Do you find yourself asking “how much should I pay for SEO?” If so, you’ve come to the right place.
How much you should pay for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) really depends on your business and needs. Some businesses only need a limited amount of work done, while others require much more. The question, how much should I pay for SEO?, really comes down to how much you are willing to pay for results, how your current SEO is today, the size of your site, your competition, and your goals. That being said, today SEO is absolutely necessary for a business to grow and compete. If you aren’t doing it, someone in your industry is and they are probably growing faster than you.
There are multiple ways to pay for SEO. The four most common models that SEO companies use when it comes to charging for and providing services are a monthly retainer model, contract services at a fixed cost, project-based pricing, and hourly rates. Which option is best for you really depends on your needs, but due mainly to the fact that SEO takes time, a monthly retainer model is usually the most successful option to go with. Below is an explanation of each pricing model, pricing, and points to keep in mind when shopping for SEO services.
SEO pricing models
Monthly retainer model
In the monthly retainer model, you will pay a set fee each month for an agreed upon list of services. These services may include link building, on and off-page SEO tactics, content building, and updating, keyword research, competition research, etc. This model is often the most popular due to its high return on investment (ROI). Pricing for these services again depends on your companies size and specific needs, yet typically range between $750- $20,000+ a month. Most companies will fall into the $2,500- $10,000 range. The actual amount you end up spending comes down to how much work and how many services your business will require to become and remain competitive. Some companies will spend over $100,000 per month on SEO services. Companies that spend this much money are typically going after some of the most sought after and thus most lucrative keywords and topics.
Contract services at fixed price or A la carte
When employing this model you will agree on a contract with the SEO firm for a set of services to be performed. Contracted services include: link profile audits $2500-$7500 or higher depending on size of link profile, SEO/Website Audits $1000-$3000 or higher depending on the size of the site and the depth of the audit, link building $250-$2000 per link depending on quality of the link and the tactic, per page optimization and implementation $100-$250, keyword research and implementation at $50-$200 a keyword depending on keyword difficulty, and copywriting for SEO $0.50-$1.00/word. If you have a current in-house marketing team or marketer that can provide certain services that you would usually have to hire a digital marketing firm for, contract services might be a good option for you.
This model will essentially be priced based on the amount and scope of work you need to be done. Like other models, what you need to be done depends on your specific industry and competition. Projects will typically cost $2500-$35,000. Some projects can cost upwards of $200,000, but these projects are typically reserved for large companies in extremely competitive markets.
Just like hiring a lawyer or business consultant, an hourly rate is another option of payment. Typically companies that have in-house marketers or SEO’s will hire an SEO or digital marketing firm with a greater range of experience than their own employees to come in and give direction and advice. Hourly costs typically range from $100-$400/hour. Some of the larger SEO firms charge $800+/hour, for example, SEOMOZ, now simply MOZ, was charging $1000/hour before closing its doors as an SEO firm, to sell SEO research and management products for a monthly fee.
Without a doubt, SEO can be expensive and may seem like an unnecessary cost to some. This notion could not be farther from the truth. As with other investments for your business, such as a website and advertising, SEO has a huge potential for a great ROI. The higher and more you rank for certain keywords and topics, the more opportunity you have to attract visitors to your site, and in turn generate more leads. With this being said, SEO is only helpful when done by professionals who know what they are doing. This is why hiring a credible and competent firm is absolutely essential. Below you can find tips on what to look for when hiring a firm, as well as attributes to avoid.
What to look for in an SEO firm
Uses white hat tactics
Firms that use white hat tactics have the best chance at obtaining high rankings in the long-term for their clients. Firms that employ black hat tactics may get some quick results but ultimately get your site penalized by Google, thus losing you business.
Offers transparency to clients
When looking to hire a firm to make sure they tell you they will be providing monthly reports displaying both the good and bad. A well put together monthly report should include amount of new links and quality of links, page authority ranks, domain authority rank, keyword rankings, Google ranking, Bing ranking, yahoo ranking, the amount of traffic, conversion rate, the source of conversions, new users, returning users, etc. These monthly reports should show you improvements and fall backs. A great SEO firm will not shy away from showing you what is working and what isn’t. There isn’t one way to do SEO and no website or industry is the same. Some things will work in SEO and some things won’t, SEO is all about testing, research, and finding what will work.
Experience with SEO is key. Great Search Engine Optimization professionals have plenty of experience with SEO and web based services in general. Many SEO’s got started by making websites and then got into SEO, as the two go hand-in-hand.
What to avoid in an SEO firm
Too good to be true price
If a firm is the lowest price in town, chances are they aren’t good enough to charge what the other firms charge. Now let’s say you happen to find a firm that’s just getting going and you have a personal relationship with its owner, you could get the deal of a lifetime and still get results. That being said that deal probably won’t last forever if they know what they’re doing, and you’ll end up paying a regular price further down the road. All-in-all, if a firm is offering you a monthly retainer at $300 a month chances are they either don’t know what they’re doing or they employ questionable tactics that could get you penalized by Google and the other search engines.
#1 Ranking guarantees and guarantees in general
Firms that guarantee you a #1 ranking are lying to you. No firm can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google because well, no one knows for certain how Google’s algorithms determine rankings except for Google. That being said, there is a general understanding of what tactics you can employ that will most definitely improve your ranking. Even be skeptical when an SEO firm guarantees you a spot on the first page, while for many industries getting a first-page ranking is probable when the proper tactics are employed, it’s hard to be 100% certain your website will end up there. Any guarantee, in general, is something to avoid, with SEO constantly changing guaranteeing anything is not a sound business practice for any SEO firm.
Overnight or super quick results
Proper SEO takes time. Typically an SEO firm should tell you that results will take around 8-12 months. If an SEO firm says we can get you to a #1 rank or on the first page overnight, chances are they’re going to do some shady stuff or they’re just outright lying to you.
In conclusion, SEO services range greatly in price and scope. Deciding what’s best for your company can be a tough decision. Talking to a professional about your SEO needs would be the best way to get an understanding of what you would need. Finding a reputable SEO firm that will work with your budget and find a plan for you to get the best results possible is not hard to do. Although you should be careful considering lots of firms just want to make as much money as possible and worry about results second, there are plenty of firms out there that genuinely love what they do and love getting their clients results. Finding a firm that also builds websites should you need a website, is a great route to go since they will build your SEO alongside your website to give you the best possible chance to succeed. If you need to speak to a professional about your SEO needs do not hesitate to contact me today, we can meet you at your place of business and discuss your specific needs and goals. For more information and a complete list of the services provides click here.