How SEO Costs Compare to Traditional Advertising

How SEO Costs Compare to Traditional Advertising

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Having an online presence is a must for most businesses. Even if you’re a small, local store, your customers likely searched for you before walking in (which is why Local SEO is so important!). Disruptions like COVID-19 have only increased the importance of having a strong digital presence for your business.

SEO cost is indeed one of the first things you need to do to optimize your digital presence. But because of it’s a relatively abstract concept, it’s often tough for agencies to explain SEO costs to potential clients. What does SEO do for you? How much does it cost? And how does it stack up, cost and effectiveness-wise, relative to traditional advertising? Let’s find out.

A Quick Refresher on SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a process through which you improve the organic ranking of your website in search engines like Google. SEO helps ensure that your website stays at the top of search results, where users are most likely to click.

Having a top-ranked website can take dedicated and strategic SEO work over many months. It’s not a simple process and involves both technical and non-technical aspects. SEO also means regularly writing content with keywords that are the most searched for.

While there are many finer aspects of SEO, these fall beyond the scope of this piece. The TLDR of it is this: SEO is not a silver bullet. It takes strategy, rigorous effort, and a lot of time. But the results are equally rewarding too. A well-executed SEO strategy will give you a constant stream of web traffic from organic search, that translate into leads and revenue.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

How do SEO Costs Compare?

For a good SEO campaign, you will need to budget $10,000 to $15,000 a year, though this can be significantly higher depending on your niche. The expense and effort vary with the competition for keywords, the market you operate in, and lots of other factors. The broader your space is, the tougher the competition, and the more you would have to put in.How does this stack up relative to traditional ads?

TV or radio ads, billboards, and magazine or newspaper ads are great ways to reach a broad range of customers and to build brand recognition and awareness. Here’s how some of the costs compare

  • Network TV: $80,000 to $600,000 for 30 second slot
  • Cable TV: $5000 to $8000 for 30 second slot
  • Radio: $200 to $1000 for 60 seconds
  • Newspaper: $12 per square inch to $25+ per square inch
  • SEO: $15,000 to $75,000 per year

These are just approximate rates and they will vary depending on a number of factors. But as you can see, in the long term, SEO costs compare pretty well to the alternatives. One of the key things to note here while making this comparison is that traditional advertising does not have the narrow targeting that the digital marketing channels offer. It is also not a 24x7x365 source for traffic and leads.

While talking about SEO, though, it is also important to note that there are always additional costs associated with it – SEO audits for compliance and performance evaluation are an example. You will also need to budget to create content regularly. This means hiring a team or including content in your scope of work with an agency or SEO consultant.

Let’s Talk ROI

One important conversation we should be having is about SEO and ROI. Here is where SEO really shines through. A Google report indicates that organic search has an ROI that’s 5.3x higher than that of paid search.

A good SEO plan puts your content on the top of the results page for a relevant search. This means more organic search results coming your way. Organic listings get about 77% of all clicks. Organic search traffic is 5x higher than paid search and 20x higher than traffic from social media, meaning SEO could make or break your digital marketing success.

With a 5x-plus ROI, SEO is a great value, especially if you’re strategic and consistent with your SEO plan.

What’s The Catch?

Investing in SEO makes sense. There’s no doubt about that. However, you need to be willing to play the long game: results can take 6 to 12 months to materialize.

Does this mean it’s all hit and miss? Absolutely not. It is all about planning, strategy and execution. To drive the sort of results that great SEO offers, you also need to ensure that you are making the right decisions. Your SEO projects are only as good as your strategy. And for that, you need to do your homework. Research key SEO concepts and have a working knowledge before you start working with a consultant or agency.

Finding the right partnership that works for you is vital as it is quite easy to blow through your SEO budget, only to realize that you didn’t get anywhere.


SEO has all the potential to drive your business to the next level. While results might not be apparent in the short term, SEO outperforms other channels in the long run, and offers immense ROI potential.

When we talk about comparing SEO with transitional advertising, it is also important to realize that we aren’t always dealing with an “either-or” situation. Traditional ads and marketing channels give you more flexible and short-term options to attract customers. The best approach is to implement SEO and traditional approaches in a complementary way.

Finding the right SEO partner is half the battle. Flying V Group has helped businesses implement winning SEO strategies and maximize their ROI. Talk to us today to get started on your web SEO and transform your digital marketing presence in just 3 months! Rated one of the top digital marketing agencies in California by Clutch, Flying V Group’s helped 250+ US businesses grow digital marketing and convert new leads. Register here for a free web SEO audit to see how your business can start showing on the first of Google and what it will take to get there!

Thank you so much for reading How SEO Costs Compare to Traditional Advertising. We really appreciate it! If you have any questions about our article, or can suggest any other topics you think we should explore, feel free to let us know.

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Written by Robb Fahrion

Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. Robb has helped over 350+ companies build their businesses online and is responsible for building Flying V Group into one of the premier marketing agencies in the United States. Robb and his team have managed over $10M in marketing budget and continue to accelerate the growth of clients' businesses. A love for business and competition is what fuels Robb to create dynamic marketing plans to help his clients grow exponentially.

January 5, 2021



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