A question I’m often asked in the world of marketing is, “Why do local SEO campaigns vary so greatly in cost?”
I see three clear types of local SEO services, and the price tag associated with each of them correlates directly to the long-term value of the service.
Automated local SEO services
The most basic of local SEO services are automated software platforms. The core of these services is centered around management of citations in the local search ecosystem.
For a monthly or yearly fee, the automated system will typically submit your business info to various data providers and business directories and ensure your business name, address and phone number are consistent across the local ecosystem.
These platforms are typically user-friendly and easy to manage but offer little in the way of long-term value. When you stop paying for the service, they stop maintaining your listings.
I also want to point out that these services alone won’t increase your website rankings — however, they remain a critical role player in local search efforts. They’re a great option if you’re a business owner in a small town/niche market, or if you’re a marketer utilizing the tool as a part of an overall campaign. I use Moz Local frequently in my campaigns.
Total cost is $84 per year (per location) for Moz Local or $300–$499 per year for a single location on Synup or Yext. These services usually charge per location and offer volume discounts for larger and enterprise-size businesses.
Small-scale local campaigns
The next step up from an automated service is working with a company that offers small-scale, often cookie-cutter local marketing campaigns.
Many of these companies use a pre-recorded message about needing to claim a Google My Business page. However, they’re really pitching a small-scale local marketing campaign over the phone.
I call these small-scale local marketing campaigns (rather than local SEO campaigns) because they will also often include pay-per-click ads or social media management coupled in at a very low price.
In this type of offering, the small budget is spread thin across multiple channels, which is good for visibility, but not necessarily for ROI. When you’re spread thin, no one channel can really yield great results for the business, making the long-term value lower.
You also need to consider that when it comes to these paid add-ons, the results will disappear when you stop paying the service. Though paid search and social ads can complement and even enhance a local SEO campaign, they don’t provide long-term benefits unless you continue paying for them.
Yodle, Hibu and Yellow Pages are some of the best-known companies that offer these small-scale local marketing campaigns. The feedback I’ve received on these companies has been a mixed bag. I started my SEO career in a company like this and know it’s a good option if you’re just starting out with marketing or need a basic online setup.
These campaigns usually run between $399 and $899 per month, depending on the company and its specific offerings.
Holistic local SEO campaigns
The most advanced form of local search is a holistic local SEO campaign. These campaigns include maintenance of internal website elements, optimization of external factors like citations and links, help with online review strategies and mobile SEO. They’re often paired with consulting sessions and custom reporting tailored to a business’s unique goals.
Holistic local SEO campaigns are the best for providing long-term value because the results won’t disappear immediately if you stop working with the agency. They also offer an element of education that you could argue is the most valuable of all.
While these services can seem a bit costly, they’re worth their price in every aspect. They’re highly targeted campaigns run by thoughtful local SEO technicians who know how to focus on getting results. The investment into these campaigns typically ranges from $899 to $ 1,999 per month depending on the company, their specific offerings and the business’s overall goals.
I want to stress that all three of these service offerings are valuable in their own right. It’s important to highlight their differences to understand what is the best fit for your business or your client as a marketer. My goal is to help create a win-win-win scenario. The clients win by getting new business, the customers win by finding the business they need and the agency wins with a happy long-term client.