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Is SEO Really Free?

Search Engine Optimization Can Cost You…

I’m often asked by companies how much they should be spending on search engine optimization. As you can imagine, the answer to such a question depends on a large number of factors. An SEO budget could be based on the number of web properties you’re managing, how much work there is to do, and who will be doing the work for you.

Despite popular belief, search engine optimization is not free. Many times, individuals try to compare SEO to pay-per-click or search engine marketing, but the two are very dissimilar. Many of the costs associated with search engine optimization are involved in labor, site development, and acquisition of in-bound links. Unlike PPC, search engine optimization does not work on a pay-per-click basis.

The costs associated with SEO begin with an expert analysis of your existing websites and web pages. Additional costs are related to competitive and keyword analysis. Many web site owners consider doing these types of activities on their own. In many instances they can, however they will need tools to do so. These resources aren’t free because they solve a need. When thinking about a do-it-yourself type commitment, you often spend valuable time – which has a monetary value, and money paying for helpful online tools and resources.

Don’t underestimate the value of your time or the time that others are spending on search engine optimization related tasks. You should determine the costs of these activities in order to truly realize and manage your expense. Often times, you can hire a resource for much less per hour than you’re spending to do the necessary tasks of keyword research, competitive analysis, or link building.

Once you have completed a thorough review of your web site, completed the necessary analysis, and have determined the keywords you are going to optimize for, the true work begins. And this work can be very costly. Again, you have to consider the time you are spending on SEO related activities and how much it’s costing you by not focusing on other, more challenging opportunities. The process of link building is an arduous one and can be outsourced to expedite the process or simply lower costs.

Online tools can also be helpful in determining or prioritizing tasks. Once you have specific tasks defined, locate a resource that can save you money. This may be a software application that helps you submit your URL to directories. It could be an article writing service that can do the heavy lifting for you. It may even be an outsource solution for finding link partners and managing link exchanges. All of this link building takes work and requires a good deal of time. So consider your options and choose the one that is most cost effective.

SEO is not free. You may consider it less expensive than other forms of online marketing because you’re doing much of the work on your own. However, you should consider the value of your time and alternatives for reducing your workload and improving results. Whether you are thinking about online resources or additional individuals to do many of the repetitive tasks necessary to build in-bound links and corresponding page rank, your analysis should consider costs and benefits. Even though SEO is not free, it’s worth every penny.

About Michael Fleischner

Michael Fleischner is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer. He has appeared on The TODAY Show, ABC World News, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. Michael is a graduate of Rutgers College and Northwestern’s Medill School with a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications.

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