Determining what to budget for SEO is one of the most challenges decisions a marketing manager has to make. You not only need to account for what you might spend on an agency but also what you may have to spend on the implementation of their recommendations, content that may need to be developed for the effort, design changes that may be recommended to enhance conversion rates, etc.. So, this is not something that you want to determine “quickly”. In fact, your investment in SEO should be something that is strategic to driving positive return on your investment (across all of these areas).
For some, the costs that go into a “real” SEO effort are prohibitive to driving a return on your investment. For many, SEO traffic is the very foundation of their inbound marketing efforts, leads, and sales. The quick answer to this is that you might want to consult with someone (us?) to determine what you can reasonably afford to put into an SEO effort. They can help you to understand the opportunity that lies ahead of you (or not?) and gives you a sense of what you may need to budget and give you a sense for when a positive return on investment may be possible. The next challenge is actually finding an agency that fits with you and your circumstances. You will find pricing for agency services “all over the map”.
Why is that? Well, it’s a factor of the different business models that agencies work within. Some agencies may offer SEO services, but – in fact – not have any SEO professionals on their team/in-house. Some may have one person in-house, but then much of the work is off-shored/outsourced. The bottom line is that every agency is set up differently. People who really know SEO and have years of experience cost quite a bit of money. With that, there are also the costs of the software that agencies subscribe to. The more costs that an agency has to cover, in order to provide their services, the higher their hourly rate will need to be, in order to remain profitable.
A seasoned professional in the SEO space can make in excess of $100,000 per year, in the U.S. Full-time offshore resources can be hired for $400 per month. Is there a difference in talent? Yes. A very vast difference. IMO, “you get what you pay for”. This is why it’s important to budget for SEO with an eye towards return-on-investment. If you can determine that you can make (net) $20,000 per month from a $10,000 per month investment, you might determine that it’s worth it. I can tell you that we have one client netting well over $1,000,000 per month from their (approximate) $10,000 per month investment with us. Every situation is unique. Every website is unique. Every competitive set is unique. For this reason, it’s best to consult with someone who can help to guide you on what a good investment should be, with respect to SEO.