Why does search engine optimisation cost what it does?

Not engaging Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) may cost more than you think.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the key for businesses aiming to improve their online visibility. In mere mortal terms, SEO involves optimising a website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), driving organic traffic, and helping to increase inbound sales and brand awareness. Given the complexity and ever-changing nature of SEO, plus the important benefits it provides in our growing internet-driven world, it's crucial to understand why the art and science of good SEO are worthy business investments.

Why does Search Engine Optimisation in Adelaide “seem” expensive?

The cost of SEO often raises a suspicious eyebrow from business owners who consider it, with some quickly forming the opinion that this is another company trying to take their money. To be fair, this is a reasonable reaction and often occurs because business owners are unfamiliar with what is involved and the results that can be achieved with SEO. However, considering the extensive effort, specialised skills, and deep industry experience required to achieve and maintain high search engine rankings, the investment can be justified and should be included in all marketing budgets.

It takes time to work

SEO is not a sprint but a marathon, demanding continuous commitment and patience. Effective SEO takes time to produce noticeable results, particularly for new websites starting from scratch. SEO is a long-term strategy encompassing various stages. It begins with extensive research and planning to understand the target audience, relevant keywords, and the competitive landscape.

Content planning and creation are pivotal, necessitating regular production of high-quality, engaging, and informative articles and blog posts. This helps build a body of work that informs Google that your site is an authority in your industry. Selecting and optimising images for faster load times and relevance enhances user experience and SEO performance.

Effective SEO often necessitates technical adjustments to the website to improve its search engine rankings. This may include changes to the site architecture, improving website speed, implementing structured data or schema markup, and optimising for mobile devices. These website development changes are essential for better performance and ranking, but can be time-consuming and technically demanding.

SEO is essentially competitive and requires optimising your website, regularly monitoring competitors’ sites, and adapting strategies to stay ahead.

Another major factor contributing to the time it takes for SEO to be effective is the ever-evolving nature of Google's algorithms. These updates, often released without prior notice (aka WARNING), can significantly impact website rankings. SEO professionals must assess the nature of these changes and adjust their strategies accordingly (often requiring ongoing monitoring and assessment).

Skills required for effective SEO

With the ever-changing Google algorithms and increasing competition, it is helpful to have a search engine optimisation Adelaide expert who can keep up with the latest trends and techniques to ensure that your website ranks high in search engine results. Effective SEO requires a unique set of skills for continual improvement, including;

  1. Critical Thinking: SEO requires strategic planning and the ability to creatively anticipate and solve complex problems.
  2. Data Management: Managing large amounts of data, including keywords, content, and backlinks, is essential. This involves organising, analysing, and utilising data effectively.
  3. Research Abilities: Conducting thorough research on keywords, industry trends, and competitor strategies is fundamental to developing an effective SEO plan.
  4. SEO Copywriting: A critical component of SEO is creating high-quality, engaging content that attracts and retains visitors. This requires excellent copywriting and content marketing skills.
  5. Coding and Programming: Technical SEO often involves some coding and programming skills to implement changes that improve site performance and usability.
  6. Data Analysis & Interpretation: Analysing data to interpret trends and measure the effectiveness of SEO strategies is vital for continuous improvement.
One of our SEO team in action

The value of years of experience in SEO

The value of experience in effective SEO is particularly evident when navigating the impact of Google's frequent algorithm updates. Over many years there have been many major updates and a flood of minor ones. The SEO industry often names the major Google updates, and updates like Panda, Penguin, and more recent ones such as BERT and Core Web Vitals have significantly influenced search engine rankings.

The Panda update, introduced in 2011, focused on content quality, penalising sites with thin or duplicate content. This required SEO professionals to understand content strategy and quality assessment in depth. 

The Penguin update 2012 targeted sites with unnatural backlink profiles, emphasising the need for link-building practices and penalty recovery expertise.

More recent updates, such as BERT in 2019, which enhanced Google's understanding of natural language, and Core Web Vitals in 2021, which prioritised user experience metrics like site speed, interactivity, and visual stability, further emphasise the importance of technical and analytical skills in SEO.

Experienced SEO professionals have the knowledge to unravel the effects of these updates and know how to respond effectively. They can quickly diagnose drops in rankings, identify which aspects of an update are impacting their sites, and implement strategic changes to mitigate negative effects or capitalise on new ranking opportunities. Their historical knowledge of previous updates allows them to anticipate potential impacts and prepare accordingly, ensuring sustained performance despite the shifting online landscape.

Comparing SEO to other marketing

Search engine optimisation in Adelaide offers the best bang-for-buck marketing compared to other options like paid advertising on various platforms and traditional marketing strategies for several reasons:

  1. Cost-Effective: Studies have shown that SEO delivers more qualified leads at a lower cost per lead than any other marketing strategy. By increasing online visibility, SEO organically provides higher-quality inbound traffic to websites.
  2. Higher Credibility and Trust: Users tend to trust organic search results more than paid ads, perceiving them as more credible and unbiased. This higher trust can lead to better click-through and conversion rates.
  3. Targeted and Qualified Traffic: SEO targets users actively searching for products or services related to your business, delivering highly qualified and relevant traffic.
  4. Insights and Data: SEO can provide valuable insights into user behaviour, search trends, and content performance, which can inform broader marketing strategies and product development.

While most forms of advertising can deliver results, SEO offers a more cost-effective, sustainable, and credible way to drive targeted traffic and achieve lasting growth for businesses of all sizes. While there is usually some crossover between marketing channel advertising, paid search engine advertising (such as Google Ads) represents an often-distinct channel from organic rankings generated by SEO.

Why outsourcing to an SEO agency in Adelaide is a smart investment for businesses

Outsourcing SEO combines the expertise of specialised professionals with cost-effective strategies to boost online visibility and drive organic traffic. Some business owners may initially perceive hiring an SEO agency as an expensive endeavour; however, the reality is that outsourcing is usually more economical than managing SEO in-house for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of Expertise: Many businesses lack the in-house expertise to execute effective SEO strategies.
  2. Lack of Resources: SEO requires significant resources, including tools, personnel, and time.
  3. More Cost-Effective: The cost of expertise is not cheap in the SEO industry. However, hiring an SEO agency is still more cost-effective than building an in-house team, as often the need is not full time and there are additional overheads, including hiring and onboarding, training, and continuous professional development.
  4. Lack of Results: Businesses that attempt SEO without sufficient knowledge or resources often see limited results, which can cost them more in the long run.
  5. Lack of Time: Most business owners and staff may not have the time to dedicate to SEO, necessitating the delegation of this task to specialists in SEO.
Benefits of seo agency adelaide outsourcing
Outsourcing SEO means seeing results faster

Cost variations in SEO packages

The cost of your SEO endeavours can vary widely based on many factors. Understanding these reasons clarifies what you are investing in and will help you make informed decisions when allocating some of your marketing budget to SEO. Factors Influencing SEO pricing and the SEO package required include:

Website Size and Number of Pages

The larger the website (number of pages), often means the higher the SEO package that is needed. Initially optimising a small website with fewer pages requires less effort than optimising a large e-commerce site with hundreds or thousands of pages. The scale and complexity of the website directly impact the amount of work required.

Current State of the Website

If the website has existing technical issues, penalties from Google algorithm updates, or requires redevelopment, additional optimisation work is necessary, and a higher SEO package would be recommended.

Competition Level

More extensive SEO work is needed to outrank competitors and achieve higher rankings if the business operates in a highly competitive industry or niche. Highly competitive keywords and markets demand more aggressive and resource-intensive SEO tactics, increasing costs.

Service Model

The type of service model will impact costs. Annual contracts, monthly retainers, project-based, or hourly pricing models, are all service models.


Simply put; what is in the package will affect the price. Comprehensive packages that include extensive keyword research, on-page optimisation, content creation, link building, and regular performance reporting, typically cost more due to the scope and depth of services provided. More advanced SEO packages often include more in-depth analyses and inclusions useful for medium and larger-sized businesses tackling segmented markets. Basic packages with limited services are more affordable but may not deliver the same results.

Link Acquisition and Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO efforts, such as content promotion and building high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites, are crucial for rankings but time-consuming.

Agency vs. Freelancer

Hiring an experienced SEO agency with a team of experts is generally more expensive than working with a freelancer, but agencies often provide more comprehensive and effective services and keep those services “on-shore.”

Location and Service Area

Targeting local, regional, national, or global markets impacts the scope of the SEO campaign and associated costs. Optimising for multiple locations or languages increases complexity and pricing.

Understanding your SEO investment

Your SEO agency in Adelaide or service provider can help build trust with you by giving you a “peek behind the curtain,” setting clear expectations and demonstrating the value of SEO services through a transparent and ethical pricing model. 

Clearly Defined Services and Deliverables

Your SEO agency should be upfront and specific about what is included in each pricing package or service offering. They should provide a detailed breakdown of the tasks, activities, and deliverables that clients can expect, leaving no room for ambiguity or misunderstandings. Often, commercial packages exclude or limit the scope of their SEO offering.

Also, make sure what your SEO agency recommends you rank for is relevant to your business; there is no point in ranking first for “purple monkey dishwasher” if you do not sell purple dishwashing monkeys! There is also no point in ranking for keywords no one is looking for.

Explain Pricing Factors

Your SEO agency should educate you on the various factors that influence the SEO quote, such as website size, competition level, scope of work, agency expertise, and location. This transparency helps you understand why prices may vary and what you are paying for.

Choosing an SEO package that matches the scope of what you are trying to achieve is important. However, it is also worth noting that some packages that are not limited in scope (but by time) can still achieve your desired results, but at a slower pace.

Understanding search engine optimisation adelaide costs

SEO providers

Obviously, choosing the right SEO provider is an important cost decision for any business aiming to improve its online presence. Just like in any other industry, there are cowboys in SEO who promise the world and deliver little, as well as SEO professors who have the knowledge and data to back up their Jedi Master status. Some providers come in swinging solo, whereas others have a team to back up a multi-pronged strategy. As a business owner, you are not stuck for choice, but making the right choice could mean the difference between money-in-the-door vs money-out-the-door.

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

Red Adair

Types of SEO Service Providers

SEO service providers come in various forms, including agencies, freelancers, and consultants, each touting advantages based on business needs and objectives.

SEO agencies typically provide comprehensive SEO services with dedicated teams handling different aspects of SEO, from strategy development to implementation and ongoing management. They offer scalability and diverse expertise.

SEO freelancers can offer flexibility and personalised attention. They often specialise in certain SEO areas like content creation or technical SEO. However, most lack an SEO agency's resources and often take shortcuts by engaging less knowledgeable, offshore 3rd parties.

SEO consultants can provide expert advice and strategy planning, often working alongside in-house teams and agency teams. They are ideal for large corporations in complex or competitive markets looking to optimise their existing SEO efforts or tackle specific challenges.

How to Choose the Right SEO Provider

Knowing how to choose the right SEO provider can be daunting but it is key for businesses aiming to enhance their online presence effectively. Sometimes, client industry experience can be an advantage, and other times, not so much. It really depends on your industry and specific circumstances. It is better to look for transferrable industry experience, such as providers adept at applying successful strategies across different industry sectors and showcasing adaptability.

So, are you ready for SEO?

SEO is a complex and multifaceted discipline that requires time, skills, and experience. The cost of SEO reflects the extensive work involved, the expertise required, and the long-term benefits it provides. By partnering with Quisk professional SEO services, your business can achieve sustainable growth, improved visibility, and a stronger online presence.


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