All businesses today have to give attention to SEO. The competition to get eyeballs is furious.nline marketing is imperative for survival in a web-driven world. But how much should you spend on search engine optimization (SEO)?
I am going to go over all the information you need to make that decision, as well as some helpful tips on how SEO services work so that you don’t go into a partnership blindly.
Payment Models for SEO
Before understanding the costs, you need to understand the payment models used by SEO companies that typically offer four principal kinds of services and payment:
You’ll pay a set fee monthly in exchange for an agreed-upon collection of services. This is by far the most common payment model, simply because it provides the greatest return on investment by covering all the bases that go into giving you the “home run” impact of good SEO optimization. You will usually get regular analytics reports, on-site SEO optimization, social media outreach, link building, keyword research, and SEO optimization.
Fixed Price Contract Services
Just about all SEO services sell contract services. Usually, before a business owner is ready to pay for a monthly retainer, they’ll choose specific contract services they urgently need to get their site where they want it. Such fixed-price services are often advertised on their site, along with a set price. An example of this is an SEO website audit which will immediately identify the site’s strengths and weaknesses, and also include a competitive analysis and a list of hot keywords that will make the most impact on the business.
Similar to contract services, only these services are fully customized for the client. Pricing will vary depending on complexity. For example, a local health food shop may ask an SEO service to help them with their local online marketing. The business owner wants the agency to set up and manage their social media accounts. In this scenario, the business and the SEO company will define the scope and cost of the project.
Most SEO companies use all of these service models. However, a client may choose to enter into a monthly retainer, as well as purchase a contract service, and engage them in a customized project, thus entering into three of the payment models. In such a scenario it might be possible to pay by the hour.
Typical SEO Costs
What can you expect to pay?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer for pricing. Most SEO services will NOT accept clients for under $750/month. Those companies that do offer discount “SEO packages” for less than $750/month will be outsourcing and use automated link building methods that will flag your site for spamming techniques.
An independent survey of over 150 SEO companies concluded that the average website owner will spend roughly $1,800/month on SEO services.
- Minimum Price for Most SEO Agencies: $750/month
- Average Price: $1,800/month
- Average Price for Local SEO: $900/month
- Average Price for National SEO: $3,900/month
- Hourly Consulting Rate: $100-$300/hour
*Based on a Survey of 150 US Based SEO Agencies
A monthly retainer can range from $750 to $5,000 per month. The amount you pay will depend on the size of your business and the scope of services provided by the agency. On the lower end are small SEO agencies that offer a limited range of services and on the upper end are full-service SEO agencies with a bigger name brand, that are not necessarily more effective than the smaller agencies.
Fixed-price contract services are typically used by businesses that are just testing the waters in SEO. Such contract services can include SEO copywriting at a price of ($0.15-$0.50/word), site content audit ($500-$7,500), link profile audit ($500-$7,500), and social media site setup ($500-$3,000).
Project-based pricing will mean a wide range of prices starting at $1,000 and going all the way up to $30,000.
Hourly consulting rates vary from $100-300/hr. SEO consultants, whether individuals or agencies, usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.
Things To Be Suspicious of
Any talk of SEO services and pricing has to come with warnings. There are plenty of SEO agencies using unethical techniques, that in the long run, can do more harm to your site than good. So be suspicious of the following:
100% Guarantees. Due to the ever-changing nature of the Internet, SEO companies can’t provide 100% guarantees. It is impossible to predict with absolute certainty what you can expect because ultimately the rankings are solely up to Google, Youtube, and all other such portals. What they can promise you is to do everything within their power and expertise to maximize your chances of good rankings using the latest “white-hat” (industry-approved) techniques.
Instant results. Although some SEO tactics can get “fast results,” be wary that some techniques can hurt you in the long run. Instant results often involve SEO practices that are shady and against webmaster guidelines. Be aware that Google specifically seeks out these shady techniques and penalizes sites that use them, resulting in lost rankings that can take months to recover, if at all.
#1 spot on Google. An agency might promise you the number one spot on Google, however, it’s actually not possible for any company to promise this because number 1 ranking is entirely up to Google.
Costs lower than $750/month. When it comes to SEO, it is not something you want to pinch pennies on, because you want the best level of service and for anything of quality, you have to pay a decent price. So be wary of bargain base prices when it comes to SEO.
Shady link building services. Link building or “backlinks” is a crucial part of effective SEO. You just can’t have a highly-ranked site without other quality sites linking to yours. And with backlinks being so important in Google’s ranking algorithm, there is a whole industry of shady link building. Before you enter into a contract with an SEO agency for link building services, ensure that their link building services are above board, “white hat” services. It would be wise to ask them where you can expect to get good backlinks in your industry.
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Pricing for Custom SEO Services
There are 6 main factors used to gauge the cost of Custom SEO services:
- Is the website well established and trusted?
- Has the website been flagged for spamming or inappropriate SEO tactics?
- How competitive is the niche?
- The number of keywords you want to target?
- How much SEO is needed on the site
- What is your target site ranking?
Standard Monthly Retainer – $1500/month
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