The Profitability of Good SEO & The Danger of Cutting Corners

The Profitability of Good SEO & The Danger of Cutting Corners

The Profitability of Good SEO & The Danger of Cutting Corners

No one cares if they rank #1 in Google. What they care about is whether targeted traffic is flowing to their website, and that traffic is converting to sales. When done correctly, good SEO has potential for significant Return On Investment, but if you cut corners, it could literally cost you your business. 

The Danger of Cutting Corners

It’s a well known fact that Google leverages criteria from over 200 signals to determine the PageRank for a given search query. At the end of the day, it boils down to how trustworthy a website is related to what a user is searching for. To determine what websites rank higher in the search results, Google uses an algorithm known as TrustRank

This TrustRank tells Google whether your website is trustworthy or not. If it is, you’ll be rewarded with a higher rank position. If not, you’ll suffer the consequences. 

Several months ago, we put together a proposal for a law firm who was interested in our SEO services. Although we showed the client how they could generate a very high Return on Investment, the initial investment was higher than they wanted to spend. Here’s some quick math. 

  • Average Value of New Client: $5,000
  • Monthly Cost of Campaign: $2,400
  • Total Monthly Searches for Relevant Keywords: 1,920
  • Average Click Through Rate in the #1 Rank Position: 33%

If we were successful in ranking this client for only 3 of their highest volume keywords, which had a total search volume of 270, that would mean the client would receive 90 clicks to their website each month. If they only converted 3% into leads, that would equate to roughly 8 new leads each month. 

This client would then only have to convert 12.5% into new clients in order to generate 1 new client per month – doubling their investment. 

Of course, our goal would be to rank many more than 3 of their Keywords. But as you can tell, the bar is set pretty low in order to not only recoup the cost of the campaign, but actually turn every dollar into two. 

Unfortunately, this client decided to go with a more “affordable” agency. They didn’t want to spend more than $500 per month. This is understandable, however, what they didn’t realize is that by cutting corners, not only would they lose out on a major opportunity, they’d also lose rankings they already had. 

Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that in February, the client had 10 Keywords ranking on Page One. Today, only 3 still rank on the first page. 

not good seo

Not only did they waste $3,000 in campaign spend ($500/mo x 6 months), it will now take significant work to clean up the mess and get them back to where they started. 

It will cost this firm thousands of dollars, and a few months to get back to where we were 6 months ago, and then another 6 months of a campaign to get them to the top of the list. 

The Problem with Most SEO Agencies

Many agencies offer a selection of “packages” that conform to budgetary comfort levels decided upon by the client.  This makes clients feel good, and it’s easy to see why folks like choosing from a menu of options. However, this approach is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Every client, in every industry, in every geographic location has different search engine competition. Whereas a $500/mo campaign might be enough for a local bakery, where competitors are doing little (if anything) to improve their visibility in search, for a regional business up against others who have been at the SEO game for years, this won’t even scratch the surface. 

Offering a $500 package to a client who has moderate to strong competition is completely unethical. These agencies know they won’t be successful in outpacing their contenders. But they don’t need to. The client will inevitably cut the cord after 6 months, but there will be another ready to sign up. Turn & burn. That’s how they keep the game going. 

Knowledge is Power

At Brown Box Branding, we handle SEO Campaigns much differently. Over the past 6 years, we’ve developed a proprietary discovery process that reveals deep insights about your competition and how you stack up. It’s only by understanding these facts that we’re able to create a custom campaign suited to outpace your competition in the shortest amount of time possible. We still give clients options when it comes to the level of engagement, but these are tied to expectations on how long it will take to experience real results. 

One thing I always try to point out, however, is that lesser expensive campaigns often cost clients significantly in terms of missed opportunities. 

For example, let’s take the client above: 

  • SEO Campaign Option 1: 
    • Monthly Investment: $1,200
    • Months Until Results: 12
  • SEO Campaign Option 2: 
    • Monthly Investment: $2,400
    • Months Until Results: 6

With the first option, after 12 months, the client has spent $14,400. Now that they’re ranking #1 for those top 3 Keywords, they begin adding 2 new clients per month – a low 20% lead conversion rate. That’s $10,000 in new business each month. At the end of 18 months, they have generated $60,000 in new business, and their campaign has cost them $21,600. That’s a profit of $38,400.

But let’s look at the second option to see if we can do any better. 6 months x $2,400 equals the same $14,400 investment. But, they’re 6 months ahead. At the 18 month mark, their investment is $43,200 but they’ve generated $120,000 in new business. That’s a profit of $76,800. 

Of course, there are other variables at play here, and this breakdown doesn’t account for the fact that with the higher level spend, we’re able to target more Keywords. It also stands to reason that after we’ve been successful in ranking one set of Keywords, we’ll move on to others. So the “3 keywords” shown above is far less than what we’d expect. But even still, you can see how profitable a campaign like this can be. 

The purpose of this breakdown isn’t to guarantee any particular results, but just to show how you can run the numbers to determine the viability of a campaign, and to demonstrate that the cheaper options, aren’t always best. 

This also doesn’t account for changes in the competitive landscape over the time of a campaign. In order to determine how a campaign might benefit your organization, we always recommend reaching out to one of our SEO experts, and have them run the research. This takes our team a full week to compile, but we provide this to all perspective clients free of charge. If the campaign makes financial sense, wonderful. If not, we’ll tell you. The last thing we want is to put you in a negative situation, and sour the relationship. 

The Brown Box Branding Difference

We’ve been successful over the years because we put our client’s best interests ahead of our own. In fact, that’s one of our core values. “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. Cliche, I know, but don’t you wish more businesses were run this way? 

We’ve been at this a long time, and have helped many businesses drastically increase revenue from online sources. From startups to national brands, we’ve done it all. Not only that, but our SEO methodologies were built from the ground up with Google Webmaster Guidelines as the foundation, so you’ll never have to fear penalties for engaging in prohibited SEO practices. 

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Jeff Bickley
jeff@brownboxbranding.com

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

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