How Much Does SEO Cost in 2020 & Pricing Models?

This post was first published on June 10, 2019, and was updated on May 2, 2020, 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

Just about every business can benefit from a quality search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. That’s because it could help grow a business by increasing brand awareness, improving user experience, and generating 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 prominently on that first page of Google search results. 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 significantly on a month-to-month basis, making budgeting hard.

    Great-quality SEO campaigns can often take 6-12 months to see positive results. You’re better off focusing on having a solid campaign in place.

  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 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, the client, exactly what you need. You’ll have an expert team that knows your business inside and out and can meet and exceed your goals. You can expect to pay between $750 – $3,000 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 secure trust.

  4. Hourly ($75 – $500+ per hour)
    Many companies that choose to pay an SEO consultant at an hourly rate do so when the level of support is inconsistent. Yet, they want to have someone on hand for when they 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 team has and the tools they use to support your business.

2. Is paying for SEO worth it?

I’m slightly biased in saying yes since utilizing SEO is another way to reach your target audiences online. When combined with other marketing tactics, such as social media, 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 understand technical SEO and can work with developers.
  3. They are analytical, strategic and can think big picture.
  4. They can create or work with content writers to maximize visibility.
  5. They consider how SEO impacts other marketing tactics.
  6. They consistently use and test the latest SEO best practices
  7. They take the time to learn about your company goals and objectives.
  8. They use enterprise-level tools to better help your company.

SEO is constantly evolving and best practices are evolving with it, which is why I think so many “experts” preach archaic best practices. And that brings me to my next point…

3. What is the cost of bad SEO?

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

If you come across a company that guarantees immediate results, I would walk away. Mostly because no one can guarantee results since algorithms change, site architecture updates are made, and new competitors enter the arena.

Oftentimes, you’ll find that these companies are using unethical SEO practices known as black hat techniques, which can produce quick results the wrong way and can damage your company’s reputation long-term. Quality SEO uses white hat techniques that produce the most significant success long-term.

Here are a couple of red flags to avoid that could save you money in the long run:

  1. Make sure the company is not working with “black-hat” techniques.
    You’ll often see this with companies who make promises that seem “too good to be true.” These companies often use “shady” link-building techniques that manipulate search engines.

  2. Be wary of people or companies that offer lower pricing. It can mean a lack of experience or a lack of proven results.
    You’ll often see people with little to no training in the field offer super low pricing. Companies often waste money this way, eventually having to end up getting results from a more established and trained SEO expert.

4. Final thoughts on SEO costs

Remember: SEO is not a “set it and forget it” digital marketing strategy. It needs consistent and high-quality content creation, technical quality assurance, and link building efforts. While there are different pricing options to work from, consider working with an SEO agency 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 at least six months to show value. There are of course a few variables that will impact how long it will take for SEO work. Gaining a lifetime customer is almost always a higher value than quick results or sales.

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 10+ 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.