June 30th, 2010 | Bill McIntosh, Founder

The most common question when discussing small business search optimization services and results is, “How much will this cost?’

In today’s economy, ROI is the king of the mountain in direct response marketing, B2B sales, outbound calling, small business branding and effective web marketing. Since every small business needs to see relatively instant return from their marketing dollar, SEO cost is of considerable concern.

While there are many factors in this equation, the question that one really has to determine is what is your marketing strategy as well as establishing your budget to accomplish your sales goals.  Both of these have to be clearly stated before one sets out to lay out a SEO marketing strategy.  A complete marketing strategy encompasses traditional off-line marketing methods with the full and proper use of internet marketing tools, such as keyword and long tail keyword research, social media, landing pages and blogging.

The ultimate determination is what are you willing to spend for a lead, an online sale or member, or a one-on-one interview?  All these are dependent upon your internet sales and marketing plan and budget. Some small businesses are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a good lead. Some are only willing to pay a hundred dollars for a one-on-one interview.

Your SEO costs can then range based on your willingness and the budget to get a qualified lead or online sale. Typical costs are from several hundred dollars per month, on an entry level of basic services, to tens of thousands of dollars for a complete suite of services that lasts a half of a year to a full year. These suite of services range from an in-depth research of keywords and long tail keywords, which can not only affect how you market your web site itself, but how to write your blogs, press releases and article submissions to the hundreds of online directories which have high SEO value.

One of the fastest methods to determining the ROI of keywords and long tails is to do some beta testing with landing pages. You can set a small budget aside and test which hot buttons and titles strike the best conversion. Other inexpensive, but slower ways, can be blogging and PR submissions, both of which have good SEO pricing/value for any small business search engine optimization strategy.

Once you have determined what the value is of the type of lead or response you want, as well as some initial testing, you can establish a safe amount to set aside. Smart companies set aside a percentage towards marketing expenses, determining where to invest those marketing dollars with a monthly review of statistics of hits, conversions, calls and ultimately the sales.  A good SEO specialist can employ many internet marketing techniques and analytics to narrow down the areas of success, so as t strengthen and areas of low revenue so as to adjust or drop altogether.

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