch. SEO pros know which engines and directories are the movers and shakers, which minor ones are becoming forces to be reckoned with, and where your site stands in the rankings of each. A full-time job in itself.

6. Link partnership building. Have you tried it yet? It’s not easy locating quality sites related to but not competing with yours who are willing to give up valuable real estate for your link. It takes solid research, smooth negotiating skills, and a large investment of time to develop a base of reputable, relevant link partners that will make the search bots take notice.

7. Monitor traffic. Notice I said “monitor traffic” not just “monitor rankings”. Since conversions are the bottom line for most e-businesses, a good search engine optimization company will include comprehensive ROI tracking so you can see exactly what your SEO dollar is producing for you.

If you sacrifice just one of these strategies, you could be jeopardizing the effectiveness of all the others. And many SEO services sacrifice more than just one.

Show Me the Money

Okay, let’s talk numbers. My research shows that you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,000 for search engine optimization that includes the above vital steps, depending on how many pages are optimized.

So now you know the difference between professional, affordable search engine optimization and the “$99 to submit your site to 3000 search engines” type of SEO promotion. The price tag is vastly different. So is the product.


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