Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can mean many different things to many different people. But in a nutshell, it’s the process of making your website more attractive to the search engines (most people just think of Google) in return for higher rankings.

A brief history of SEO

Up until around 2008, SEO was pretty easy.

You’d have a website which you plastered with keywords, blast a load of very low-quality links towards it, and chances are you’d probably rank quite highly.

In the late 90’s to mid 00’s, it was even easier than this. Keyword spam on a website would do the trick rather nicely.

People who knew about this made A LOT of money, whether it was through affiliate links or selling this as a service.

But Google got fed up with us.

Enter the panda..and the penguin

So between 2008-2012, Google started to release large and significant updates to it’s algorithm and made it much more difficult to rank solely off the back of keyword stuffing, low-quality (often duplicate) content and spammy links.

The golden-age of get-rich-quick SEO was and still is dead.

What is SEO in 2020 and how does it impact the cost of it?

SEO in 2019 means content. Lots and lots of high quality, high value and well laid out content. It’s not so different to how it’s been over the last seven years, it’s just now more important than ever due to Hummingbird and RankBrain.

Not to mention the other 200-odd ranking factors that are used to determine the quality and value that your website provides.

And therein lies the most important two words.

Quality and value.

From quality content and quality websites, to quality customer reviews and quality links. There are no shortcuts and no quick fixes.

It requires hard work. It’s joining all of your online dots. It’s about providing value.

If you can do that, chances are that you’ll be rewarded for it.

If you’re a business owner, marketing manager or even working on your own little side-hustle outside of work, how exactly do you find the time to do this?

Well, most people don’t. They usually get someone else to do it. And of course it needs to be paid for.

So what does SEO cost in 2020?

What you pay for SEO largely depends on what work work is going to be carried out and at what frequency. We’ve seen the various elements that contribute to good, sustainable SEO, so if you’re going to pay for it, you should expect a large amount of your marketing budget to be spent on it.

There are still SEO companies out there now charging below £100 for these services. But in an industry which is worth around £60bn in the U.S. alone, what do you really think you’re going to get for that price?

Not a lot given the amount of ongoing work that needs to be done to meet Google’s requirements. In reality, you’d be lucky to get a good quality blog post written for that much.

Costs will vary from agency to agency, but as a very rough guide, in the UK you should be expecting to pay around £70 an hour as a starting point. But this isn’t really a good way of measuring the cost of SEO.

Some of the more non-priority tasks might take longer than priority ones, so in terms of value and effectiveness, paying by the hour isn’t the way forward unless the project requires it.

Most SEO work is carried out on a monthly basis for a set amount.

This could range from anything from £100 up to £10,000 per month, generally speaking. But going back to the hourly rate, if you’re paying anything under £500, then you can only really expect to receive a few hours worth of work.

But again, it all depends on the agency, their business model and the type of SEO tasks that are being carried out.


Jack Alexander
Jack Alexander

Experienced digital marketer and ecommerce manager. Specialisms include SEO, CRO and Lead Gen.

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