SEO, How much will it cost, How long will it take and What results will I see?

SEO consultants who spend their day talking with potential clients will hear these questions over and over again. I am sure everyone has a different way of answering, but how many of us can honestly say that listener has understood, especially if you tell the truth and give it to them straight that you really don’t know.

Over the years I have tried many different tactics ranging from “you get what you pay for” to spending many an hour talking about what we will do, how we do it and more recently, the affects Google Panda and Penguin algorithms have revolutionized SEO best practices. Do I convert every caller, No! So with the knowledge that I am still failing to make the listener understand, I have decided to try and explain SEO using a football analogy…..only time will tell if it works but I thought I would share the scenario.

Firstly, an apology to those of you who hate football, personally I have always been a rugby man but love it or hate it most of us know that Manchester United are one of the best teams in the world, excusing recent form. Being the best team obviously has its rewards: trophies, best players, respected manager, first class coaches, massive revenue… the list goes on and on. The Football Association has made a few tweaks over the years but basically we have a number of divisions and outside of this are the various conference leagues where teams compete to get promoted. The system is simple, the cream will eventually float to the top and thus the “best teams” will attain the top league positions.

Now think of the search engines as league tables and companies as teams within these leagues. The conference leagues, let’s say page 10+, are where you will find new business or those who just do not perform very well. In the lower leagues will be those companies who have achieved limited success and finally we have the Premier League for the top teams.

Obviously Google and the other search engines do not insist that you stay in one league for a season waiting for promotion. SEO would certainly be hard work if this was so but the analogy of leagues can easily be made to pages within the search engine results pages.

Still with me? Great, so how does a football club go about getting to the top of the premiership? Or to put another way if your company is on page 2 or 3 for certain keywords how can you take on Manchester United (your competitor)? In the last few weeks I have tried this analogy a few times and at this point I have asked the potential client…..if your club was in division 2 or 3 what would they do to improve. Those that had not fallen asleep suggested:

  1. Sack the manager, bring in a better one.
  2. Buy new players.
  3. Bring in a better coaching staff.

Music to my ears my plan was working……I continued…”Great ideas” I replied “Let’s look at these in more detail”

  1. So we sack the manager, let’s assume this is the SEO Company and the fact you are talking to Nettonic you are considering us as your new potential manager. At Nettonic we are not the perfect fit for every company but you need to decide if you want a Manger with experience in the local Sunday pub leagues or a manger that has experience at the top level of the game.
  2. Buy new players…when we think of players we want the best if our team is going to win. In SEO the players are what we call in SEO as “Best Practices” or white hat techniques that if employed will improve the performance of a team (keyword ranking). Social Media, is a player, as is search engine friendly coding, engaging content, relevant back-links. All these players (best practices) are Google Guidelines. The more players or best practice techniques you employ the better your team will perform
  3. Bring in better coaching staff…..a good coach has the ability to bring the best out of his/her team, Coaches do not arrive straight from school they learn their skills at the coal face and are judged by how they can communicate. Account Managers are no different they keep the team motivated but more importantly communicate strategy to you the client and manage expectations.


How Much Will It Cost?

The reason why Manchester United is always at the top or near to the top of the league is not a fluke. Over the years they have promoted players through the academy or purchased the world’s best players. They have probably got one of the most successful managers in football history but this does this guarantee success…it helps but let’s not forget the competition from clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City who have thrown millions at the game. So if you are wondering how much to spend on marketing remember that you need good players. A successful SEO campaign will need to spend many ours on improving 100”s of quality factors Google has identified as contributing towards you quality score. One player cannot guarantee you will win a game. There is no point having the best goal keeper if your forwards can’t score. Similarly there is no point just concentrating on writing content for your site, you will never win the game in Google’s eyes.

SEO companies, well the good ones, are not an automated plugin for your site. Best practice techniques require specialist skills and many hours of hard work. The more hours we can work for you the more we can achieve.

How Long Will It Take?

There is an absolute correlation with the amount of hours that we the SEO company can spend perfecting the various requirements that Google post Penguin have identified. If your marketing budget only allows your team to buy one new player than similarly we can only concentrate on one aspect of the overall strategy each month. In reality we do not just concentrate on one area we spread our time to cover as many Google best practices as we can. Those that we miss we carry through to the next month…so on and so on. Remember please the football analogy, if you want to get promoted and the competition above you is buying better players than you may be destined to stay in the league you are in. Although hopefully slightly higher if you budget allows.

What Results Will I See?

No SEO company can answer this; we can look at Google’s keyword generator and tell you the volume of traffic you are likely to get if your keyword reaches a certain position. A recent report suggests that a company at position 1 of Google for a key phrase will get 52% of all the visitors searching for that term. At position 5 you will get 4% and position 10 on page 1 is less than 1%

Imagine if you can; the job of the manager at Queens Park Rangers, who are currently at the bottom of the premiership. Buying one new player may not get more fans through the turnstiles and the club earning more revenue. Buying a few and perhaps getting a new manager still won’t guarantee success but the greater expenditure may result in more victories and in time this will lead to better league table rankings.

Finally….authors note.

If you have managed to read this article in its entirety then please take on board my final comments.

Like football just because you employ a good team manager or good players this does not mean you will end up out ranking Manchester United. The reward’s a team (company) will get from being highly ranked can be financially huge. The competition for first place is getting harder; if you improve don’t expect your competition to stand still. Rest assured Chelsea and Manchester City (your competition) will try all they can to be league champions which may mean increasing their expenditure.

Good SEO companies will continually adapt to change, it is Google’s train set and we have to play by their rules. Penguin has identified the worst that SEO has to offer which is great, I just feel sorry for those companies that have paid out for good players (SEO service) only to find that these players broke the rules and have been subsequently penalised or at worse banned.

So who is ready to get a new manager and commit to buying a few players…contact us today.

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Managing Director of Nettonic Ltd a Bedford based digital marketing company specialising in helping businesses to improve their online brand awareness. Linkedin

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