Businesses pay money for all sorts of things: Google ads, social media ads, marketing materials, and more. However, one thing that could move the needle forward if they want to rank in the search engine results pages: search engine optimization. But what is the average SEO cost, and can you afford it?
If you’ve been considering hiring SEO agencies (or freelancers), you might wonder what you can expect to spend.
Here’s everything you need to know about SEO pricing so that you can start showing up organically in the search engines.
The truth is that there are no easy answers when it comes to the cost of SEO services. Your SEO costs can vary substantially depending on who you hire and how they work. Let’s examine how much you can expect to pay under these different pricing structures.
The first and most straightforward SEO pricing model is the hourly rate. This enables you to get help with the services you need and nothing more. It’s a low-commitment way to start working with SEO agencies or freelancers. You may even choose to use this as a trial period before utilizing monthly services.
An SEO consultant usually makes around $46 per hour, according to Zip Recruiter.
However, you may pay even more than that for an experienced consultant (or robust SEO companies). It isn’t uncommon to find someone who charges around $100 to $150 per hour for a la carte SEO services.
Hourly services may only get you so far when it comes to your marketing. Monthly SEO services allow you to keep an SEO agency on retainer so that you can use them whenever you have need. Typically, they will offer you a package that might include a monthly audit, content marketing, link building, and other services targeted to your business.
Hold on to your hat if you’re thinking of going with monthly SEO pricing though. It’s an investment in the success and longevity of your SEO campaigns at $500 to $10,000 per month.
Roughly 20 percent of agencies charge between $500 and $1,000, according to this survey by Ahrefs.
The majority of agencies come in with monthly rates lower than $2,000 — though it should be noted that some do charge over this figure.
The SEO cost for local campaigns is a little less expensive than a wider campaign. This can help you draw in new clients and show up in the search engines, on Google Maps, and for customers who are searching for businesses like yours in the local area.
How much should you set aside for this local SEO strategy?
If you’re looking for local SEO pricing models, you might pay as little as a few hundred dollars for the entire strategy. SEO pricing may be a little higher for more experienced agencies and more extensive campaigns, reaching up to $1,500 per month.
Some businesses pay for an SEO audit to let them know where their strategy is paying off and where it could be improved. How much does SEO cost if you just want an audit?
When you think about how much SEO costs, you should keep in mind that there are different types of audits available. You could have someone look at your technical SEO, content, link strategy, and other very specific areas of search engine optimization.
How much does SEO cost? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might hope. Here are some of the factors that could influence the cost of your SEO pricing.
Not all industries are going to have the same marketing budget. Depending on your industry, you might find that there is more competition for the keywords you want to target.
SEO pricing models often reflect the difficulty of ranking for a given term in organic search.
Plus, you need to keep in mind that the cost to target keywords might be more expensive. Especially in the medical and legal fields, the cost per acquisition of each client tends to be higher (and thus will have higher SEO costs). Be prepared to shell out more money if you want a competitive advantage.
Does your business take place in a major metropolis where competition for similar industries is fiercer? SEO pricing is higher in busy cities compared to more rural areas. This price difference is especially clear if you’re running a local SEO campaign to drive more foot traffic to a retail location.
You also have to think about your target audience. Consider who you really want to target with your SEO services, including important categories like:
Local customers who can visit you in person
Early adopters who want to try the newest thing on the market
Customers poached from your competitors
Your ultimate goals will influence how much SEO costs. Do you want to generate more leads who will part with their email address and contact information? Do you want to make more sales?
Maybe you want to go with something a little harder to measure, like brand awareness.
Even showing up in more organic search queries can be a great goal.
Depending on what end you have in mind, your SEO strategy will vary — and so will the price.
Are you starting from scratch with a brand new website or one that hasn’t ranked on search engines yet? SEO agencies will likely charge more for an unproven website because they have more work to get you to rank. They have to use multiple services (like the ones listed below).
On the other hand, you might pay less if you already have some good visibility on the search engine results pages. It will be a matter of maintaining your foundation and expanding keyword research so that you can show up in even more search results.
SEO agencies can’t wave a magic wand and get you the results you want overnight. Think about how long you have to give an SEO agency space to work. If the timetable is relatively short, then you can expect to spend more money. They will have to double down on your SEO services, which can be more expensive.
One thing that SEO companies keep in mind when pricing your services is the business size. Startups may require fewer services and tend to pay less than large enterprises. A small business has lower SEO pricing than a medium-sized business.
Why does it matter how big your business is?
Smaller businesses usually require fewer customers to keep the wheels turning on their business model. While an SEO agency still has important work to do, they don’t have to bring in the same volume as they would have to do with a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
Last but not least, you need to consider who you want to hire. Freelancers are solo agents who work on their own, which can be great for your budget. They may charge less than SEO agencies, but it could take them longer to produce results because they are only one person.
On the other hand, an SEO agency has a team of people who are skilled in specific areas. They may have one team member for content marketing, one for keyword research, and one for link building. Everyone on the team has their own expertise, which is one of the benefits of hiring an agency, even if the expense is higher.
If you’re thinking about the SEO average cost, you might want to consider freelancers to try it out.
If you don’t already have an existing SEO strategy, you might be wondering what is included with the average rate from SEO professionals. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, so look at the services that might be available to help your SEO efforts.
What keywords are people using to find your business? You need to know what they are so that you can start targeting them in your content marketing and advertising. An SEO company can do the heavy lifting to find them and work them seamlessly into a campaign that will have you ranking on the search engine result pages.
Curious how an SEO provider goes about doing keyword research? See our guide to keyword research and finding low-competition keywords!
Hint: You’ll likely want to use a reliable tool like Semrush. It’s the industry darling and gives you 50+ tools to use for your marketing needs!
The old adage is still true: content is king. Most business owners overlook the content on their blogs and websites in favor of flashy advertising campaigns. However, you may want to rethink this strategy to rank higher. Great content builds your visibility while increasing the know, like, and trust factor.
The result is that you can create solid leads on evergreen content without having to lift a finger. As your library of existing content grows, so does the trust of your audience.
Learn more about content marketing consultants here.
Another way that an agency might provide SEO services is via link building. This requires a great deal of effort and specific attention to detail, building a system of links from reputable sites back to your page. This might look like making guest posts or soliciting links from other leaders in your industry.
SEO traffic is likely to increase as you get a variety of links coming back to your page.
Keep in mind that link building isn’t exactly going to be cheap SEO. There’s a lot that goes into white hat link building.
SEO depends not just on the content of your website but also on the quality of the site itself. Websites that don’t load quickly can cause high bounce rates, as can anything that hinders a user’s experience on the page. Technical SEO audits can get things cleaned up so that the rest of your search marketing can be maximized.
An experienced SEO agency can also offer site and content audits to show you where you can freshen up your website. This type of SEO project is a great place to start before creating a strategy to gain more organic traffic. They can measure traffic, click rate, and even bounce rate to see if your content is hitting the mark with customers.
It’s a good use of your SEO budget to see where your site is strong and where it might be worth shoring things up.
Sometimes, all you need to do is ensure your old content stays fresh and relevant. Some SEO prices will include content updates to make old blog posts and pages feel new, up-to-date, and more relevant to your audience in the present moment.
The good news is that you can even use ChatGPT for updating content.
Maybe your SEO project is a little more specific. You could also employ an SEO agency for conversion rate optimization (CRO) to increase the number of people taking a desired action on your page. This could mean collecting newsletter subscribers, clicking on an advertisement, or any other action you desire.
Here are the best CRO tools like Hotjar that you might want to use in your next SEO campaign.
Now that we’ve looked at how much it costs and what could be included in your SEO project, it begs the question: is SEO worth the investment?
The answer: definitely.
When people visit Google, they tend to look for organic results over sponsored options. The first three results get the majority of the clicks.
According to Search Engine Journal, more than 25 percent of people click the first result. If your SEO strategy doesn’t have you in this prime position, you’ll miss out.
Plus, it ensures that your traffic remains steady. Think about it this way: if you sign up for ads, you lose traffic when you discontinue them. Your SEO campaign keeps working harder for you, even if you take a month or two off to focus on increasing revenue. It’s an ongoing way to get attention in search results.
The average SEO cost can vary depending on what services you need and who you decide to hire. The only thing that is the same across the board is that you will see a great return on investment with an experienced SEO professional. Don’t let fear of the cost hold you back from capitalizing on search traffic today!
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