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What Is SEO and Why Is It Important?

The essence of Search Engine Optimization or SEO revolves around the practice and strategy of improving ranking and increasing organic traffic to a website. For instance, when your website ranks on the first page for a keyword relating to your industry in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the higher chance of getting more traffic means more potential customers for your business.

The importance of a good SEO would result in improved visibility, web traffic, ranking, user experience, and ultimately growth for your brand or business. Easier said than done, which is why there is a high demand for SEO specialists.

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Before we get to the pricing part, here are key SEO elements which you should know:

On-page SEO

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With on-page SEO, you’ll work with your website’s structure to establish that the content is search engine friendly. SEO keywords, internal links, image alt attributes, meta title, and meta description, and other tactics aid search engines in analyzing and evaluating your content.

a) Keywords

Keywords are the specific words, terms, or phrases that the prospects use to search for answers that fit their problem or needs. Typically when you’re doing your keyword research, it’s important to look for short-tail keywords (such as books), long-tail keywords (such as finance books for beginners), and local keywords (such as book fairs in Kuala Lumpur) that have high search traffic and low competition.

This is crucial for your website to be found on the organic search engine results pages. Last but not least, optimize all of your titles, URLs, and other on-page SEO elements with the keywords.

b) Content

Content is the backbone of your business that allows you to reach and engage with your audiences. Thus, it’s pivotal to understand your perspective and angle so that you can create relevant content.

Say you own an electronic and gadget repair business, you can consider publishing some blogs or videos about things to do before bringing a laptop for repair, gadget reviews, how to protect phones from viruses, and more.

The idea is when someone searches for gadget repair information in the search engine, your blog would come up and these readers can be your potential clients. Technically, when your content is educational, engaging, and relevant, your business will be able to build credibility and assert authority with the readers.

Off-page SEO

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External optimization tactics that take place outside of your site rather than on it are referred to as off-page SEO or “reputation-building”.

a) Backlinks

This is the main strategy used for off-page SEO, but also the trickiest as link building or backlinks would require you to put in a lot of effort to secure reputable websites with high traffic to link back to your site.

Backlinks serve as a sign of trust and authority to the search engines and this can easily boost your ranking in the SERPs. One way to backlink building is engaging in guest blogging.

Alternatively, you can use influencer marketing by directly contacting bloggers or websites relevant to your industry, as this will be viewed as additional information from a customer’s perspective.

b) Social Media

Social media is one of the best vehicles for interacting with your audiences and potential customers on a more intimate level. You can post your content or promote your products or services on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Tik Tok. When you have a large social community, it’s way much easier for your content to go viral which indirectly boosts your ranking in the SERPs.

Local SEO

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If you have a local business such as a bakery serving in the Petaling Jaya area, you can consider listing your business on local listings and internet directories. Search engines use the searcher’s location to provide recommendations that are within a particular radius, allowing them to make a faster choice rather than having to search through businesses that aren’t nearby at the time.

So if you’re not listed or not showing up as the top result when someone searches for the nearest bakery to get a birthday cake, chances are you’re missing out on lots of business.

Image Source: SCORE.org

Some ways to improve your local SEO include claiming your Google My Business listing, listing on Foursquare, Local.com, and using more local keywords. Business listing sites in Malaysia is one easy way to get more organic traffic. In fact, many top-tier businesses use business listing sites to develop backlinks for their website. Just make sure that all your company information e.g. name, address, phone number, email address is accurate across all the platforms.

Now it’s time to address the elephant in the room, how much should you pay for a good SEO service in Malaysia?

SEO Pricing in Malaysia

Different SEO agencies offer different pricing and from our research, the minimum market price for SEO services ranges from RM 500 to RM 1,000 per month whereas, most agencies offer mid-range prices of RM 1,000 to RM 7,000 per month. On the pricier side, it ranges from RM 7,000 to RM15,000 per month.

Anything lower than that, prepare to run as there are chances you’re getting scammed!

Generally, if the price of the SEO service is lower than RM 1,000, you can expect a poor quality of work. This is due to the fact that even the starting salary for an SEO consultant is already RM 3,500.

How is SEO Malaysia Pricing Calculated?

This typically depends on 3 major factors which are Keyword Difficulty, Quality & Experience, and SEO Work Scope.

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Keyword Difficulty– The higher the keyword difficulty,  the harder it is to rank on the SERPs due to competition, and more work is needed.

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Quality & Experience– More experienced SEO companies undoubtedly will generate a more desired and successful result.

SEO Work Scope– This includes competitive keyword analysis, content creation & marketing, advanced backlinking, on-site & off-site SEO, and technical SEO. Generally, the more work needed to be done to your site, the pricier it is.

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Red Flags to Watch Out For in SEO Agencies

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a) Promises No.1 Spot on Google

The major red flag of any SEO company is promising that they can get you to rank number one on the first page of Google. Don’t be naive and trust them, lest they guarantee a 100% money-back policy.

It is also Google’s policy to not promise any ranking in the search engine when agencies promote their SEO services.

b) Cheap SEO Services Can Damage Your Ranking

If the company offers you anywhere lesser than RM 1,000 but you know that your site needs to get a lot of work done, brace yourself for some serious damage to your current ranking. This can already give you an idea that they will most probably duplicate and plagiarize content from other sites, use keyword stuffing, and be packed with spammy links.

Also, don’t pay to get backlinks from Fivver, because chances are they will carry out comment spamming which Google hates. All these “short-cuts” will only jeopardize your ranking and set you up for failure.

The thing with search engine optimization is, when done right, it is an investment for your business and not a cost. Bottom line: good SEO is a long-term and sustainable solution for consistent performance and it cannot be achieved with cheap SEO services.

c) SEO Agencies That Use Black Hat Tactics

Image Source: Neil Patel 

Just like Yin and Yang, there’s good and bad to everything. In the SEO world, it’s the Black Hat and White Hat SEO practice. The former is a type of marketing strategy that such as purchasing spam links, automating content, keyword stuffing, hidden text or links, cloaking, and more can increase a site’s metrics quickly but can also result in a site ban or a Google Manual Penalty.

Worst case scenario, your site will be banned from the search engine as well as affiliate sites. One way to identify is to do a litmus test on whether the SEO strategy used by the agency is increasing value to the user or just for the sake of the search engine. If the strategy does not add value to the users but the rankings are increasing, then it is most likely black hat tactics.

You need to keep in mind that SEO is not for short-term gain but a long-term investment instead.

d) Usage of Link Farming

Image Source: Negative SEO

With great power, comes greater responsibility. That said, link building is one of the most powerful marketing tools to exist. Hence, it is crucial for you to not only stay involved in the SEO servicing process as well as understand the back end of your website.

This can help you to analyze or check for any Black Hat tactics such as link farming. For instance, upon examining a new client’s website, it was found that there were several pages that the client was unaware of. The funny thing is these pages were not linked to any of the site’s menus and provided information and connections to non-client companies.

Instead, these were disguised as “Resource Pages,” but they were actually a Black Hat strategy. The client’s previous SEO agency, unbeknownst to them, utilized their website to promote other clients’ sites and gain backlinks.

e) Promises Instant Result

“Short term gains will result in losses over time”.

No SEO can generate instant organic improvements overnight. If the agency promises this in their ads or proposal, prepare to ghost them. The ideal time frame is generally at least four to six months till you can notice a positive gain, hence, be wary of agencies who promise you instant results!

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Notice how the organic traffic increased exponentially over a four to six-month period with the right SEO strategies? If your graph has a massive shot in less than a month or so, there’s likely something fishy going on.

Google does not immediately detect Black Hat SEO. After all, with billions of pages, the internet is too big for Google to police every street corner on a regular basis. However, Google always identifies when a website is attempting to game the system. Link stuffing is often to blame when a website suddenly rises to the top of the search results for many queries.

What are the pricing models used by the Malaysia SEO agency?

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a) SEO Pricing by Hourly Rates

Though paying for SEO service by the hour is more premium, it is best for those who want to fix a specific problem or perform an SEO audit. It also offers a better scope or an SEO strategy if you already have an in-house SEO team. Do take note that this will cost a lot more than a monthly retainer if you decide to change course and redo the entire SEO strategy.

The average hourly rate for SEO services in Malaysia is from RM 150 to RM 500 per hour for freelancers and RM 440 to RM 660 per hour for SEO agencies.

b) SEO Pricing Per Month

Realistically, it will take three to six months for a website to see the ranking results after optimization. As a result, many SEO firms will provide month-to-month or annual contracts based on a monthly calendar.

Many other firms’ monthly packages include a set number and category of services, such as written posts, acquired backlinks, and optimized websites.

The average monthly SEO package is from RM 1,100 to RM 2,180 per month for freelancers and RM 2,175 to RM 4,350 per month for SEO agencies.

c) Project & Campaign Basis Pricing Model

This is also known as a one-time payment where you won’t need ongoing services. For example, you need them to improve page speed or site SEO audit. This pricing model is best suited for small businesses that need to audit the site from time to time.

On a project basis, SEO agencies typically charge substantially more than freelancers which are RM 22,720 per project for the former and RM 6,660 for the latter.

Do I need an SEO Monthly Plan?

The answer is simple: does your field of business require it? Or what is your end goal?

Let’s say if you own an online business and you list all your products on e-commerce platforms such as Shopee or Lazada. When someone searches for “lunch box ideas for office” it would be ideal if your product i.e lunch boxes should rank at the top so that you have more potential traffic and customers. In this case, a monthly retainer is most appropriate as it allows enough time for the SEO to implement a long-term strategy for your business. According to Statcounter, 98.39% of Malaysians use Google to find information online.

However, if you already have an SEO expert in-house, a monthly retainer would make no sense. Outsourcing the work to other professionals or agencies is preferable if you want to fix a specific problem.

Top Rated SEO Company in Malaysia

a) Nexus Mediaworks Sdn Bhd

Coming in hot at number one is Nexus Mediaworks, Malaysia’s leading SEO & Digital Marketing agency with 16 years of experience in the field. Their core specialization is in PPC, web development, and web design, it is no wonder they were able to score some big clients such as Sengheng, BIG Prepaid, OCBC Bank, UOB Bank, KL Sogo, and more.

According to Francis Liu, the Founder, and CEO of Nexus Mediaworks, a fixed package will never work for any firm, and it is best to conserve money rather than spend it on cheap SEO.

He believes it and has demonstrated it over the years since the founding of Nexus: Agencies should create customized SEO packages in order to get beyond their clients’ business targets and expectations.

b) Hileytech Sdn Bhd

Hileytech Sdn Bhd has been providing domain name registration and web hosting services to Malaysian businesses since 1994. This SEO agency serves major companies and brands like MalaysiaDirectory.com, koi.com.my, plastic.com.my, iSell.com.my, and more.

c) Pichalee Net Services

Pichalee Net Services has a team of SEO experts who have a few years of expertise in SEO and can give world-class professional SEO services to clients from Malaysia, Singapore, Denmark, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

What makes this agency stand out is that they promise a money-back guarantee- “ you don’t have to pay us if we do not deliver the result.” Specializing in local SEO, PPC, and web design, they serve major clients who are rockwills.com, helloflorist.com, bloomhouse.com.my, vneedit.com, and more.

d) iBizClicks (a.k.a Search Guru)

iBizClick, now known as Search Guru, is Malaysian and Singapore- based and focuses on Search Engine Marketing. They implement Google AdWords (PPC) and SEO to execute a successful digital marketing strategy for their clients Onewaysms.com.au, ubid.com.my, KLIUC, New BOB Realty, and more.

e) Bikebear

Bikebear, is Malaysia’s best digital marketing agency, and award-winning web design company that specializes in web design, SEO, and branding. As you can see from their website itself, you can already tell that they are good at what they do. Their major clients are SEGI University, UNICEF, Suria KLCC, Shell, and more.

From their stunning websites to their “beary” creative ways to drive traffic into businesses via SEO, social media, and many others, the SEO company always find ideas to make things happen. This agency would make it “pawsible” for your business to transform your website into a brand with personality, making it more memorable and meaningful to your customers.

Why Do SEO Charges in Malaysia Differ?

Normally, the difference in SEO pricing could be attributed to the experience and track record of an SEO agency. It is without a doubt that those that have experience providing SEO services for foreign markets will charge more than those who exclusively serve local markets. For that matter, it goes to show that these four factors will also affect the pricing of SEO:

SEO skills and knowledge

Anyone with hands-on experience and proper SEO skills can have delivered results, thus expecting a higher fee. The more you pay, the better the results will be. It’s critical that you look for a company with business experience because the results will be worthwhile.

Location

How much SEO costs depends on where your store is located and how many other local businesses are competing.

Time

If you want things done quickly or if there’s more work to be done, it only makes sense that it will cost more. The time it takes to develop or create pages that perform well has a direct bearing on how much SEO costs.

Your website status quo

If you have a long way to go in terms of getting your website to rank well, the cost of SEO services will rise. Because Google’s algorithm is constantly updated, what worked for ranking years ago no longer works today. Your SEO cost could be reduced in some circumstances if your SEO was done well years ago and only needs minor tweaks.

SEO Freelancer vs SEO Agency

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Deciding whether to work with a freelancer or an agency is difficult, especially if your budget is small. Here’s a table of comparisons between both to help make the process easier for you:

SEO Freelancer SEO Agency
Cheaper & more affordable pricing Affordable to high-end pricing
Limited tools Has more precision data tools
Flexible schedule Fixed working hours
Less organized & unstable workflow process for a complicated task More organized and have more back-ups to distribute workload and responsibilities, hence better and more stable workflow
Lacks or lower accountability on project (Short on legal team and contracts) Takes accountability (Has legal process & contracts)

Conclusively, it is entirely dependent on the status of your business and how much you’re willing to risk. If you have the funds and want to engage with professionals, an SEO agency is the way to go (less risky). A freelancer is the way to go if you want to get it up and running as soon as possible (more risky but worth a shot). 

Is paying for SEO worth it?

The search engine actually plays a very important role in the buyer’s journey. It helps them in the Consideration and Decision stage where they do research regarding a product or service to help them reach their verdict.

Image Source: HubSpot Blog

Additionally, SEO benefits your business by improving website rankings, indirectly increasing potential audience, helping your website build credibility and trust, helping in increasing conversion rates and revenue, and many more.

Malaysia has a population of about 30 million people, with more than half of them using the internet when making decisions to purchase something. Ultimately, only well-ranked websites can benefit from this, which is why paying for SEO is definitely worth it.

Summary of SEO Services Price in Malaysia

Your SEO Objectives (end goal)

What do you want to achieve with SEO? Ranking? More traffic? Brand awareness? And then when you have lots of traffic, what are the next steps? How much are you willing to pay for a good and reliable SEO service?

Questions and more questions! Be clear of your SEO goals before you actually consult any SEO agencies or freelancers.

How much does SEO cost in Malaysia?

Remember, the safe budget for SEO pricing in Malaysia should cost between RM 3,000 to RM15,000, and anywhere lower than that, you are being burned and deceived. You get what you pay for. Focus on quality rather than price or revenue if you want to achieve great SEO results. Do keep in mind that cheap SEO can only cause more damage and expenses to fix the casualties.

Ta-da! An elaborative breakdown of SEO prices in Malaysia and how to get quality service.