:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO::
With such a wide range of prices for SEO services it can be very confusing when you are looking to hire an SEO firm.
If you have ever shopped around for SEO services you most likely received prices ranging anywhere from $99 month to $20,000 per month depending upon your industry and goals. With such a big difference in pricing; how much should you be paying for SEO?
Here are the five most common pay structures SEO companies use when establishing price points for your project and the average prices you should expect to pay.
Hourly – If you are looking for a few hours of guidance, a review of particular pages, or you just want someone to review what you are doing briefly each month, hourly pricing may be a practical way of being billed. When you speak with an SEO professional, you should expect an hourly price of no less than $100 per hour from an agency or $50 per hour from an individual.
Monthly Pricing – By far the most common pricing model, you should expect to pay at least $750 per month to retain a trustworthy SEO firm. If you are looking for a specific service such as link building, you may find some good agencies from about $500 per month. What most clients do not realize is their monthly investment is directly proportional to their results. If you are spending $750 per month and your opponent is spending $1,500 per month, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. When you speak with SEO companies, they should have some background knowledge on your industry, competition and goals. Understanding those factors is the only way to create a plan that is actually going to get you the results you want to see. Beware of cheap SEO providers who offer services for just a couple hundred dollars per month. They are likely to cut corners and put your site at risk because you are easy to replace.
Project Pricing – This pricing structure is like monthly pricing with a crystal ball. As an SEO agency, if you work in certain fields often, you get pretty good at estimating the time and work needed to rank a website and generate traffic. Instead of signing up for ongoing SEO services at a monthly fee, the SEO firm will provide you with an estimate outlining the monthly cost of their services and how many months they need to complete the job. This will give you a total project price and often times, a few payment options.
A La Carte - If you are looking for a very specific service such as Google + Profile optimization, this type of pricing may work. It also comes in handy if you want to add something to your ongoing services. If you are not sure about the price point for these items, ask the SEO firm what goes into the service and how long it will take and that should help you understand if you are paying a fair price.
Pay for Performance – The number one reason consumers hesitate when buying SEO services is the fear of not seeing any results from their investment. To overcome this objection, several companies started offering pay-for-performance pricing. While in theory this sounds like an excellent pricing structure, when you look at it from a business standpoint, you can see why it is not. If you sign up for three keywords and the firm only gets paid when you rank; what do you think they are going to do? Anything it takes to rank your site quickly. The strategy worked really well prior to 2012, but I would not want to put my website at risk with this type of service in 2014.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Before You Buy
When you are looking for an SEO company to work with it is imperative that you focus on the quality of the service you will receive and the ROI potential, not just the cost.
Hiring a “cheap” SEO company could prove to be the most costly mistake your business will ever make, just ask some of the many website owners who have had their sites destroyed over the past couple of years just to save a few bucks per month.
Have any of you suffered at the hands of a “cheap” SEO company? Let us know in the comments below.
Author Bio: Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a search marketing and design agency located near St. Louis, Mo. Travis loves researching and writing about SEO strategies and implementing innovative strategies for his clients. Connect on Twitter @theseoproz.