Have you ever had a proposal, estimate or quote for search
engine optimization work
and wondered what goes into the
pricing? What makes one site need more work than another? Why
do some sites increase rankings faster than others? Why do
some sites get more traffic from their top page ranking than

There are so many aspects of a web site that can decrease or
boost your search engine rankings. Each web site is as unique
as DNA and as such, will react differently to different
marketing treatments.

What are these different factors that go into your web site’s
ranking? Here is a list of the most important aspects:

1. The State of Your Site Prior to the Optimization – Your web
site can have many different attributes that contribute to its
ability to rank well or not so well. Your site’s PageRank for
example, if your PR is a 0/10 or 1/10, it’s going to take a lot
longer and a lot more work to get your site ranking well. If
your site is poorly designed, contains frames or is written
entirely in Flash, a lot of work will be required to redesign
your site so that it is search engine friendly. If your site has
very few incoming links, a fair amount of link development will
have to be done in order for you to see the rankings and traffic
you’re after. A web site that has been around for a while and
developed its PageRank, has a search engine friendly design and
obtains links on a frequent basis, will be able to reach top
positions much faster than other sites, once an optimization
campaign is under way.

2. The Keywords You Are Targeting – Some keywords are less
competitive than others. If you search Google for a keyword or
keyword phrase, you’ll see at the top of the results how many
web pages are listed in those results. That is the amount of web
sites that are competing with yours to reach top page placement
for that keyword or keyword phrase. For example, the keyword
phrase “web design” has approximately 303 million web pages
listed in the results, whereas if you search for my name in
quotations, “courtney heard”, you will see that there are only
508 web pages listed in the results. It is therefore, much
easier to rank well for the keywords “courtney heard” than it is
for web design. This is why you must choose keywords wisely.
With tools such as wordtracker.com, you can find out
approximately how many searches are performed for a given
keyword or keyword phrase. The more competitive those keywords
are, the higher the cost will be to optimize your web site and
the longer the optimization will take.

3. The Size of Your Target Market – If your site is targeting a
global market, it will take a lot more effort to reach the top
ten search results than if your site is targeting a regional
market. It also depends on what sort of market you’re targeting.
If your site sells a product that only a small group of people
will be interested in purchasing, your site will be optimized
easier than if the product or service appealed to the global
population. For instance, the keyword phrase “real estate” will
require a lot more effort to reach top page placement for than
“real estate canada” and even “real estate vancouver”.

4. Competitor Sites’ SEO Campaigns – You might find that once
your optimization campaign is under way, your site jumps and
slips and jumps and slips several times. This can be due to many
things, but the one we’ll look at is your competitors’ sites SEO
campaigns. If your competitors are aggressively optimizing their
own sites for search engines, they can also be achieving new
rankings and displacing your site. This brings us to our 5th and
final point…

5. Your Own SEO and Link Development Campaign – Your own link
development and SEO campaign should be thorough, covering all
the aspects of a well optimized site and utilising all your
resources for obtaining incoming links. If your SEO campaign
isn’t approached properly, your competitors can surpass you in
the rankings easily. You must be aware of your competition and
adjust your efforts accordingly.

As you can see, there are many, many things that make your site
unique in the services it requires. Some sites can reach top
page placement by just changing a title tag, while others wait 6
months to even be listed on Google. The bottom line is, educate
yourself, ask questions, choose the right SEO company and be
patient. In time, your top page placement will come.

Courtney Heard is the founder of Abalone Designs (http://www.abalone.ca), an Internet Marketing and SEO company
in Vancouver, Canada. More of Courtney’s articles are available at Abalone’s Resource Library