Managed SEO – The Cost of DIY SEO VS Managed Services

Imagine having an account manager (or team) of highly experienced SEO specialists handling every aspect of your site’s organic search strategy.  This could easily account for dozens if not one hundred man hours of highly specialized, skilled labor.  Your business (and your client’s) will receive high-level strategic advisement, a results-driven marketing plan, and project specific SEO services.  This is exactly what managed SEO services aim to accomplish.

managed seoDo all managed SEO services live up to that quality level?  Absolutely not.  But that’s the goal when you’re looking for a company to perform this type of service for you and your clients.

In fact, this is a practice that major corporations utilize every day to win the organic search game.  Sure, some of them hire in-house teams of SEO specialists.  But that’s far from the rule.  Managed SEO is sort of the secret weapon behind the success of ROI positive search campaigns around the world.

The justification for this type of investment in your company isn’t too hard to find.  It just makes sense to let the highly trained experts handle your campaigns.  From improved return on investment to dozens if not hundreds of man hours put back into your pocket; the benefits can’t be ignored.

Let’s break this down in a more visual way…

Advantages of DIY SEO Vs Managed SEO

Tactic DIY SEO Managed SEO
Market Research 2 – 5 hours 0
Site Analysis 5 -10 hours 0
Keyword Research 2 – 5 hours 0
Backlink Analysis 5 – 40 hours (depends on # of links) 0
On-Site Optimization 2 – 40 hours (depends on # of pages) 0
Backlink Cleanup 1 – 5 hours (depends on # of links) 0
Content Creation 20 – 40 hours 0
Backlink Building 5-10 hours 0
Total 42 – 155 hours $500 – $5,000 per month


Keep in mind this table isn’t necessarily complete.  Some managed SEO platforms will offer all of these services and more.  While others may not include everything listed above.  This is just a list of services that are often found when working with service providers.  While many of these will be core services like on-page and off-page services, others may not be.  

This chart was created to give you a rough idea of the type of man hours you can expect to be putting into just one campaign if you were to go the DIY route.  Skilled SEO specialists may be able to cut some time off of these figures but it won’t be a game-changing amount.

 Managed SEO Features a Reputable Service Provider May Include

Dedicated Account Manager – You’ll find most managed SEO platforms will provide you with an account manager or multiple points of contact that will keep you informed on your campaigns.  This person will provide advice, analysis, and updates.  Cultivating a good relationship with your account manager will go a long way in getting the most out of your services.

High Level Marketing Plan – This is a 20,000 foot view of your organic search marketing plan.  Your account manager or account team will provide you with where the holes in your market exist and just how they plan to attack them.  They’ll most likely look at where your site or client’s site is at (keyword selection & rankings), where the competition is, and what needs to be done in order to overtake that competition.

Competition Analysis - This is an in-depth analysis of the competition’s site and backlink profile.  This is particularly handy for exposing link opportunities you may have missed as well as high value keywords you could rank for with minimal effort.  

Keyword Rank Tracking – This is a standard feature of every platform.  If your SEO service provider doesn’t provide you with regular keyword ranking updates – find a new one.  You’ll most likely be given ranking reports for Google & Bing for desktop.  Sometimes mobile rankings are included as well.

seo strategyStrategies You Might Find With a Managed SEO Campaign

Good SEO strategies are fairly standard across the industry.  There are accepted practices (White Hat), data proven practices (Gray Hat), and then there are black hat practices that will eventually get your site banned from the search engines.  Ranking in Google and Bing will involve several of the following tactics:

On-Site Optimization

  • Keyword Research
  • Site Architecture
  • Custom Title and Meta Descriptions
  • Content Creation & Modification
  • Internal Linking Methodologies
  • External Linking Methodologies
  • Image Optimization
  • Sitemap Optimization

 Off-Site Strategies

  • Backlink Profile Cleanup
  • Citation Building
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • Tiered Link Building
  • Social Signals
  • Press Release Syndication
  • Video Marketing
  • Microsite Building & Promotion

 Are Results Guaranteed With Managed Services?

No.  Most managed SEO service platforms will not provide you with a guarantee because organic rankings are just too unpredictable.  In fact you’ll find many providers ask that you sign a contract for a set time period (often 6 months) because that’s how long it will take to see significant results.

Don’t let the lack of a guarantee turn you away though.  SEO is still the highest ROI traffic source available.  When you do your research and find a reseller or service provider with a proven track record and a good menu of services it’ll be hard to go wrong.  

Closing Thoughts

When you look for a managed SEO provider make sure that their track record is strong, their services look similar to those listed above,  and talk with them.  Talk with the guys you’ll be working with and get a feel for how they conduct business.  Remember, these are the guys you want to take your site to the top (and your profit along with it).  

Commonly Asked Questions

Q – What Do SEO Services Cost?
A – That’s a question at the very heart of managed SEO services.  The cost of SEO services will vary depending on how much preparation and hands-on time your campaign will need.  If you or your client are looking for a team of SEO professionals to handle your campaign from start to finish the cost will be much higher than if you’re attempting to get a few pages on your site ranked on your own.  The other concern when considering cost is how much revenue is potentially lost when you do not rank well for target phrases.  If your revenue would be substantially higher with rankings than without then the cost of paying a managed campaign versus buying services a la carte is different.  You truly have to look at where your company is at in terms of revenue generation and what’s right for your situation.

Q – What Will SEO Services Include?
A – Your SEO services will be tailored specifically for your website’s current standings in the search engines.  If you have no site at all then you’ll need the full range of services SEO’s can offer as well as web design and web development services (which are not always included in an SEO’s menu of services).  If you or your client have an established site looking to make improvements on a set of specific keyword targets then your services will include much less.  You’ll find your campaign is more focused on promotion while research may be less than it would be with a brand new website.

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