How much should you budget for SEO services?

How much does SEO cost?

Person looking confused

The real answer is “how long is a piece of string” but you don’t want to hear that, you want to nail down your costs so that you can shop around and get the best deal for your business – note that I did not say “cheapest”The first problem is that every SEO requirement is different, there are many variables that impact on the amount of work required and here’s a small selection;

  • How up to date is your website?
  • How SEO “friendly” is your web design?
  • How fast do you need SEO to take effect?
  • How does your site compare to the competition?
  • How many competitors do you have?
  • How well optimised are their sites?
  • What’s their likely budget?
Good, Cheap, Fast. Yoou can have any 2 but not all 3

This latter is not about understanding their absolute spend, more about an overview based on the simple fact that the larger the competitor the more likely that they will have a greater budget than you.Looking at the Quality, Fast, Cheap Venn, you’ll see that you can have

  • Cheap & Fast
  • Fast & Good
  • Cheap & Good

but you can’t have Cheap, Fast AND Good, it’s just not possibleIn reality, it’s not about how “good” your SEO is, it just has to be better than the competition. I’ve worked with a couple of businesses where the competition was clueless about SEO so it was a relatively simple task to push them higher in the rankings but most businesses these days are aware of SEO so the task is tougher.

Expectations & Reality

A recent survey reported that less than half of all small businesses have an SEO budget. Of those with one the majority (71 percent) spent less than £100/month. That’s right – 71 percent of small businesses budget £0 – £99/month for SEO.

This is further supported by the inquiries I receive from prospective clients. Here’s the breakdown for a pretty typical quarter in 2017

Monthly SEO enquiries/budget

This is why your in-box is spammed with promises of “guaranteed first-page results” for £99. SEO spammers know the market. Their promise of first page results is hard to resist and, in my experience, most business owners have no idea how SEO works, they are far too busy running their businesses to spend time learning SEO and so may very well opt for the least expensive quote.

Most businesses are process driven, to get from A to B you follow certain process to get there. A lot of people assume SEO works in a similar way, they tend to treat it as a commodity and, as a consequence select their SEO on price, frequently choosing the least expensive [cheapest]

The Cost of Cheap SEO

I’ve been doing SEO since 2001 and over the years I been a member of many internet marketing groups on Linkedin and I never cease to be amazed by the number of people with a little knowledge who pose as SEO professionals and take on clients. How do I know they lack experience? It’s questions like “I have just taken on a client that wants to rank for “keyword x” – how do I do it?” that tends to give the game away.

A close second to asking “how” is the use of link schemes, specifically private blog networks (PBNs), without ever explaining the risk to clients. If you were to simply throw your money away by hiring an incompetent to carry out your SEO that would be bad enough.

The problem is that the damage does not stop at the waste of money – it’s far more serious than that. The damage that someone who does not know what they are doing can go much deeper. It could attract a Google penalty and virtually wipe out a website’s visibility on the web.

As a consequence, even if you don’t choose EOMS to conduct your SEO I would encourage you to insist on using tactics that comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines, as I do.

Managing Your Resources

With Google using more than 200 ranking factors it’s easy to become intimidated and paralysed. However, there are some key areas that, if properly managed, will go along way towards great SEO results. Your site should 

  • be easily accessible to search engines.
  • follow Google Webmaster Guidelines for SEO best practices.
  • perform quickly (pages opening in 3 seconds or faster).
  • work well on all devices, mobile, tablet, and desktop.
  • feature content that is unique,interesting and of value
  • have regular fresh content added

Set Goals

As with everything in business, Goals are good. They help focus the mind and ensure that everybody knows what’s expected.

When setting goals, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Your goals need to be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic – Stretch goals are fine, but pie in the sky benchmarks can actually work as a disincentive.
  • Timed – You need to give the campaign time to workAccording to Google, “in most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”

At one time, success was measured solely by where your website would be featured on the Search Results Pages. While this remains an important metric, it’s no longer the most important metric. The most important are those that deliver real value, such as:

  • Improving organic sessions by x percent.
  • Increasing conversions by y per month.
  • Increasing revenues by z percent.

Developing an SEO Budget

And here we get to the nub of the matter. Your goals will define the strategy required needed to succeed. This will then provide the information required to develop an action/implementation plan which defines the work required and, consequently, the budget necessary to achieve the desired goals.

Remember though, that the budget needs to take account of the time to properly plan, implement and tweak a campaign in order to evaluate its success.

That said, the right budget is one you can afford, without losing sleep, for a minimum of four (and ideally 12) months and the lower the budget, the longer the journey

How much should you spend on your SEO?

Well, £99/month just isn’t enough to do it properly. If you are hiring an SEO company expect to pay from £200-300 per month.

If you can’t afford to retain a top level SEO, there are some options. The most common being a one-time website SEO audit with actionable recommendations that you could implement yourself.

Just fixing your website will often lead to a meaningful boost in organic traffic. Content development and keyword analysis are other areas where you can get help from a pro for a one time fixed rate. Another option is to become an expert and do it yourself.

SEO Cost Calculator: Measuring Organic Search (SEO) ROI

Best Widget Ever - ROI calculator

Above is a calculator commonly used (incorrectly) for measuring return on investment for SEO.

Of course, the above calculation has a major flaw, it fails to take into consideration the lifetime value of a new customer.

Online businesses need repeat orders/sales in order to grow. By not calculating the lifetime value of a new customer the true ROI is grossly understated.

The right way to calculate ROI is to build lifetime value into the calculator as seen here:

SEO Return on investment table incorporating lifetime value

The Takeaway

Unlike Pay Per Click – (Google/Bing Ads etc) an organic search campaign won’t yield immediate results and, even when executed to perfection, it takes time for Google to recognise and reward these efforts.

That said, the traffic earned from these efforts is often the most consistent and best converting among all channels.

And if you need help with your SEO then please get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or send an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, obligation free chat about your SEO and/or anything else to do with your website and digital footprint

How much is a Page 1 result in Google actually worth?

Elements of Search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need their site to be found higher up in the Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached) consultants offering to this but have baulked at the fees.

Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty easy to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet many still believe that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

If you’re confused by the SEO jargon, have a look at my SEO Glossary of Terms for clarification.

Is this possible and what’s the real value of good SEO?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the UK about 85% of the population use the internet. With a population of 65.64m (Worldometers) and this equates to around 56m individuals who are online. Of these, 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for, that’s about 45m people and at least 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice, 42.75m people.

Now, let me ask the question “how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?”

TV Advertising

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing.

According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £201,000.

Clock - how much does a 30 second TV ad costThen there is the cost of your slot. This will vary based on a number of factors

  • your target channel
  • whether you want a regional or national ad
  • the time of day, the product to be advertised
  • the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted
  • etc

So, putting your ad on screen at peak viewing, 9pm, is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower

As a very rough guide, an evening slot on ITV will cost around between £60,000 and £75,000 and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

However if you want your ad to go during something like the X-Factor then a 30 second slot cost will set you back a cool £200,000.

Radio and Print Advertising

So, you may look at radio or the print media, both of which have lower costs (production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a one-off and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

What’s next and a Shameless Plug

Are you happy with the place your site has reached in Google? If not, get in touch today – call me on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

My SEO rates start at £150.00 + VAT per month, peanuts compared to TV, radio and most forms of print advertising.

OK Google, get ready for Voice Search

The reality is that your Android Phone, Google Home, Windows 10/X-Box, Apple iDevice, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Echo are always listening, it’s just the command that alerts them that an instruction is incoming.

And because phone keyboards are harder to use than those of their desktop/laptop cousins more and more people turning to voice control and voice search purely for ease and convenience.

As a consequence, it’s vitally important that you understand what you need to do to make sure that your site is easy to find – even when the search is through voice recognition.

Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence

Google Home with "OK Google"Google, in particular, is using artificial intelligence to better understand our spoken instructions and to encourage more conversational searches, such as “Where can I get my Jeep serviced” rather than a more traditional desktop search “Jeep servicing Bristol”.

According to Google, 20% of searches on Android devices are now voice searches and the number of searches continues to increase as users realise that voice recognition accuracy is improving all the time. According to KPCB Internet trends 2016 Report, the accuracy of voice recognition now exceeds 92%

Searching for local businesses

A lot of people use voice to search for local businesses, “where’s the best Pizza restaurant in Bristol” for example so, if you sell pizza in Bristol you need to ensure that your pages are optimised for “Best pizza restaurant in Bristol” and written in “natural language” (written in a similar way to the way you’d speak) which really helps with voice search results.

Optimising for Voice Search

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandWith traditional SEO, you’d have researched the words that people were typing when looking for your products or services and built your site optimisation around those. Now you have to get your head around the types of question that they might ask, just as if they were asking their friends, family or colleagues, as demonstrated in the above example about Pizza restaurants.

One way to start addressing this issue is to consider a dedicated Q&A page where you can pose these questions and add your answers – remembering to keep them more conversational than you’d perhaps feature elsewhere.

The pages that you have optimised for voice in this way need to feature in your Site-Map so that Google and Bing can easily find, and index, them. You do have a sitemap (sitemap.xml) don’t you?

You should even look to include microdata, schema, rich snippets and so on because these little pieces of code give the search engines even more information about your business.

Hi, I'm Cortana, ask me a questionYou’ll also need to ensure that your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business is up-to date and accurate because that’s where Google and Cortana will look for the location-specific search results. You should also check out the other business directories that have your business listed, Yell, Thomson, Yelp etc and make sure that your address details are correct. This simply ensures that there’s no ambiguity about the right address for your business.

Responsive Website Design

Don’t forget that because most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly (Responsive) then Google won’t direct people to you. You can use this free Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website.

What should I do now?

If you need further help with your site, SEO for voice search, making your site mobile friendly or anything else related to your website then you should give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And Finally, a bit of fun

If you use Google voice search and make an animal related enquiry, try adding “fun facts” to the end of your search to learn something about the animal you have been searching on.

What is “Negative SEO” and how could it affect my business?

Negative SEO

Most of us with a website are aware of the term SEO, AKA Search Engine Optimisation – the “stuff” that you have to do to, and with, your website in order to appear as high up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as possible, and ideally on Page 1.

In fact SEO forms a major part of my business – helping your business be easily found online.

What you might not be so familiar with is “Negative SEO” but you should be – Negative SEO is something that your competitors could do to your website, and the worst case scenario is that your site is deleted from Google’s database, which would make your internet presence virtually invisible.

So, what is “negative SEO”?
Backlinks leading to your websiteOne of key ways that Google judges the importance of your website, and where it appears on the SERPs, is based on the number of websites that link to your site and the quality of those originating sites that have published the links.

In a simplistic way, Google sees each link as a “vote” for your site and the more “votes” you have, the more popular your site must be and so it must be deserving of a higher position on Google’s results pages.

However, if any of these links come from sites that are of poor quality, are totally irrelevant or Google doesn’t like then Google will apply a penalty to your site.

Negative SEO hurts your rankingsA minor indiscretion could see any changes to your site ignored by Google, meaning that your site will slowly drift down the results as other businesses improve their sites.

An “intermediate” issue could see Google apply an active penalty – pushing your site down by 5 pages or more.

For something far more serious, such as buying links from a Link Farm (a website that sells nothing but links purely for the purpose of improving your search results) is likely to see your website deleted from Google – buying links in general, and buying from a Link Farm specifically are SEO tactics that Google simply hates.


How do I know whether I’ve been penalised
There are two key ways to know whether you’ve been penalised – the “Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted” method is simply the realisation that the inquiries that you had become used to receiving from your site have dwindled away to nothing, or that you can no longer find your website in the Google results – no matter how many results pages you look at.

Manual ActionsThis is too late, the smarter site owner/manager will be regularly logging in to the Google Search Console to check, among other things, the “Manual Actions” tab that can be found in the “Search Traffic” section. This is where Google will post notifications of any forthcoming penalties and also provides an opportunity for the site owner to take action and notify Google of that action

What should I be doing?
Webmaster ToolkitThe smart website owner will be regularly logging in to their Google Search Console and will be keeping an eye on the latest links report that can be found by navigating to “Search Traffic/Links to your Site”, clicking on the “More” option in the “Who links most” section and downloading the “Latest Links” to make sure that there’s nothing that they are unhappy with.

To be extra safe, they’ll also carry out a full Link Audit using the full list of sites which have back-links leading to their site, contacting any that are suspicious looking and asking for them to be removed. In Google Land it’s far far better to have fewer high quality links than loads of low quality links.

Alternatively, you can drop me an email, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020 and I’ll lift all of the worry of Negative SEO from your shoulders.

The Google “Red screen of Doom”

I had a telephone call from a former client a month or so ago. He was in a bit of a panic because we was suffering from the Google “red screen of doom”. Having been in IT for a while, I’ve been familiar with Microsoft’s “blue screen of death” but this was something that was new to me, or so I thought and so I asked for more information.

He asked me to do a search for his company on Google – which I did – and his company came top of the search results, which was good. What was less good – much less good – was the stark warning, inserted by Google, that “This site may harm your computer” .

This site may harm your computerAha, Google was warning that the website had been hacked and was now serving malware to visitors.

I switched to my Chromebook – which is impervious to all known computer malware – and clicked through to the website – only to be blocked by the “Google red screen of doom”

Google's red screen of doomAlthough there was nothing to buy on my client’s site, it did host a range of technical papers and specification sheets that were vital for his clients and this attack was already having an impact on his business. Action was desperately needed.

The site was originally built 7 years ago and nothing much had changed, including the access data required to log-in to the host. So, I logged in and saw that a number of .js files had newer dates on them than the rest of the content, confirming that the site had been hacked and a small number of files altered so that they could be used to force malware downloads on to the computers of unsuspecting visitors.

The next step was to delete all of the website files, just to be on the safe side, and create a new, simple, home page with contact details and links to the most popular PDFs so that clients would be able to access the information they required.

Next was to see what Google had found by logging in to the Google Webmaster Toolkit account for the website- www.google.com/webmaster.

There were a number of warnings relating to suspicious activity on the site that had gone unread, simply because my client had changed email addresses, was unable to access the original email account and had not updated his Webmaster Tools account with the new address.

Webmaster Tools advised of the type of threat that had been set up on the site and provided other, valuable, information along with a reporting tool that enabled me to advise Google of the actions taken to remove the threat.

Clicking “Send” was quickly followed by a confirmation message from Google that they would look at my message within 18 hours – a time frame that I thought was commendably fast. They were as good as their word and within 18 hours had checked the website to make sure it was clean and had removed all warnings and red screens of doom – my client was back up and running.

However, we didn’t leave it there. The original site was old, used old code and the web hosts weren’t the most responsive – telephone calls to their support line either went unanswered or, when answered, were as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot and so the decision was made to move the hosting to a more secure provider and to work on a plan to develop a new website.

The moral of this tale is simple. Make sure that you use the Google Webmaster Toolkit!

It’s the only way to let Google know what you’ve done should your site fall victim to an attack, keep your Toolkit account up to date and only use a web host that you know provides good security and a decent level of support.

And please don’t think that you’re immune – small businesses are the most targeted, the presumption being that their security is weaker than measures put in place by larger organisations and there are a number of websites that I keep an eye on that are attacked many times a day. However, being hosted on a secure platform with monitoring in place means that I am kept aware of the threats and can take remedial action, if required, very quickly.

To date, none has been required.

If you are worried by the security of your website, or your IT systems, please give me a call on 01793 238020 or email me, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a confidential, impartial, and free chat about your security concerns

17 other things you can do with Google

17 Ways to use GoogleWe are all familiar with Google as a search engine, in fact for most of us it’s the first place we go online when looking for something, and for many of us it’s our browser’s default home page.

But have you ever looked deeper and worked out how to make Google work harder for you?

Here’s a short list of 17 ways that you can fine tune Google and use it more effectively.

1. Use search operators
Google does a pretty good job of working out what you’re looking for, but the more specific you are the better your results will be.

Using operators does just that, so for example enclosing a phrase in quotation marks “like this” refines the search to those words included in the ” “, adding a minus sign (-) excludes that word (salsa recipe -tomatoes) and using OR gives Google a choice, eg. World Cup location 2014 or 2022.

2. Search a single site
You can restrict your search to a single website by using the site: operator, so for example if you wanted to look for Android content on TechRadar you might type – android site:techradar.com

3. Get definitions
The define: operator, as you might expect, gives you definitions, so define:search gives you the dictionary definition of search and synonyms such as hunt, look, scout and dig.

4. See what’s on
Fancy a film? “Movie times Bristol” tells you what’s on in that particular city, and if you use a specific cinema name, such as movie times Cineworld, you’ll see what’s on in that particular cinema.

5. Find similar sites
Here’s another handy operator: Related. This one helps you find pages that are similar to one you already know about, so for example related:techradar.com tells you about sites related to Tech Radar..

6. Do sums and currency conversions
You probably already know that Google will carry out sums if you type them in the search box  “4*15” gives you 60, 2*2*3*4 gives you 48 but it can also convert units and currencies. Convert 200 USD to £ converts dollars to pounds, and you can also convert measurements such as distance, weight and temperature.

7. Get nutritional information
Some food-related searches will display nutritional information, so looking for chocolate cake will display the calories, nutrients, vitamins and fat in a typical recipe.

Where it gets clever is when you tell Google to compare things, such as compare apples and oranges or compare bacon and tofu.

8. Get essential info, fast
You can quickly check details on Google. Type weather and you’ll see the current conditions and a seven-day forecast; add the name of a town to get the weather report from a different location.

Type flight BA1491 to see the status of a flight, time New York to see the local time in that location, sunrise London to see when the sun’s coming up or GOOG to see Google’s stock information.

9. Search by location
If you type a generic term such as “Italian restaurant”, Google will show you results in and around your current location along with a map showing where they are. If you’d rather be more specific, enter the postal code at the end of your query.

10. Use your voice
If you’re using Chrome, Android or the Google iOS app, you can search by voice: press or click on the microphone icon and tell Google what you’re looking for, provided you have a microphone plugged in of course.

If you have an Android phone running the latest version all you have to do is say “OK Google” and you can dictate your search, or other commands,  directly.

11. Filter your image search
Image search often throws up seemingly unrelated pictures, so filter your searches. Some terms produce all kinds of search results, so for example an image search for “heather” brings you plants, Heather Graham and Heather from EastEnders.

Google will offer to filter those results for you so, for example, our search for heather gives us the options “plant”, “flower”, “Eastenders”, “scottish” and so on.

You can use the Search Tools button to filter by size, colour, type,  such as photos of people or illustrations, time and whether you can use the photos without payment.

Remember your operators too: heather -graham produces a screen full of Heathers but no Heather Graham.

Finally, if you drag an image to the Google search box it will search for similar images

12. Filter your web search
If you click on Search Tools you’ll see four filtering options: The country, so for example in the UK you can search anywhere or limit your results to UK websites; the date and/or time of publication, ranging from the last hour to the last year; by reading level; and whether Google should use your current location.

13. Find out what links to what
It’s easy to discover who’s linking to your site, or to any other page you want to know about: Just use the link: operator, link:awebsite.com tells you who’s linking to that site.

14. Find specific files
The filetype: operator enables you to search for specific kinds of file, such as Word documents or PDFs. Google indexes most things, so it’s just a matter of dropping the dot from the file extension and searching for filetype:xml, filetype:svg or filetype:cs. It’s important to note that Google only searches for the file extension, so an XML document that isn’t saved with the .xml extension won’t show up in a filetype:xml search.

15. Translate from one language to another
Now you can quickly offer flowery insults in any language. Need to translate something in a hurry? Just type translate language A language B (where language A is the language you’re translating from and language B the language you’re translating to) and you’ll see a big friendly translator at the top of the page.

16. See what others are searching for
Google Trends shows you what others in your country are searching for, with occasionally puzzling results: at the time of writing the UK is interested in Boris Johnson, FIFA 15 and Vitamin D. Google even provides a screensaver that shows you real-time searches – presumably with filtering to screen out the scary stuff.

17. Uncover Easter eggs
Travel in style, or at least pretend to with Google Maps. If you search for Google in 1998 you’ll see Google as it was when it first launched. It’s not the only Google Easter egg: searching “do the harlem shake” in YouTube makes the screen dance while “do a barrel roll” will spin the screen around. In maps, getting directions from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle in Scotland enables you to travel by Loch Ness Monster.