Valuing SEO: How Much is a Good SEO Strategy Worth?!

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in advertising strategy, C.SEO, Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is commonplace now. In the earlier years of 2000, it was an after thought and not on many an organization’s radar. The search marketing industry has evolved along with digital technologies and now SEO incorporates several elements to include technical, content, social and graphical components. With that being the case how do businesses go about finding value in SEO and determining what is an appropriate cost for an organic optimization strategy, agency or SEO technician?


Organic Percentage Of search

Before we talk prices, cost and value, common ground of where the results of SEO have to be accepted and understood. The search engine results page (SERP) is made up of a mix of organic listings, paid opportunities (ads), and local results. On average, the result page is made up of 50-70% strictly organic results. The SERP for each search engine varies and results for industry keywords can cause variations in the display.

Query Comparison: “Outdoor Tents” vs “Used Cars Nashville” vs “Burgers”

Outdoor Tents Query in Google

Outdoor Tents Query in Google

Used Cars Nashville Query in Google

Used Cars Nashville Query in Google

Burgers Query in Google

Burgers Query in Google

The examples above show how different the results pages can vary between industries and those industries’ keyword targets.

In these examples, paid advertisements (PPC, pay-per-click ads) make up about 15-20% of the page with 25-30% of the page being local listings and local results. The rest of the SERP content is organic results. Not only that, but many of the recent local updates to Google’s local system have centered on applying organic value to local results; furthering the importance of organic optimization for both organic listings and local visibility.


Pricing SEO and The Individuals/Agencies Doing It

Now that we have conveyed the importance of organic optimization (yes, SEO), how much does it cost? Well, it depends.

As the SERPs vary per industry, per keyword, SEO for a specific business should and will often vary based on the strategic targets. One primary method use to gauge the cost of SEO uses the willingness of you and your competitors to pay for impressions and clicks from search; in other words, Adwords data. Using Google’s Keyword Planner, it is possible to get search information on how many impressions and clicks a marketer can expect on an individual or set of keywords.

Let’s look at an example for pricing SEO:

  • Business X is looking to invest $800 per month.
  • In 10 keywords.
  • Those keywords receive a total of 10,000 impressions
  • and those keywords’ ads receive 100 clicks (K.I.S.S. here)
  • then the investment in each keyword is $80 dollars with a cost per click of $12.50.


This doesn’t take into consideration that your SEM campaign may be focused on exposure along with actual click throughs. Ultimately, the business is investing $800 in 20-30% of the SERP. If we quantify the other 70-80% of the page with the same value ($800 x 1.7 or 1.8), the organization should be willing to invest $1,360 to $1,500 in the organic area of search.

At this point, this is where SEOs (like us at C.SEO) often make the case that the work of optimizing a website will also provide better results on the paid side of the marketing strategy, but ultimately, doing both SEO and SEM is the key to maximizing search. Why wouldn’t you want to make the most of the SERP?! Obviously, there are budgets and conversion statistics to evaluate.


The Wrapper: SEO vs SEM Conclusions

It is easier for business owners and decision makers to invest in paid marketing because it offers clear returns on the investment (ROI); for X dollars you received Y visits/calls/forms. Nevertheless, with proper tracking and systems in place organic optimization can offer clear ROI along with conversion optimization when SEO is done with the intent of matching the right consumers, with the right pages of your website for the right results.

A. Chris TurnerAbout the Author: Chris Turner is also known as ChocolateSEO. CSEO is Chris' Nashville search marketing and consulting service offering a variety of services to help you, your company and any website maximize web-based marketing opportunities. He is the father of three girls, one boy (finally) and husband to the wonderful Savannah. Join the author's circle: Chris Turner on Google+.