A very good question, thanks for asking; we’ll get around to answering that soon.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it’s more commonly known – is the act of optimizing a website; its behind-the-scenes elements, its page content (top to bottom), its in-site linking and many other things for the purpose of being ranked better in search engine results.
On-site SEO is done on the website itself and involves optimizing the functional aspects (meta tags, links) and page content (images, text) itself. This kind of SEO takes time and attention to get right, and more than anything, is just about giving search engines (let’s be honest: Google) indications of what your website is about and how they should relate searches to it.
This kind of SEO is perhaps the most essential as, if Google do not know what your site is about, or if it’s confusing or worst of all misleading, they could decide to determine it irrelevant or spammy, tacky, or who knows what else. Nobody knows exactly what importance Google place on each specific element, but they give us clues, which SEO experts are well aware of.
SEO that is not done on-site is quite obviously done elsewhere on the web, pointing back to your website; this can include anything from content marketing (images, articles, videos) in order to build organic buzz that leads Google to associate X content to your website, and it can also include things such as submissions to relevant directories and the creation/management of social pages.
There are many ways of giving credence to your site elsewhere on the web, ranging from the creative to the deceptive. Attempting to deceive Google or cheating their ranking methods by trying to fast-track your way to the top is known as black-hat SEO, and it’s not advisable. If Google do notice you’re attempting to trick them, it could result in your website being banished from results.
Aside from marketing and optimizing your own website, what other people say and relate back to your website can matter a lot too. Many search engines care about how many times your URL has been mentioned elsewhere and by who; this implies what circles you mix in, what kind of quality your website is likely to be and how much respect and demand its content has or service is in.
Okay Okay, but Why So Expensive?
Ah yes, coming back to the initial aim of this article…
Well, to put it bluntly: SEO is expensive because it can be.
That sounds somewhat cynical, but it’s true. Why is anything expensive? Things which are rare, are expensive. And whilst you may be able to find so-called SEO experts all over the web now, it’s not a commonly known knowledge-base that is broadly understood, or a service that is in abundance in the way that very tried and tested services such as carpet fitting are.
Diamonds are expensive because they’re rare. Well, they’re apparently rare; humans actually control the production of them, to make them expensive.
Things which are openly available and easily understood essentially have no value. This is why web designers and computer programmers generally earn higher wages, because most people cannot do what they do. There’s certainly a lot who can do those things, but not relative to most people.
SEO for small business is a specialist field, and it’s not truly commonplace. And aside from being somewhat rare, it’s also much-needed and sought-out due to so many businesses realizing they need to operate so many elements online now. Companies are interested in things that can make them more money; more customers equals more money; good SEO, can equal more customers.
In a sense, SEO Experts are essentially exploiting the naivety of the masses and over-charging for a sometimes very simple service. True and honest SEO, cannot ethically offer 100% guarantees on ranking specifics because no SEO expert (unless they work for them) knows the exact algorithm that Google uses to rank search results. SEO only goes so far, yet the cost… often enormous.
If you are thinking about hiring an SEO expert to work on your website and improve your presence, keep all of this in mind. They may absolutely be able to help you and improve your Internet stature, but also bare in mind that SEO alone doesn’t result in success. The business itself needs to be sound.