skip to Main Content

2,400+ Clients since 2001 • $4.3+ Billion Raised

SEO Costs: SEO Pricing Explanation & Breakdown

Every business that has a digital presence needs SEO. Without working on SEO, the odds of Google noticing you in the vast web of competitors are virtually zero.

Unfortunately, some business owners pour their money into display ads and think SEO is too expensive. The reality is that most SMEs can afford SEO and risk missing out on many long-term gains by staying away from it.

Let’s dig deeper into SEO. In this article, you’ll learn why it’s an excellent investment and what influences its pricing. You can also see pricing estimates for 2023 by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

SEO Costs

Why do you need to invest in an SEO strategy?

Search engine optimization is not a magic pill that can solve all your problems. However, it is a must-have traffic channel that very few businesses can survive without.

According to BrightEdge research, 53% of web traffic on an average website comes from organic search results. This means if you’re not spending money on eCommerce SEO, you’re missing out on more than half of potential buyers!

Traffic Channels

Research of top-performing SaaS websites indicates 30-50% of traffic is direct traffic, meaning users type in the website address or follow a link. That’s only viable for companies that already have decent brand recognition. Doing SEO work can also get you there, as it spreads links to your website across the web that interested users can follow.

The biggest drawback of SEO is that it’s a long game. You can’t expect results overnight and need to work continually to increase your search ranking. There are benefits that come with that, though.

An SEO campaign never stops, even if you stop writing your blog or adding new pages to your site. SEO-optimized pages stay on your website until they are relevant and will continue to make you money.

How long does it take to get SEO results?

Unlike paid ads, SEO does not bring immediate results. It works on compounding effort. All the articles you write on blogs, links you build, and internal improvements you implement need some time before they can significantly boost organic search ranking.

You’ll typically have to wait 6-12 months before seeing any significant SEO results. However, good search engine marketing strategies tend to snowball. This means you won’t see any improvements in traffic in the first 3-6 months of working with an SEO agency as the bulk of the research work, audits, and creating a strategy happens. After that period, you can expect gradual improvements until your goal is met.

The only way to see fast improvements is if your website or page were good to begin with and only needed a slight on-site improvement. In such a case, the only delay might be because search engines take time to catch the changes.

On average, Google takes anywhere between one and six weeks to index updated pages. You may see results soon after.

You can track the progress with the rank tracker by SE Ranking, a tool many agencies use. It shows how your website ranks across multiple keywords, compares it to close competitors, and updates you on changes in ranking.

Keyword Rank Tracker

The tool is indispensable if you’re on a budget and want more involvement in the SEO process than just seeing a report from an agency.

Is there a standard price for SEO?

SEO pricing is more complex than pricing for PPC services. Many agencies that offer paid ads management either ask for a percentage of the budget or charge a flat fee, often in pricing packages. With SEO, it’s a bit more complicated.

SEO agencies can take on multiple types of SEO jobs, from website audits and technical improvements to creating expert content and distributing it across the web. Depending on your business needs and what the SEO agency you’re working with specializes in, the price may vary quite a bit.

We can still judge what the average pricing is for SEO services based on market research.

SEO pricing factors

If you’re wondering exactly how much SEO costs, it depends on multiple factors. This is why it’s rarely possible to know how much SEO services pricing will set you back until after a call with a sales representative.

Here are several factors that influence the pricing:

SEO goals

The scope of your ambitions when it comes to search ranking is a significant factor in determining the price of SEO services. If you own one hundred-page website with little to no traffic and want to get it to the top 10 on several hundred highly-competitive keywords within two years, a lot of work needs to be done. This means the price is going to reflect that.

If you only want incremental improvements, your website is much smaller, and you need to target fewer keywords, less work will be involved, and therefore, the price will be lower.

Scope of SEO tasks

SEO tasks are vastly different, and you may end up with other price tags depending on your needs. Core SEO services like Keyword research, on-page optimization, and basic reporting won’t cost an exorbitant amount with a regular SEO company.

However, even companies offering standardized SEO plans allow customization to include adding different jobs. A typical SEO pricing plan will consist of keyword analysis, optimization of a certain number of pages, reporting, and several quarterly assets.

Adding B2B or SaaS link-building services, producing blog content, search intent research, competitor tracking, or other tasks adds to the overall budget.

Business size

Your business size also determines your SEO needs. Large businesses typically have more ambitious goals for business growth and the budget to match them. On the other hand, small business SEO generally is much cheaper.

Depending on the size of your business, you may only need help with local SEO at a single location or improve rankings with a handful of low-competition keywords. Most SEO agencies will not charge much for that.

Pricing model

SEO agencies offer a few pricing models. The most popular three are charging an hourly rate, a fixed monthly amount for a plan, or customizing the pricing based on the services you need.

This influences the price quite a lot as one agency may have a fixed price for specific services they add to the overall bill, while another will estimate the number of hours a project may take and charge you for that. And yet another agency may track employee time and bill you based on the end result, which may be more than projected.

This pricing factor is harder to predict, so you will have to speak to a sales representative to know the exact final price.

SEO agency expertise

When you hire an agency, you hire a team. The more experienced the team is, the better your SEO results will be. But this also impacts the price quite a lot. The final decision on what agency to work with will always be a compromise between price and quality of services.

That said, you may not need to hire the most experienced agencies to achieve good results. Some agencies are large corporations that won’t even take clients unless they seek to improve already great search rankings. Others charge a premium because they’re focused on a certain industry.

You may be fine just hiring an agency with a mix of value and price.

Location of your target market

The location you want to rank in significantly impacts the price of SEO. Optimization for US and EU markets costs much more than comparable services for India, Latin America, or Southeast Asia.

This is because fewer businesses are working on SEO in those regions, so there is less competition. It takes a bit less work to rank high there, making the price much lower.

What to look for when researching the SEO agency?

Since SEO is quite a complex type of work that shows results in the long term, choosing an agency is, at minimum, a three-month commitment, you won’t be able to judge an agency’s effectiveness before that. With thousands of dollars and a lot of time on the line, it’s only natural to want to choose the right agency.

Choosing an effective agency comes down to three factors: expertise, methodology, and scope of service.

An agency’s expertise must be provable. It should provide the following.

  • Case studies
  • A strong record of achieving results
  • Client testimonials
  • Be experts in your industry (if possible)

The agency you’re going to hire also needs to be flexible. This means:

  • Removing unnecessary services from the plan
  • Adding SEO services as needed
  • Using the proper methodology or a mix for your needs

If you prefer a hands-off approach, you want to hire an agency that can do everything from analysis and reporting to producing assets like blog posts and media mentions. Otherwise, you’ll be trying to synchronize multiple agencies and manage numerous invoices, which can take too much time.

How much will you need to spend on SEO services in 2023?

Most offers on UpWork are around $10 per hour, with experts charging a minimum of $30 per hour. Assuming you’ll be billed for 10-20 hours of work per week, hiring a beginner freelancer would set you back around $400-$800 per month. An expert would charge $1200-$2400.

Working with an SEO agency is more productive for business owners with larger goals because they can get more work done in the same amount of time. Naturally, the SEO pricing reflects that.

Top-rated agencies on G2 and Clutch.co charge around $100-$150 hourly, with some charging as little as $50 per hour and others as much as $300. You won’t spend less than $1000-$1500 monthly on SEO services with an agency unless you need a one-off consultation.

Estimating average SEO costs rather than the minimum cost is much harder. A joint Search Engine Watch and MOZ State of SEO study is one of the few reliable data sources available.

State of SEO

According to this study, the most common budget is $500 or less, operated by 22% of clients. Another 33% of clients are working within a $500-$5000 budget. Only 9% are charged $10,000 or more.

Some companies offer SEO pricing packages to make pricing more straightforward. An average SEO plan could cost anywhere between $500 and $2500 per month, depending on the company offering it. You may have to pay extra if you need more than the plan includes, though.

This should give you a rough idea of the cost for SEO in 2023. You can expect to pay between $500-$5000 a month.

Conclusion

It turns out SEO isn’t that pricey when you think about it. If you pay the average SEO bill at around $2000 monthly, that’s only $24,000 in annual fees to at least double the traffic for the most important keywords.

When done right, it can proportionately increase the number of leads you receive.

If you’re still conflicted about this, consider hiring an SEO consultant for a quick audit. It may be expensive ($200-$300 for research and a call), but you’ll get a clearer idea of how much you can earn when you hire an agency.

Jason Wells is a professional writer and occasional contributor to various business and technology blogs.

This article was last updated on
Back To Top