If you’re a client searching for SEO and content marketing services, it’s natural that you want to pay the lowest price possible while getting the best results possible. Who doesn’t? But as they say, “You can have it fast, cheap, or good–choose any two.” The point of this post isn’t that you should assume that anything expensive is going to be fast and high quality–there are plenty of agencies that fall flat in all three areas–but to help those who might be tempted to base their entire decision about marketing services based on price. In some cases, the most expensive option is the best.
I recently sent a proposal to a client for our blogging services. The client is a furniture store in Hong Kong, and they want some blog posts to boost their SEO efforts. I told them we could provide these for $1,500 USD apiece, but I didn’t provide much in the way of context for that price and so, understandably, the client came back and said “That’s too expensive for us.” Here was my response:
Hi [name withheld], I can understand that HK $12K seems like a lot to pay for a blog post, especially if what you’re thinking of as a blog post is something like http://www.theshare-space.com/BlogPostDetail/?entryId=585, or http://homeishere.furniturerow.com/surprise-spouse-make-bed/. It would be crazy to pay $12K apiece for blogs like this. It’s not that these blog posts are bad, but these type of posts are unlikely to drive SEO results. They provide filler content so that you can say “Yes, we have an active blog,” but that’s about all the benefit you get from them.
Our goal is to create what Rand Fishkin at Moz calls 10x content, as he explains in his post Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die. This means creating content that has exceptional value, because that’s the kind of content that will naturally be shared on social media, attract links, and boost SEO efforts that lead to customer engagement and higher sales at your store, which is the real goal with all this work.
At its core, the issue is that visitors to your site have no incentive to stay on a blog post on your site, share it, or link to it, unless your content is highly engaging. Those visitors know they can simply hit the back button and check out the next link in Google. Google has thousands of PhDs working on Google’s algorithm, so the search engine is smart enough to know whether people are getting value from your content or not. If Google detects that people don’t like your content, it will stop displaying it, and then it’s of no value to you. In order to win the SEO game, you don’t need good content, because everyone else is already producing good content. You need the best content out there.
That means creating blog posts that are more like http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/5-new-yorkers-who-made-the-most-of-seriously-small-apartments-215343. This post makes extensive use of images, includes video, and has well written content that has been researched or comes from years of experience (or both). The post is not just informative and mildly entertaining, but a valuable resource. It’s the type of content someone would bookmark, print out, share, link to, and come back to in the future. Because the content creates that behavior, it gets picked up by Google and SEO benefit is generated by it.
Creating this content isn’t easy, of course, or everyone would be doing it. The fact that it seems expensive to you means it will seem expensive to your competitors, which is precisely why creating this kind of content will give you an advantage–you’ll be doing what they aren’t, and that’s why you’ll get SEO results that are better than what they’re getting. If you do what they do by creating content that is good, but isn’t 10x content, then Google will have no way to differentiate you from them, and you’ll be lumped together in the search results with every other furniture store in Hong Kong.
I hope this helps to clarify why we charge the rate we do for this content, and the results you can expect from it. If you have any further questions please let me know.
It’s easy to confuse quantity and quality. When it comes to hiring an agency to handle your content marketing in the form of blogging, you want to know how much you’ll pay per post or per word and how many blog posts they’ll provide, but if that’s all you focus on you could end up spending your marketing budget on a deliverable that won’t move the needle on your sales. If you want to sell more furniture, or whatever your product is, you need to produce content that is so much better than anything else out there that it’s drop dead obvious to people. If it’s that obvious to people, Google will detect that, and give you the SEO results you’re looking for. It’s a double win; traffic to your content via Google, and content that will engage visitors and lead to sales.