Just as there are multiple packages to service and clean your car or manage your financial planning, so are there multiple approaches to SEO Packages service levels and inclusions.
With so many SEO agencies offering packages at different service and price levels, it can be difficult to know which company to use. Some SEO Consultants will offer out of the box solutions and others will create tailored and customised applications.
Based on our over 15 years of providing SEO Packages and custom SEO Services, here is an overview of SEO Packages, the inclusions you should expect and our insider tips for things you should be on the lookout for.
The 3 Primary SEO Drivers
Having down your homework you will have discovered that SEO success comes from maximising:
- Links – quality and quantity
- Content – unique expert standard text
- Website technical SEO friendliness – code and data
But few will have shared with you the relative importance of each of these components:
- Links – quality and quantity – 60.0%
- Content – unique expert standard text – 35.0%
- Website technical SEO friendliness – code and data – 5.0%
Which interestingly is the almost exact opposite of the way that these elements are prioritised in SEO Packages. Why? Because to the newbies, lots of jibber jabber about code and XML sitemaps and canonical tags sounds impressive and looks like a lot of work – but it is “make work”, with marginal benefit – Google is pretty good at finding content regardless of how good or crappy your website infrastructure is.
- Building links from high quality, authority, relevant, on-theme pages to your pages is the number one task. Period. And should be the primary task of any SEO service, be it an SEO Package or a custom SEO consultancy.
- Crafting quality content is the next most important element – original, trustworthy, expert content that demonstrates your leading knowledge in that particular subject matter.
- And as for your website’s technical infrastructure? It’s fine. Really. An hour a month is all you will need for a good SEO consultant check and tweak as required.
So, what is an SEO Package?
An SEO Package is simply where several SEO Services are bundled together into a cost-effective and time-effective approach to optimising your website.
SEO Packages are usually based on a fixed monthly fee, sometimes for a minimum contracted period, but more commonly today these are month-to-month agreements.
What is included in an SEO Package?
Clearly SEO Packages vary from one provider to another, but as a minimum should include the following elements; beware of long lists of inclusions and take a reality check. If there are 150 items in the list and your monthly fee is $500, how likely is it that these 150 items will either a) be completed at all or b) be completed with a quality outcome in mind.
Sometimes wrongly called an SEO Audit, this element typically includes a desk top review of the current status of your website. It sets the scene for task prioritisation amongst the inclusions in your SEO Package.
An SEO Audit is a much more comprehensive analysis of your website, your competition, Search Engine visibility and if required would normally be conducted separate to any ongoing monthly SEO Package.
Keyword research is an essential component of SEO packages and integral to the success of your SEO campaign.
Normally there are a set number of keywords that an agency will target – this will usually depend on the level of package you have bought. SEO consultants will use a variety of methods to obtain what they believe are the best keywords to drive traffic to your website. This may include some or all of the following:
- using research tools
- analysing Google Analytics
- analysing competitor’s keywords
- surveying customers/clients/suppliers
- reviewing language used on relevant social media sites
Unless you operate in a high tech or bio segment, your targeted keywords will not change significantly from to month. This task should be conducted in detail at the beginning, and then revisited every six months for a quick sanity check.
And unless your website or target market is particularly complex, keyword research should take no more than a few hours twice a year.
External Inbound Linking
If you are considering an SEO Package, then we can safely assume that you have discovered the importance of another website linking to your website (if not then you should check out this article).
The off-page optimisation for your website is critical to boosting your Search Engine rankings. Google sees a backlink or citation (web reference) from quality websites as a ‘vote’ or ‘validation’ for your website and they will rate your page being linked to or referenced more positively. A full-service agency may offer link building as part of a standard SEO package. This may include some or all of the following:
- analysing your current link profile
- analysing competitor’s link profiles
- submitting your website to relevant, quality websites offering content that they will like to link to – known as link outreach
- social bookmarking and networking
- writing guest blog posts
On Site Page Optimization
Whilst Link Building should be at the top of your list of SEO priorities, you won’t gain the traction you desire without ensuring that what is on your pages fulfils the expectations of your website visitors, and by implication, the expectations of the Search Engines.
Existing Content Optimization & SEO Copy Writing
SEO copywriting is another service that may also be included in SEO packages if an SEO expert believes pages need to be added to your site or rewritten. Writing optimised copy for the web is an acquired skill. Keywords need to be inserted naturally, seamlessly and strategically throughout the body copy. It should strike a balance between being engaging for readers but also telling Search Engine spiders what your copy is all about.
New Content Optimization
For a variety of reasons, SEO and in general, your website should be publishing new quality content regularly, at least once a month and more frequently for highly competitive market segments.
Whilst a link from within your website from one page to another is perceived somewhat differently to a link from an external page, it is still a link and has some value in passing link value throughout your website. A quality SEO company will usually include and internal linking strategy as part of their ongoing content optimization element of your SEO Package.
The discipline of preparing, presenting and reviewing your SEO Package performance is an essential component of an SEO Package and you should expect to not only receive a monthly report, on time, but you should also expect to schedule a discussion to review the outcomes and refine the objectives.
At a minimum you should receive a report that includes:
- Ranking for your keywords
- Backlinks summary of all links and especially new links
- Organic traffic
These should be for the immediate month prior and compare the to preceding month, and if data is available, should also include a comparison to the same time in the prior year.
SEO Package Prices
We’re going to try not to dance around this subject and provide you with our insider knowledge as to what sort of investment you should be making for an SEO Package.
Typically, each SEO Company will offer a three-tier pricing structure – let’s call them Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Many SEO Packages are based on the number of keyword phrases that they are targeting, which is broadly appropriate and relative to effort. Don’t be drawn in by larger keyword number inclusion – just about every segment we ever worked on ourselves has about 10 “core” keywords, 20 more “primary” keywords and a further 20 “secondary” keywords. More than that and either the SEO company is stretching itself to thin or they are exaggerating their efforts.
The SEO Package formula
To help you, here is how a quality SEO Company reverse engineers their SEO Packages.
A good SEO consultant based in a developed country earns about $100,000 a year or $50 an hour. Payroll costs are about 40% of operating costs, overheads about 35% and profit margin about 25%.
Based on the above, an SEO company has to charge about $125 an hour for their billable hours.
Now, divide the SEO Package price you are contemplating by $125 and you get the number of man hours available to compete the SEO activities included in your SEO Package. Now you have a benchmark to enable you to see what can reasonably be achieved.
If your SEO Package fee is $1000 per month, then expect about 8 hours of work. At $2500 per month expect 20 hours of work and so on.
And what about SEO Packages fulfilled in popular outsourcing countries such as India, the Philippines or Thailand? Well, it’s possible that equally good results can be delivered from this type of location; in our opinion it’s not impossible, it’s just much less likely.
This will be an unpopular statement.
SEO Packages – Two Key Benchmarks
When considering an SEO Package, we strongly recommend that you consider two other important benchmarks.
- Return Of Investment – how many directly attributable, incremental sales must your company make to cover the cost of your SEO Package. If you are paying $2500 a month for and SEO package and your unit sales price is $100, will you be easily able to make 25 new sales per month? This is your short-term measure.
- Return On Investment – what is your customer acquisition margin? Let’s say that you are prepared to invest 10% of your revenues in sales, marketing and customer acquisition costs. Using the same data as above, can you expect to generate $25,000 in directly attributable, incremental sales from your SEO Package. This should be your long-term measure.
We hear a lot about it taking 6 months or so to start gaining SEO traction with the Search Engines.
Whilst it does take a few weeks for the early changes to start having an effect, if you are not seeing some green shoots by week 8 then you have chosen the wrong provider. Do not expect to get to page 1 for your core keywords in 2 months, but do expect to see movement from invisible to being on page 4 or 5 (nobody except SEO companies look at page 4+), or from being on page 5 to page 3 (still nobody looks at pages 3).
You should budget for a minimum 6 month commitment (but don’t sign a contract for 6 months), and up to 12 months, but you should not be waiting until month 5 or 11 to see movement.
What To Look Out For
Like just about every industry, there are the good guys and the charlatans and snake oil sales people, and the world of SEO is no different. There are few barriers to entry to hanging up an SEO Company shingle and there are no formal qualifications from Bing College or Google University.
Check out our How To Choose An SEO Company article for more specific details but here is a summary of things you should take into consideration when looking at SEO Packages and providers:
- Inflated activity – things like Google Analytics installation, Google Search Console installation, conversion tracking set up take about 5 minutes to complete and are a once off activity
- Technical Audits – as mentioned earlier, the Search Engine are pretty good at finding and indexing web pages – a high level technical review takes about an hour for most websites – if you need an SEO Audit you typically have a large, complex site with thousands of pages and tough competition
- Fixing technical SEO issues – put these to the bottom of the list
- Light or no mention of link building – if this is not the number one priority, run away
- Link Building – if they do indeed talk about link building, ensure there is transparency, see what sites they intend to link from beforehand – be worried when they talk about exclusive relationships with groups or websites
- Proprietary solutions with cool sounding names – if it sounds like b******t, it usually is
- Lump Sum Up Front Fees – do not pay in advance. Period.
- Google Certification – Google does not certify SEO companies, Google only certifies Paid Search companies and SEO companies that refer to Google Partner Certification are breaking their Partner rules
- Minimum contract periods – many SEO Packages require minimum contract periods – don’t.
- Blending SEO and PPC – some SEO packages include Paid Search in combination with organic SEO – don’t
- Custom SEO Solutions – if you have a large site with 1,000’s of pages, an ecommerce site or a CMS that is not mainstream, you may well need a custom SEO consultancy
SEO Packages represent a mutually beneficial platform for SEO Companies and potential clients. A fixed range of SEO Services for a fixed price seems like a good deal, and usually is. Just make sure that you are clear on the inclusions, quality of workmanship, by who and over what time period should you expect results.
And if you still need advice, our Best SEO Company Lists are a great place to start, and we are always here to help you choose the best SEO Company for your needs.
Why do we publish our Best SEO Company lists?
For more that 15 years seoWorks was itself a Top SEO Company, providing Custom SEO Services and SEO Packages to clients around the world, from Enterprise Corporations through to Small Businesses…and we did it well.
So, why did we change?
Simple really. SEO has become a huge business, so we could have continued as a successful premium boutique SEO firm. But, in reality, we simply heard one too many tales of woe from unhappy clients who had unwittingly made the wrong choice before coming to us.
And we decided to do something about it.
To use our 15 plus years of experience and expertise to provide companies such as yours with definitive, transparent guides to the Best SEO Company in your city or country. Discover more about how we rank SEO companies and how we deliver Best SEO Company lists that you can trust. And if you still feel that you need advice, explore how we can help you here.