It is a known secret that to be successful in SEO, you will need a consistent, long-term effort. You can’t expect to get quick results from your SEO strategy, and will often require 6 to 12 months before you see any success.
On the other hand, SEO strategies are also not cheap. Content development alone, which is arguably the center of SEO, can cost you thousands of Dollars each month if you are not careful. Link building can also be very expensive when not managed well. Not to mention, whether you are building an in-house SEO team or outsourcing to an agency, the HR cost can pile up very quickly.
So, should businesses with low marketing budgets avoid SEO altogether and opt for cheaper alternatives? Not necessarily. With more effort and better management, you can make SEO more affordable than ever.
So, this guide will specifically discuss on how to have a more cost-efficient SEO strategy. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to plan an SEO strategy that will cost you less than $1,000 a month.
Let us begin with our first topic: what made SEO so costly.
Why Is SEO Expensive?
The first thing we will need to do to make something cheaper is to understand why it is expensive in the first place. So, let us first discuss the factors that can bloat your monthly SEO cost.
1. Quality Contents
In the past, we can get away with low-quality contents and keyword stuffing. That’s no longer the case nowadays, as Google has implemented the Panda algorithm to assess content quality.
A huge part of SEO is to get more backlinks, and how do we get linked more? By having a useful, high-quality contents. How do we target our focus keywords? By including them as natural as possible in our contents.
So, as you can see, content is the center of SEO, and high-quality contents are expensive. Also, your job doesn’t end in the content creation phase. You will need someone to manage and distribute your content if you are not going to do it yourself.
Nevertheless, content is one of, if not the most expensive aspect of SEO.
Since SEO is a long-term process requiring consistency and technical proficiency, it will also be labor-intensive.
There are three main approaches to your SEO manpower: building your in-house team; hiring an SEO freelancer, or outsourcing to an SEO agency.
Depending on your needs, one approach will be better than the other, but they will still be expensive in the long run.
3. Web Design and Maintenance
Mobile-responsiveness is a must nowadays. And while load speed is not yet a significant factor for SEO, it is a must anyways to avoid bounce rate.
While web design, hosting, and maintenance are cheaper compared to a decade ago, it can still be very expensive when not managed well. Don’t forget that you will also need to factor in all the on-site optimization.
So, there are generally three biggest factors that can drive the cost of SEO: your website, your team, and your content. Also, both off-site and on-site optimization tactics can also have significant costs.
So, how can we make them more cost-efficient? For the rest of this guide, we will discuss them one by one.
Cost-Efficient Content Creation
In the world where content is indeed king, having cheaper contents are indeed easier said than done. However, there are several tactics you can try to have more affordable contents without sacrificing quality:
1. When In Doubt, Go For Quality over Quantity
Ideally, you will want to have a lot of contents (quantity) that are both keyword-focused and useful for human readers (quantity). However, when budget simply doesn’t allow for the best of both worlds, it is better to choose quality.
Many SEO marketers chose the other route to focus on quantity. On the surface, it is a sound plan: with more contents, you can include more keywords.
However, it is better to have one or two high-quality, in-depth contents that are read, shared, and linked by a lot of people. Turns out, the length of the content also matters, according to this study by SERPIQ.
So, instead of producing ten or twenty 500-word contents a month due to budget limitation, pay a professional content creator for just three or four 2000+ words contents. The cost will roughly be the same, but you’ll get a lot more.
2. Smart Outsourcing
Too often, we are stuck with the idea that our content writer should be a native English speaker, preferably with a degree in English and a great portfolio. And then we complained how their pay is too expensive for their produced contents.
Don’t limit your options. Many non-native English speakers can write really well, if not better than your native options for the significantly more affordable price. Although it is debatable, there is an ongoing argument that non-native English speakers are more careful at presenting ideas, which might contributes to the idea that their contents are more comprehensive.
Explore content mills, freelancing sites, and any other options. It’s true that you might not get the right writer at first try, but the same thing goes for native writers. Who knows, you might find a hidden gem that can be your affordable long-term solution.
Cost-Efficient SEO Manpower
Sadly, there is no shortcut for this aspect: expensive SEO services or teams are, well, expensive. On the other hand, affordable SEO services are most of the time, a scam.
So, how can we tackle this issue? There is one long and hard way:
Build Your Own Team
While an in-house SEO team is not always cheaper than outsourcing, arguably, when you do it right and if you get the right people, you will always get more.
An in-house SEO team will give you more control and accountability. So, you can easily evaluate your SEO strategies and do a quick pivot when necessary, which can be a major money saver rather than to experience a total failure.
Also, an in-house team will be more focused on your sites and business compared to outsource agencies with multiple clients. How much should you expect to spend on an in-house SEO team? If you are based in the US, depending on your cities, you will at least need to spend $50,000 a year including SEO tools and software costs.
Again, explore your options, if you are looking for freelance SEO experts check Mike’s page for options and services.
When building your own in-house team, this is a very nice guide from SEM Rush you can follow.
Cost-Efficient Website and Optimization
Regarding your website (design, hosting, and maintenance) and optimization tactics, there are several approaches you can take to cut costs. They are:
1. Maximize Your On-Site SEO
Again, too often we are focusing on the external factors in our optimization tactics, or often called the off-site SEO. Indeed, link building and optimizing social signals can often bring the best results in a fairly quick manner.
Yet, they are expensive, even more, if your industry, niche, or focus keyword is highly competitive.
So, instead, you can focus on maximizing the potential of your on-site SEO. Here are some tactics you can try:
- Keyword Frequency: Guess what, the number of times your focus keyword appears in your content is still relevant even today. The key is to aim of 0.5 to 1% of keyword density while making the content still readable and useful for your human readers.
- Comprehensive URL: Keep your URL easy to read and as short as possible. Also, include your focus keyword on your URL at all times. Not only this is useful for SEO, readers can better understand what the content is about.
- Title Tag: Include your focus keyword in the title tag, but make sure it is still natural for human readers. Keep your title short with below 70 characters.
2. Improve Your Page Speed, The Affordable Way
Although it is still unclear whether Google takes account of page load speed as its ranking signal, having a fast loading speed is very significant nowadays, thanks to our faster attention span.
If your website is WordPress-based, there are many plug-ins and tools that you can use to improve speed, a lot of them are free!
Here is a very nice guide on how to improve your page speed without spending too much of your budget.
3. Take Advantage of Many Affordable (and Free) Web Design Tools
Gone are the days when a website should be designed by expensive professionals to be viable. Nowadays, there are many tools you can take advantage of, from the trustworthy WordPress to Wix, and many more.
Also, making a responsive website that is mobile friendly is cheaper than ever, even free. Here is a nice list of a lot of free HTML5 tools for responsive design.
While proper SEO strategies are never cheap, there are many tactics you can adopt to make your SEO more cost-efficient. The most significant step you can take is to make your content creation and management more affordable because it is the center of any SEO strategy.
The second is to have a more affordable SEO team. In our opinion, building an in-house team will be more affordable in the long run, but will take more initial effort. Yet, it will be worthwhile in the end when you get a proper, functioning team.