Is SEO Really "Free Traffic"?

Is SEO Really “Free Traffic?”

In the world of SEO, salespeople and clients like to throw around the phrase of “free traffic” when it comes to organic search traffic. So, does search engine optimisation actually give you free traffic? That’s the question we will be looking to answer in this blog.

We will take a look at the three different ways of doing SEO to determine the various types of costs involved: doing it yourself, hiring freelancers to help you, or hiring an agency to handle everything. It’s important to note that we are not looking at the pros and cons of each option, we are strictly looking at the costs.

Doing It Yourself

The first thing we’ll be looking at is doing everything yourself. This includes optimising titles and meta data, writing blogs, building links, writing content, page speed etc… Quite a lot of tasks, which is why barely any businesses will actually try to do anything by themselves.

But let’s say for arguments sake a business owner does take the decision to do their entire website SEO on a DIY basis. The biggest cost here is time. The owner of a business suddenly has to find the time to perform a huge range of brand new tasks, including:

  • Researching and training to actually understand how to do SEO.
  • Writing webpage content and blogs that are actually coherent, internally linked and works for SEO.
  • Outreaching to other websites and editorials to build links.
  • Optimising website meta data including titles, descriptions and image alt tags.
  • Optimising website performance for mobile friendliness, website speed and core web vitals.

In terms of monetary cost, it’s completely possible to do all of these tasks for free, without having to spend a penny. But like a cheap imitation of any other product, your SEO work isn’t going to be as good as an actual professional. In fact, I’d happily take a bet that the massive majority of businesses who do all of these SEO tasks themselves are probably doing more harm than good to their website’s SEO. 

Other than money, you will also be spending a ton of time doing these tasks, whereas you could spend your time growing your business in other ways that you are actually qualified to do.

Hiring Freelancers

Moving on from DIY, businesses may also decide to hire freelancers to handle their SEO. This can range from hiring a separate freelancer to handle each individual task, to hiring specific freelancers to only do some of the work whilst other tasks are done as DIY.

When it comes to hiring freelancers to do SEO, these are the type of freelancers you’ll be looking to hire to cover all the bases:

  • Content writer, to handle content creation for blogs and pages.
  • Link builder/outreach specialist, to handle off-page SEO and link building. 
  • On-page SEO specialist, to handle meta data and publishing new pages or posts.
  • Technical SEO specialist, to handle website speed, core web vitals and server-side issues.
  • Web developer, to handle any website changes or fixes which may be required.

As you can see, you’ll most likely end up building your own SEO team by hiring freelancers. However, costs can vary depending on skill. For example, a person living in India using a content spinner is going to be a much cheaper freelance option than a person living in England properly researching topics to write articles. If you want the best, you’ll have to pay more. If you’re willing to settle for the worst options just because it’s cheap, you might want to reconsider doing SEO at all.

When it comes to hiring freelancers, your costs will vary depending on how many freelancers you require and the varying skills & price points of each freelancer. Not to mention you will also be spending time to manage and oversee your freelancers.

Hiring an Agency

The final option is to hire a dedicated SEO agency in Manchester to handle all the work for you. An SEO agency will typically employ a team of professionals who specialise in their specific roles, ensuring you get the best SEO campaign. Typically, agencies will sign clients up to monthly retainers, so you’d pay one fee every month, and then the agency would spend that month performing all the tasks. With this price model, some agencies may lock you into a contract for a minimum number of months, whereas other agencies will let you cancel anytime.

Agencies can also provide different price points. Some agencies other different packages where the price will depend on the amount of work carried out – so cheaper packages may be affordable for your business, but you may not be getting the amount of work you actually require to get the results you need. On the other hand, you shouldn’t dive right into an expansive package, as you could be paying for extra things you do not need.

Every agency is different though, so you’ll have to do your own research before hiring one.

At Blue Whale Media, our SEO proposals include a manual audit of your website & off-page presence, along with a bespokely priced package of works we think are required to get your website ranking. We believe this is the best pricing model – you are not being overcharged for work you do not need, and at the same time you are not being undercharged for work we know isn’t going to lead to any results.

So to conclude, you are always paying for SEO in one way or another, so the traffic that comes from organic search is never truly free.