SEO basics

How Much Does SEO Cost & Pricing Models?

High-quality SEO can make all the difference for a business. Learn about a quality SEO campaign, the cost, and why it’s worth the price.

A search engine optimization (SEO) campaign has so much to offer growing businesses. That’s because it could help increase or refine brand awareness, improve the overall user experience, and help generate more web visits and conversions.

Knowing that the majority of clicks happen for top-ranking sites, this means that it’s not only important to have your website exist in Google’s index; it’s important to rank in an area where you can be seen. And when it comes to your business, high-quality SEO services can make all the difference — and the price tag will reflect that.

How Much Should You Pay for SEO?

You’ll find that there are a few popular pricing models when it comes to working with a quality SEO company, which can vary depending on the needs of your business.

  1. Project-based ($2,500 – $10,000+ total)
    This type of SEO pricing option is where you pay per project — whether that be a site migration, content writing, technical analysis, mobile optimization, or more. Typical prices range from $2,500 – $10,000+ per project, which I know is quite a range, but it all depends on the length, complexity, and requirements of the scope.

    This can be a great option for businesses that have some resources in place, but need someone to go under the hood to investigate what needs to be fixed based on priority and impact. If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, check out my SEO audit services.

  2. Monthly Retainers ($2,500 – $10,000+ per month)
    A monthly retainer is an ideal option for a more extensive campaign since it gives you ongoing support to amplify your visibility on search engines. You’ll have another person on your side that can act as an extension of your team, and invest more time in knowing your business inside and out.

    You can expect to pay between $2,500 – $5,000 per month for smaller companies. A medium-sized company can expect the fee to be about $5,000 – $10,000+ per month. A larger-sized company can expect to pay more than $10,000+ per month.

    Many companies find that having a long-term relationship with a search engine firm produces not only a high return on investment but meaningful and positive results. As with anything, a great partnership includes excellent communication and trust. If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, check out my SEO consulting services.

  3. Hourly ($75 – $500+ per hour)
    Many companies that choose to pay an SEO consultant at an hourly rate do so when they need a higher level of flexibility. It’s where you may not need or want a high level of SEO support, but you want to have someone on hand for when you have questions. When you pay hourly, you’ll be able to see work hours logged and a detailed breakdown of work done.

    Hourly can fall between $75 – $500+ per hour, which varies depending on the level of experience your SEO consultant has and the tools they use to support your business. If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, check out my one-hour SEO consult services.

  4. Performance-Based (price varies)
    Performance-based SEO pricing is where you only pay for how your ranking does in search engines. From my experience, I haven’t seen this type of pricing option offered in a long time. Very rarely, I’ll see this offered on top of a typical retainer as a way to incentivize an SEO to get a business to rank well sooner rather than later. My thought is that your SEO should be working to make that happen anyway, so it’s not necessary to select this option.

Is Paying for SEO Worth It?

Possibly. This may be a hot take, but I actually don’t believe ongoing SEO makes sense for everyone since it depends on where the business is at in its journey.

One major caveat to this is that I believe some level of SEO can be helpful, even just a one-time project. That because SEOs influence very important elements of a website that impact accessibility. For this reason, even new businesses could benefit from having alt text that actually describe images, well-structured headings, and unique title tags, among a few other things. If a small business can do this without an SEO, that’s fine by me.

For larger businesses that are growing and thriving, I firmly believe that SEO is a powerful way to reach target audiences online. When combined with other marketing tactics, such as social media and paid search, it’s even better and can help marketing dollars go even further.

There are certain factors that come into play when you receive a proposal from a reputable SEO company with a higher fee. These costs are usually due to resources needed, the requests made and the opportunities to be gained.

Here are a few reasons why an SEO company may charge more:

  1. They have a proven track record of experience and results.
  2. They have more SEO resources to scale up with your business.
  3. They understand technical SEO and can work with developers.
  4. They are analytical, strategic, and can think big picture.
  5. They can create or work with content writers to maximize visibility.
  6. They consider how SEO impacts other marketing tactics.
  7. They consistently use and test the latest SEO best practices
  8. They take the time to learn about your company goals and objectives.
  9. They use enterprise-level tools to better help your company.

What Is the Cost of Bad SEO?

The potential risks of bad SEO include getting dinged with a manual action, and/or having your site de-indexed or displaced in Google’s search results.

In order to increase your chances of ranking prominently, work with a quality SEO consultant. While lower SEO pricing packaging options can sometimes look attractive, you’ll want to think about what’s included.

One main thing to keep in mind when paying less is that usually the level of SEO engagement is also less. That means that you need to be realistic with results happening immediately. They can of course happen, but they also might not.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if a company guarantees immediate results, that could be a red flag. That’s because no one can guarantee results since algorithms change, site architecture updates are made, and new competitors enter the arena.

Final Thoughts

Remember: SEO is an investment. It needs consistent and high-quality strategies such as content creation, technical quality assurance, and link-building efforts. While there are different pricing options to work from, consider working with an SEO consultant more long-term in order to help achieve your goals and objectives.

While there are quick wins to be gained, quality SEO campaigns often take time to show results. There are of course a few variables that will impact how long it will take for SEO work.

If you’re looking for a new SEO consultant, send me an email! I have over a decade of experience and can help take your SEO efforts to the next level.

Let’s find the right strategy for your business together.

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