How Much Does SEO Cost in Australia? | Contractor SEO Price Guide 2022
Imagine you’re a builder heading to the hardware store to grab supplies for work.
When you buy those materials for your business you have something to show for your money, whether it’s tools or timber. You can see them, touch them, and feel them.
SEO isn’t something you can see – you can only see the results. That makes SEO intangible because you’re paying for someone’s expertise and time. Which causes a major headache for most trades business owners.
If you’ve been thinking about using SEO to get more phone calls, more leads, and more job call-outs, here’s what it will cost you…
SEO can cost as little as $99/month up to $10,000 a month. You pay for time and expertise, so anything under $500/month won’t fund enough hours to optimise your site, and anything over $5,000 a month is probably paying for strategies you don’t need.
Your money needs to go towards website architecture, backlinks and content if you want to improve your rankings. With these costs covered, you’ll also need to factor in your ranking goals and your competition’s existing SEO, both of which will impact the price you pay.
To make things easier we’ve broken down the cost of SEO in Australia in detail so you can take the guesswork out of price, and start bringing in new leads sooner.
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Is Contractor SEO Really Worth It?
Thousands of trade, home improvement, and contractor business owners ask this question every day. And thousands of free guides and blog posts reply with; “it depends, book a free consultation and we’ll tell you.”
You hate that answer. And so do we. So you won’t find that attitude here. Yeah, SEO is complex and intangible. And complex, intangible products can be tough to put a price on. But not impossible.
This guide was created exclusively for trade businesses looking to understand the cost of SEO, and gauge whether an SEO campaign is suited to their budget. Because you can find SEO services on Fiverr for $7.23, or you pay an agency $5,000 a month – but price isn’t an indicator of quality.
There are electricians installing horrible wiring, and plumbers creating poor piping time bombs, and both are charging a few hundred an hour (plus call-out fees). Price alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Unless you’ve got the time to research how SEO works (hint: most tradies don’t) it’s close to impossible to tell the difference between different SEO price points.
Here’s the important stuff – you don’t pay for SEO results. You pay for time, expertise, website architecture, link building, and content.
While cost is important, what’s more valuable to your home improvement business is your return on investment (ROI). If you start getting quality leads that drive more revenue than your SEO cost, then you’re onto a winner. And that’s exactly what we’ll show you how to do in this guide (and how much you’ll need to pay to attract those leads).
Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of SEO for your tradesperson business.
Does My Contractor Business Really Need SEO?
As a contractor, your typical customer is one who’s heading towards a purchase.
This purchase is either urgent or coming soon.
A busted water heater, an emergency wiring problem, a broken down vehicle. These are the customers who need help NOW. The type of customers with urgent problems that send them to Google. With a problem that needs solving, most customers aren’t picky about who they choose, which means a business on the first page of Google ends up getting a phone call or email – even if those businesses are a steaming pile of trash.
Other customers have started their research, because they’re planning home improvements in the future. New roller shutters, kitchen renos, fresh turf. Even if they don’t plan on spending money today, they’re going to be comparing the top results on Google to see which business can make their lives easier, and their homes more liveable.
Recognising these customer desires is an important point to make. For most trade businesses, visibility on Google is tied to lead generation so it doesn’t matter if the sites ranking above you offer a worse service, or are known for making mistakes. If you’re not one of those businesses on the first page of Google, you’re not going to attract the time-sensitive leads who have money to spend.
Because your trades business is only as successful as the quality of leads you attract.
If your neighbour’s cousin’s mate is your #1 source of leads, you shouldn’t be surprised if the quality of those leads isn’t red hot. In contrast, leads through Google are known for their quality. To put that value in numbers, Google leads convert at an average of 14.6%. Compare that to the paltry 1.7% conversion rate for outbound marketing strategies like cold calling and you can see where the real money is.
What is a conversion rate and what does it mean? Learn how to land more clients
In short, if you want to attract quality leads in your local suburb of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or beyond; you need to be ranking on the first page of Google.
SEO Is NOT an Expense (It’s an Investment)
Thinking SEO is an expense is THE most common misconception tradies make. Really, it’s an investment.
Most contractors see SEO as an expense.
They pay for the service and expect to see results in return. Since SEO takes time, when results aren’t immediate it can feel like the money spent was wasted. This leads to business owners pulling the plug because they’re not seeing results within the first few months.
But if SEO stopped being an expense, and started being an investment, then you’d be able to part with your money in confidence.
For example, if we asked you to give us $1 and in return we’ll try to find you new leads, would you do it?
Probably not. You’d be parting with money and we’d be offering nothing concrete in return.
What if we asked you to pay $1 for a service that was going to give you $5 in return? Suddenly, that expense becomes an investment. If your SEO gets you to the top of Google, and being at the top drives more clicks, and more clicks leads to more leads, you end up making more money than you spent. Now, the question is less about how much SEO costs and more about how much you can afford to invest.
When you can see the value of something, you’re naturally more willing to spend your money on it. Unlike pay-per-click advertising (think Google Ads or Facebook Ads), you’re not paying for SEO results. You’re paying for expertise, website architecture, link building, content creation and time. (More on this later).
The more you invest in SEO, the more time an SEO agency can spend optimising your website. You’re not paying for rankings or even results, you’re paying for an agency to spend their time applying their SEO skills to help you move higher on Google.
With so many competing businesses, it takes time for Google to figure out which site is the most relevant and useful. There’s no shortcut or quick fix, if you want to rank higher on Google, you need to put in the hard yards and tick Google’s boxes to do it – and the only way to do that is by investing time to apply SEO-friendly optimisation strategies. Or, if you value your free time, finding an SEO team to get results on your behalf.
If you want faster results = you’ll need to pay for more time.
If you want to rank for more popular keywords = you’ll need to pay for more time.
If you want to outrank an established competitor = you’ll need to pay for more time.
To sum up, the likelihood of your ROI comes down to the quality of the SEO you invest in, and how much time you’re willing to pay for.
Can I compete with my competition if they’ve got more SEO resources?
Great question! You don’t want to burn through money if it’s not going to affect your Google rankings.
Your trades business can’t be wasting money on dud marketing strategies and you definitely don’t want to be spending money if there’s no chance of results. That logic applies if you’re investing in SEO, or renovating your house prior to a sale. If the payoff doesn’t outweigh the investment, what’s the point?
The good news is there are plenty of ways to outrank your competition even if they’ve been running SEO campaigns for longer than you, and have higher budgets than you.
The way Google’s algorithm is set up doesn’t reward the richest businesses, but the businesses who provide the most value and provide the best experience. Once you know what SEO platform your competition is working with, it’s much easier to know what you’ll need to do to outrank them.
Some keywords are easier to rank for than others. If you’re targeting a keyword that 20 other local businesses are targeting, you’ll need to increase your spend to overcome the competition. Be careful when picking keywords as certain phrases carry more commercial intent than others. For example ‘Sydney Concreter’ may sum up your business nicely, but a more specific term like ‘where to find the cheapest sydney concreter in the inner west’ will bring you a site visitor who’s actively looking for prices, and close to making a decision.
#2 – The competitiveness of your market
If you want to rank for a local Western Sydney suburb like Penrith you’ll typically need less time invested in your SEO campaign than a home improvement business looking to rank for the entire city of Melbourne. This is because the amount of time spent on your SEO is proportionate to the competition you’re facing, and how much work needs to be done on your site to catch up.
Less competition means less SEO is needed. More competition means more time tweaking, analysing, and optimising.
#3 – How many keywords/products/services you want to target
Your SEO goals are as unique as your business. If you want to rank the most profitable of your service pages, but ignore the rest, you can expect to spend less than if you wanted to move all of your service pages to the top of Google.
For example, let’s say you provide full turf relaying as well as lawn mowing. Laying fresh turf might be your business’ money maker, while lawn mowing is an extra service you offer to attract new clients. If you only wanted to rank for your most profitable service (in this case turf relaying), you could reduce your overall spend. The more service pages you want to rank for, the more money it will cost to optimise each page.
#4 – Whether your business has one location or multiple locations
If you have multiple locations, or offer your services to multiple suburbs, you’ll need to create location-specific pages for each service. This will increase the cost of your SEO as each page needs content, backlinks, on-page SEO optimisation and managing. It’s not enough to throw in random suburbs and expect to appear. Multiple locations require unique pages so people living in each suburb can find you quickly and easily.
#5 – How much you want to crush your competition
This one comes down to personal preference. SEO does take time, and it does require expertise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move the needle by investing more. Crucial optimisation strategies like link building and content creation can be dialed up when you pay for more time to be spent on your campaign. If your competition is publishing one blog post each week, imagine how many keyword opportunities you’d tap into by publishing 5, 10 or 20 pieces of content each week?
How much does SEO cost in Australia per month?
Depending on the SEO services you need, SEO pricing in 2022 typically falls into one of the following payment models and brackets.
Project Based SEO
Monthly SEO Retainer
Hourly SEO Rates
Project based SEO depends on the size of a project.
Change to $300 to $10,000 per month.
The average SEO agency charges $75 – $250 an hour.
Expect to pay $1,000 – $4,000
This is the most common SEO pricing model.
Hourly SEO can become a major cost in the long run.
✔ Focus on one aspect of your site’s SEO and avoid needless spending
✔ Unlimited hours means value for money
✔ SEO firm never “clocks off”
✔ Easier to predict costs and match your budget
✘ Lack of flexibility
✘ Easy for agencies to inflate results to hit KPIs
✘ Some tradies dislike lock-in contracts
✘ Easy to run up massive costs and go over budget
✘ End up with less hours once agency fees are taken out
The table above outlines average prices only. SEO prices in Perth, SEO prices in Sydney, SEO prices in Brisbane – these may all reflect the level of competition in the market. Larger areas like Sydney may offer more competition for places, making Sydney SEO services more valuable.
Remember, price alone isn’t an indication of success. Read on for tips to help you budget for your next SEO campaign.
How to determine a good budget for SEO?
SEO pricing is confusing because the gap between the lowest SEO package on the market and the highest is so vast.
Imagine being faced with three different SEO packages at three different price points.
One is super cheap
One is moderately priced
And one is through-the-roof expensive
How would you choose between the 3 SEO packages on offer?
The cheaper SEO looks like great value for money, but it comes with severe risks that cost you MUCH more down the track (we’ll explain why shortly). And super expensive SEO feels like it’s going to cover everrrrrything, but can mean you end up paying for inclusions you NEVER needed.
Here’s the painful truth, most tradespeople have no clue how SEO works.
They’re too busy running their business to spend time learning about SEO. But this lack of knowledge is a big problem. In the same way you know more about your industry than your average customer, SEO professionals know more about getting websites ranked on Google than you. And until you know what’s included in a tradie-focused SEO campaign, they can hang this knowledge over your head to squeeze out extra dollars.
The problem with this imbalance of power is it leaves the door open for SEO agencies to increase their prices beyond what’s reasonable – after all, you won’t know the difference between each package.
When this happens, Australian business owners judge each SEO package based on the one thing they do understand – .
9 out of 10 tradies treat SEO as a commodity and make the cheapest price point their measure of value. Price, typically the lowest price, becomes the #1 consideration when choosing SEO services.
“A bloke from Mumbai offered to optimise my site for $25 a month”
“I’m only paying $99 a month for SEO so if it goes pear-shaped I won’t have lost much”
“I don’t know much about SEO, so I went for the cheapest package available. If I’m only paying $300 a month, there’s not much risk”
We hear these from our tradie clients all the time. And we get it, paying less is always appealing. But once you know the risks that come with cheap SEO, you’ll rethink that attitude. Because there’s a self-defeating cycle with cheap SEO that you’ll need to avoid if you want to protect your reputation (and future revenue).
How long should I pay for SEO?
SEO compounds in value over time.
That means your results improve the longer your SEO campaign runs for. Google is looking for authoritative websites, and running an SEO campaign that keeps your website fast, your content high-quality, and your backlinks growing is a powerful combination.
Most SEO campaigns take between 6 to 12 months to take effect. If you’re unable to budget for a campaign of this length, you may be better off using your budget towards other marketing strategies, like Google Ads and a remarketing campaign.
As a bonus, SEO does become “free” over time. You don’t need to pay your SEO agency for the next 25 years like a mortgage. Once your content is ranking and your website is fast and technically sound, it takes less to maintain your results. For business owners with plenty of time on their hands, you can learn about SEO as you go and take over your SEO campaign once you reach the 12-month mark. Or, if you prefer to focus on your business and service the organic leads coming from Google, you can keep your agency working alongside you.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no finish line in SEO. While you’re reading this guide, your competition may be upgrading their blogs, or making their website load faster, or earning backlinks from trusted industry websites. The more work THEY do, the more work YOU need to do to stay ahead.
So while there’s no definitive answer to “how long should I pay for SEO?”, aim to budget for a 6 – 12 month campaign, then reevaluate your results.
The Dangers of Cheap SEO
Saving money should always be a consideration for your business. But getting a return on your investment is more valuable than keeping a few hundred bucks in your pocket.
What’s the definition of cheap SEO? Well anything less than $500 a month is considered below average and won’t be enough to move the needle on your rankings. And anything in the $99 a month is a red flag from an agency who’s more interested in signing you to a lengthy contract (and guaranteeing a year’s worth of revenue) than your results.
Remember, cheap SEO doesn’t necessarily refer to the quality of the service (though there is often a link between price and quality). Instead, cheap SEO means you’re paying for a smaller amount of time, expertise, link building, and content. With less time to spend on your business, cheap SEO agencies look for shortcuts to try and keep you from cancelling your contract.
These shortcuts are typically spammy and low-quality tactics in an attempt to deliver results without putting in the time that’s needed to optimise a website. Existing under the umbrella term ‘Black Hat SEO’, these manipulative techniques are guaranteed to be in use if you pay $500 a month or under. As the cost of your SEO goes towards the amount of time an agency spends on your campaign, cheap SEO only leaves agencies with a handful of hours to play around with.
To avoid having ZERO results to show for their time, they use ‘Black Hat SEO’ techniques like:
Stealing other website content and “spinning” it to look different (which never fools Google)
Stuffing keywords in your content to try and rank (instead of creating genuinely great content for your customers)
Engaging in link schemes to build quick backlinks
Buying cheap, spammy backlinks to try and trick Google into boosting your rankings
These strategies might work in the short-term. But once Google catches on (and Google always knows) these ‘Black Hat SEO’ tactics can get your website manually removed from Google, meaning your business name is black listed for good.
That’s what happens when you invest in cheap SEO. But instead of an engine explosion, your website is left with:
✘ Significantly less monthly visitors = which means less leads and less revenue ✘ Low quality website content = which hurts your reputation ✘ Spammy SEO tactics = which receive penalties from Google
Worst of all, you’ll waste 6-12 months on an SEO campaign that doesn’t grow your business. That’s tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue left on the table.
When the above occurs there’s no quick fix. You can’t hit a reset button and start over, just as a faulty home can’t be removed at the click of a button.
The process of demolishing a home, and a website, is costly and time-consuming.
A manual penalty can have your website removed from Google. That means the next time a potential client searches for your service, in your local area, you’ll be invisible (but your competition won’t be). You face starting over from scratch with a completely new business name and website.
That means paying for new signage, new business cards, and a new site. Oh, and all your reviews will be wiped too, because your old business won’t be found online, so you’ll have to start building your word of mouth from scratch.
Short Version = SEO never happens in a vacuum. Saving money on your SEO means the agency you hire spends less time working on your site, applies less expertise, builds less links and creates less content. Like your business, they need to turn a profit. Once your fee reduces their profit margin, work will stop.
The Problems with SEO Discount Packages
Any SEO agency charging $500 a month (or ballpark figure) is likely sprinting towards one of the following finish lines.
✘ Outsourcing overseas to try and stretch your $500 investment further
✘ Using churn and burn strategies to drive their revenue with little regard for your results
✘ Using ‘Black Hat SEO’ strategies to try and game quick results despite the risk
✘ An inexperienced freelancer in over their head and quickly paddling up a certain creek without a paddle
Here’s the fatal flaw in any $500/month SEO package.
The majority of SEO pros charge between $75 – $200 per hour. On top of that, most SEO agencies operate at a 10% – 30% profit margin. For the sake of this example, let’s say the SEO agency you’ve hired charges you $500 a month.
Here’s where your money goes (and how much actually ends up on your SEO campaign).
Your $500 minus a 25% agency fee leaves you with $375 to go towards your campaign
At a $75 an hour rate, your $375 can buy 5 hours of work
That’s 5 hours of work for the entire MONTH
How much work on your website can realistically be done in 5 hours a month?
Imagine your own trades business to make things easier. As a builder, electrician or plumber, what value could you bring to your clients in just 5 hours a month? (hint: not much at all).
Once you see the danger of cheap SEO it’s easier to understand that higher monthly SEO prices aren’t a case of agencies charging more because they feel like it. Reputable SEO agencies understand the time that’s required to rank you on the first page of Google, and they’re not willing to take shortcuts that put your trades business at risk to get results.
Cheap SEO agencies bet on you not understanding SEO. If you can’t call out their bullshit, they can keep charging you for minimal work and zero results. If you paid someone $200 to install a shelf, and paid someone else $2 to install a shelf, you’d be able to see the difference in workmanship. SEO doesn’t have the same visual timeline from A to B. When you pay an SEO agency $500 per month as opposed to $5,000 per month, you’re not getting the same work done.
The former buys you a handful of hours then work stops. The latter guarantees you’ll have enough time to match your competition’s SEO output, and exceed it en route to better rankings.
How Cheap SEO Becomes Extremely Expensive
Here’s why cheap SEO will reduce your leads, not increase them…
You saw SEO advertised for $99 a month and thought it was a bargain. After hearing about a competitor’s website that ranked on Google, and hearing they saw a spike in leads, you’ve decided to get off the fence about increasing your own marketing spend, bite the bullet, and pay for SEO. And at $99 a month, the risk feels extremely low.
But first, if you run a business in Australia you have one goal – bring in more money than you’re spending. If you install granite benchtops you can’t charge less than the cost of fuel to each job, or you’ll quickly go out of business. SEO in Australia works the same way. The cost an SEO agency charges has to be more than the cost of providing a service. While a cheap deal looks appealing, remember to apply the same logic to your chosen SEO agency as you would to your own business.
If an SEO agency is charging so little for their services, it means one (or more) of the following problems is headed your way.
They have minimal resources to provide an SEO service
They focus on bringing in more customers, not getting results
They can’t afford to spend time on your SEO or they’ll wipe out their profit margin
They can’t afford to hire quality writers, developers and SEO experts so your results tank
They don’t have the time to implement high-impact activities that drive traffic or build links
They try to take shortcuts by applying ‘Black Hat SEO’ strategies that cripple your rankings and reputation
They can afford to sign you up to $99/month because they’re signing up another 100 businesses just like yours. With so many customers coming onboard (thanks to the promise of incredible savings) they end up turning a huge profit – while doing little to nothing to help your business grow.
And why should they?
If you see the light and cancel your contact (a titanic struggle in itself when dealing with cheap SEO companies) they’ll replace you with another business and keep their revenue rolling in.
The only loser in this scenario? Well that’s you.
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How to recognise high quality SEO?
Muddying the waters, there’s no industry standard for SEO, just as there’s no industry standard for most trades.
A chippie can set their own rates and it’s up to their clients to accept them, or find a new carpenter. With no governing body to regulate prices, you can find monthly SEO services as low as $99 a month, right up to $10,000 a month (and higher). That means any SEO agency can whack a set of numbers on their site and claim to be Australia’s best SEO agency.
It’s up to you to figure out if those prices are fair or not. Which is a rigged game. SEO agencies from Tasmania to Townsville know you don’t have the time to learn every little detail you need to make an informed decision. They want you to stand out the front of a house and say “yep, looks good” without going inside to find the rotten timber and asbestos in the roof.
The goal as a home improvement business owner is to understand what good SEO looks like, then work backwards from there to make sure the price you’re paying covers every aspect of SEO you need to boost your rankings.
With this strategy you’ll be able to stop getting ripped off by SEO agencies ever again.
Once you know what’s required to rank your business on Google (which we’ll teach you in this guide) you can ask your preferred agency if they tick every box. If they do, great. If not, you can keep searching for affordable SEO that isn’t going to leave you wanting more.
What Am I Paying for in an SEO Campaign?
Google uses around 200 ranking factors to decide who gets to be on page #1. And SEO providers love to convince tradespeople they need to master all 200 signals (hint: you don’t).
Talking to most SEO providers is like buying a used car. You know what you want, but the bloke selling to you seems to be speaking another language to confuse you and pull extra money out of your pocket.
Forget those 200 ranking factors.
By focusing on just THREE foundational factors you can improve your rankings and grow your trades business. By now you know the dangers of cheap SEO, so let’s talk about how much you’ll need to pay for SEO that gets results.
Our goal here at Tradie Digital is to educate you so you can make an informed buying decision about SEO. Knowing what you’re paying for means you can make those educated buying decisions on behalf of your business and unpack every SEO quote you get to make sure it includes the foundational factors you need to improve your rankings.
SEO is broken down into 3 core elements
We can’t speak for other SEO specialists, so we’ll tell you where the cost of a Tradie Digital SEO campaign goes and let you compare that to our competition (don’t worry, we know you’re comparing SEO providers right now, and we encourage you to test our costs and inclusions against the rest).
Building a website is a lot like building a house. It can be done a million different ways, and design choices can either help or hurt the finished product.
Building a website is just a matter of putting up a site, posting some photos, slapping on a visible phone number, and waiting for the phone to ring off the hook, right?
A website needs to be built with the way your customer’s search in mind.
Let’s say you’re a bathroom renovator in Sydney and someone types into Google ‘small bathroom renovation’.
Does your website have a page for small bathroom renovation?
Do you want small bathroom renovation work?
What other questions is the customer asking about small bathroom renovations before they buy?
How are those extra questions going to be included on the website?
Do you need content to answer those extra questions?
Who does the research to figure out which extra questions are going through the customer’s head before a purchase?
How are the pages labeled on your website to ensure that Google knows how to understand your content?
How are you going to position your business differently than your competitors?
All these questions need to be answered to get your site architecture right. Otherwise, you’re closing your eyes and hoping for results.
Website architecture is about planning the foundation of your house. It’s getting inside your customer’s mind to ensure your customers can find you when they go searching. For that reason, website architecture is not easy. It takes time, expertise, and serious thought.
Every SEO campaign starts with a focus on website architecture and expands out to make your site more than a few pics and a phone number – but a lead-generating platform. These extra services include:
The amount of SEO work that’s needed to boost your rankings will depend on the current state of your website. If you’ve had SEO work done before and there’s a foundation in place you’ll need less time spent getting the basics right. This is the difference between building on a concrete slab (quicker and with less problems) or building on a sloped yard full of tree stumps (tougher and more time-consuming).
An SEO audit on your site looks at:
Your site structure
Your backlink profile
Your speed, performance and responsiveness
Your internal linking structure
Your site security
Your current SEO features (social buttons, rich snippets, search functionality)
Your current rankings on Google
Your current Domain Authority (DA) or trust rate
Analysing these features of your site requires a range of premium tools. Your SEO cost isn’t just going into the pocket of your SEO agency, it’s paying for tools that unlock valuable data about your site. Without these tools you might end up missing crucial information about your site, like a security flaw or a broken site structure that’s stopping people from reaching your ‘Contact’ page to make a call.
Why this costs money = A site audit requires an SEO pro to go over your website with a fine-toothed comb to look for holes that need to be plugged. Successful SEO is built from the ground up, so any flaws that may affect rankings need to be found before any work is done. It takes time to analyse each page, but the payoff is spotting gaps where you were losing leads.
You need keywords to rank your business on Google, which is a simple concept. Unfortunately, every man and his dog is using keywords to rank THEIR business on Google, creating a saturated space where the majority of websites are invisible.
Keyword research is both art and science. To make your job easier there are a range of software tools, like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush that can be used. Some of these have monthly fees attached to them, for example SEMrush will cost you $119.95 and up (depending on your preferred inclusions) while Ahrefs ranges from $99 a month right up to $999. So whether you’re paying for an SEO professional (and the skills that come attached) or paying for your own keyword tool and trying to figure it out yourself – you’ll be paying either way.
Now here’s where the tricky part comes in, choosing the right tool is easier said than done. Every tool has it’s value. For example, Google Keyword Planner (once the gold standard for keyword research) is showing less and less keyword data these days as their artificial intelligence engine increases its performance.
That’s where the time and expertise costs come in. How do you find out what questions are going through your customers mind? How do you position this information into your website architecture? How do you position those questions into the content itself? Which content needs to be 600 words long vs longer form?
Keyword research requires both software cost and a time and expertise cost to get right – and it’s crucial you get it right. It’s a complex job and requires true expertise to do well. The alternative is creating content with no keyword strategy,missing out on easy ranking opportunities, and ranking for keywords NO ONE is searching for.
Why this costs money = Keyword research requires advanced tools operated by skilled SEO pros. It takes time to find keywords that offer organic traffic potential that aren’t already locked up. Ranking for a keyword NO ONE searches for looks great, but doesn’t bring in money. The pay-off are keywords that drive clicks and leads, aka ROI.
“Know what you are capable of and what you need to strengthen, then do it. Know the competition and where you can gain a competitive edge, and do so. It’s always best to know your potential and to know what you’re up against before entering into a battle” – Sun Tzu (Art of War)
We’re pretty sure Sun Tzu wasn’t talking about SEO, but the quote still fits. Great SEO keeps your enemies close. The cost of your SEO goes towards analysing your competition for strengths and weaknesses. Any strength can be copied and implemented in your own SEO campaign. And any weakness can be exploited to help boost your rankings.
It’s not enough to Google your competition and scroll through their site. You need SEO comparison tools that give you a look under the hood of their website. This includes their keywords, their monthly traffic, their backlink profile and much more.
Instead of guessing how to outrank them, you can see what’s working for them and adopt SEO strategies designed to mimic their success and build upon it.
The questions we look to answer through competitor analysis include:
Which of your competitor’s pages are getting the most organic traffic?
What other websites are linking to your competition that you don’t know about?
What other websites is your competition linking to that you don’t know about?
What is your customer’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
How much content does your competition publish (and what type is it)?
What promotional strategies does your competition use?
Why this costs money = Competitor analysis relies on expensive software (these companies know the value of their tools and charge accordingly) that show you exactly where your competitor’s traffic comes from. With that knowledge, you can steal their traffic and the money they spend, making it a highly valuable service.
Strategic Site Mapping
Have you ever tried building a house without a plan? Crazy, right? But plenty of tradies do that with their websites and SEO campaigns. A website build faces the same problem if it’s not carefully planned from the start.
Site mapping sets the tone for your entire website and oftentimes means the difference between success and failure of a website or SEO campaign. As part of our SEO service we take the time to meticulously plan out each page including its function, form and intent.
This is the difference between throwing up a collection of pages loosely related to your trades business – and publishing a site with purpose that’s designed to funnel leads to high-converting pages.
Here’s why a sitemap is crucial for you…
Because a website isn’t just a billboard in a desert, or a fancy business card. It’s a strategically designed interface designed to turn your customers’ questions into an email enquiry lead form or phone call to your business.
So how do you build a strategic sitemap that does just that?
All of the keyword research, customer research and competitor research that we’ve dealt with up until now. This data needs to be placed into a coherent website architecture plan which guides people from visitors into customers.
This takes knowledge, it takes time, and it takes experience. Some of our websites have 200+ pages worth of content.
This strategic planning costs time and expertise.
Why this costs money = Strategic site mapping is crucial because a website without a plan is doomed to fail. Planning a website that guides visitors to call or request a quote takes time and careful planning, so you pay for an expert to build a site that drives ‘ready to buy’ leads to your contact pages to request quotes, call-outs or services.
SEO is always changing. To keep up with each Google update you need constant support to avoid falling between the cracks. For example, major updates in the past have prioritised website speed and mobile accessibility. If you’d launched your own site but failed to optimise it to meet these new SEO benchmarks, your rankings would slide.
Site updates you’ll need include:
Contact form testing
Theme and plugin updates
Site security updates
Google algorithm updates
Monthly SEO provides peace of mind in this regard because each new update can be handled by your team without you having to worry about finding more funds or taking time out of your business to try and fix the problem yourself. You might have a WordPress site that needs upgrading, a bloated site that needs to be sped up, or a desktop site that needs to become mobile-friendly. In every case, website updates are crucial to successful SEO.
Why this costs money = Website updates require specialisation, software and the time to look into each update carefully. There’s no room for a generalist here. If your site needs to be faster, you’ll need a web developer. If your site is a WordPress website, you’ll need a WordPress wiz. For the same reason a painter shouldn’t install a chandelier, experts are required for expert jobs.
Content and SEO go together like Friday and after-work drinks.
Think about the last time you needed to find information online. Maybe you were looking to spruce up the home and wanted to know the best type of lawn for a dry climate or the latest granite benchtop designs. Odds are you sat down and typed your search into a blank Google search bar. And you’re not alone, because 93% of online experiences start at a blank search engine.
Content comes in many forms, including:
Long form articles
Your website can’t rank without content. When you pay for SEO, you’re paying for a range of content creation services. These include:
Content preparation and ordering
Quality assurance checks
Google rewards websites with higher rankings if they create awesome content that makes people’s lives easier. Writing a 300 word blog isn’t likely to be long enough to change someone’s life – and there’s a million of those blogs published every day.
Odds are, if you’ve hired a cheap SEO agency or an off-shore writer from Fiverr, you’ve ended up with an article that’s crap, offers no value, and isn’t making anyone’s life easier. Trash content like this either a). clogs up your site without improving your rankings or b). ends up on a spammy website that makes your business look unprofessional. Cheap SEO agencies are known for pumping out content that can look good on the surface (“I get a new article every day!!!”) but do nothing to help your rankings.
Creating great content is an artform. Before a customer visits a search engine, they have a list of questions running through their mind. Your website’s job is to answer those questions. These people might check out one piece of content then leave, so the second time they visit your website it’s up to your content to answer the NEW questions they have. That’s what great content does – it educates. And creating that content takes time and skill.
The average client spends just 15 seconds engaging with a website. If a potential customer can’t find what they need at that time, you’ve lost them. In an age of DIY it’s easy for the average Joe to knock up a website as quickly as they knock up a backyard shed – all while saving a few bucks. But when the shed starts leaking, or the website starts leaking customers, saving a handful of dollars can become very costly.
Finally, as your business evolves, your SEO needs to evolve. Maybe you’re a plumber with a new gasfitting license. Or, an electrician with a new focus in commercial wiring. Your website content and architecture need to be updated to reflect these changes. Without adding new content or changing your site’s menu, no one will know you offer a new service.
How Do Backlinks Affect My SEO Cost?
Don’t think of backlinks as a boring technical term, they’re popularity links.
Imagine you’re at a chamber of commerce meeting, and your mate John from ‘John’s Building Co’ comes up to you. The other attendees notice, but it doesn’t make a stir.
Now imagine Richard Branson walks in and goes straight up to you. Now ALL the other attendees notice. Richard Branson is successful and popular, so in the eyes of everyone else you became more successful and popular too.
Google works in a similar way.
If a reputable and popular website links to your website then you’re more likely to be pushed up the rankings. Backlinks essentially help Google build a trust score for your website based on the websites linking to you.
When another site links to yours, it acts as a vote of confidence to Google. Each backlink says “this website is worth linking to because it brings value”. Unfortunately, creating backlinks isn’t easy or quick.
For the same reason you can’t magically whip up 100 satisfied customers willing to spread positive word of mouth, you can’t click your fingers and make 100 backlinks appear. You have to put in the work to reach out to relevant websites who might link to yours, to websites looking for guest blogs, and to thought-leaders open to linking to you. This process of outreach and relationship building is what you pay for as part of your monthly SEO retainer.
The links you build to your website are also more valuable when they come from relevant and reputable Australian websites. Backlinks from .com.au domains carry more relevance than foreign websites. With an Australian SEO agency you can tap into existing link building relationships.
The backlinking process includes:
Backlink Audit/Competitor Analysis (costs for software, time and expertise).
Disavowing Bad Backlinks (costs for time and expertise).
NAP Optimisation (costs for time)
Citation Building (costs for time, expertise, and access to citations)
Relationship building (costs for time and expertise).
Outreach Management (costs for time and expertise).
NAP Optimisation (costs for time)
Backlink Building (costs for time and expertise)
Backlink Audit/Competitor Analysis
Running a backlink audit without SEO tools is like hammering nails through a wall without finding the stud – it’s risky and can cause BIG problems.
Backlinks, although crucial in showing Google your site is trusted by others (and should be ranked higher on Google as a result) are hard to spot. Browsing a website won’t give away any clues whether they’ve got 1 or 100 links pointing to them, so you’ll need SEO software.
Backlink audit software is used on your site and your competition. Remember, SEO often comes down to how much work your competition has put in. If you’ve both got websites that load fast, and both got valuable content around the same length, the number of backlinks can make all the difference. Using SEO software you might find your competition has 2 backlinks pointing to the content you want to outrank. Now you know you’ll need at least 2 (preferably more) if you want to take their rankings.
Why this costs money = Backlink audits require advanced SEO software to track and analyse the backlink profile of your site, and your competition. You’ll also need the expertise and time of an SEO pro to make sense of the data and turn them into a strategy to help boost your rankings. The payoff is seeing how many links you need and building them to boost rankings and revenue.
Disavowing Bad Backlinks
Not all backlinks are created equal. Links from relevant and trustworthy sites in your niche are better for your SEO than unrelated sites. For example, as a builder a link from Bunnings is worth more than a link from the RSPCA. On the flipside, links from spammy and irrelevant sites can hurt your SEO.
Removing these links isn’t always possible, even if you contact the website in question and ask politely. In these cases you’ll need the services of an SEO pro to ask Google to ignore, or disavow, low-quality links that are hurting your rankings.
Why this costs money = Disavowing links requires great care as it is a challenge to tell the difference between a good backlink and a bad backlink. Disavow the wrong link and you can inadvertently cripple your rankings, which is why you pay for an expert, and software, to take the time to do it instead.
NAP stands for your business Name, Address and Phone Number. Getting your NAP right isn’t just about making it easy for leads to call you, it’s a crucial feature of local SEO.
Google uses your NAP to cross-reference your authenticity and relevance. If your NAP is exactly the same everywhere it’s listed, this is a green flag your business is legit. On the flipside, if your NAP is slightly different everywhere it’s listed, then it’s a red flag to Google that your site isn’t legit (and your local SEO results suffer).
As your NAP plays such a crucial role in your local SEO, there’s no room for error.
Why this costs money = NAP optimisation is a central ranking factor when you want to appear to local customers. Something as small as a misspelled word, or an abbreviated name, can hurt your rankings. An SEO expert takes the time and care to get your NAP right across the internet. Without this extra time, your NAP might be inaccurate and your rankings tumble.
What is a citation? Similar to backlinks, citations are mentions of your website across the internet. While backlinks can be clicked on and drive traffic, citations are non-clickable mentions of your website. Crucial to local SEO, the more citations you have, the better.
For tradies this means appearing in directories like Yelp, the Yellow Pages, or True Local. You may already be using the hipages to attract leads. This is an example of a business citation (even if you have to pay for low quality leads along the way).
Why this costs money = Citation building takes time and money, Time to source relevant directories and submit your business listing. If your NAP on each directory doesn’t match every other NAP of yours online, your SEO suffers. SEO pros have access to the most valuable directories so you get more bang for your buck.
Successful backlink campaigns aren’t about what you know, but who you know. Fostering relationships with thought leaders and popular blogs makes it easy to have articles published, and backlinks created to your site.
Without these relationships an SEO agency can make all the promises they like, but have no way of backing up those lofty promises. With existing relationships it’s a matter of finding a webmaster or blogger in your relevant industry and organising a link. This ensures your backlinks are relevant and from trustworthy sites – both features that Google’s ranking algorithm loves.
Why this costs money = Relationship building is an extremely time-intensive process. Bloggers and webmasters don’t create links to any old tradie’s business. It takes months of communication and relationship building to establish the trust that you benefit from. But once that trust is built, you can build links any time you like.
Your best customers are ones who you stay in touch with, and trust you to fix their urgent problems. Backlinks use the same principle. Publishing guest blogs is a proven way to boost your SEO, as links from other blogs and websites tell Google you’re a trustworthy and quality site.
By reaching out to blogs it’s possible to keep a fresh supply of backlink opportunities rolling through the door. Instead of using the same blogs and websites to build links (which may look unnatural to Google and trigger a penalty) you get fresh links from new sites.
Why this costs money = Outreach management takes time. There are no shortcuts when it comes to approaching sites for guest blogs. Sure, it’s possible to send the same request 100 times but that guarantees 100 angry replies. Each outreach attempt must be unique to maximise the odds of success, so you’re paying for that attention to detail.
Research shows you how many backlinks, and from what type of sites, you need. But unless you put that research into a plan that builds backlinks, all your work up until now is wasted. Backlink building is a slow process that takes great care. Since Google values backlinks so highly, earning links from the wrong sites, or the wrong industries, can have the opposite effect on your rankings.
Whether it’s editorial backlinks, guest post outreach and article writing, forming relationships with relevant bloggers and sitemasters, broken backlink building, 301 redirect links, social signal links or something else, the process takes time and tons of skill.
Why this costs money = Backlink building is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s tied to someone’s expertise, meaning the average Joe will struggle to a). find the right people to reach out to b). spot a valuable link building opportunity and c). execute an article or link so that it points to the right page, comes from the right page, and with the correct anchor text needed to pass on SEO juice. If that sounds complex, it is. Link building takes hours of effort from skilled link building pros.
Local SEO is great if you want to target specific suburbs
Instead of targeting entire cities (or countries), local SEO is about becoming the #1 ranked website in a specific suburb. This is the difference between ranking when someone searches for ‘emergency plumber Sydney’ and ‘emergency plumber Bondi Beach’.
Ranking in a specific suburb means less competition. And with less competition you’ll be able to match your rival’s SEO efforts (and surpass them) with fewer resources and less time spent optimising your site. Which makes local SEO a little more cost effective.
Local SEO is especially valuable for tradies. This is because customers typically have a transaction in mind, or a very specific problem that needs solving. Compare this to someone who’s on Google searching for shoes. The search ‘shoe’ could be to compare brands, or price, or find pictures. But a search for ‘24/7 emergency plumber’ comes from someone who’s likely dealing with a busted toilet, basement rapidly filling with water, or similar time-sensitive issue.
Remember, SEO isn’t an expense but an investment. If your SEO delivers new customers, and you’re able to recoup your cost, you’ll be running at a profit.
Think of what one extra customer is worth to your business over their lifetime (because a new customer will likely use you again and again if your service is good). For a plumber this lifetime value could be $4,000. If your local SEO costs $1,000 a month, you only need ONE client to pay off the first 4 months of your campaign.
Local SEO typically includes:
Google My Business (GMB) optimisation
Reputation management (e.g. reviews)
Local SEO Cost = The cost of local SEO in Australia sits between $499 a month and $3,000 a month. Quotes at either end of the spectrum can reflect the competition you face, your current rankings, and the keywords you’re targeting.
National SEO requires more investment than local SEO.
National SEO focuses on ranking your website across multiple locations and searches. A trades business ranking nationally can appear when someone searches for ‘best builders in Australia’ whether they’re on the Gold Coast or building a home in Perth.
With more competition, national SEO costs more per month than local SEO. If ranking websites already have fast sites, quality content, and strong backlink profiles, your own SEO campaign will need more resources and time invested in it to stack up. This typically runs between $2,000 to $20,000 a month and up.
If you’re cringing at the thought of spending $20,000 a month on SEO, remember to think about the leads coming in the other way. With the #1 ranked website attracting over 30% of all clicks, appearing at the top of Google means 300 out of 1000 people end up on your site. If you can convert 30 of them and each customer has a $10,000 lifetime value, then you’ve brought in $300,000 of revenue while spending $20,000.
Suddenly that $20,000 spend is a much bigger profit.
National SEO cost = The cost of national SEO sits between $2,000 up to $20,000 a month and up. Again, quotes at either end of the spectrum will reflect the competition you face, your current rankings, and the keywords you’re targeting.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed by an SEO Agency
An SEO guide teaching you how to avoid being scammed by an SEO agency might be hard to believe.
After all, we’re biased because we have skin in the game. So don’t take our word for it.
That’s right. DON’T BELIEVE WHAT WE’RE TELLING YOU.
Your trades business is as unique as you. You wouldn’t expect a client of yours to make a decision without doing their homework, or comparing tradespeople. Whether you’re laying bricks, building a house, or choosing an SEO agency, the right choice will always be a personal one.
You’d only call a plumber to inspect damaged pipes. Or, a sparky to inspect damaged wiring. The best way to improve your rankings on Google and fix your SEO is to leave SEO for tradespeople to the experts.
It’s true good SEO pays back more than it costs. But if you’ve been thinking about using SEO to grow your business, and you’re concerned about being ripped off, take the time to compare your options before you spend a cent. A reputable SEO agency will take the time to understand your business and offer a custom quote suited to your needs
At Tradie Digital we offer free consultations and SEO analysis to give you a head start. You can use what we tell you and implement your new SEO skills yourself, or take our findings to another agency.
Quick Recap For Time-Poor Contractors
If you’ve scrolled to the bottom for an easy to read conclusion, we don’t blame you.
You know your competition is using SEO to attract leads, and you know it’s time for you to take SEO seriously. But that doesn’t mean you need to read our guide word for word.
So here’s the takeaway you need.
The cost of SEO depends on 5 factors:
#1 – The competitiveness of your chosen keywords
#2 – The competitiveness of your market (i.e your location)
#3 – How many keywords/products/services you want to target
#4 – Whether your business has one location or multiple locations
#5 – How much you want to crush your competition (i.e how quickly you want to get to page one).
BUT…you don’t pay for results. You pay for time and expertise. The more you pay, the more time and expertise invested in your SEO campaign.
And the most important features of SEO to pay for are website architecture, backlinks, and content.
If you spend $5 printing pamphlets and your letterbox campaign leads to $5,000 worth of work then you’re enjoying significant ROI. But if you need more leads and more job call-outs, SEO is worth the money because the benefits compound over time to deliver proven ROI.
The right SEO budget is one you can afford, for a minimum of 6 months, and ideally 12 months. The lower the budget, the longer the journey. The higher your budget, the more time, expertise and resources, can be spent catching up to your competition and outranking them.
Finally, you pay for what you get. So invest in your business if you want to see it grow.
Looking to grow your tradesperson business? Spots are open for eligible businesses. Apply now to see if you’re a good fit to work with Tradie Digital.