The New World of SEO: How Much Does it Really Cost?

The New World of SEO: How Much Does it Really Cost?

Until recently, search engine optimization (commonly known by the acronym “SEO”) was a fairly simple and inexpensive process. However, with the change to Google’s search protocols, this is no longer necessarily the case. The use of old SEO techniques to land on the front page of Google with any search (even tangentially related to your site) is firmly out of reach for most.

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Cheap Tactics Don’t Work

The landscape of the world of SEO was drastically changed by Panda and Penguin, two updates to Google which were unveiled in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Prior to this, SEO consisted largely of producing low-quality, fluffed and copied articles stuffed full of keywords. These keywords would then draw people to the site based on their searches while producing little or no useful material.

In order to counter this, Google introduced Panda, which was designed to ignore articles meeting low-quality criteria in order to return more useful search results.

The next year, Penguin refined the algorithmic changes introduced by Panda in order to better filter out those low-quality results.

Before Google unleashed their zoo animals, the effective SEO tactics were cheap.  After all, even people with a rudimentary understanding of the English language could churn out content like that.  And hiring such writers was easy and inexpensive.  Not only that, but hiring an SEO “professional” in those days cost less.  The tactics were easy to implement and didn’t require much effort, training, or expertise.

These days, Google has made it clear: cost-effective strategies won’t work.  Many businesses who had utilized basic SEO tactics to influence Google results saw a considerable drop in their search engine rankings, and as a result, to the number of visitors to their sites.

What Is the Future of SEO?

The changes to Google have meant a revision of not only the methodology behind – but also to the basic goals of – SEO.

Unless you have literal piles of disposable money, easily ranking on the first page is no longer likely. Instead, businesses are finding the need to set more reasonable goals such as an increase of a set percentage in the traffic over a six month period. These new goals should be directly tied to the consideration of your return on investment.

If a customer searches for you by the name of your business, landing on the front page is not difficult. However, what about improving your results when people search by the name of your products?

SEO now is no longer a simple matter of keyword stuffing – careful research and analysis are vital if you expect to improve your searchability. You must dig to find areas of profitability and work to build a site that offers actual value to your customers. If you fail to offer anything of value to those who click on your site, you can expect to see your search engine rankings continue to plummet.

The time has passed when quick fixes like buying social media followers and submitting spun content to article directories yield results.  Don’t cut corners; don’t buy facebook fans.  Don’t try to cheat your way to the top.  Instead, invest your money wisely in tactics that yield long-term results and build a solid SEO foundation.

So How Much Should SEO Really Cost?

How much you can expect to spend on SEO is really dependent on how committed you are to a long-term initiative. SEO is no longer about a fixed-price quick cure. How much you should spend on SEO is really dependent on what return you can expect on your investment.

In any business, there are certain costs which you must simply accept as a part of doing business, but the impact of these costs is offset by increased profit. Therefore, the question you should ask is “How much can I expect to make if I make a long-term investment in SEO?”

After all, SEO ultimately equates to a form of marketing, and as with any marketing initiative, the amount of the investment is determined by the expectation of a greater return.

Post By Jessica Adams (1 Posts)

Jessica Adams has worked for a local marketing firm for more than five years. During that time, she has witnessed quite a shift in the realm of SEO. As an expert in the field, Jessica enjoys helping others survive the never-ending changes in the marketing community.


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  • avatar

    Thanks for all your input everyone! 🙂
    Nathan – I would like to elaborate a bit more on your comment. When dealing with clients, I think we need to be careful what we promise them. Some tactics do work quickly and easily – but are they (deep down) scams? For example, telling a client to pick 5 keywords and they’ll be able to rank well with at least one. Do they pick super specific keywords for their niche because they don’t know better? Sure, it might be easy and quick to rank for “laser dental bleaching,” but will anyone be searching for that? Wouldn’t “teeth whitening” be a more common search word – and therefore, more competitive?

  • avatar

    Hey Jessica!
    Thanks for this informative article on giving a reality check to those that think they can become rich in a few days by blackhat and other spammy SEO techniques. The push for quality content will always be king, and being able to consistently give new content is one of the major fundamentals for success.
    And sometimes people have that capability, but they need to know how to delegate and find companies that can get things done right and in a legal manner in portraying their message. People just have to be willing to accept that the more search engines like Google updates to cater to the convenience for the searcher, the more the individual has to adapt to the circumstances.
    Thanks for posting this awesome article, and I wish the best to those that are looking forward to expand their business online!

  • avatar

    One of the simplest and quickest ways to assess just how much SEO work maybe required to achieve maximum search engine visibility is by analyzing your top ranked competitors. If your market is very niche and local then it may in fact be very easy to achieve solid rankings quickly, and cost effectively.
    There are also still many quality cost effective SEO methods that work if you have a good understanding of SEO and the latest algorithm updates.

  • avatar

    Thank you Jessica,
    I agree, and I find it funny and amusing that so many websites have stalled any content updates to try and deal with their way of doing things, in the past.
    Now a lot of people are learning to use social media, include me myself. And it’s not that bad, there is a lot to be learned from other people around the world, while also keeping that tiny bit of SEO value.

  • avatar
    Jayesh Khandoor 


    Hello Jessica,
    Thanks a lot for sharing your blog. I totally agree with your point, SEO keeps changing quite often and the updates happening are no longer ordinary. Every update from Google comes much big and much serious than its predecessor for example the very latest Hummingbird. And these updates literally grill SEO activities, making them all the more challenging and all the more expensive.

  • avatar

    Hi Jessica.
    I wanted to say that this is a brilliant post. I love it when I see SEO articles by SEOs who really want to manage the expectations of people ‘investing in SEO as a media channel’, rather than spamming the internet.
    In our agency, we have been pushing clients in the direction to invest in building their online authority and developing their awareness via content marketing. Pretty much what you have outlined in your article.
    My colleague wrote this article which is similar to what you have written.
    It pretty much talks about Old school SEO vs New School SEO. As we know, the ones who adopt the old school spammy tactics have their websites on a ticking time bomb.
    Anyway, I loved the post, and the meme is perfect! 🙂

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