Is SEO Cost-Effective?
One of the most common questions about SEO is “how much does SEO cost?” And to be honest, it can be tough to answer but our team summarised it in our previous post.
To be honest, so many variables go into SEO costs – in most cases, some are obvious, while some are hidden costs! So is SEO cost-effective when comes down to getting what you pay for will you get back your investment in return?
SEO Cost-Effectiveness – Yes! SEO is a long-term strategy & investment worth your money, that’s sure to pay off in the long run because of targeting customers searching for your product and services online effectively. SEO helps businesses save money instead of search ads or other paid ads.
Let’s break down the obvious & hidden SEO costs before we answer the final main question – How to measure SEO ROI?
What Makes SEO Cost-Effective?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often touted as a cost-effective digital marketing strategy, especially when compared to other forms of online advertising such as pay-per-click (PPC).
Learn more about SEO vs SEM – Which is better?
Here’s why SEO is considered cost-effective:
1. Long-Term Investment: Unlike paid advertising where you need to continuously spend to get visibility, SEO involves improving your site to rank naturally in search results. Once you’ve achieved a good ranking, maintaining it often costs less than achieving it, meaning you can enjoy free, organic traffic without the need for ongoing high costs.
2. Credibility and Trust: Organic search results are often seen as more credible and trustworthy than paid ads. People tend to click on organic results more than ads, believing that these sites are more relevant and reputable.
3. High ROI: Although it might take longer to see results with SEO than with paid advertising, the return on investment can be much higher. Every visitor from an organic search can be viewed as “free” after the initial investment, leading to potentially higher profit margins.
4. Cumulative Benefits: The benefits of SEO compound over time. Content that’s optimized and ranks well can continue to drive traffic for years, especially evergreen content.
5. Sustained Presence: Unlike paid campaigns which end when you stop funding them, SEO efforts have a lasting presence. Even if you pause your SEO work, the effects can still be felt for some time, although it’s essential to continue your efforts for sustained success.
6. Synergy with Other Digital Marketing Efforts: SEO complements other online marketing activities. Content created for SEO can be shared on social media, email marketing can reinforce organic search efforts, and insights from PPC can inform SEO keyword strategies.
7. Targeted Traffic: SEO allows you to target specific keywords that your potential customers are using. This means you can effectively target people who are already looking for what you offer, leading to higher conversion rates.
8. Cost Predictability: While SEO costs can vary based on various factors, it can be more predictable than other forms of advertising. With PPC, for instance, bidding wars can suddenly increase the cost per click. In contrast, SEO costs are primarily tied to the work and expertise required, not external competitive factors.
9. Insights and Data: SEO provides a wealth of data on user behavior, search patterns, and more. This data can be used not only to refine your SEO strategy but also to inform other business decisions.
10. Reduced Cost per Acquisition: Over time, as your rankings improve and organic traffic grows, your cost per acquisition from SEO efforts can decrease. This makes SEO more cost-effective in the long run compared to many other advertising strategies.
Achieving and maintaining high search engine rankings requires an ongoing commitment of time, effort, and sometimes money, especially in competitive sectors. However, the long-term benefits can far outweigh the initial investment, making SEO a wise choice for many businesses.
While SEO can be cost-effective, it’s essential to remember that it’s not necessarily cheap, so let’s dive into the obvious costs & hidden costs that you might need to consider.
Type of SEO Costs
There is some cost to be measured in terms of return on investment (ROI) in SEO. We break down into obvious costs & hidden costs that you could take into account.
If you are looking for a pricing & costing breakdown for Malaysia – check out the SEO Pricing Malaysia  guide.
Obvious SEO Cost – SEO Specialist
There are pros and cons to hiring someone to manage your inhouse SEO vs outsourcing SEO to assist you in optimizing your website. Just remember that you get what you pay for – regardless of which selection you choose. Most importantly analyze the effectiveness of SEO and strategy implemented by whichever router you choose.
In general, the more knowledge and experience a person or team has, the higher the cost of their SEO services. Of course, this sounds like an obvious statement & it is common sense that paying for someone’s expertise is often overlooked and undervalued for most businesses out there. Not to mention that job done by SEO specialists involves more than just keyword insertion & research but more effective strategies too.
Something for the business owner to take note too – No one can fit all formulas that can magically make a website rank better and increase conversions. That is the reason why an SEO specialist or team must adapt and adjust its strategy to account for unforeseen challenges.
For example, when Google releases a core algorithm change – either the algorithm changes can tank a client’s rankings on SERPs or negatively affect their SEO. For such cases, it’s up to the SEO specialist to adjust or come out with a strategy to account for the ranking signals on Google to be their main priorities.
Obvious SEO Cost – SEO Tools & Software
Another significant and obvious SEO cost associated is the software and tools you need to do your SEO jobs if you are getting an in-house SEO specialist.
There are a vast amount of SEO tools available in today’s market – either free or paid versions. As you would be expected the majority of them will market themselves similarly and claim to make optimization easier. As SEO tools help for keyword research which is highly important – but again, if you are not sure which SEO tools to get for, we do highly recommend Ahrefs & SEMRUSH.
As for smaller start-ups or businesses, free tools are great for just getting your SEO journey started into optimizing their website, but they don’t give you all the information you need to do a thorough job, especially like competitor analysis – crucial for business owners to know how their competitors are doing compared to them in order to improve.
Furthermore, they may not be meant for SEO at all. A very good free tool example is Google Ads Keyword Planner which it’s a great tool for paid search marketing – SEM, it isn’t meant for SEO & keywords used for PPC are sometimes not the same as what is used for SEO purposes.
A common mistake many people make is paying for lots of SEO tools or software licenses that essentially do the same things but again, without trying more trials, you will not be able to know which tools are suitable for your needs. In general, the SEO tools you need are for auditing, research, and crawling.
Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Web Developers/Support
In most cases, your websites will never come error-free even for the best web developer in the world because generally what an SEO professional does to optimize is always different than what a web developer trying to provide – fancy animation, higher loading time, etc.
Therefore, the first thing most SEO professionals will do is run a technical audit on your website and fix the errors they discover. They do this because they know their on-page, content, and off-page SEO efforts would go down to drain on a website with many technical issues that would ultimately keep the site from being indexed or ranking well. That why hiring web developers that are experienced with SEO would help to reduce more errors and costs!
Technical errors come in various complexity; therefore, the time, effort, and cost to fix them also vary, but they often require the assistance of an IT person or a web developer – which often adds to your SEO cost indirectly (internal or external).
Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Content Writer
For most cases, many business owners & brands didn’t consider this cost which is quite crucial – the unforeseen cost is the amount you may have to pay for quality content creation. Content in 2022 is still the king and it has always been that way even for SEO, by having high-quality content is an important piece in an SEO strategy.
If you aren’t creating high-quality content while your competitors are doing it aggressively, you aren’t going to rank or get many organic leads/traffic/customers.
As Google and other search engines prioritize providing their users with the most up-to-date, reliable, and relevant content possible. So producing content that speaks to your expertise is essential for ranking well.
Good content copy that is optimized with targeted keywords for a website ranges in cost depending on the ask and the individual or team tasked with producing it. But it’s an expense you should prioritize in your SEO budget, to learn more about SEO content writing services that help you rank well on Google – do contact us!
Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Graphic/Visual Designer For Contents
You must be thinking why are graphics & visuals so important as part of SEO cost too? Original visuals & graphics on your website & contents matter for your SEO ranking too! You’ll need to use a subscription service or invest in original imagery from a photographer/designer.
Most business owners or start-ups think that “free” options are available for sourcing photos are enough for their content, but as SEO experts, we don’t advise using them.
Another main reason would be getting cease and desist letters from lawyers telling you that you had violated copyright laws by using these “free” images – or even worse, demanding you to pay thousands of dollars for damages. Therefore, the best practice is to subscribe to a stock image service, for example, Shutterstock, Bigstock, Canva Pro, etc., or hire a professional photographer/designer to take photos & create them specifically for your website.
Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – UI/UX Designers
One of the main factors for Google Ranking Signal is User Experience. Improving your website’s user experience (UX) is crucial when working on your SEO. If your end goal is conversion mostly for eCommerce-based websites, you may get deeper optimization of what happens for users after they land on the site and click through. After improving your UX, you may consider creating promotions for a better conversion rate on your website – learn more about eCommerce coupon marketing!
As UX involves making your website a pleasant experience for your users and helping them complete their goals efficiently. Some crucial tasks associated with UX often include improving the site speed and navigation, making the page mobile-friendly, compressing photo and video files, and more.
Besides that, UX designers may opt into using CRO tools to help optimize your website for a better conversion rate in long run. CRO tools provide accurate user insights & behavior while browsing your website which allows UX designers to optimize your website better, thus your SEO ranking better! Some CRO tools like crazyegg & howuku with a free version for you to test trial with before opt-in for pro version with more features.
Hidden/Less Obvious SEO Cost – Local SEO/Press Release
Finally the last factor of SEO cost that would impact your ROI – Local SEO. Local SEO efforts specifically can have hidden costs associated with many outlined, including the need for UX, copy, and visual content. Google My Business is also part of the Local SEO Setup which you should consider for every retail business. Learn more about how to set up Google My Business Malaysia!
It can often feel like local searches can be done quickly and on a budget. In a lot of cases, for small businesses, it can. Beware, though, that the more competitive industry or more complex the business model you have, the more it will take in tools, content, and time. For your business to stand out in local searches, the press release is one of the best ways after optimizing your local listing with Google My Business. Press releases provide brand awareness on multiple credible sources on major publication houses that can boost your brand trust and SEO ranking in long run too.
Extra Hidden SEO Cost – Additional Tools
Here are some extra considerations of SEO costs that may impact your ROI which you need to consider and need some extra tools to test things like:
- User interaction.
- Searching for and monitoring potential plagiarism. (Surfer SEO, Content Writing Helper)
- Heatmapping of your website (CRO tools)
These tools come with a price and aren’t necessarily something you’ll need to consider at the start of your business, but you may find them useful later when your business grows!
Conclusion – Is SEO Cost Effective? Worth Your Time & Efforts?
SEO is a big investment, and YES! SEO Worth Your Time and Cost-Effective in long run! But it’s sure to pay off well in the long run. Understanding the obvious and hidden costs will help you prepare your budget and measure your ROI from SEO.
There are too many benefits of SEO that we can’t elaborate in this content, we will create another content for this purpose. One of the biggest benefits of SEO – help you gain web traffic consistently and rank high on the search engine results page especially when you know Google Search captured 92% of the market share in the search engine market.
Well-structured SEO strategy can produce impressive ROI for businesses in all industries – and if yours isn’t where you’d like it to be, Nexis Novus Technology can help.
We keep the focus on ROI right from the start and create custom strategies for each of our clients with the goal of providing the best returns possible.