SEO Pricing Guide: How Much Does SEO Cost?
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SEO is what connects your company to the majority of your customers. These days, 93% of customer interactions start with a simple search engine query – often with no specific brand name in mind.
That said, you need to be integrating proper SEO elements into your site, and one of the best ways to do this is to partner with an expert. If you have a tight budget, you are probably wondering what type of pricing for SEO to expect.
So, How Much Does SEO Cost Exactly?
We know business owners are hoping for a straight answer here. You want a simple figure that will fit neatly into your monthly or annual budget.
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 don’t get overcharged.
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.
How are SEO Prices Determined?
To receive 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 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.
Can You Receive a Quote for SEO Pricing?
Marketers should not provide an exact quote for SEO prices without gaining key information about their clients (mentioned above). You may see a fixed monthly cost for a certain SEO package, but the marketer needs an in-depth understanding of your needs before providing an accurate quote.
What Do Most Businesses Pay for SEO Services?
There are several different payment structures commonly used for SEO pricing. According to a survey from Sparktoro, 87% of SEO services offer monthly retainer charges, and 65% charged either hourly rates or per project. Just 15% offered performance-based pricing.
This survey also found that the median cost per month for SEO was between $2,500 to $5,000 per month for SEO services. Thirty-one percent paid above this range, up to $50,000, and just 18% paid less than $1,000.
So, depending on how much SEO assistance you need, it’s possible to pay anything from $25 per hour for your service or up to $20,000 each month.
What is a “Reasonable” Price for SEO Services?
A lower price can mean low quality of service.
For instance, you should be wary of a company offering their services for anything similar to $150 a month, particularly when you consider that pro SEO specialists’ average salary is around $50,000 per year. For such a low cost, a company is either relying on shady methods – such as link schemes – or will provide very little results.
SEO services pricing can also be impacted by the type of professional you choose. If you want a pro with more than two years of experience, expect to pay nearly 40% more per hour and over double per month. After just two years of experience, SEO hourly rates can exceed $100.
Unsurprisingly, SEO companies will, on average, charge close to double in comparison with freelancers and consultants.
Do be aware that most SEO professionals also charge a monthly retainer. According to an article from Business 2 Community, about 75% of all search engine optimization professionals charge a monthly retainer.
The most popular retainer is between $2,500 and $5,000 in the U.S.
Are Monthly SEO Services the Better Option?
The first fact we advise you to remember when exploring SEO’s cost is that it will be a constant service or solution you need, instead of a one-off option. Aside from the goals and aspirations you have 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 needs to 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 SEO services. You are dealing with a much smaller, more concentrated audience, and the competition is far lower. The best SEO professionals charge, on average, roughly 23% less for local services.
What Types of Local SEO Services Are There?
Like global 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:
- Automated Local SEO
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 – are 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. However, 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. Automated local SEO pricing generally runs between $300-$500 per month.
- Small Scale Local SEO
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.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. Small scale SEO pricing packages typically range between $400-$900 per month.
- Comprehensive Local SEO offers more in-depth options covering all aspects of SEO, including (but not limited to):
- Paid search management
- Content management
- Google My Business management
- Social media
- Link building
- Citation optimization
- Management of online reviews
Services like this are more transparent in providing you 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 include: rankings, backlinks, analytics, paid search, competition, website health, Google My Business, reviews, citations, and social media engagement.
It should be no surprise that local SEO packages will increase with more comprehensive services. These services can be as much as $4,000 per month. However, they are intensive; detailed marketing campaigns offer far greater value and higher returns.
What are Other SEO Pricing Factors?
Beyond the typical differentiation between company rates, SEO pricing packages can be impacted by various factors.
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, medical offices, finance companies, locksmiths, and car mechanics all fall into this category. Other industries with expensive and highly competitive keywords include (but are not limited to) real estate, marketing services, software companies, and home improvement businesses.
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.
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.
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 My Business 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.
How Should 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 should you be paying?’
When you look at different SEO consultants, you should be exploring what you need to do to outrun your competition. Even if you offer better services or products than your competitor, they will gather more online leads if their website ranks higher than yours on the SERPs.
According to a recent report from Sistrix, 28.5% of people click on the first link that pops up on the SERPs. 15.7% check out the second, and the numbers dramatically drop from then on.
First and foremost – you must determine where you stand with your competitors and how much work you need to start outranking them.
How Do You Set a Dollar Amount for SEO Services?
Next, you will need to take a look at your current budget restraints about projected growth. You need to be both aspirational – but also rational when setting your goals. It is highly unlikely that you will double or triple organic traffic numbers within the first couple of months of running an SEO campaign. However, this could be a good goal to set for the next year or two.
Speak with the SEO agency about the general budgets and ROI expectations to have for your company. While an SEO agency can’t guarantee a specific ROI amount, they may be able to offer you predictions based on other similar businesses they have helped in the past. This can give you a better idea of an appropriate budget amount to set.
How Do You Determine Your Competitor’s SEO Performance?
How can you know what your competitors are doing if they are beating you in SEO?
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 will need to complete some keyword research, exploring the top ten performers for your target keywords. Exploring stats and data like Domain Authority can also provide a clear picture of how your competitors are performing – 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.”
Do SEO Costs Differ for Small Businesses?
You would be right to assume that an SEO campaign for small business owners can be comparatively cheaper than a large company or corporation.
SEO agencies work to make tactics scalable, so hourly rates and fixed pricing are affordable for diverse clients. Indeed, according to one survey, more than 40% of SEO agencies offer multiple pricing models.
Multiple pricing models allow business owners to choose the solution that fits their needs. For instance, you can pay hourly and expect anything between $125-$150. Alternatively, fixed-priced services can be anything between $500 up to $7,500 per month.
Or, you can choose a project-based package and expect to pay around $1,000 for various services. Again, these prices are determined by the previously mentioned SEO pricing factors and can vary for each business and project type.
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 $500 per month on SEO to see results and improvements that you can take to the bank.
What Should You Do if Your Budget is Tight?
Many small business owners make one mistake 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 in 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 $1000 and $5000 for their monthly budget of SEO.
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
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 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.
What’s the Return of Investments 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!
The good news is most companies see positive results from SEO. According to internal research from First Page Sage, the majority of clients who invest in SEO marketing have compounding returns over the first three years. However, the average return rates depend greatly on the types of services as well as the industry of the company.
For instance, technical SEO work (keyword research, title tag rewrites, technical fixes) had an average ROI of 117%, whereas content-based SEO had a 748% ROI.
SEO is dependent on many different factors – many of which are out of yours and the SEO agency’s control. Additionally, SEO work takes time to reap the benefits. You probably won’t see an instant boost in traffic numbers right after you restructure your content.
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.
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.
At Foxxr Digital Marketing, we provide scalable, professional SEO services and solutions to suit your business budget. With our expertise, you can outrank your competition without breaking the bank. Get in touch today or fill out a form, and we’ll put together the perfect SEO package for you.
Published: Jul 15, 2019
Updated: Feb 26, 2021