How Much Do SEO Services Cost?

by | Aug 23, 2021 | SEO

How Much Do SEO Services Cost?

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, many chief marketing officers had to cut down their marketing budgets in 2020. According to recent reports, those budgets won’t bounce back in 2021. In 2020, the average marketing budget was 11% of company revenues. In 2021, it’s only 6.4% – a reduction of 4.6%.

That’s why many business owners, managers, and CMOs are skeptical about spending their budgets on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. “Is SEO worth the money” – that’s the question on every marketer’s mind. Like most technical industries, the SEO industry is full of jargon and complex concepts.

It can be perplexing for business owners to understand whether these services are beneficial for their commercial objectives. Let’s assess how much SEO services typically cost. Hopefully, it will clear all confusion regarding whether SEO spending is worth it or not in 2021.

The Cost of SEO Services

The exact costs of SEO services depend on various factors, including:

  • The experience of the SEO agency or contractor
  • The location of the SEO agency or contractor
  • The preferred pricing model of the customer (monthly, weekly, or hourly)
  • The size of the business
  • The scale of the SEO strategy and long-term marketing goals
  • Status of the firm’s existing SEO strategy (if any)

Typically, experienced SEO providers charge more. These providers also work exclusively on enterprise-level projects where SEO costs are very high. Here are some key trends in the global SEO market that impact service prices –

  • ► Most SEO service providers charge monthly retainers for their services. The average monthly retainer fee is less than $5000 per month in the US. In other countries, the $500-$1,000 per month rate is the most commonly availed pricing tier. The second-most popular rate is $251-$500 per month.
  • ► Some SEO service providers offer flexible pricing models. In addition to monthly retainers, these firms also provide weekly, hourly, or per-project pricing to their clients.
  • ► Local SEO services cost significantly less than those serving the international market.
  • ► For hourly pricing models, the most common charge is $150 per hour or less. Rates rarely exceed the $200 per hour fee.
  • ► In per-project pricing models, $500-$1,000 is the most common pricing tier.
  • ► SEO agencies charge almost two times more than freelancers or consultants. Freelance SEO professionals charge less than $100 per hour, whereas established SEO agencies typically charge $150-200 per hour.
  • ► If you’re working with an experienced SEO agency (been in business for 3+ years). In that case, you can expect to spend anywhere between $150-200 per hour or $5000 per month on their services. But, service fees vary from SEO company to company. That’s why these averages will only give you a brief idea of what you can expect to spend.
Overall, monthly pricing models are the best for small businesses that only want to invest in essential, local SEO services. Here are some other payment models that SEO service providers offer –

Monthly Retainers

Pay monthly fees for specific SEO services. Clients have the option to renew or cancel this contract each month.

Fixed Price Contracts

Sign a contract before getting these services and pay a set fee for availing of specific SEO services. Here are some standard clauses that feature in these contracts –

  • SEO Content Creation – $0.10 to $0.60 per word.
  • Social Media Management – $500 to $3500 for the full service.
  • SEO Content Overhaul – $500 to $7500 for the full service.
  • Link Profile audit – $500 to $7500 for the full service.

Project-based pricing is similar to this concept. Clients can pay anywhere between $1000 to $30,000 to complete specific projects and achieve specific marketing goals.

search engine optimization

What Services to Spend On?

Thankfully, leading SEO providers offer service-based fees. Clients don’t need to pay for SEO services their websites or social media profiles don’t need. Let’s say your business objective is to secure higher rankings on Google’s SERPs. Then, you can focus on two to three services –

  • Build Your Website’s Architecture – Make sure the site is “crawlable” (accessible to Search Engines). It should be optimized for providing high-quality user experiences. The site must be fast-loading, render clearly on all devices, and designed following Google’s standardized metrics (Core Web Vitals).
  • Create Content – Google still values high-quality content. So, SEO content creation should be every business website’s priority. The content should match the most used search queries, satisfy user intent, and satisfy Google’s fresh content algorithm.
  • Create High-Quality Backlinks – Focus on building natural backlinks that users find helpful and boost the website’s ranking in Google’s SERPs

Are SEO Services Worth It?

Irrespective of the SEO plan you choose or the services you focus on – SEO success takes time. With that being said, SEO services are still crucial for businesses that can benefit from having an online presence. In the long run, earning impressive ROIs for SEO services is guaranteed when you work with top SEO experts.

Some proven benefits of investing in SEO services include:

  • Higher search rankings
  • The rise in organic traffic (visitors coming to your website from organic search results).
  • Low bounce rates (users find the info they need and don’t leave the site in a hurry).
  • Higher organic Click-Through-Rates (CTR). SEO experts target the right audiences. When your website appears on SERPs, it will be appealing enough for many users to click on your link.
  • More hard conversions. Direct conversions in the form of phone calls, demo signups on the website, etc. These conversions drive direct revenue to the business.
  • More soft conversions – Soft conversions indicate clear intent on the user’s side. For example, social media shares, newsletter signups, etc., indicate that the customer may buy your product/service if you engage with them.

Most importantly, all these metrics can be tracked and improved monthly. A business website’s overall “brand awareness” grows significantly after two to three months of high-quality SEO services.

The Risk of Under-Spending on SEO

When choosing SEO service providers, never compromise on quality by settling for “cheap” SEO services. If an SEO company is charging less than $750 per month, it’s most likely using “BlackHat SEO” tactics such as –

  • Posting automated spam comments to create free backlinks on websites.
  • Posing “copy and paste” content from other websites.
  • “Cloaking” URL addresses to trick search engines into ascribing higher ranks for target keywords.
  • Keyword stuffing.

Platforms like Google are well-aware of these tactics. They reconfigure their algorithms every few months to prevent scammers from executing these strategies. Websites that knowingly or unknowingly use BlackHat SEO tactics face short-term and long-term penalties.

  • Their websites permanently receive low search engine rankings.
  • The website may be eliminated from search engines forever.
  • If websites stop using these nefarious tactics, it may take a long time for them to secure higher rankings once again.

Many large corporations and websites have used BlackHat SEO tactics, and they’ve been appropriately penalized. Google is serious about SEO. Businesses that use fair and calculated SEO tactics could gain significant exposure on the search engine. But, SEO is an ongoing strategy, and ongoing consultation with industry leaders will always be slightly expensive.

In the end, your digital marketing objectives should determine precisely how much you spend every month on SEO services. The most successful SEO strategies are the ones with long-term goals. Such a strategy may take up a chunk of your firm’s marketing budget, but it will allow your website to rank at the top of search results consistently.

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