The Average Costs for SEO Services

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:: 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.

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25 comments

Brad Marcus 11-18-2014 1:38 PM

Excellent points, Travis!

TerryP 11-18-2014 1:40 PM

We specialize in Local SEO so we strive for local rankings which are easier on average than global rankings (but no one in Omaha cares about dentists in Atlanta), and for that reason we often can serve our clients for $500 per month. Our rates are based on strength of competition within a niche and geography.

Travis 11-18-2014 1:46 PM

TerryP.

Thanks for chiming in on pricing. For local clients, $499 is a very common price point.

JillC 11-18-2014 1:47 PM

Great ideas here -- I had never considered a couple of these as options since I usually go for the monthly retainer option! Thanks for sharing!

www.omsasia.com 11-18-2014 1:53 PM

Understanding the key objectives of your companies website is an obvious question but one that most SEO companies fail to ask. A good SEO company can be judged not only by results but by the questions they ask when trying to establish KPI's and the key drivers of your website.

DavidC 11-18-2014 2:07 PM

Something that is really difficult to gauge is the level of competence and here you need to beware the false credentials and testimonials. I had the experience of engaging a NYC based firm only to find this was a complete front for a crowd in Chennai. They came unstuck before doing any work by insisting they redo my H1 - H6 headers on the basis that the first header on each page should be H1, the next H2, then down to the 6th being H6. But what if my page has more than 6 captions I asked ... The reply was that's when you know it's time for a new page. Unfortunately there are a lot of these charlatans around.

CharlesK 11-18-2014 2:11 PM

Where is the best place to advertise to hire a full time SEO? kronzek@kroncron.com

PeteK 11-18-2014 2:36 PM

Hard to imagine anyone being able to get work done for $500 per month. Our experience is that digital marketing (SEO) services need 2-3 hours per month just to effectively MANAGE things on the account. And that's with a small simple account. How can anyone expect to then fit all of the content writing, page creation, outreach to online media, conversion consulting, etc etc that goes into an effective plan for another 2-5 hours a month? Clients need to understand that an effective DM plan needs a part-time person on task, otherwise people are just wasting their time.

MikeM 11-18-2014 2:43 PM

Interesting article and good info. You make an excellent point about the Pay for Performance model. Reminded me of all the ads I saw a few years ago touting “get on the first page of Google – just $99.” Risky business to say the least. One of the best sayings I’ve heard is “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Your point about what a business needs to spend being influenced by the competition is right on the money.  Some niches are just more competitive than others. While this can be difficult news for a small business it is just the realities of the market place.

A point I would make is that business owners/marketers need to view SEO and digital marketing as an ongoing effort. Not a short term tactic. While the extent of the efforts might vary over time, especially if you have a seasonal or retail business, the ongoing efforts to improve the web presence of a business never really ends.  

Marketronix 11-18-2014 3:25 PM

Every SEO job should be considered a different project. There are so many variables involved. OnPage Optimization for example could take so many man hours, depending on the complexity of the website and the problems inherited. Then comes OffPage linking strategies, the number of kw's to rank, the level of competition found ... etc. How can any seo specialist have a standard fixed monthly price for all projects?  

StuartS 11-18-2014 4:07 PM

I'm currently working on a client's web site. He's a plumber with tons of competition in his city and surrounding cities too. The current website has 34 pages. I'm in the process of adding 66 more pages for on page optimization and making sure each page title is unique. I'm charging him $60/hr.

What I'm seeing in his industry for local SEO is that web masters are registering domain names as the keyword search terms and just making copies of the main website:

competitor main webiste:

advanceplumbingheating.com

copiess of the site:

www.middletownctplumber.com

www.bristolctplumber.com

so I guess I need to do the same thing to also keep my plumber in the game vs. just adding a page to the main site like:

www.mainsite/middletown-ct-plumber.htm

Local SEO is getting tough.

Your thoughts?

TomG 11-18-2014 4:08 PM

Any recommendations ?

Travis B 11-19-2014 8:16 AM

StuartS.

You do not need to set up numerous websites but you should have a page for each specific location. If you spend the time and effort you would have spent setting up numerous sites on optimizing a single site, you are going to have better results.

Ken Glick (EEI) 11-19-2014 10:12 AM

To me, I think what a SEO company charges is far less important than how they quantify your ROI using their services. In that sense, the devil really is in the detail.

DaveC 11-19-2014 10:22 AM

Hi, our services start at $600/mo for local SEO and go up from there depending on Scope of Work and competition. Without fail, prospects who say we are too expensive come to us three months later complaining about who they hired.

JordanW 11-19-2014 10:59 AM

The firm I work for is one of the few Google SMB AdWords Premier Partners and we charge an hourly rate for SEO.  In addition to doing SEO for the search engines we allow hours to be used for website performance optimization (which is optimizing for human beings and helps improve conversions).  We also provide advanced conversion reporting - which is better than general usage reporting (or the free version of Google Analytics).  By analyzing conversions we are able to better understand ROI - and adjust time, efforts, and spend based on what is (and what is not) working.  

In short, we are not the cheapest firm and in agreement that hiring the wrong company due to price causes significant opportunity cost and if they use "black hat" tactics they could do real harm.  

DavidS 11-19-2014 5:00 PM

By far the best SEO option for the money that I have seen is the following:

www.geosearchseo.com/sales/davidsandoval

Travis B 11-19-2014 8:07 PM

DavidS,  I get the feeling you know the owner of that site...lol.

FredA 11-19-2014 9:40 PM

Good point Travis, pricing sometimes are based on what a company offers. Three are companies offering $500 / month for SEO optimization and what they do is just on-page and a bunch of common link building tactics and there are companies offering $1000 / month who does SEO, Social Media, PPC etc., So you really need to contact them individually and ask the scope of their service. Also, another thing to consider before hiring a SEO agency or individual is to background check them by calling some of their previous clients or look in search engines for some company reviews. You can also try to check their current rankings for some of their targeted keywords and see what sites are linking to them. This process will give you an idea how they optimize websites.

Manchun Pandit 11-20-2014 5:19 AM

There is no any fixed price of SEO. most of SEO company is offering $300 to $400 per month for ten keywords. this is basic price of SEO company.

LynnK 11-24-2014 12:00 PM

You need to do your homework on any company who you are considering buying a product or service from.  Do a google search; ask for references (phone #'s that you can talk to someone) and check those companies out before calling; run a google alert on the company and see what you get back; check out their social media posts they've received.  

ARE THEY A TRUSTED COMPANY IN YOUR COMMUNITY?  ARE THEY PART OF A LARGER ORGANIZATION THAT HAS HISTORY AND TRUST? DO THEY WORK WITH OTHER REPUTABLE COMPANIES?  

Just because we are talking digital services doesn't mean we throw business basics out the window.

AustinS 02-26-2015 1:34 PM

Seo pricing can come in a wide range depending on what is required per website. This article is great as it gives perspective on what goes into seo and pricing for websites on a per website basis.

JeremiahE 05-09-2015 9:30 PM

This post is really good! It helps small business owners know the difference price scales that they should stay within when hiring a company for SEO services. This company www.fyidistributions.com charges $800 a month for SEO and other services. Their goal is to attempt to make these services available to any small business that may need help with their online visibility. Great Stuff!

JohnK 05-15-2015 8:03 AM

Well I am an owner of small scale industry and one of mine friend suggest me to hire a SEO specialist to increase my business at online but truly speaking I have no idea of it. After reading this post I got enough idea about expenditure so thank you so much.

Dar 06-11-2015 3:35 PM

We are a silicon valley based company, we do not take clients who cannot pay monthly USD 2k/Month, this does not include content development.

First three months for any customer requires a lot of effort, time and content development. Normally it ends up around USD 15k to start.

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