Search engine optimization (SEO) will be the thing that connects a company to the majority of its customers. According to the Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing Trends, SEO was the second most effective channel for acquiring new customers.
When a company needs to improve its SEO, costs can be a major concern. Automated local SEO pricing can often cost between $300 to $500 per month, small scale SEO can range between $400 and $900 per month, and comprehensive local SEO services may be as much as $4,000 per month.
Most businesses will have budgets ranging from $500 a month to $10,000 a month, with large SEO projects costing an average of $1,500 to $5,000 per month and average hourly SEO services costing $100 to $300 per hour. Small businesses may spend at least $500 per month on SEO while almost 60 percent of SEO professionals expect their clients’ budgets to increase within the next 12 months and at least 88 percent of those using SEO strategies will increase or maintain their investments.
Determining SEO Costs
While many businesses would prefer simple flat rates for SEO services, the truth is that it can be complicated to determine what is needed for SEO purposes. This means that the cost of SEO may differ dramatically depending on the SEO services a company needs or wants.
SEO package pricing can differ depending on several factors, including the amount of content a company needs, its expectations, possible projections for business growth, and the range of services required. Companies should have a fairly good idea of what to expect when they get quotes for SEO pricing from marketing agencies.
Determining SEO Prices
For an accurate estimate of SEO pricing from a marketer or agency, a company will first need to provide some information about its business. Such information will help an SEO marketer determine just how much work will be required, the type of content a company needs, and approximately how long the project should take to complete.
Some important factors may include:
- The current state of a company’s search presence
- A company’s average revenue per sale
- A company’s close rate of leads to sales
- A company’s campaign goals
- How quickly a company wants to see results
- How the current marketing budget is allocated
All of these concerns can partly explain why SEO pricing points may differ so much between clients.
Obtaining a Quote for SEO Pricing
Marketers do not usually provide exact quotes for SEO services without getting key information from their clients. While companies can see fixed monthly costs for certain SEO packages, marketers will need an in-depth understanding of a business’ needs before they can provide an accurate quote.
What Businesses Pay for SEO Services
Search Engine Journal’s State of SEO Agency Report in 2022 reported that many businesses have budgets ranging from $500 a month to $10,000 a month. An estimated 31.5 percent of companies had budgets between $1,000 and $5,000, 22.4 percent had budgets between $500 and $1,000, 13.7 percent had budgets between $5,000 and $10,000, 10.9 percent had budgets of less than $500, 8.5 percent had budgets of more than $10,000, 7.3 percent had no specified budgets, and 5.6 percent did not know.
The same report also showed that almost 60 percent of agency SEO professionals expected their clients’ budgets to increase at least a little within the next 12 months. It also stated that businesses with budgets of less than $5,000 a month were more likely to allocate the highest percentage of their spending toward SEO-specific services.
The Reasonable Price for SEO Services
People should generally avoid companies offering SEO services for $150 a month or less. The average SEO specialist nowadays is making around $60,000 annually, so they do not work for free.
When companies offer low-cost SEO services, the company or specialist may be relying on shady methods such as link schemes or will provide very few results. Generally speaking, a company should expect to pay a fair price of between $1,500 to $5,000 per month for large projects or between $100 to $300 for hourly services.
Of course, the numbers and fair pricing may vary fairly dramatically depending on a company’s needs, requests, and location. Research has shown that clients who pay more for SEO services often report higher satisfaction rates.
Value of Monthly SEO Services
As a company is exploring SEO costs, it is important to know right away whether it will be a constant service or solution a company needs instead of a one-off option. Aside from the goals and aspirations of a business, SEO pricing may also be impacted by the kinds of services a company wants.
Several SEO tactics, such as link-building and content marketing, will require monthly attention. SEO will not be a one-time project because it needs to be constantly updated, analyzed, and adjusted to deliver the desired results.
Content and links will need to be continuously upgraded and improved. Many business owners are thus more willing to pay monthly retainers for quality SEO services.
How Much Does Local SEO Cost?
Many businesses are marketing to a local customer base. This makes local SEO even more important.
Local SEO may be comparatively cheaper than global SEO services in some cases because companies will be dealing with a smaller, more concentrated audience and there will be less competition. Local SEO campaigns can thus cost as little as $300 per month.
Types of Local SEO Services
Similar to global SEO, the amount a company pays can depend on the pricing models it is interested in and the SEO package it needs. Local SEO is often divided into three categories:
Automated Local SEO ($300 to $500 per month)
Automated Local SEO is usually the cheapest option and ensure that business information will be provided to directories. It involves ensuring that all contact information is correct on websites such as Yelp or Yellow Pages.
Automated Local SEO alone will not boost a search ranking since it is merely the necessary information that Google uses for geographical search results. It can be enough to gain visibility if a company only operates in one location and wants to target customers within a specific city or state.
Such services would involve updating all business accounts on location-based sites and incorporating necessary links and information customers commonly search for. It will not involve content marketing or social media management.
Small Scale Local SEO ($400 to $900 per month)
Small Scale Local SEO campaigns commonly involve creating highly targeted advertisements that run for a limited time frame in a certain area. The approach often includes pay-per-click ads or social media campaigns that are highly localized to reach a geographic audience.
Small-scale SEO will be designed for smaller businesses that serve limited areas and only need to target customers within certain mileage ranges. It is useful for keeping costs low while reaching a highly relevant audience.
The important part is understanding how to optimize content to match local search intent and find clever ways to target audiences that meet the necessary criteria. This can be more complicated than automated SEO, but small-scale local SEO marketers can help companies cover the basics without getting into the real nitty-gritty.
Comprehensive Local SEO (starting at $4,000 per month)
Comprehensive Local SEO campaigns offer more in-depth options covering all aspects of SEO, such as paid search management, content management, reporting, Google My Business management, social media, link building, citation optimization, and management of online reviews. Such services can be more transparent in providing companies with information on exactly where their marketing money is being spent.
Comprehensive SEO will focus heavily on analysis reporting to track metrics such as online traffic growth, conversion rates, and visibility. Reporting services provided with these more thorough local SEO services should focus on call tracking and conversions to help companies clearly measure their return on investment (ROI).
Other key performance metrics included in comprehensive SEO tracking include:
- Paid search
- Website health
- Google My Business
- Social media engagement
Prices of local SEO packages increase with more comprehensive services.
Additional SEO Pricing Factors
Beyond the typical differentiation of company rates, SEO pricing packages may also be impacted by other factors.
Some industries will be more likely to market online than others and thus be more competitive. The most expensive keywords on Google often relate to lawyers, medical offices, finance companies, locksmiths, and car mechanics.
Other industries with expensive and highly competitive keywords include real estate, marketing services, software companies, and home improvement businesses. The cost per click (CPC) for highly competitive keywords may be more than $1,000.
Niche businesses may have an upper hand when they can utilize longer keyword phrases or additional keywords with lower competition. The SEO pricing for different industries is often based on how many monthly searches specific industries have.
A city’s population and a geographical area being targeted can always have an impact on SEO pricing. Swimming pool prices are likely to cost more in Florida than they would in Alaska.
More concentrated metropolitan areas usually have more competition, so costs for localized SEO packages in areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago will be much higher than businesses wanting to target customers living in smaller nearby towns.
Type of Service You Need
SEO pricing can usually be determined by whether a company wants to optimize its website for organic search, build up a review profile, or produce lots of content. Such issues may determine the type of SEO pricing structure that is the best option for a business.
If a company merely needs help setting up Google My Business accounts and optimizing site tags, it may be a one-time cost per project. When they need help building up blogs and want higher rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs), monthly services may be a better choice.
Brand Awareness and Visibility
SEO pricing will also change depending on where a brand currently stands in terms of awareness and visibility. Brand new companies starting from scratch will be dealing with a lot of legwork but businesses that have been around for a while may need to focus more on optimization and maintenance.
Determining Your Budget for SEO Services
The 2022 CMO Survey results showed that most businesses spent between 8 percent and 13 percent of their company revenue on marketing expenses over the past year. Garner’s The State of Marketing Budget and Strategy 2022 also reported that over half of all digital spending is being allocated to paid channels, but at least 8.5 percent was still going towards SEO expenses.
The bottom line appears to be that most companies allocate at least 8 percent of their revenue to marketing. A company must first determine where it stands with its competitors and how much work it needs to perform to start outranking them.
Setting a Dollar Amount for SEO Services
Companies will need to take a look at their current budget restraints regarding projected growth. They need to be aspirational and rational about setting their goals.
It is highly unlikely that a business will double or triple its organic traffic numbers within the first couple of months of running an SEO campaign. This may be a good goal for the next year or two, however.
Companies should speak with SEO agencies about the general budgets and ROI expectations to have for their businesses. While SEO agencies cannot guarantee specific ROI amounts, they may be able to offer predictions based on other similar businesses they have helped in the past.
Knowing Your Competitor’s SEO Performance
To know what competitors are doing when they are beating you in SEO, companies will need to complete some keyword research and explore the top 10 performers for target keywords. Statistics such as domain authority may provide a better picture of how competitors are performing and what a company will need to do to outrank them or how much they will need to spend.
SEO Costs for Small Businesses
While small business owners are right to believe that they can get away with paying less than bigger companies, they should still expect to pay an hourly rate between $125 and $250. Fixed-priced services may range from $1,000 to $7,500 per month.
Companies can also choose project-based packages and expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 for various services. Prices will usually be determined by certain SEO pricing factors that can vary for each business and project type.
Many small business owners do not have a fixed cost to fall back on when asking how much SEO will cost for a small business. Small businesses should still aim to spend at least $500 per month on SEO to see results and improvements that they can rely on.
Tight Budget Concerns
Several small business owners will make a mistake when they view SEO as being more of a cost or a risk. SEO needs to be seen as being a long-term investment that provides continuous value to a business.
WordStream notes that when compared to traditional marketing programs, content marketing costs 62 percent less and generates approximately three times the leads’ volume. Even though $500 will be the minimum a company should pay, small business owners may want to aim to expand their budget to somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 for the monthly SEO budget.
More experienced SEO professionals can provide scalable services without missing critical elements such as quality content creation, link building, conversion rate optimization, accessibility and usability of a website, and customer review management.
Increasing SEO Spending Budget Over Time
Paying around $10,000 per month can provide a fully-managed SEO marketing campaign for a business. Some companies may spend up to $100,000 per month on SEO depending on the keywords they are targeting and their level of competition.
High-quality SEO services can be cost-effective and provide a solid ROI. It can also take a while before a company starts to see measurable results from SEO.
SEO will be a marathon instead of a sprint. The more effort a company puts into its content creation, keyword inclusion, link-building, and other SEO strategies will mean better results.
Return of Investments of SEO
There is rarely any guaranteed ROI for SEO services, so any agency guaranteeing results should be a red flag. All of that said, Hubspot’s 2023 Marketing and Strategy Trends Report shows how leveraging SEO ranks highly in terms of ROI and effectiveness with at least 88 percent of companies using SEO strategies increasing or maintaining their investments.
ROI rates may also vary depending on companies’ industries. According to First Page Sage, SEO ROI by industry includes a 736 percent ROI for addiction treatment with eight months to break even, a 702 percent ROI for Business to Business Software as a service (B2B SaaS) with seven months to break even, a 788 percent ROI for biotech with eight months to break even, a 681 percent ROI for construction with five months to break even, a 317 percent ROI for eCommerce with 16 months to break even, a 1,031 percent ROI for financial services with nine months to break even, a 994 percent ROI for higher education and college with 13 months to break even, a 678 percent ROI for HVAC services with six months to break even, a 866 percent ROI for industrial Internet of things (IoT) with seven months to break even, a 758 percent ROI for commercial insurance with nine months to break even, a 612 percent ROI for IT staffing with 10 months to break even, a 526 percent ROI for legal services with 14 months to break even, a 813 percent ROI for manufacturing with nine months to break even, a 1,183 percent ROI for medical devices with 13 months to break even, a 906 percent ROI for oil and gas with 10 months to break even, a 1,101 percent ROI for PCB design and manufacturing with 11 months to break even, a 826 percent ROI for pharmaceutical with nine months to break even, a 1,389 percent ROI for real estate with 10 months to break even, and a 770 percent ROI for solar energy with nine months to break even.
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