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What is the Cost of SEO When Doing Your Own in 2018 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted Jul 26, 2018 | Updated 6 years ago

In part one of this two-part series on the cost of doing search engine optimization in 2018, we discussed what it could look like to hire an SEO expert or SEO agency to help your business. In part two, we are going to breakdown the costs associated with implementing search optimization tactics on your own.

How Much Would It Cost to Do SEO Yourself?

It can be hard to find SEO experts that you feel are providing the full value for the full price. So what might it look like to do the SEO for your business in house?

According to data collected by Glassdoor, SEO specialists are generally paid between $16-$18 per hour for their work and expertise. If you are going to be the one doing it, then use your wage to calculate what this could cost for your business.

As you calculate the internal payroll costs of doing search engine optimization, consider the following:


Initial time for learning about SEO: 30 hours

Making the decision to expand your payroll time into SEO work means that you are adding another facets of required skills to your toolbox. Just as with any job, in order to do things right, you need to have a solid understanding of why you are doing it, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you are going to implement and evaluate the results.

Here are some free and paid resources for learning about SEO.

Continual education time: 5 – 15 hours per month

At the end of each day, the world of SEO has uncovered new strategies and best methods for increase your website’s search engine visibility. This is an industry that changes constantly because of how search engines – especially Google – change their algorithm to provide the most relevant search results.

Moz.com is a guru in the industry and has helpful articles and videos. I would highly recommend signing up for their email list if you are going to implement SEO yourself.

Initial SEO setup cost – 50 hours + Tools

After doing your 30 hours of upfront research, you will understand that there are a lot of upfront changes that you will need to address in order for the SEO ship to continue smoothly sailing across the waters of the internet. To do so, you will need to address:

  • Keyword Research – KW Tool + 10 hours
  • On-site Optimization – 10 hours
  • Initial Content Creation – 30 hours

If you are going to implement SEO yourself, look into tools for

  • Technical SEO in general
  • KW Research
  • Rank Tracking
  • Content Optimization
  • Backlink Building
  • Backlinks Analysis

Ideal tools will allow you to do multiple of these.

Recurring Costs – 25 hours/month

After your time of initial SEO setup, there will be recurring work that you have to manage each month. In your cost analysis, be sure to include the payroll and SEO tool subscription costs that would be incurred for:

  • Regular (and Original) Content Creation – 15 hours per month
  • Backlink Building – 5 hours per month
  • Data Tracking & Analysis – 5 hours per month

With all of these said and accounted for, you are looking at roughly 30 hours of initial education, 50 hours of initial SEO setup time, and 25 hours of monthly SEO maintenance, plus the cost of any tools that you purchase to accomplish each of the tasks.

Considering the average wage for an in-house SEO specialist of $17/hr, the initial cost of doing it yourself would be about $1,360 and the recurring costs would be $425 per month. SEO tools range in price, but for a good set of tools, you could plan to budget an additional $200 per month.

So for one year of doing quality, targeted in-house SEO, it could cost you between $7,000 and $10,000.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Afford to Pay for SEO?

If you just started your business or if you’ve kept it small, you may not be able to spend $800 per month investing in search engine optimization services.

But don’t fret! You can start setting aside X dollars a month with the intention of using that money to invest in expert SEO work in the near future. While you save up for this investment, you can actionably implement tactics to resolve and prevent the following on your own.

  • Link Discrepancies – Limit outbound links to natural, relevant, and authoritative links that are visible to the front end user. Replace any broken links with the updated URL or a new outbound link.
  • Keyword Issues – Discern the answer to, “How would my target audience ask for the kind of product/service I offer?” Use the best long tail keywords from your keyword research tool to answer the user’s intent at the proper keyword density (1-2 keywords per 100 words of text.)
  • Poor Content Readability – Adopt a long term SEO strategy for your content. Authentically write and publish content relevant to your brand and your business that aligns with your strategy.
  • A Lackluster Design/Structure – Hire a reputable website development team to audit and design a responsive and SEO optimized website.
  • Slow Page Speeds – Optimize image sizes. 80-100 Kb is ideal for images that stretch the entire page. Smaller images placed in the page should be 20-30 Kb.

Read more about each of these topics and how to resolve the issues they cause in 5 Reasons Google is Penalizing Your Website and How to Fix It.

If your business’s SEO strategy is to live in ignorant bliss, the growth potential of your business will be stunted. Whether by hiring an SEO expert or by implementing the above search engine optimization tips on your own, take the time to invest in this long term marketing discipline for the long-term growth and success of your business.