How Much Does SEO Cost in 2021? Cost Calculation Guide

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I hope you *enjoy* reading this blog post.

If you want my team to help you grow your business, get in touch.

I’m always surprised when it comes to the sheer amount of people that think they know how to do SEO, aka (Search Engine Optimization).

This is not to be confused with Google ads and PPC marketing which is something completely different, yet still wholly beneficial.

Worse still, I feel a piercing wound through my heart and soul when I see these same individuals promote their “expert” skills to others and close expensive deals knowing full well that they don’t know what the hell they are doing.

Since SEO is considered by the normal person and small business owners alike about as mystical as a rainbow-colored unicorn popping up on the fourth of July in Antarctica, it makes sense then, that these businesses and brands that are supposedly being “helped” by these internet guru peddling experts, could potentially be exposed to not only a wasted investment of capital but also penalties imposed by Google and other major search engines for employing shady practices which can absolutely destroy your domain and your business overnight.

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Did you know that Google actually enforces quite an extensive list of penalties that can obliterate your domain, your traffic, and your businesses (or brand’s) livelihood in the blink of an eye?

In fact, based on research I conducted, I found that the levels of severity differ for each specific penalty, which means that each penalty differs on the amount of time it will be attached to your domain.

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At the end of the day, understanding how much SEO costs in 2021 is crucial to using this transformational marketing technique to help you scale any business to six figures per month, per week, or per day.

And the reason why I say that is because, done wrong, or employing the wrong person or company to do it for you will ultimately cost you a hell of a lot more in the long run.

cost

I’ve been there and I’ve dealt with that which is why it’s my mission to help others never have to go through that experience (don’t feel bad for me, I learned a lot from it).

What is SEO?

In my mind, Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing traffic to your website by deliberately optimizing your website, your website’s structure, and everything inside your website (content, links, pages, etc) in a way that Google and other major search engines can read and understand it as a high-quality and relevant source of information for your audience.

Hubspot explains the definition of SEO in 100 words or less with a great article that I encourage you to check out (after you finish this one of course).

TLDR: SEO is the process of getting more website visitors from Google and other major search engines by using specific techniques.

If you are new to SEO, I can understand that you’re more than likely just a teeny tiny bit overwhelmed and you might not know what’s exactly necessary to start off on the right foot when it comes to growing your business online.

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And you probably have information overload to boot.

Odds are that you fall into one of two categories:

  1. Your website is getting traffic and you want more
  2. Your website is not getting any traffic and you want more

And I’ll be honest with you:

Not knowing anything about SEO is a double-edged sword since there’s a lot of “black-hat” (against the rules) strategies that you could unknowingly pick up which will take your website and slice it’s throat to see that it shall never rank now or in the future.  

Don’t get me wrong, because I feel like knowing nothing is, in a way good since you can find the right teacher or mentor and start learning the process that will help you grow any website for as long as you live.  

At the same time, I feel like knowing nothing could also harm you if you pick up the wrong strategies…

You might be wondering something along the lines of:

As long as it works and I get traffic then who cares if it’s frowned upon.

Am I right?

The thing here is that using black-hat strategies for SEO shouldn’t be employed now or ever.

You’ve (probably) never heard about the tons of people that had their million-dollar websites guillotined due to using black-hat loopholes that the Google update fixed.

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Read More: History of Google Algorithm Updates

Instant traffic reduction by thousands, no no… more than likely MILLIONS of users.

I want you to literally imagine that.  What would happen if you’ve built this website up from ground zero and you’re earning a decent living from it.  

A decent living off a website to me is $20,000 per month in NET revenue generated from your site per partner (if more than one partner).

Wouldn’t you be absolutely blindsided if, on one random sunny day, you went from 50,000 users per day to 1,000?

People have lost millions of dollars by using these unwanted strategies, some of them not even knowing they were at risk.

My goal with this website and all the content that we create for you is to give you the training, strategies, and tools that you can use to grow and scale your business online forever without worrying about this company or that company to shut you down.

I want you to know that you must do everything possible to be in control of your own destiny if you are planning on making a living or growing your business online.

I’ve been in the position of losing everything from the loss of traffic and it’s not fun at all.

declining organic search traffic

As a matter of fact, it’s beyond frustrating, makes you want to scream in rage and cry at the same time, conjures up extreme stress, and quite honestly hits you with an enormous dose of depression within the span of a few seconds.

It’s about as bumpy as a wooden roller coaster that should have been closed down years ago.

Intense, I know.

When I say that I lost everything, I really mean it.  I’m talking six figures per month down to zilch.

No money saved for Uncle Sam, either.

It’s an absolutely disgusting feeling.

Stay away from techniques that can crush your business and do SEO the right way.  

You will be rewarded handsomely for doing so.

How Does SEO Work?

As I think about the best way to help you understand my philosophy on how SEO works, I thought the best advice I can provide for you would be to take the process in which I understand it out of my head and put it into this article.

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Instead of looking it up and recycling it from another posted article to copy somebody’s definition, I want to give you my specific take on how SEO actually works according to the way I see it.

The actual process of growing your website using SEO is very structured and quite similar in theory, although:

There’s not a true “cookie-cutter” approach to Search Engine Optimization or “SEO”, because there’s a lot of variables that typically differ from website to website.

And that means one thing:

The high-level overview of SEO and how it works is the same for every site.  Things like link building, content creation, prospecting and outreach, keyword research, etc are all standardized when it comes to creating a campaign.

The processes don’t change very much.  They are what they are and you need to work through them the same every time.

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Where things differ, though, is the amount of effort needed in each specific category for each specific campaign.

Let’s say you have website A and website B.  Both sites need to be ranked, but one is brand new and the other has been running for a few years.

The strategy and campaign behind this would be completely different, although it would consist of the same fundamental techniques.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while you can learn the framework of what goes into SEO (which is without a doubt what you want to do), I just want to make it crystal-clear that you also have to understand the fact that learning which technique(s) to deploy in a specific instance for a specific outcome is equally important as knowing the key foundations of what goes into a successful SEO project plan.  

Not every website is at the same part in its life-cycle and that means that the resources for your SEO campaign should be spent where it will make the most impact for yourself and your business.

You wouldn’t treat your newborn baby the same way you would treat a teenager and it’s the same for SEO.

Your goal needs to be to learn the foundational aspects and then know when to apply them to each website you use them on.

Is Search Engine Optimization Expensive?

money

Short answer:

It can be.

But let’s break it down together.

If you know anything about SEO then you know that the true price of a proper SEO campaign varies based on what needs to be done.

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This is the pricing template we use when it comes to breaking down SEO campaigns to our potential clients.  

There’s a bunch of different pricing models, but for sake of the costs involved in a proper SEO campaign, I wanted to break down what I know and what I currently use.

So as you see above there are different “buckets”, which are nothing more than “categories” of deliverables that need to be done.

For instance, you can see here that as far as the budget goes, we’ve heavily allocated resources toward keyword research in month 1.

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Month two is dramatically decreased whereas month three is where we again pick up the budget allocation towards this category.

Take that along with the budget allocation for our content strategy:

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We don’t allocate any budget toward content strategy until later in the campaign (month 3).  

When you are considering an SEO professional or an SEO company to work with, you need to understand that if they are worth their price tag, they need to give you a similar breakdown of what’s going to happen.

You need to know what they are going to do and how they’re going to do it.

If they can’t give that to you then they don’t know what they’re doing, and I’d advise to find somebody else.

What Factors Determine an SEO Campaign’s Price?

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I can’t speak for others, but when I run an SEO campaign I factor in 6 different buckets that I’ll list below:

  1. Technical SEO: Audits, recommendations, and working with developers to implement
  2. Keyword Research: Strategy, keyword gap analysis for content marketing and recommendations
  3. “On-page” Optimizations: Analysis and implementation of on-page SEO elements through titles, internal links, semantic keyword, etc.
  4. Content Strategy: Content audit, strategy, calendar, ongoing topic ideation and ongoing SEO editing
  5. Analytics: Audit and Implementation (Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Search Console)
  6. Link Building: Audit, strategy, and ongoing acquisition management

If you want to scale your business with SEO then these categories need to ALL be addressed.

Skipping any of these steps is not an option if you want to stand the best chance of beating your competition.

And, as I mentioned above, not all of these categories will be allocated the same amount of budget each month.  There are variabilities that will be factored in based on the project plan’s roadmap to the specified KPIs and targets that are in the process of being reached.

At the end of the day, I can fully confirm that using an SEO approach to scaling your business online is going to cost you money. 

Is that the same thing as expensive?  

In my opinion, no it isn’t, because when you do it right (using somebody who knows what they’re doing and provide the needed budget to be successful) you’ll yield so much more than you had to invest.

That doesn’t mean that you should go out and spend $10,000 a month building links, creating content, and building this on something that has no potential to pay back your investment.

You have to survey the market you want to target and see if there’s a feasible opportunity to build revenue and if that makes sense then I encourage moving forward with starting your campaign.

Just so you know, I wanted to remind you that I always thought I could get traffic for free or for “cheap” by working hard.

I was severely delusional.  

If you aren’t prepared with some kind of budget then you simply won’t grow your website.

Alternatively, you could try and produce some sweat equity.  Maybe you’re great at writing articles and you find a way to be featured on a high authority site for free.

There are ways to grow your site without spending money, but from experience I can tell you that starting from nothing (no email list, audience, marketing budget, etc) will almost always result in a failed venture.

Are Cheap SEO Services Worth It?

It depends on what you mean when you say “cheap SEO services”.  

REMEMBER: SEO services could be a number of different sub-services.

Think things like:

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Content Creation
  3. Link Building
  4. Prospecting and Outreach

You get the point.  There’s a lot of different considerations when you are purchasing SEO services.

What I can promise you, though, is that you without a doubt can find cheap SEO services all over the web.  

Be forewarned here… My advice to this question is the same every single time:

*You ALWAYS get what you pay for*

Being efficient and saving resources with your SEO campaign is one thing, but deliberately cutting corners because you’re bootstrapping your operation with little to no budget is something completely different.

Here in California, they call that “mickey-mousing it”.

Going the cheap route by getting links from random PBNs, websites with low authority and weight with Google, hiring a writer to write crappy and plagiarized content that wouldn’t rank if it had a red carpet drive to the top of Google’s SERPs is the fastest way to ensure that you never grow your website.

Furthermore, I believe that it helps you get farther and farther away from your goal.

Think of it like a carrot dangling in front of a horse.  The horse keeps running and running, trying to chase that carrot, but the problem is, no matter how far he runs, he’ll never reach that carrot.

Buying Cheap SEO Services lures you into the fact that there’s movement happening and progress being made when in reality there is more than likely a net LOSS being made which not only costs you money but keeps you from ranking.

Conclusion and Summary:

Search Engine Optimization is a great way to scale your business.  I 100% recommend it as a way to take your business from whatever revenue and traffic figures you currently have and double, triple, and even quadruple them.

I have seen it happen.  Within two months we took one of our websites from $0 to $100k per month in recurring revenue.

The domain was brand new and it was registered for the first time.

Not only did we work with somebody who knew their sh*t when it comes to ranking websites, we had a budget that increased in accordance with our revenue and our traffic.

In other words, we reinvested a percentage of our earnings to keep things growing.

At the time of this writing, that same company just reached #3 on Google for a search term with a keyword difficulty of 88 (ahrefs) 

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Think about that.  We are number 3 on Google’s SERPs.

Was it free?  Nope.

Was it cheap?  Nope.

Will it ROI?  Hell yes.

Don’t judge SEO campaigns based on how much they cost, but instead learn to understand what the process needs to be for each specific website and build your budget from there.

Anything we forgot to add?  Leave a comment down below.  We want to hear from you.

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