How Much Does SEO Cost in 2021 & Pricing Models?

This post was first published on Jun 10, 2019, and was updated on Jan 1, 2021, for accuracy.

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.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

In this article, I will review:
1. How much should you pay for SEO?
2. Is paying for SEO worth it?
3. What is the cost of bad SEO?
4. Final thoughts on SEO cost

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.

Did you know: 75% of people don’t look past the first page on search engines?

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.

1. 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. Performance-Based (price varies)
    Performance-based SEO pricing is where you only pay for how your ranking does in search engines. Although it seems like a great option, it can make the costs fluctuate on a month-to-month basis, which for some can make budgeting hard.

    But if you’re more advanced, one option that I’ve seen before with an online reputation management client is a combination of performance-based pricing together with a monthly retainer. SEOs will of course do what they can to get you to rank well, but adding an incentive on top can sometimes sweeten the deal.

  2. Project-based ($500 – $10,000+ total)
    This popular 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 $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 the resources in place, but only need to have a quick analysis of how their organic search is performing. You’ll typically know precisely the cost to expect and what your project will include.

  3. Monthly Retainers ($750 – $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 invest more time in knowing your business inside and out.

    You can expect to pay between $750 – $5,000 per month for smaller companies. As for a monthly retainer for a larger company, you can expect the fee to be about $5,000 – $10,000+ per month.

    Many companies find that having that 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.

  4. 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 need help. 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.

2. Is paying for SEO worth it?

Possibly. I actually don’t believe SEO makes sense for everyone since it depends on where your business is at in its journey.

However, I firmly believe that SEO is a powerful way for growing businesses to reach their target audiences online. When combined with other marketing tactics, such as social media and paid search, it’s even better and can help your 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.

3. 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.

4. Final thoughts on SEO costs

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.

So, when asking, “How much does SEO cost?” or “Why do I need great quality SEO?” look for experts in the field. MediaSesh has over 12+ years of SEO experience and we have a proven track record of helping businesses improve performance metrics, user experience, and conversion rates.

We offer a variety of SEO services to fit your needs. If you have a question on investing in your business through a high-quality SEO campaign, give us a call. Let’s find the right strategy for your business together.

About the author

Christina is an SEO consultant and the founder of MediaSesh. She has been in the SEO industry since 2009 and has helped companies of all sizes to improve their visibility on search engines.