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This is a complicated question to answer, since the results are based on so many factors, unique to your campaign and market. For a very general answer, between 4 to 8 months is considered fair for average campaigns using WhiteHat techniques.
The aim is to build the website’s popularity up naturally over time and create the conditions necessary for it rise organically in the search engine results. I advise all my clients that if they are looking for results sooner than 3 months, they are better off refraining from any SEO campaign.. There are hundreds of companies that will promise you results in this time, but you can guess the type of tactics they will employ to achieve this.. In most cases, it’s not ‘natural’ to rank this quickly and the procedure necessary to see results like this will almost always harm your site in the long run.. You may experience great results for a few months, but once the string starts to unravel, it can take just days before you’re standing there naked, with only one sleeve of your sweatshirt left and a whole lot of wool in a heap beside you..
To be blunt; slow, steady results last. Quick results fade. (In most cases).
Any good marketing company should have a well thought out action plan to be rolled out after results are achieved. Often referred to as ‘maintenance campaigns’, these aim to keep the current rankings where they are by sending continued positive signals toward the site and maintaining withstanding connections. Again, with BlackHat SEO this is rarely factored into the equation, since it is rare for a website to last this long when such techniques are employed and often ‘maintaining’ results is the last thing on the marketer’s mind ? simply achieving them is viewed as the goal.
You can estimate spending a fraction of the initial monthly cost of your campaign when in ‘maintenance mode’ since far less work needs to be done. The main reason for this further campaign is to show Google that you are still relevant and deserve the position you’ve been given. It’s a bad sign for a site to receive a lot of activity surrounding it, shoot to the top of the results and then go completely quiet. Google sees this as very unnatural. This is of course another benefit of WhiteHat campaigns, they are carried out in such as way as to stimulate real interaction in the first place, so a maintenance campaign furthers this work.
You’re probably wondering why WhiteHat SEO comes with such a high price tag.. I’m sure you’ve seen other ‘ranking/SEO’ services for a fraction of the price at merely a few hundred dollars, if that.. Well, WhiteHat SEO is expensive because it uses expensive ‘ingredients’.
It’s perfectly feasible to create an online marketing campaign for under a few hundred dollars:
Auto-generate some content: $10 at most, free if you already have the software
Blast this auto-content through your software and make some link: $30 (cost to run software based on ‘proxies’ and ‘captcha solvers’)
At under $40 cost, you could be charged $100, netting the marketer a $60 profit.. not bad..
However this is ‘BlackHat’. It does have its purpose for those who want to benefit from cheap short term rankings, make some cash then repeat the process on another site. But again, if you want successful long-term online marketing for your real business, you’ll want to steer clear..
So let’s look at where your money goes with a WhiteHat campaign:
A huge amount of the budget is spent on creating high quality engaging content. Remember a minute ago we discussed building ‘connections’ from high quality websites? Well placing your link in a body of high quality text, does wonders to establish that connection. High quality writers aren’t cheap ? you’re looking at anywhere between $7-$25+ per article.. so to take an average of $10 per article, $100 will only get you 10 articles (or 10 bodies of text to put your connecting link into).. starting to see why it’s so expensive?
WhiteHat SEO usually includes a press release of some sort or another, again the content for these press releases isn’t cheap, and combined with the cost of syndicating this content across big players in the online media world comes in at several hundred dollars a piece, and that’s only on certain networks.. Long term media partners are just one of the tools in a WhiteHat SEO company’s arsenal. You’re budget goes towards keeping those connections, and often submitting content to their networks and allowing your website a ‘soapbox’ to relay your brands message (and ultimately increase rankings).
As mentioned in the press release section, quality partners and networks make up a good deal of WhiteHat SEO, finding placements for your business and ensuring maximum benefit from these connections takes time and effort. You are also paying for exclusivity, gaining access to authoritative websites that others are not able to make connections with.
When dealing with a real marketing company there are substantial costs involved. The company has full time, qualified staff, researchers, web developers, programmers and many other overheads to consider. There is a huge difference between hiring a digital marketing firm who will go through your campaign in careful detail, offering advice and guidance through the years and hiring a one off freelancer, who’ll go in do the ‘job’ and leave.
When you choose WhiteHat SEO for your business, you are choosing results that last, from a provider who cares about high quality marketing, and bringing the best results, not the fastest or cheapest. In most cases, those that perform WhiteHat SEO will be more reputable by nature. They are the organisations who will want to go the extra mile with your company for years to come and are passionate about delivering the highest quality SEO available. For the most part they aren’t interested in quick results, quick sales and then never to speaking to you again. They want a lasting relationship that is beneficial for both parties over a long period. Real businesses last for a long time, they are not a flash in the pan operation, and their marketing shouldn’t be either.
Beware ‘GreyHat’ firms who fly the WhiteHat flag and lead you to believe you’re getting a high quality campaign. The ‘Checklist’ part of this post will help you to avoid such organisations.
WhiteHat SEO entail
WhiteHat SEO is expensive, let’s not pretend it isn’t.. But at the end of the day, you’re hiring a digital marketing firm, capable of bringing highly targeted users to your website who will convert very well.. so to be blunt, it’s worth the cost.
It’s strange, sometimes people assume that because this type of marketing is ‘digital’, it’s going to be cheaper, and isn’t too important.. With major markets such as consumer electronics retailing nearly 50% of products online, 2015 is definitely the time to get serious about online marketing.. If you’re looking at 30%-50% of your products being bought and sold online, your marketing campaigns should mimic this. Yet it still surprises me how little time, effort and money some companies are willing to put into this area of their business and how unwilling they can be to spend the extra bucks while they spend thousands in offline campaigns that often won’t bring the same results.. If you’re not looking to spend a decent budget on an online campaign, then simply don’t bother.. It’s better for your business to have no online campaign, than a cheap one that will waste your money, bring poor results and in some cases even damage your reputation and lose the existing organic results that you had acquired naturally.
WhiteHat SEO for business is normally worked out on a monthly fee, with the shortest contracts usually sitting around the 6 month mark. The minimum you should expect to pay is around $1,500 – $2,000 per month. This should be expected for lower competition keywords, with higher competition keywords coming in at around $3,000-$10,000 per month. For large multi-national brands or corporations who have many keywords in highly competitive markets, $50,000+ per month can be expected.
Again, these campaigns bring thousands of targeted visitors to your business who are ready to buy and engage with your service. A good marketing company should know your business and advise you if it’s worth the spend after calculating a rough ROI. For example, if you can make $100,000 per month from traffic delivered to your website, a monthly spend of $40,000 is justified.
Your market, keywords and aims all factor in to budget costs, so make sure to get a quote if some of these numbers make your head spin, the real thing to bare in mind here is that the absolute minimum you should expect to spend will lie around the $1,000 – $2,000 per month mark.
After people figured out that SEO was based on connections from other websites (in the late 90s, when Google incorporated this into its algorithm) things got a bit out of hand.. In the early days, it was as easy as creating a few links from a few websites, and bob’s your uncle, you had rankings. Then people realised, ‘hey, wait a minute, maybe if I make more links, I’ll get better rankings’ ? and this worked! Before you knew it people were creating thousands of links, using ‘link farms’ and other shady techniques to propel their sites to the top of the listings. This was the birth of ‘BlackHat’ SEO.
As Google grew smarter, it devised ways to root out these methods and the sites that were benefiting from them in what became a back and forth battle between online marketers and Google that is still raging today..
BlackHat techniques also grew stronger and more widespread as programmers started to develop software and ‘tools’ that would create thousands of links (often in just hours) that would shoot websites to the top of the rankings..
At the same time, WhiteHat SEO was also being employed across websites with other webmasters receiving fantastic results. While others would use software and build thousands of ‘spammy’ links. Those using WhiteHat SEO would only have to make a few connections to high quality related websites, to see the same results. As Google, knocked other sites off the listings left, right and centre, those using WhiteHat techniques didn’t experience any penalization and continued benefiting from high rankings..
As Google got better and better at catching out the BlackHat spam techniques, the BlackHatters improved as well.
Fast-forward to the late noughties and BlackHat techniques were starting to mimic WhiteHat more and more.. turning into what some would start to call ‘GreyHat’ (but what is still, in essence, BlackHat). While a WhiteHat campaign would focus on building up quality links over time and making real, lasting connections, BlackHat/GreyHat would copy this procedure at twice the speed, making connections that at first glance seemed high quality, but when looked into with further scrutiny, would unravel, exposing the spam that lay beneath. In recent years, GreyHat has evolved, where in some cases it can be difficult to decipher between GreyHat and WhiteHat campaigns. Private Blog Networks, or PBNs have been at the forefront of this complication, as connections from websites within these networks can be extremely hard to tell apart from legitimate websites. The problem here is that entire networks would be discovered by Google who would then ‘shutdown’ the entire PBN(deindex all sites from their search engine). (The Checklist section at the bottom of this post should help you decipher between the WhiteHat and GreyHat firms out there!)
The BlackHat motto, past, present and future has always been the same, ‘Cheap, fast results, that make money in the short term, but fade away fast’. This is why BlackHat marketing and methods will always have a place and there will always be demand for such services. A quick, spammy campaign is launched that holds together just long enough to grasp some quick rankings before the whole thing falls apart and you’re back at square one (or worse). The aim here is to profit as much in this small window as possible, before the house made of straw comes tumbling down. Obviously these techniques have no place anywhere near your ‘real’ business! At the same time they have their function and shouldn’t be ‘poo pood’ in general, horses for courses and all that..
Since the late 90s people have battled out this question on forums, in dingy bars, in the back of New York taxis and in bustling Mumbai restaurants.. To put it bluntly, SEO is the course of action that results in improving the rankings of a website in a given search engine (mostly Google) – First you find the ‘keywords‘ that when searched for should make your website appear. Keywords are chosen based on the type of traffic you want to drive and users you want to target.. then when you’re good and ready you get started with the SEO procedure itself..
But this ‘procedure’, and the ‘how to’ has been the fuel for heated debates (and even fiery arguments) around the world for nearly two decades. And to be honest, no one is backing down.. Everyone believes they have the ‘golden ticket’ to success, and to make matters worse, certain techniques and tactics have worked for periods of time, before being ‘shutdown’ in the following months ? however this doesn’t stop a thousand people from swearing on Aladdin’s underwear that a method still works..
So let’s clear the fog, hose down the windows, and take a look at what criteria is really needed to gain those sought after search engine rankings!
Firstly, let’s talk about ‘on-page’ SEO. This is something that the majority of people do agree on (for the most part!). This basically requires that your website contains the elements it needs for good rankings ? think keywords correctly placed in pages with a favourable density, meta tags, meta descriptions and good linking structures and menus.. People will still argue these specifics ’till the cows come home, but in general the SEO community agrees somewhat that these factors are important and should be carried out in a fairly uniform way.
Okay, get the guns, artillery and Sherman tanks out.. we’re about to talk ‘off-page’ SEO.. This is the real ‘meat’ of SEO where men will kill their own brothers for failing to concede that one type of link is better than another.. This is the dark magic that occurs outside the walls of your website and in the battlefield that is the world wide web.. or for a less dramatic description, ‘external elements’.
‘Off-page’ SEO is all about connections. When Google decides which websites to rank highly on its search engine for specific terms, it is generally agreed that it takes a look at the ‘connections’ and ‘associations’ that different websites have. That is to say, if you are trying to rank for the keyword ‘best microphone’ it would be beneficial to be linked to by other websites that discuss this topic, and for best results you’d want links that are from websites that only focus on this niche. Oh, and if you can get a link from the homepage of one of these sites, or even better if the anchor text mentions ‘best microphones’, then you’re really in business (relatively speaking!).
But this is all very vague.. we could sit here for hours and debate the best anchor text variety, or the optimal link velocity, or how to correctly manage social signals.. but you don’t care about this! And you shouldn’t! Your job is to run your business, and the job of whoever you hire is to figure out these annoying, tedious questions (we love it really!)..
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