Most search ranking signals have to do with how people are engaging with your content. According to Google, the most valuable thing that you can do to improve your performance and rankings on search engines, is to create quality content – but at what cost?

With another Google Panda release just a few short weeks ago, Google reinforces its statement that it will continue to clamp down on websites that have thin and poorly written content. As the penalties become harsher, Panda will continue to affect more websites with every release, and for those companies who do not invest in creating quality content, well… they will soon feel the wrath of the Panda.

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What constitutes quality content?

Google Panda is a penalty which affects websites with poor quality content. Content does not only refer to the text copy on your landing pages, but also to other types of text and visual content such as blog posts, videos, infographics, eBooks, Whitepapers, Checklists, Guides and more.

There are a number of factors that Google considers when determining what is good versus poor quality content. For instance, when a user searches on Google and clicks on your listing to land on your web pages, do they stay on the page or delve deeper into your website, or do they bounce straight back to Google to find something else? Other signals that Google will look for is the amount of time spent on the page consuming content (scrolling and clicking) and whether they click on other links on your website to read more of your content.

The amount of time spent on your website during a visit, as well as the amount of content pages that they consume will send many positive signals to Google which could ultimately help your content to ranking higher in the search results. Another strong signal to Google that your content is valuable is if users share or bookmark your content, and also if they link to it from their own websites or blogs.

In addition to these engagement signals, Google also looks at the overall quality of the content: Spelling, grammar, number of words on a page, how your target search terms are naturally distributed across the content, and how visual content is incorporated naturally into the content mix.

If you consider all of these factors, it’s suffice to say that outsourcing your content to the cheapest service provider – or by automating the production of your content – you are not going to last long in the fighting ring with the Panda. You might have survived rounds one to four of the Google Panda update, however you may be knocked right out of the fight in round five.

What does content cost?

If you’re looking around to find some sort of idea of what online content costs, well then I am sure that by now you are experiencing a somewhat mild case of heart palpitations, especially if you are looking at the prices of content suppliers in the United States, which is by far one of the more expensive countries when it comes to producing content. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may find that India offers the cheapest solutions, however remember that you get what you pay for and cheap does not necessarily equal good.

Having sourced pricing from a number of content service providers in the US, UK and South Africa, we have compiled a list of the various types of content and the average cost that you can expect to pay:

Type of

Average Length

Average Cost

Mini Blog Post

200 to 300 words

R500 to R600

Standard Blog Post

300 to 600 words

R600 to R800

Guest Blog Posts

300 to 600 words

R750 to R850

SEO Articles

600 to 1,000 words

R850 to R950

In-depth Articles

1500 to 3,000 words

R 950 to R1 500

Sales Copywriting (Products & Services)

300 to 600 words

R1 500 to R2 500

Landing / Resources Page

400 to 600 words

R 650 to R850

Product Review

600 to 800 words

R850 to R950

Press Release

750 to 950 Words

R 900 to R1 200

Downloadables: eBooks, White Papers, Case Studies, Brochures.

3 to 20 Pages

R 3 000 to R20 000

Infographics (Standard Tower)

Research & Design

R4 000 to R8 000

Infographics (Interactive)

Research & Design

R30 000 to R50 000

Events Video – Live Recording: E.g. Video blog posts, capturing educational events, training

2 to 3 minutes

R5000 to R12 000

Testimonial Video: Live video testimonial interviews.

2 to 3 minutes

R 5000 to R 9 000

Corporate Online Video: Case studies, profiles, service or process descriptions, recruiting

2 to 3 minutes

R 15 000 to R30 000

Story Production Video: Signature pieces with motion graphics, high-end cameras, studios etc.)

2 to 3 minutes

R 50 000 to R150 000

Animated Video: Signature pieces with motion graphics, high-end cameras, studios etc.)

1 to 4 minutes

R 16 000 to R80 000

Promotional Web Video: Product Showcase, Advertisement.

30 to 90 seconds

R 9 000 to R 85 000

What the fees include:

Traditionally, the copy-writing fees include the research, writing and editing fees. Some content marketers might charge you an additional fee for publishing, distribution and promotion of the content. This fee could range between R650 to R750 for search engine optimisation and publishing, and between R 1,800 to R3,000 to distribute (market) the content. They may also offer services to advertise or promote your content to your target audiences for additional fee of between R5,000 to R10,000.

These costs do not include the cost of sourcing images or graphic design (except in the instance of infographics), which could cost around R80 to R350 for stock images, or around R450 to R850 per hour for graphic design. Imagery is exceptionally important when it comes to attracting and engaging with your audience. Good visual content is thus an essential part to any content that you create. Original, unique images or photographs work far better than iStock photo.

How will I measure the return on my investment?

To measure whether your content is giving your ROI, make sure that you have discussed your expectations in advance with the content marketing company. Ensure that both you and the content marketer understands what metrics are going to be measured and how it will be measured. You want to ensure that your content is engaging and is getting the exposure it needs.

Depending on the type of content you require, you will have different metrics to measure. Here are just a few metrics to get you thinking:

Sales Copy, Landing Pages & Promotional Videos: Conversions
SEO Content: Search Traffic, Time on Page, Bounce Rate, Backlinks
Blogs Posts & Articles: Bounce Rate, Time on Page, Shares
Press Releases: Traffic to site, Mentions, Backlinks
Infographics: Time on page, Shares, Backlinks

Do your homework

Before commissioning an agency or content marketing company to create content for you, make sure that they have taken the time to understand your business and your objectives carefully. Also, be sure to shop around for some comparative quotes. If considering international service providers, make sure that you have seen examples of their work and contact some of their customers for testimonials.

Feel free to contact Blue Magnet Digital Solutions for more information on on available content packages to help drive increased search rankings, brand presence, user engagement and conversions.