volcanic oil
photo credit: bradleygee

How Much Does SEO Cost?

“… optimizing one site will take five people a whole year and cost $500,000 …” according to Craig Macdonald, CMO of Covario.

Mr Macdonald was talking about something else when he made this comment, but the impact of this casual remark immediately struck me.

Many companies seem to regard search engine optimisation as something that can be done on the cheap and by lowly paid personnel.

Well, you get what you pay for.

(Update: See this March 2012 post for rates and charts of what SEO costs in Australia and around the world.)

Everybody seems to recognise the importance of SEO, but few seem willing to pay to have it done properly and professionally.

This attitude has always been a mystery to me. Any decent analytics package will quickly show how much traffic and revenue is being generated by organic search.

Does SEO Work?

Typically, organic traffic will bring in twice as much revenue as cost per click adwords. There is plenty of research and evidence available to support this fact, and your own analytics data will quickly show the truth of it.

And yet many organisations will spend large amounts of money on cpc campaigns, while remaining parsimonious on seo.


Supposedly, paying for advertising is something most businesses can relate to, whereas paying for the mysterious voodoo of seo often seems to the client like buying snake oil.

“How do I really know it’s working?”

Well, apart from rankings and positions, the main measure is, as I said earlier, “How much revenue did you get from organic traffic? Is this more than last month? Is it more than this time last year?”

Like most things in marketing, and in life, rewards only come to those who are prepared to do the work and pay the price. There are no silver bullets.

Proper, professional SEO is a long term game, and businesses that engage in it, should be prepared to play it as such.

Do the work, get the result.



Rider: As I said at the beginning the quote from Mr MacDonald was while he was talking about some other topic and while I am taking his words out of that context, I don’t believe that lessens the relevance or impact of them.

The quote in full is as follows and was taken from this story.

“Search engine optimization is difficult to scale; for large organizations optimizing one site will take five people a whole year and cost $500,000, but when they have 6,000 sites, that manual model just doesn't work,” said Craig Macdonald, CMO of Covario.

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