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The Ultimate SEO Pricing Guide: How Much Does SEO Cost?

Here’s the truth:

SEO is one of the best investments you can make for your business. But when it comes to SEO pricing you might be asking yourself…

How much does SEO cost in 2021?

With so many factors affecting SEO pricing you probably can’t find a straight answer anywhere.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about SEO pricing and how much you can expect to pay.

(Browse all of our SEO case studies here)

What Are The Different SEO Pricing Models?

Different SEO companies have different pricing models but here are the four most common SEO pricing models you can find:

  1. Hourly Rate
  2. Project-Based
  3. Monthly Retainer
  4. Self-service

Why are there so many different SEO pricing models?

Well, because each model is designed to help customers achieve their SEO goals in different ways.

seo pricing models

1. Hourly Rate

Hourly rate pricing is when an SEO company or consultant charges you for each hour of SEO work they provide.

With the hourly rate option, you can contact an SEO company to work a set number of hours and pay them based on those hours.

An hourly rate is a great option if you have a tighter budget and are willing to take more control over your SEO campaign.

Need some help with your SEO? Check out my SEO consulting services and book a call. In just an hour I’ll be able to diagnose all your SEO problems.

2. Project Based

Project-based SEO pricing is when an SEO company charges you a set amount to complete a specific project.

There is a clear beginning and end for project-based SEO. This requires typically less ongoing work and project-based SEO is usually defined by very specific KPIs.

If you have very clear goals on what you want to achieve with your SEO, the agency may offer you a project-based rate to accomplish those goals.

3. Monthly Retainer

Monthly retainer is when the client pays a monthly fee for an agreed list of SEO deliverables.

This can include a full range of SEO services such as:

…Depending on your goals and the kind of work your website needs to achieve those goals. But overall, monthly retainers are one of the most popular SEO pricing models.

Why?

SEO is a long-term investment. As a client, you want your website to get as much visibility as possible in the SERPs.

Monthly retainers usually mean the agency will take care of all of your SEO, end to end.

seo pricing packages

You don’t have to worry about a single thing.

You pay a predictable monthly rate and the agency makes sure your website is growing in both rankings and organic traffic.

Monthly retainers are an attractive option because they are straightforward and hands-off.

Looking for complete hands-off SEO? I recommended Search Logistics for customised SEO packages that help you achieve your business goals.

4. Self-service

Self-service is just as the name says. You go to an agency’s website, choose the SEO work you want and pay for it within a couple of clicks.

self service link building

Why would you do this?

Wel, because it’s really simple. There is no need to:

  • Contact the agency
  • Have a discovery call
  • Receive a proposal
  • Wait for the invoice

Note: This doesn’t work for all SEO services. I would not recommend it to get white label SEO services, for example.

However, self-service SEO does work well for services like link building. These services have clear deliverables which allow customers to order and pay online almost immediately.

Let’s take the example of LinksThatRank.

LinksThatRank offers a complete end to end link building service you can trust.

They have simplified the buying process making it easy to choose the links you want and check out fast.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

The cost of SEO services varies from agency to agency.

Trust, me you can find all types of prices out there. You can find cheap SEO agencies promising excellent results for as little as $300 per month.

But that cheap dollar sign comes with some risk…

The Danger of Cheap SEO Services

When it comes to SEO…

You get what you pay for.

If the company is charging you as little as $300 a month, you can be confident they cut corners to achieve the results you’re after.

Warning Cheap SEO Services
Why?

Quality SEO takes a significant amount of time and effort. It has a lot of moving parts and requires a number of different skill sets.

Beyond just the services, with a reputable agency, you also get better customer service and professionalism.

Quality SEO is always worth every penny.

What Can You Expect From Cheap SEO?

Cheap SEO is just that – cheap!

You can expect a dodgy service using black hat SEO techniques such as:

  • Temporary SEO fixes
  • Spammy links
  • Keyword stuffed content
  • Use of outdated strategies

…Which could result in penalties from Google.

Google Penalty Illustration

While you might see an SEO boost in the short run, it will eventually catch up and you will end up with negative effects.

Take it from me:

I have been doing SEO for many years now and have worked on many websites that have had SEO penalties from Google. They’re hard to remove and difficult to recover from.

Google Penalty Recovery Service

The Real Cost Of SEO…

Quality SEO requires a number of skilled professionals for every campaign.

An SEO campaign can require:

  • Project Manager – Manages the entire project and makes sure that it’s moving forward.
  • Website Content Writer – Specialised writer that provides SEO copywriting to increase rankings website ranks and convert traffic.
  • Outreach Person – Finds link placement opportunities and contacts other website owners to secure those placements.
  • Guest Post Writer – Writes the content for guest post articles and blogs.
  • Graphic Designer – Designs quality graphics as needed for the campaign.
  • Website Developer – Fixes website technical SEO issues on both the front end and back end.

All of this is going to cost a lot more than $300 per month!

As you can see, SEO requires a lot of resources and skillsets from a number of different experts in their fields.

So how much can you expect SEO pricing to be?

Cost of SEO

For an hourly rate, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $250 per hour for a quality SEO company. This largely depends on the work being completed. For more well-known SEO consultants you can expect to pay $400 to $700 per hour for their services.

Project-based SEO will usually cost around $1,500 to $5,000 for a smaller project. For large SEO campaigns that require more work, you could expect to pay as much as $25,000+.

Monthly retainers vary a lot. Expect to pay $1,500 to $5,000 per month for an average website. If you have a bigger website or are in a very competitive industry, $15,000+ per month would be considered reasonable.

Why Is SEO Expensive?

SEO is complicated and it’s constantly changing.

There are a lot of pieces to put the puzzle together and achieve excellent results. There are two main reasons why SEO is expensive.

1. SEO Involves A Lot of Effort and Skill

Good results don’t happen overnight. SEO campaigns take a significant amount of time to show results.

Patience is key because SEO usually takes a minimum of three months to see any improvement and often even longer.

long term strategy

You need to have the right strategy in place with the right team executing each individual part. You are paying an agency to work on and improve your results continuously.

Hiring an SEO agency means you get to sit back while they do the work.

2. SEO Has A Great ROI

Why do you invest in SEO? To get a high ROI, right?

SEO as a marketing tactic provides one of the biggest ROIs of any marketing technique you could possibly use.

How?

When your website ranks in the top-ranking positions for quality keywords, you get free targeted traffic from Google 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The flow of traffic to your website is constant and targeted.

It’s not like PPC advertising where you stop paying and the traffic also stops. Once you are in the top ranking positions, you get all of that traffic.

SEO return on investment

The average ROI from a high-quality SEO service is 748%. In other words, for every $1 you spend on SEO you can get back $7.48.

Not a bad investment, right?

5 Factors That Impact Your SEO Pricing

Most reputable SEO agencies don’t provide generic monthly prices for full-service SEO.

Think about it: Every campaign is different and unique.

SEO agencies and professionals don’t just pull numbers out of thin air.

There are a number of factors that will influence the price you pay for SEO. That’s why most agencies do a website SEO audit before quoting a fee for the work.

They need to know exactly what they are dealing with to quote fairly.

SEO Audit

What are the main factors that impact SEO pricing?

Here are five big elements I look at before quoting a price to a client.

Factor #1 – The Size Of Your Site

The more pages your website has, the higher the SEO pricing.

Indeed, optimising a website that has a lot of pages requires significantly more time. Google looks at individual page metrics as well as entire website metrics.

If you have a big website you will likely have more on-page and technical issues.

large website size

Each individual page needs at least basic optimisation. Otherwise, it could affect how high your core target pages rank.

Want to rank multiple pages for multiple keywords?

Each target page needs to be technically sound and contain quality content.

On top of that, you need to build the authority of each individual main page which means building valuable links and even redesigning them in some cases.

In short…Big websites need a lot more work.

GROWTH HACKS: Sign up for my free link building training to ensure you’re building only links that matter.

Factor #2 – Your Business Goals

I get it:

You have some big business goals to crush and SEO is part of making that happen. SEO goals can be boiled down to just three KPI’s:

  1. Improve online presence
  2. Increase organic traffic
  3. Grow sales & conversions

To achieve each of these goals, you need to rank for the right keywords. But what if you have a lot of keywords?

Here’s the truth:

The size of the SEO campaign required to meet your business goals will directly affect the price you pay for SEO:

  • If you need to rank for lots of keywords it takes a lot of time and effort.
  • If part of your SEO strategy is writing content consistently to target specific keywords, it will require more resources.

SEO is a powerful marketing tactic for both small and large businesses.

You just need to have the right budget in place to make sure you get the results you want.

Factor #3 – Your Niche/Industry

Is your business in a competitive niche?

SEO can be competitive.

After all, there are usually only a small number of target keywords in a single niche or industry that really drive results.

If your SEO competitors:

  • Actively build quality links
  • Regularly produce great content
  • Have high domain authority websites
  • Promote themselves online
  • Are well-known brands

…You are up against some fierce competition. This is why your SEO budget needs to match it so you can compete too.

SEO Competition

Indeed, to get your site into the top spots in a very competitive niche will require a huge amount of work and a very clever strategy.

Factor #4 – The Services You Need

Most SEO agencies will do an initial SEO audit before they quote a price.

Indeed, they need to know what services are required to achieve your goals before they can quote you a price.

For example:

If your website needs to be technically redeveloped, this takes a lot of time, but… if your website just needs some on-page SEO adjustments, this shouldn’t be as much time.

The services you need can be simplified into two things:

  1. The current state of your website
  2. What you want to achieve

The agency can see where you are with your SEO and where you want to be. By then, they can work out exactly what services are needed to get you there.

Factor #5 – Success Of The SEO Company

SEO companies that produce results are not cheap for a reason. The reality is every SEO company and professional values the work they do.

Every price is based on that value.

success case studies

Most customers don’t like the hourly rate model because they feel that they are being billed for every little thing the SEO provider does.

But here’s the truth:

What’s important is not the cost per hour you pay but… the VALUE that you receive from the agency.

That’s why I always say when you are looking for SEO services, decide your budget first.

But remember:

As with most industries – if the SEO company has a reputation for getting excellent SEO results for customers, they will cost more. And that makes total sense.

Wrapping It Up

There are tons of different SEO agencies out there. Each agency uses an SEO pricing model that best reflects the services they provide.

There are a number of factors that will impact SEO pricing. You just need to decide what’s important to you then find an agency that fits your business.

Looking for an SEO agency you can trust? Take a look at these client case studies.

Remember:

When it comes to SEO pricing – the most important thing is value.

Decide your SEO budget, find an SEO service that provides good value for money and has the capabilities to achieve the results you’re after.

search logistics

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is SEO per month?
You can expect to pay $1,000 to $2,500 per month for a small to medium-sized website. If you have a large website and are in a very competitive niche, SEO can cost $5,000 to $10,000 per month depending on the agency. (Note: This doesn’t apply for white label SEO services).

How much should you charge for SEO?
Most SEO agencies charge $100-$200 per hour for SEO. As an SEO consultant, you could charge $75-$100 per hour and for freelancers, you can reasonably charge $50-$75 per hour depending on your experience level. If you want to charge a monthly or project rate just multiply the expected hours of work by the appropriate rate.

How much does SEO cost in 2021?
SEO costs in 2021 depend on the SEO agency you hire and the pricing model they use. On average you can reasonably expect the cost of SEO in 2021 to be $1,000 to $2,500 per month, $75 to $200 per hour or $5000 to $30,000 per project.

How much does local SEO cost?
Typically local SEO services cost less than national or global SEO. The cost for local SEO campaigns will vary depending on the SEO service you use. You could expect to pay between $500 and $1,700 per month depending on your website niche, your business, the level of competition and your geographic location.

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