SEOMoz details SEO pricing structures. Is he playing the reassuringly-expensive card? If so, clever guy. And I agree with him when he says “I know that we’re in the higher end, but nowhere near the top”
He’s right. There are indeed firms charging more than those figures. And while at the top end for SEO firms, as far as general corporate marketing spends go, it’s not particularly high.
To determine how much SEO campaigns are worth to the buyer, there really is only one metric that counts: return on investment. If you’re buying SEO campaigns, then it is often a wise idea to build performance metrics into the SEO contract. One of the advantages of search marketing campaigns, as opposed to many other forms of marketing, is that they are directly measureable.
Carefully consider the measurement criteria. Ranking positions are a dubious metric, because high positions don’t necessarily translate into increased business or awareness. Also, increased traffic doesn’t necessaily lead to increased business or awareness (it could be the wrong type of traffic – look for a high % of back clicks, or failure to complete desired action).
Instead, make sure the business case, and measurements of success, are crystal clear. Figure out what your desired outcomes are, and design the SEO campaign, and metrics, around that.
Whether you’re spending $500, or $500, 0000, that’s the way to extract value from SEO, and to avoid the snake-oil.