Why Is SEO So Expensive?

At WittyCookie, we preach that the “findability” of a website is a critical element of a successful website – you MUST factor in effort and budget to make your website “findable”. For many websites, Search Engine Optimization is one of the most effective strategies for getting visitors to a website.  But people keep asking me why it’s so expensive.  Here’s why.

Here at WittyCookie a basic SEO campaign starts at $250 per month, so our small business clients need to budget at least $1,000 to see significant results.  Some clients are shocked when they hear this (even though they are paying $1500 a month for a yellow pages ad, hmmmm…..), but most times when I explain why, they get it.  Consider these points:

1) SEO Takes Expertise.  Did you know that so far in 2012, Google has changed it’s website ranking algorithms 34 times?  And as of this writing, we still have over a month left in 2012.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this website:  http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change It truly is a full time job to stay on top of these changes, to determine what, if any impact they have on the websites we build, then to make the changes to the website if needed.  The tools needed to monitor a website’s ranking and how well it’s performing for various keyword and key phrase combinations are sophisticated and also change based on the dymanics of search engine systems.   Our search engine optimization team spends many hours a month just learning about changes in the search engine optimization world.  In addition, they have to understand the technicalities and structure of how a website is built so that can make changes to that website to enhance its “onsite factors”.

2) SEO Takes Time.  Because of the sheer number of websites that yours is competing against on the search engines, it can take months to see results.  This is especially true for a brand new website that has no search engine “equity” at all – you’re competing against websites that have longevity and traffic, both significant factors in determining a website’s ranking.  With a new website, it can easily take 6 to 12 months to see results as your website claws and climbs above others above it in the rankings. During this 6 to 12 months, you have to be actively promoting your website to the search engines and making changes based on #1 above.

3) SEO Is Competitive.  Try a Google search for “vancouver website design”.  I just did and Google told me that there are 70,300,000 pages in its index for that phrase.  I want to be on page one for that search term, and there are only 10 search results per page with Google, so you can see that there is a LOT of websites competing against me to get onto page one (WittyCookie is #1 on page 1 of Google for that phrase by the way ;-).  Keep in mind, too, that the other businesses competing for a particular search word or phrase are not sitting still with their SEO efforts either.  The really good websites are trying hard to climb above you, so you can’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to making your site rank higher.  You have to constantly monitor and respond with changes to keep your website ranked above your competitors.  We “eat our own dogfood” in this regard – that is, we follow our own advice for marketing our own website through the search engines.  We have top rankings for virtually all the keywords that people use to find a website design company through the search engines.

4) SEO Is Geographically Oriented.  Your target geography is a significant factor in how much effort it takes for a high ranking for a particular search term.   For example, in #3 above I did a search for “colorado springs website design” that found 3,210,000 pages.  A search for “website design” (without the geographical modifier) yielded 1,100,000,000 pages (yes – that’s over one BILLION results).  The point is that if you’re trying to target a larger geography through search engines, the amount of work will be significantly greater.

As you can surmise, all of these factors combine to make SEO very time consuming and potentially very costly.  But, it can yield a significant Return OInvestment – something we watch carefully for our clients.    With SEO we can track the results and determine whether or not it’s creating a positive ROI.  Can you do that with your yellow pages advertising?  Your radio or TV advertising?  Probably not every accurately.    I used to lease space from an ad agency, and I overheard one of the ad execs say once, “half of our advertising is very effective, problem is, we’re not sure which half”.  We don’t have this problem with Search Engine Marketing – we track it all and can determine, very accurately, what’s working and what’s not.   But it takes expertise and time to see results.

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WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

What Is SEO?

Need the skinny on SEO

Google displays sites it believes are authoritative and relevant. They measure relevance by analyzing page content, the words you and I read, and they measure authority (mostly) based on the number and quality of other pages linking to the pages they show, links are like votes.

How Do I Make My Site Appear in Search Results?

So how do you make your site the kind of site the search engines will show in search results? Simple: Great Content + Quality Links = Search Engine Success! Check out this SEO Explained in Pictures page for a quick, simple overview. If you do nothing else today click that link it’s guaranteed to help you understand SEO.

How Does Google Decide Where to Rank Pages?

Google promotes pages it thinks are authority pages to the top of it’s rankings. It’s your job – or ours if you hire us to do your SEO – to create authority pages. In simple terms this involves writing content and building links.

So in simple terms SEO involves writing pages that use keywords, words people use in searches, and securing links from other pages to show how important your page is compared to others. Links are votes and votes get you elected to page 1…..

A Simple 1-2-3 Guide to Getting Better Search Results

  1. Write content that uses words and phrases used by people who search for your product
  2. Build links to your pages to show they are important
  3. Keep doing it!

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the simple activity of ensuring a website can be found in search engines for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering. In many respects it’s simply quality control for websites. Having said that if there was ever an industry that was little understood by ‘outsiders’ it’s SEO.

Ask some SEO companies about SEO and they’ll try and blind you with science and confuse you into thinking it’s a black art. Say to some companies what is SEO and two hours later you’ll be none the wiser. Not so here at Red Evolution. We love seeing the light bulb go on when our clients get it. We prefer our clients to not only know what we are doing for them, but why!

Links Seem To Be Important, How Do I Get Them?

Correct, links are important but don’t confuse quality with quantity. 10 or 15 links from quality relevant resources (pages) to your page will have a much bigger impact on how your page ranks than a 1000 low value links as sold by lots of SEO companies. In fact, if an SEO company offers you a set number of links for a set price run a mile, they’re spammers!!

Instead seek out great links from other great sites, so long as you’ve got something worth linking to because great sites don’t link to poor ones, why would they?

In Summary

Create a great site, provide something people need and are looking for and share your site with other great sites and you’ll quickly start to see your website traffic increase. If you need some help doing this, consider giving us a call at 1 888 936 3653.

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WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

Value of Local SEO for Small Businesses

SEO can be challenging for small businesses. They must compete for the same market share against larger brands that often have more prestige, brand recognition, and consumer affinity.

That doesn’t mean that organic search is out of reach for small businesses as a powerful inbound marketing channel with high potential for return. In order to compete with large brands, small business owners must have an SEO strategy that offsets the often large difference in marketing budget. Because small businesses will not be able to outspend their larger counterparts on media acquisition, they must take a much more targeted and refined approach.

When it comes to short-tail SEO—general phrases with a high amount of search volume—the search engine results pages are dominated by big brands. There is little that a small business marketer with limited budget can do to change these results.

Despite various limitations, small businesses can gain meaningful search engine result real estate with a focus on areas of lowered competition. When geography is taken into account, there is often a much smaller big-brand presence in search results. That opens a window of opportunity for small businesses to gain useful organic search visibility.

Focusing on consumers looking for products and services in specific locales is a great way to limit the competition and give small businesses the ability to gain valuable real estate on search engine results pages. If the business also has an offline presence in a specific locale, there is even more opportunity in targeting these consumers. Consumers trust of a business they can visit in person, which will lead to higher conversion rates.

Geo-Modified Keyword Targeting

Part of the opportunity of location-based SEO for small businesses is to utilize geo-modified search queries. Better yet, in order to benefit from this method, the business does not necessarily have to be location-based. Geo-targeted search phrases are typically very low in competition and are often searched at the purchase stage of the buying cycle, which means they carry high-conversion rates.

Let’s use “home security” as an example. There are 22,200 Google searches for “home security” each month in the U.S.m according to Adwords. However, a small business typically would not have enough budget allocated to SEO to rank on page 1 for that query. When the geo-modifier “miami” is added to the query the monthly search volume drops to 210. This is still a decent amount of search volume and can certainly lead to home security sales.


The interesting part of this example comes when we look at competition. Examining the number of online pages that have each of these phrases in both the title tag of the page and the anchor text of an inbound link (this metric is known as In Anchor and Title) offers a picture of the relative competition for each phrase. This data can be pulled from MajesticSEO’sKeyword Checker tool.


The In Anchor and Title data show that the business will only be competing with approximately 51 other pages for the phrase “home security miami” as opposed to 248,328 competing pages for the more generic “home security.”

A business likely will not  be able to rest on the 210 monthly searches for “home security miami.” This strategy, however, can be implemented at scale. Building geo-targeted content on the site for multiple geographic areas that the business can service provides the opportunity for several page 1 rankings within a specific budget.

Marketers should start by optimizing for the geographic areas that have the highest demand for the specific product or service that is being sold and working down from there. This can be identified by looking at the location report in Google Analytics to see where the majority of existing customers are coming from. You can also use keyword suggestion tools, such asGoogle’s Keyword Tool or Wordtracker, to see the search demand of various geo-modified phrases.

Local Search

If the small business has physical locations that consumers can visit, local search is an absolute must. Local search campaigns are ideal for capturing consumers searching on mobile devices because they can get directions and call the business with a simple click. There is no excuse for any local business to not have an optimized presence in local search engines, particularly within the major ones (Google +, Yahoo Local, Bing Local).

By creating and optimizing listings in local search engines, small business can get a great deal of search engine presence with a limited budget while increasing their rankings within aspecific region.

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WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.