Is SEO worth it for your business? Misconceptions and tricks. Cost of SEO. The real SEO

By Roman Berezhnoi February 16, 2021 521 views

Is SEO worth it for your business? Misconceptions and tricks. Cost of SEO. The real SEO

Is SEO worth it for your business? It is an important question because it is all about money. More exactly: it is all about your money. 

Perhaps you have a positive experience of using SEO for your business. Well, it is good for you. But if you think about the effectiveness of SEO, you will find insightful information about SEO services in this article. It can be interesting for you. 

Why should you listen to me? 

When I was running my first ecommerce business, I hired an SEO agency to do search engine optimization. I paid about $300 per month for “SEO reports”. It seemed like everything was going fine. But it wasn’t. These guys were doing nothing. They used SEO tools to create reports. I needed to make a profit from my ecommerce site. So, I terminated the contract with the SEO agency to start doing SEO by myself. I hired a team of like-minded professionals. Then we created our own approach. Now I am the co-founder and CEO of F5 Studio digital agency. We provide a full range of digital services and we also collaborate with other digital agencies from the USA and UK. Well, I have one to share.

Unfortunately, you can’t find the magic pill here. There are no 5-7-10 steps that can boost your business. But I know, this post can save your time and money. 

Okay, let’s start.

What is SEO?

Well, it’s surprising but you can’t find the one single definition of Search Engine Optimisation. There is a problem because each SEO specialist does their own Search Engine Optimization. 

In fact, some SEOs use a definition from Wikipedia. Some SEOs use Google’s definition of Search Engine Optimisation. Many SEOs created their own definitions. But a majority of SEOs don’t follow their definitions. If SEO specialists don’t define terms and don’t follow these terms, they will do nothing for you for your money. In other words, it’s a total waste of time and money. 

The definition of SEO helps you to understand exactly what SEO specialists do. With SEOs, you usually get what you pay for.

At F5 Studio we use our own definition and we follow it. 

SEO are actions to connect your target audience with your site through a web search and other digital marketing channels to achieve business goals. 

But a definition is not enough. What about doing SEO? 

89% of B2B researchers use the web search
We all use the Internet to search information in most cases

The most popular misconceptions and tricks of SEO

If you ask Google about doing SEO, you will find a lot of articles, blogs which were written by gurus. It is strange but true that these articles are the most useless articles about SEO. Just try to use any technique from these articles, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this (you can read my article Bad SEO Content Tactics).

It is true, Search Engine Optimization is a non-standard industry. As a result, SEOs create so many misconceptions. Although the situation is changing and many SEOs abandoned the use of some ideas and common SEO myths, many misconceptions remain popular. Also SEO gurus create new misconceptions.

#1 guarantees business success

This misconception is based on old Google’s research. Sistrix published a new study that confirms Google’s research. The first organic result in Google Search has an average click-through rate of 28.5%. The tenth position in Google has an abysmal 2.5% CTR. Results on the second page of Google have a CTR of less than 1% for each position. Seems it is worth it to pay money for ranking content on the first page of Google. But it’s a misconception. 

This study shed light on the actual searchers’ behavior. Unfortunately, authors make us draw the wrong conclusions. 

If you analyze data, you can see that people prefer to read and to research. Older searchers are not more skeptical than younger. And younger searchers don’t prefer to be concerned with getting answers quickly or to be more likely to settle for the first result they see. The part of searchers looks for a larger variety of answers to their questions because their queries are from these groups: I want to do and I want to buy. In other words these are valuable visitors and their search eventually ends with some kind of conversion.

If Google or Sistrix had been analyzing valuable searchers, we would have seen other interesting findings of the study.

!!! You need to know that some SEO agencies may use illegal SEO methods to lift up the top. These methods violate Google’s recommendations and it can hurt your site SEO and your business reputation. 

The more visitors, the more profit

Sadly, but some SEO agencies use this trick. They may use bots traffic, attract irrelevant traffic from other countries and manipulate the information about website visits.

Don’t pay for visitors. You need conversions, leads, customers, and money. 

In fact, you need valuable website traffic. Even few valuable visitors per day can guarantee (the) growth of your business. I recommend learning this case “How I earned 4000$ per Month from the page that only gets 300 visitors per month”.

Undoubtedly, an increase in valuable traffic is better than just valuable traffic. But your business needs to be prepared for growth.

Ranking for keywords

There is no tool that is able to accurately measure or track the positions in the SERP. You can see that Google Search Console uses ‘average positions’ for pages, queries, and countries. But some SEO agencies can provide you with a report that was created by a keyword rank tracking tool to prove that they do SEO. Don’t fall for that. Because “ranking for keywords” doesn’t mean getting valuable traffic.

To understand what I mean by valuable traffic, let me explain some fundamental workings of search engines.

When a user searches for “something”, the user expects to find useful information that the user needs. That’s called searcher intent. Search engines try to predict searcher intent. Sometimes search engines guess searcher intent, but sometimes not. For example, a user searches for “a family car”. It could mean several things. A user wants to buy a family car. A user is looking for information about family cars. Also it could mean that the user is looking for a car dealer. So, a user can visit “irrelevant sites” and sites can get irrelevant traffic. You see that “your keyword” is #1 and it generates a lot of clicks. But you can see it’s not having a significant effect on your customer numbers or profit results. 

In fact, the main goal of SEO is to attract your target audience. That is why it is vital to understand why a person is asking a question instead of focusing on keywords ranking. 

Targeting specific keywords

That’s an outdated belief. Absolutely, using keywords is still useful for SEO. Using specific words to users can make it a little bit easier for them to understand what this page is about and can drive a little bit of that conversion process. Also, keywords can help search engines to understand a page better on the first stage of indexation. But you can’t rank keywords. Modern search engines are trying to understand more than just those words. The main goal of a search engine is to find the best page. That is why Google uses BERT. This algorithm helps to understand large groups of text (up to 512 words or phrases per document in the set). In short words modern search engines can understand context, even if you don’t use keywords. I’m sure search engines will get better over time to understand more than just the group of words on a page.

So, you need to give your visitors the valuable information in accordance with searcher intent and micro-moments.

Link building is SEO

I will be brief. If an SEO specialist doesn’t know how to optimize a site without backlinks, this person doesn’t know how to optimize a site. 

Backlinks were used for a long time as a baby food for sites. But the truth is cold. This game was changed by Google. Now nobody knows which link is a good link that could help rank a page. Also, Google has been devaluing backlinks as a ranking factor. Link building is hard. It’s also expensive and time consuming. That is why linkbuilding is a low ROI task. I don’t know why SEOs continue to waste their clients time and money on “linkbuilding tactics”. 

SEOs created many theories such as “relevant link”, “domain authority”, etc. to explain the importance of link building. Don’t you fall for it.

In some cases link building may make sense and our SEO team uses it to improve the additional referral traffic.

SEO is a check-list of actions

Try to ask how to do SEO and you will get a check-list of actions. Some SEOs propose you “link building”, “using private blog networks”, “writing blog”, etc. Some SEOs will audit your site via “SEO tools” and recommend to improve titles, descriptions, h1. 

Honestly, we all like to simplify things. It seems easy and predictable to follow a to-do list, to change red flags to green flags in SEO tools. Many people believe that 100/100 scores make their sites better. But it is not an SEO.

Your site needs to be useful and offer the best answer for the searcher. To do it, SEOs have to identify the target audience. Then SEOs need to really understand why a person is asking a question. SEOs have to know what the target audience wants and what are the pain points, which they want to see resolved. 

Understanding of the target audience is central to the marketing discipline. It makes Search Engine Optimization a part of marketing. But in the case of SEO, however, there is a special peculiarity: marketing messages pass through a medium – the search engines. It means that SEOs have to follow technical guidelines and recommendations of search engines. That is why search optimization service is a set of activities that includes: marketing research, UI/UX design, copywriting, conversion optimization, technical SEO. 

All these things are equally important to achieve your business goals. 

Well, an SEO isn’t a rocket science, but getting organic traffic is something increasingly complex today. Does it make an SEO expensive?

Man in the shop of factory uses tablet PC to find information
Web search can help us in any situation.

How much do SEO services cost?

In short words it depends on expected results. If you want to make $1,000,000 you should spend at least $100,000 on Search Engine Optimization. Would you like to see quick results? You should spend more money.  

To earn $5,000 per month, you can do SEO by yourself. But it takes time. You need some skills and knowledge. Some people can make money without SEO, because they love to create content that people love. If you can’t create content, you’ll have no trouble finding a SEO professional. But you need to allocate a fair share of your revenue for SEO investment.

Let me tell a little bit more about the cost of Search Engine Optimization. 

Fundamental search engine optimization never changes. You only have a few things to work with: marketing strategy, website design, content, links, social media, tech SEO, and measurement. The price range of SEO services depends on some factors: 

  • expected results
  • skill level of SEO services (advanced, intermediate, apprentice)
  • scope of work or set of actions
  • time

Expected results affect the additional cost of your site promotion. For example, you need to pay for digital PR, influencers. The next two factors affect the hourly rate. Time is a number of hours. So, that is why the cost of SEO services can range from $500 to $500,000.

There are several most used price models.

SEO packages or SEO pricing packages are pre-selected service offerings designed to make it as easy as possible for people to work with a SEO agency. You can pick the best SEO package for your needs. It is a bad idea, despite the popularity of the SEO packages. You don’t know what you’re paying for. That could be okay, if you get valuable traffic that provides business results. Anyway it can be an occasion to take a very careful look at the SEO services you get.

A fixed-price contract is a bad idea as well. Web search is a dynamic environment. Nobody can predict what to do until this person starts doing SEO.

Monthly retainers will allow you to establish your expectations with the contractor, and set goals as you move along. Many companies use this model to handle all SEO needs on a regular basis. 

What model would I recommend? At F5 Studio we begin from marketing research and SEO audit. We create a report that consists of the preliminary conclusions. Experience shows a strong possibility that we can face further challenges. Then, we create a SEO marketing strategy to develop a statement of work. A SEO specialist sets priorities and the project manager creates a project plan. The project plan is divided into milestones. Using milestones allows you to monitor project progress and optimize payments. The principal advantage of this approach is flexibility. You and SEOs can change the scope of work for every milestone according to the circumstances of the project. 

The disadvantage of this approach is difficult to forecast the final price. 

Anyway, you should pick the price and SEO investment model to your needs and your options.

Red car on blue background that symbolyze quality car shipping service and F5 Studio's process of website creation
We created a website for a company that specializes in car transpot services in the US.

The real SEO

First, an SEO is not a magic bullet. There is a potential risk of failure. Nobody can guarantee your success. You should assume all risks.

Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.

Second, SEO isn’t a quick fix that can optimize your business for growth at a snap of the fingers, despite what many “gurus” may say. A proper SEO strategy typically takes 3-12 months to implement. The faster you get the result the more it will cost.

If somebody promises you 1st page rankings for only $120 or $300 a month, you need to know that kind of service is dead. It doesn’t work.

Honestly, your success depends on your marketing strategy. If you know your target audience and have a good marketing strategy it will reduce the cost of SEO. But a professional SEO agency will provide a marketing audit anyway. It helps SEO specialists understand you, your target audience, and your business.

You need to attract valuable traffic. Forget about ranking on Google and good indicators in SEO tools. These things are irrelevant outside the ivory tower of SEO gurus. In real life you need real SEO.

At the end of the day, SEO is not to rank on Google, SEO is to help people find your business and create content that converts them into customers. Giving something of value to your target market, while creating marketing assets will serve you for years to come.

SEO agencies may use different approaches to do SEO. At F5 Studio we use an SEO marketing strategy that is based on understanding of the target audience and advanced SEO. Our advanced SEO services is a systemic process that allows us to develop more flexible search engine optimization methods. So we can offer our clients a real opportunity to get ahead of the curve. 

Other agencies focus on content marketing and different techniques. My recommendation is your SEO agency should be chosen on the basis of their approach.

Conclusion

I hope that for some of you reading, you’re now better equipped to answer your own question of whether an SEO campaign is worth it for your business.

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