SEO Pricing Guide: How Much Does SEO Cost in 2024?

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Seo cost 2023 guide

Search engine optimization is what connects your company to the majority of your customers.

In 2023, small businesses allocated a significant portion of their marketing budget to SEO, making it the third most prioritized channel (Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report) – and 94% of small businesses are looking to increase their digital marketing budgets for 2024 (Taradel’s 2023 Small Business Marketing Survey). 

If you’re one of those marketers looking to up your SEO game, you’re likely researching a great deal about SEO costs in 2024. That’s what we’re here to help you understand. Whether you have a big budget or a minuscule one, we’ll guide you toward the right paid SEO services.

Key Takeaways

  • Automated Local SEO pricing generally runs between $300-500 per month.
  • Small-scale SEO pricing packages range between $1,500-$2,500 per month.
  • Comprehensive Local SEO services can be as much as $3,000-$5,000 per month.
  • Most businesses have budgets that range from $500/month to $10,000/month.
  • Large SEO projects cost an average of $2,501-$5,000 per month. (Ahrefs)
  • Average hourly SEO services cost $100-$300 per hour.
  • SEO copywriting costs an average of $0.15 to $0.50 per word
  • Link profile audits typically cost between $500 to $7,500 
  • SEO content audits typically cost between $500 to $7,500 each 
  • For small businesses, spend at least $500 per month on SEO to see results (Search Engine Journal).
  • 12.96% of SEO practitioners reported they were working with budgets of more than $10,000. (SEJ State of SEO 2024)
  • Nearly 48.9% of marketers expect their clients’ budgets to increase within the next 12 months (Search Engine Journal).
  • At least 88% of those using SEO strategies will increase or maintain their investments. (Hubspot)
  • Beware of an SEO agency that gives you a guarantee of results.
  • Content marketing costs 62% less Compared to traditional marketing programs. (DemandMetric)

How Much Does SEO Cost Exactly?

We know business owners are hoping for a straight answer here. You want a figure that will fit neatly into your monthly or annual budget. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

The reality is that the cost of SEO can differ dramatically depending on the SEO services you need or want. SEO package pricing differs based on many factors, such as the amount of content needed, expectations, projections for business growth, and the range of services required.

You should have a fairly good idea of what to expect when you get quotes for SEO pricing from marketing agencies – so you aren’t overcharged or surprised later on down the road.

In this guide, we want to help businesses of all sizes understand how to budget properly for top-quality SEO services – and avoid getting taken advantage of.

Seo pricing guide infographic

How Are SEO Prices Determined?

To obtain an accurate estimate of SEO pricing from a marketer or agency, you will first need to provide some information about your business. This will help an SEO marketer determine just how much work will be required, the type of content needed, and approximately how long projects should take to complete.

Some of these important factors include (but are not limited to):

  • The current state of your search presence
  • The average revenue per sale
  • Close rate of leads to sales
  • Campaign goals
  • How quickly you want to see results
  • How the current marketing budget is allocated (such as percent of gross sales)

This partly explains why SEO pricing points can differ to such a great extent.

How Much Do Businesses Typically Spend on SEO Services?

Seo budgets in the usa by sej
Image source: search engine journal state of seo 2024

According to the Search Engine Journal’s State of SEO Agency Report in 2024, most businesses have budgets that range from $500/month to $10,000/month. However, that same report also indicates that nearly 48.9% of agency SEO professionals expect their clients’ budgets to increase at least a little within the next 12 months. 

Seo budget increases stat by sej
Image source: search engine journal state of seo 2024

The Search Engine Journal also shared that businesses with budgets under $5,000/month were likely to allocate the highest percentage of their spending toward SEO-specific services – more than what they spent on paid media, social media, design, influencer marketing, etc.

What Would Be a Fair Price for SEO Services?

Seo fair price

Be wary of a company offering their services for $150 a month or less, particularly when you consider that the average SEO specialist in 2024 is making upwards of $70,000 annually (according to Glassdoor). For such a low cost, a company or specialist is either relying on shady methods – such as link schemes – or will provide very few results.

Generally speaking, you should expect to pay a fair price of between $1,500 to $5,000 per month for large projects or between $100 to $300 for hourly services. Of course, these numbers and “fair” pricing can vary dramatically depending on your needs, requests, and location.

One thing to note is that clients who pay more for SEO services have tended to report higher satisfaction rates over the years. According to the Search Engine Journal’s State of SEO in 2024, 12.96% of SEO practitioners reported they were working with budgets of more than $10,000.

In many ways, search engine optimization services are a get-what-you-pay-for kind of deal.

Are Monthly SEO Services the Better Option?

When exploring SEO’s cost, know upfront that it will be a constant service or solution you need instead of a one-off option. Aside from your goals and aspirations for your business, SEO pricing is also impacted by the type of service you want. It’s impossible to consider this aspect without exploring the issue of quality.

It’s worth pointing out that most SEO tactics require monthly attention, including link-building and content marketing. SEO is not a one-time project; it must be constantly updated, analyzed, and adjusted to deliver the desired results.

Content and links must be continuously upgraded and improved. This is why most business owners will be more than willing to pay a monthly retainer for a quality SEO service.

How Much Does Local SEO Cost?

You are likely marketing to a local customer base. If that’s the case, we imagine that you are probably asking yourself the question: how much does local SEO cost?

The good news is that local SEO is comparatively cheaper than global and national SEO services. You are dealing with a much smaller, more concentrated audience, and the competition is far lower. As a result, it’s not uncommon for local SEO campaigns to cost as little as $300 per month, depending on your needs.

Like global and national SEO, the amount you pay will depend on the pricing models you are interested in and the search engine optimization package you need. Generally speaking, local SEO can be divided into three categories:

1. Automated Local SEO ($300-$500 per month)

Automated local seo pricing

This is typically the cheapest option and will ensure that business information is provided to directories. This involves ensuring that all contact information – such as phone numbers, addresses, and email links – is correct on sites like Yelp or Yellow Pages. 

However, this alone will not boost your search ranking, since this is merely the necessary information that Google uses for geographical search results. Still, this can be enough to gain visibility if you only operate in one location and want to target customers within a specific city or state. These services would involve updating all business accounts on location-based sites and incorporating necessary links and information customers commonly search for. It does not involve content marketing or social media management.

2. Small Scale Local SEO ($1,500-$2,500 per month)

Small scale local seo cost

These campaigns commonly involve creating highly targeted advertisements that run for a timeframe in a certain area. This often includes pay-per-click ads or social media campaigns that are highly localized to reach a geographic audience. 

Small-scale SEO is designed for smaller businesses that service a limited area and only need to target customers within a certain mileage range. This is useful for keeping costs low while reaching a highly relevant audience.

Most small-scale SEO services also include things like… 

  • Content writing and marketing
  • Remarketing
  • Local service ads

The key here is understanding how to optimize content to match local search intent and find clever ways to target audiences that meet the necessary criteria. While this is a bit more robust than automated SEO, small-scale local SEO marketers will help you cover the basics without getting into the real nitty-gritty of it all. This can be a great starting point, but it does not guarantee any rapid growth.

3. Comprehensive Local SEO ($3,000 – $5,000 per month)

Many clients are looking for a fairly comprehensive package that covers all aspects of SEO, including (but not limited to): 

  • On and offsite SEO (at least 4 hours per month)
  • Blog post optimization
  • Local service ad management
  • Monthly reports and meetings
  • Social media creation and posting (multiple times per week)
  • SEO and website audit
  • Technical SEO audit
  • In-Depth competitor’s analysis
  • Content audit and strategy
  • Paid search management
  • Content creation and marketing
  • Reporting
  • Google Business Profile management
  • Brand management
  • Social media
  • Link building
  • Citation optimization
  • Management of online reviews
Comprehensive local seo

If you’re looking for a plan that includes all of these services, you’ll likely pay at least $1,500 per month. Most agencies will charge between $3,000 to $5,000 for these weekly services, especially if virtual meetings and reviews are scheduled. 

Services like this are more transparent in providing you with information on exactly where your marketing money is being spent. Comprehensive SEO focuses heavily on analysis reporting to track metrics – like online traffic growth, conversion rates, and visibility.

Reporting services provided with these more thorough local SEO services should focus on call tracking and conversions to help you clearly measure your ROI.

Other key performance metrics included in comprehensive SEO tracking are: 

It should be no surprise that local SEO packages will increase with more comprehensive services. However, they are intensive; detailed marketing campaigns offer far greater value and higher returns.

What Other Factors Contribute to SEO Pricing?

Dominate local seo

Beyond the typical differentiation between company rates, SEO pricing packages can be impacted by various factors.

Industry

Some industries are more likely to market online than others – and thus are more competitive. If you look at the most expensive keywords on Google, you will notice that lawyers related keywords dominated the list. Other industries with expensive and highly competitive keywords include (but are not limited to) medical offices, finance companies, locksmiths, car mechanics, real estate, marketing services, software companies, and home improvement businesses.

Most expensive google ads keywords stats by fraud blocker
Image source: fraud blocker

In some cases, the CPC (cost per click) for these highly competitive keywords can be over $1,000! Niche businesses tend to have the upper hand here since they can utilize longer keyword phrases or additional keywords with lower competition (and prices).

The SEO pricing for different industries is largely based on how many monthly searches a specific industry has.

For instance, a company seeing thousands of searches for their services a month will need to spend more on SEO packages—additionally, companies servicing an area where many similar businesses will need to spend more to outrank others.

Additionally, the specific tactics within each strategy will vary depending on the individual industry and each business’s goals. It’s essential to consider a holistic approach and integrate custom marketing strategies for optimal results. 

Average Industry SEO Prices

  • Home Services: $1,500 – $2,500
  • Healthcare: $3,000 – $5,000
  • Law: $2,500 – $5,000
  • Software & IT: $3,000 – $5,000
  • eCommerce: $2,500 – $5,000

Geographic Location

Everything from the population of a city or what part of an area you are targeting will impact SEO pricing. Even individual factors can have an impact. For instance, snow tire services would be more competitive in Alaska compared to Florida or Southern California.

Of course, more concentrated metropolitan areas will also have more competition. Costs for localized SEO packages in areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago will be far higher than for businesses that only want to target customers living in small nearby towns.

What If You Have Multiple Locations?

Typically, each location comes at an additional price, considering that the SEO team will need to conduct location-specific keywords.

Type of Service You Need

SEO pricing will often be determined by whether you want to optimize your site for organic search, build up a review profile, produce lots of content, etc.

This can determine which type of SEO pricing structure is the best option for your business. For instance, if you merely need help setting up Google Business Profile accounts and optimizing site tags, this can be a one-time cost per project. If you need to build up a robust blog and want to gain higher rankings on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), monthly services could be a better choice.

Current Brand Awareness and Visibility

SEO pricing can also change depending on where your brand currently stands in terms of awareness and visibility. If you are a brand-new company and starting from scratch, there will be a lot of leg work that needs to be done. On the other hand, if your business has been around for some time and already has an established search presence, you will need to focus more on optimization and maintenance.

Website CMS and Existing Content 

The type of Content Management System (CMS) a website employs and the state of its existing content can significantly impact the pricing of SEO services. 

Different CMS platforms have varying levels of flexibility and SEO-friendliness. Some may require more intricate technical optimizations for search engines, while others are inherently more search-engine-friendly. This can potentially affect the amount of work involved. 

If a website has outdated or poorly optimized content, a comprehensive content overhaul may be necessary to align with current SEO best practices – and that usually comes with a hefty price tag.

Business Goals & Objectives 

What is your company aiming to achieve through its online presence? 

If you have ambitious targets, such as dominating a highly competitive market or rapidly expanding your customer base, your SEO strategy may need to be more sophisticated and resource-intensive than others. Complex goals tend to demand in-depth keyword research, content creation, technical optimization, and ongoing monitoring, leading to higher service costs. 

On the other hand, businesses with more modest objectives or a focus on long-term growth might opt for a phased and gradual approach, which is often less expensive. 

Urgency of Results 

The faster you need your results, the more you’ll pay for SEO services. A quicker turnaround time necessitates a more dedicated allocation of resources, including manpower, tools, and potentially paid advertising. As a result, the SEO provider will need to increase their prices as they attempt to deliver tangible results quickly. 

Target Audience & Demographic 

The cost of your SEO services is intricately tied to your target audience and demographic. Your agency will need to intimately understand the specific characteristics and preferences of the target audience to effectively tailor their strategies.

For instance, if a business caters to a niche market that is highly competitive, more intense (and expensive) SEO efforts may be required to stand out. Additionally, demographic factors such as age, location, and online behavior can influence the complexity of SEO campaigns. Targeting younger audiences or specific geographic locations may necessitate different strategies, impacting the overall cost of SEO services.

The Rise of Generative AI and Machine Learning in Search Engines

2023 was the year of artificial intelligence, especially in the world of content marketing. As AI tools advance, we can expect to see more and more impacts on search engine algorithms – and as a result, SEO services will likely need to evolve. 

We’re already seeing a shift toward more sophisticated SEO strategies. The emphasis is on creating high-quality content that’s contextually relevant and optimizing for the human experience. 

Additionally, more SEO agencies are employing natural language processing strategies and using AI to understand user behavior patterns. In some ways, AI will expedite the SEO process and help lower costs – but it will also highlight the need for high-quality, human-produced content in certain circumstances.

Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness by Google 

EEAT, an acronym for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is a set of criteria introduced by Google to evaluate the quality of content on the internet. 

As the search engine king, Google continuously aims to deliver reliable and accurate information to users, and EEAT is a fundamental part of how its algorithm assesses the credibility of web pages. 

Adhering to EEAT principles often involves a more comprehensive, meticulous approach to content creation, optimization, and link-building. Establishing expertise requires in-depth industry knowledge, and authoritative content creation demands thorough research and thought leadership. Trustworthiness involves maintaining transparent and reliable information.

SEO services that prioritize EEAT principles may require additional resources, including subject matter experts, content creators, and quality assurance processes, which can contribute to higher pricing. To meet Google’s standards, SEO professionals must also invest significant time and effort in crafting content that aligns with relevant search queries and demonstrates EEAT.

As a result, SEO pricing may reflect the elevated level of expertise and diligence needed to meet the standards set by Google’s EEAT guidelines.

Are SEO Costs Different for Small Businesses?

You would be right to assume that an SEO campaign for small business owners can be comparatively cheaper than for a large company or corporation.

However, multiple pricing models tend to allow business owners to choose the best solution. For instance, you can pay hourly and expect anything between $100 to $300. Alternatively, fixed-priced services can be anything between $1,000 to $5,000 per month.

On the flip side, you can choose a project-based package and expect to pay around $2,501 to $5,000 for various services. Again, these prices are determined by the previously mentioned SEO pricing factors and can vary for each business and project type.

Small business seo cost spend

Again, small business owners have no fixed cost to fall back on when asking: “How much does SEO cost for small business needs?” Instead, we recommend that you aim to spend at least $1,500 monthly on SEO to see results and improvements that you can take to the bank.

What is the Return on Investment (ROI) of SEO?

There is no guaranteed ROI (return on investment) for SEO services. In fact, if an SEO agency gives you a guarantee of results, you should run!

However, that’s not to say that a solid ROI is rare. According to Hubspot’s 2023 Marketing and Strategy Trends Report, leveraging SEO ranks highly in terms of ROI and effectiveness, and at least 88% of those using SEO strategies will increase or maintain their investments.

Additionally, ROI rates can vary significantly depending on companies’ industries. Take a look at the three-year averages for the following industries and their break-even points, as provided by First Page Sage.

Seo roi by industry 3 year average
Image Source: First Page Sage

While there is never a promised rate of return for SEO, the key is to be patient and consistent. Most companies begin to see returns within six months to a year of launching their SEO campaign.

Invest in an SEO Agency That Will Boost Your Revenue

If you’re seeking an SEO company that can provide exceptional value, consider hiring a digital agency with decades of experience. They have a proven track record of delivering outstanding results for numerous companies.

Conclusion

We hope this provides you with an insider’s account and allows you to understand the SEO pricing structures and the factors that impact how much you’ll pay. There is no one-size-fits-all budget for businesses that require SEO services. The cost is based on numerous factors – but the more that you are able (and willing) to spend on top-quality work, the greater the results and ROI can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Monthly SEO Packages Include PPC Ads? 

Yes, some packages do include monthly PPC ads. Most companies that are spending over $5,000 per month are also paying for PPC and retargeting, but it depends on the unique plan and what your SEO agency offers. 

Are Website Content Included in SEO Packages?

A new site typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000 to develop, design, and launch. Therefore, brand new website content is typically considered an additional fee to SEO packages, although most agencies do tend to provide SEO services for their web design clients.

How Do You Determine Your Budget for SEO Services?

You might be wondering if “How much does local SEO cost?” is even the right question to ask.

Perhaps a better alternative would be “How much can or should I set aside for SEO?

According to the 2022 CMO Survey results, most businesses spent between 8% and 13% of their company revenue on marketing expenses over the last year. Another report (Gartner’s The State of Marketing Budget and Strategy 2022) reported that more than half of all digital spending is being allocated to paid channels, but at least 8.5% still goes towards SEO expenses. 

So, if you’re looking for a place to start planning your marketing budget, we often recommend aiming for at least 8% of your company revenue. Then, allocate at least 8% of that number to SEO strategies. Of course, this is a suggestion – your company’s unique needs and goals will dictate your budget more specifically.

First and foremost – you must determine where you stand with your competitors and how much work you need to start outranking them.

Should You Increase Your SEO Spending Budget Over Time?

Paying upwards of $10,000 per month will provide a fully-managed SEO marketing campaign for your business. Ultimately, this will allow you to completely forget about promotion and leave it to an experienced team. You might be surprised to learn companies can spend up to $100K per month on SEO – depending on the keywords targeted and the level of competition.

So, high-quality SEO services can be cost-effective and provide a fantastic ROI. Also, note that it can take a while before you start to see measurable results from SEO. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The more effort you put into content creation, keyword inclusion, link-building, and other SEO strategies, you will see better results.

How Do Agencies Set Their Fees for SEO Services? 

1. Price Different Types of Services Separately

Most agencies start by making a list of all the services they offer. Then, they price them all out separately. Whether it’s lead generation, SEO, or blog writing, they determine precisely what each service costs. 

Then, agencies create packages for services that pair well together. This encourages potential clients to purchase bundled services in an attempt to save money – but the agency will also reap a higher profit, creating a win-win situation. 

2. Allow Clients to Choose the Services They Want

By pricing your services separately, good agencies also give their clients the freedom to choose. Interested companies aren’t stuck choosing a certain package, and they can work around their budget to accommodate agency fees. 

Clients like to feel like they’re in control, and hand-selecting their SEO services gives them that sense of security. 

3. Consider the Client’s Profitability

Most agencies account for their client’s profitability when setting prices for their SEO services. They determine the client’s average revenue and how they can make their service fees affordable enough for individual companies. 

Ultimately, SEO prices need to be reasonable – because if companies can’t afford them, that’s a problem. The best agencies strike a balance between what clients can pay and the value of their services.

How Do You Determine Your Competitor’s SEO Performance?

If your competitors outperform you in SEO, how can you stay informed about their strategies and actions? Many business owners think it’s impossible to tell how well the competition is performing locally – but the truth is that it’s quite simple.

First, you must complete keyword research, exploring the top ten performers for your target keywords. Exploring stats and data like Traffic Value and Domain Authority can also provide a clear picture of your competitors’ performance – and what you’ll need to do to outrank them. Or, more importantly, how much you’ll need to spend.

According to Forbes: “If a business can’t be discovered on the web, via multiple channels, then it’s losing its competitive advantage.”

Should You Outsource Your SEO Marketing to an Off-Shore or Whitelabel Agency?

It depends. You’ll get what you pay for in many cases, so trying to cut corners on your SEO services won’t turn out well. Additionally, working with off-shore teams can incur the additional expenses associated with training the team and understanding cultural differences. 

The benefit of hiring “state-side” is that there are no cultural barriers to overcome, which can save a substantial amount of time, energy, and money. 

What Should You Do if Your Budget is Tight?

Many small business owners make a mistake by looking at SEO as a cost or even as a risk. Instead, SEO should be considered a long-term investment providing continuous value to you and your business.

Just think about the power a fantastic piece of content on your website can have. According to WordStream, “Compared to traditional marketing programs, content marketing costs 62% less and generates approximately three times the leads’ volume.”

Paying for a talented SEO marketer to create a high-level piece of optimized content for your site can drive new leads for years and years. So, the one-time payment can pay off in the long run.

While $500 is the bare minimum you should pay, small business owners should aim to expand their budget to somewhere between $1500 and $5000 for their monthly SEO budget.

Remember, more experienced SEO professionals will provide a scalable service without missing any crucial elements, such as…

  • Quality content creation
  • Link building
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Accessibility and usability of your website
  • Customer review management

What Are Some Essential SEO Tools You Need If You’re Managing SEO In-House?

Several tools can significantly enhance your in-house SEO efforts. Three popular options include:

  • Semrush Local: This comprehensive local SEO platform provides businesses with the tools and data they need to rank higher on maps and local search results. Features include listing management to distribute business data across directories, review management, rank tracking with heatmaps, and more. Pricing starts at $20 per month for the Basic location plan.
  • Ahrefs: Renowned for its robust backlink analysis, Ahrefs also provides tools for keyword research, content exploration, and competitor research. Pricing starts at $129 per month.
  • BrightLocal: BrightLocal is a platform built specifically for local SEO, offering tools like citation building, reputation management, local search rank tracking, and Google Business Profile audits. Pricing starts at $39 per month.

Are These Tools Worth the Investment?

Investing in the right SEO tools can save you time, provide valuable data and insights, and ultimately improve your website’s search engine rankings. While there is a cost associated with these tools, the potential return on investment can be significant. Weigh the costs against the benefits and choose a tool that aligns with your overall SEO strategy and budget.

While you can implement many SEO strategies without specialized tools, they can streamline your efforts and provide data-driven insights that are difficult to obtain otherwise. These tools can be particularly helpful for tasks like keyword research, competitor analysis, and backlink tracking, which can be time-consuming to do manually.

Published: Jul 15, 2019

Updated: Jan 5, 2024

Avatar for Brian Childers

Brian Childers

Brian Childers is the Founder and CEO of Foxxr Digital Marketing, a St. Petersburg, FL-based agency specializing in home services marketing. With a proven track record of success, Brian leads a team of digital marketing experts who empower home service businesses to achieve significant growth through targeted lead generation and revenue-boosting strategies.