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Shelling out extra money on search engine optimization (SEO) can be a scary move for any company, but a new study suggests it pays off. 

Findings from a survey of business owners found that those who pay above the average for SEO services were more likely to be satisfied compared to those who paid less. 

According to the data from Backlinko, the average amount small businesses in America pay for SEO services is $497.16 per month. 

However, those that spent more than $500 per month were 53.3% more likely to say they were “extremely satisfied” compared to those who spent less than that. 

What Business Owners Say About SEO

The responses come from a larger study conducted by Backlinko, which included surveying 1,200 business owners across America about SEO-related issues. 

It found that most small businesses see online optimization largely as a way to drive referrals and reviews, as well as improving Google search performance. 

Through these goals, they also see SEO as a way to bring in new customers and increase sales. 

Unfortunately, many of these businesses aren’t getting what they are expecting out of their SEO providers.

Just 30% of business owners said they would recommend their current service provider. 

Disappointed With SEO

The biggest issues were simply that businesses were not satisfied with the results and some search engine optimization service providers delivered poor customer service or responsiveness. 

Part of this may be that some businesses choose to work with freelancers. The results showed that those who worked with agencies were more likely to be satisfied than those who hired freelancers. 

More likely, though, is that many SEO agencies and service providers are likely overselling what their low-level services can accomplish. While any search engine optimization is better than none, many promise that low-cost options will lead to major gains.

Based on the findings, they are more likely to be satisfied by diving in and truly investing in their online optimization, rather than only dipping a toe in the water.

Do you get phone calls for your business from people who say that’ll put you on page one for your keywords with their SEO services?  It can be difficult to determine which SEO companies can actually do the work they claim (and some of them make full-time SEOs like me just look bad).

Find out what their skills are before agreeing to anything.  If you can determine that a company really knows what they’re doing, it can be worth the price.  Good SEO is not cheap, but the revenue you get from solid listings on your primary keywords will more than make up for it.

I’ll say now from my own experience – anyone that guarantees position 1 (or even page one) listings in a set time period (or at all, really) is in all likelihood full of it.  SEO is part of an industry that is constantly changing.  To do it right, you have to keep track of how the search engines operate and adjust where necessary.  Bad SEO may work temporarily, but in all likelihood will eventually make your listings drop lower than ever (or even get you blacklisted).

Shannon Rogers with Web Advantage put together a good list of questions to ask SEOs who cold-call you.  If you can find SEOs who can answer these well, they may very well be worth the marketing investment.