Are SEO Agencies Worth The Cost in 2020? Effective or OverHyped?

September 21, 2020
SEO
Are SEO agencies good to grow your business and start ranking higher in Google


The demands and costs for SEO are constantly rising each year. More and more companies are realizing that in order to adapt and survive it’s extremely important to have an online presence. 

As a result, there are plenty of SEO agencies ready to take your money with promises to take your website to the top of search results.

If you have ever fallen for the aggressive advertising pitches and promises you see online about SEO and haven’t received the results they claim, you’re not alone. This happens to more businesses and people every single day. The problem is that SEO services and agencies can be extremely expensive while yielding no tangible results for people, which brings up a very important question. 

Are SEO agencies worth the cost?

In order to answer this question effectively, without bias, it’s important we take a step back and explore what SEO agencies actually do. What is the process behind helping their clients achieve high rankings and how long can results take? 

What Do SEO Agencies Actually Do?


SEO agencies optimize a website and it’s content in order to help rank it high in organic search engine results. They focus on improving the on-page and off-page technical factors of the website in order to help it gain visibility online.

But what does that really mean and how does it work?

This starts off with knowing how to do the keyword research for SEO. Standard clients don’t know much of the fine tuned details that go into improving a website, let alone the inner workings of keyword research. 

Why would they? They don’t specialize in SEO, they specialize in their professions and services.

The typical expectations of most clients is to pay a couple hundred bucks a month, watch their website shoot up to page one in a month and get a flurry of new business. If you are in SEO, you know that’s simply a fallacy. 

The problem is that SEO is often advertised and marketed this way. This causes a major misalignment of expectations between the clients and the SEO agencies. As a result, clients are oftentimes pissed off and end up leaving after a month or two when they fail to get any tangible results. 

It’s important for clients to have a better understanding of SEO and make sure they know it’s a long term and ongoing process in order to gain organic visibility online. 

Types of Services SEO Agencies Provide for Their Clients

Each SEO agency is built differently, but most will tend to offer very similar, if not identical services and products. 

Some of these include:

  • SEO Website Audits
  • Backlink Building
  • Website Content Creation
  • Rank Monitoring
  • Blog Outreach
  • Managed SEO

These are the most traditional services offered by SEO agencies which are designed to help increase the online visibility of your website. They can be quite expensive and can take a decent amount of time before your website experiences any results.

There are factors which can influence how long it takes your website to start receiving organic search traffic such as: 

  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Link diversity
  • Length of content
  • Age of your domain
  • Website architecture

SEO agencies focus on analyzing all these factors which influence your website's ability to rank online and they optimize them in order to help your website rank high in search results.

How Much Do SEO Agencies Charge on Average?

As we previously mentioned before each SEO agency is built differently. Pricing will vary on a multiple of factors, such as:

  • Competitiveness of the niche your website is in
  • The type of SEO work required (local or national)
  • What type of company is doing your SEO (local agency or corporate agency)
  • The amount of work required
  • The current state of your website

Common SEO pricing

Different SEO services cost more than others and it will depend on the company that is managing your SEO and the kind of work they have agreed to do for your website.

Some common SEO services can have the following price ranges below.

Backlink Building Pricing

cost of backlink building on average per link


Pricing per individual backlink can vary widely depending on the niche and also the domain authority of the corresponding website providing the link. 

The higher the domain authority, the more a backlink will tend to cost. You can use free SEO tools to help you discover unique ways to build backlinks 100% free. 

Recommended Reading: How to Use SEMrush for Link Building 

Guest Posting (Blog outreach) Pricing

Cost of placing a guest blog per post

Pricing for a single individual guest post can vary from free all the way up to $500 and even higher in some cases. 

If you build a relationship with a website owner they can agree to have you guest post for them for free. In most cases though if you want to receive a link back to your website via guest post, you will have to pay the website owner.

Content Creation Pricing

Cost of creating content per piece of content.

Content creation for your website can get pretty pricey over the course of a full year. The person who creates the content has to know the best keywords to target and has to be able to write a compelling piece which can attract organic traffic. 

This takes some serious time and investment if you want to completely outsource it. Costs can quickly run in the tens of thousands per year.

Site Audit Pricing


Full website audit pricing will vary depending on the size of your website. The smaller your website the lower the cost will tend to be.

People who are inexperienced in SEO aren’t aware of the fact that you can use free basic tools to accomplish a good chunk of the work of a website audit that most companies will charge you for.

Prices for managed website audits can range anywhere from $500 all the way up to $5,000 per website depending on the size of your website. Most free SEO tools can help you run a basic website audit which will reveal information that is just as good as pricey audits charged by SEO companies.

Recommended Reading: How to Use SEMrush to Perform a SEO Website Audit


Managed SEO Pricing

How much does it cost o have your SEO managed by someone else.


Managed SEO options can range between a few hundred to a few thousand per month. They can be a great option if you have a massive budget and plenty of time to see the long term effects of SEO. 

With the high costs associated with the majority of these SEO services, do these agencies actually deliver what they claim?

Do SEO Agencies Actually Get Results They Advertise?


Performance of SEO agencies can vary greatly across the board. There are a plethora of different factors which can impact the success of a SEO service. Most clients don’t understand that in order to see results, you have to give SEO practices the necessary time. This can range from a few months up to a full year or more.

Most people aren’t willing to shell out thousands of dollars without getting any sort of results. If a SEO service isn’t aggressive enough it won’t generate the necessary results for clients and most people will tend to call it quits after about a month or two. 

It doesn’t mean that most SEO agencies aren’t worth it, it just means that agencies need to set realistic expectations for their clients. They also need to ensure that clients have a better understanding of the inner working of SEO and the fact that time plays a huge factor.

WORD OF CAUTION

It’s also worth mentioning that some SEO agencies just plain suck. 

They simply don’t deliver the results they claim. This is because their business models are focused on churning and burning clients. 

For people who are looking for SEO agencies, be cautious when you hear agencies making claims that promise fast results. You should also take the necessary time to speak with an agent and make sure you understand what they will actually do for your website.

Are SEO Agencies Worth The Cost For Small Businesses?

Small businesses who have a website will need to eventually optimize it for SEO if they want to get found online. With the rising costs in SEO services, it becomes much harder for businesses to afford SEO. 

Are SEO agencies worth the cost for small businesses?

This can be a tough question to answer and it requires us to answer a few questions beforehand. 

Important questions to consider for small businesses thinking about SEO services

  • How do your current clients find out about your business? (word of mouth, traditional advertising, billboards, etc)
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your monthly marketing budget?
  • How important is it that your clients find you online?
  • Does your business offer any products or services online?
  • What industry or niche is your business in?
  • What proximity (distance ) is your business from your competitor?

If you think any of these are relevant or important to your business, you will need to have a strong web presence in order for more customers to find you.

If your business simply doesn’t have the budget to shell out the cash for SEO agencies, you have some alternative options that can still help yield your business positive results. 

Checkout the article below by Direction.com. They do a great job of breaking down the pricing and expectations of SEO.

The 2020 SEO Pricing Guide

Doing Your Own SEO For Free

One of the great things about the internet is that you can basically find out most information online for free. If you strongly believe that your website and business needs a strong online presence, you have the option of learning SEO on your own.

There are plenty of low cost courses online that can help you learn the basics of SEO so you can improve your web presence. It’s important to understand that learning SEO won’t happen overnight. It requires you to have patience and an open mind in order to understand and apply the concepts. 

Recommended Reading: SEO Glossary

If you are a local business that does the majority of your business within a 30 mile radius of your location, it’s recommended that you focus on learning local SEO. According to Search Engine Journal, it’s reported that less than half of small businesses have any sort of SEO budget or practice in place.

Therefore, if you either put away a small budget or make the effort to learn SEO on your own, you could be well ahead of your competitors.

SEMrush

Measuring the Impact of SEO Agencies

If you are thinking about using a SEO agency it’s important that you fully understand the scope of the work they will be performing in order to help your website rank higher. Another important thing to make sure is in place, is measuring and tracking the progress of the work the agency is performing.

No good agency will simply promise results without the proper tracking and reporting in place. This is something that needs to be discussed with them BEFORE you actually pay for their services.

Conclusion 

SEO agencies can be a great option for businesses who have the necessary budget to spend in order to rank their websites higher in search results. If you have a business that doesn’t mind spending a few thousand per month in order to get your business found online, then using an SEO agency can be beneficial. 

Some businesses simply want to focus their attention on their products and services, and using an agency makes sense for them.

SEO agencies can be overhyped for businesses and individuals who are impatient and don’t have the necessary budget to handle SEO services. 

The alternative is that smaller scale businesses and individuals can take the time to learn SEO and implement it themselves for minimal cost. It just depends on the needs of your businesses and your budget.