How Much Does Search Engine Optimization Cost?
SEO has emerged as an effective online marketing strategy for building targeted traffic, increasing brand awareness and improving your online performance. Despite its proven success, the question remains; how much does search engine optimization cost? Almost every business today must decide not if, but how much to spend on search engine optimization.
Why Should You Pay For SEO?
SEO is no longer the luxury of large and established companies with huge marketing budgets; even local startups have to engage in SEO to compete effectively. In today’s web-driven world, gaining a high ranking on the first page of Google, Yahoo or Bing search results pages is the difference between success and failure.
Hiring a dedicated SEO agency is the most prudent method of engaging the most qualified and experienced professionals in the field. It is also the most cost-efficient choice when compared to hiring an internal SEO expert or a content marketing agency that offers SEO as an add-on. SEO firms consistently implement the latest SEO practices across a variety of industries, which gives them the best technical know-how and experience.
What Determines SEO Pricing ?
Whatever SEO agency you hire, several factors will determine how much you pay for their services. There are no industry pricing guidelines when it comes to SEO services, so costs will vary from one agency to another. However, as with any marketing strategy, the return on investment, or ROI will ultimately determine how much you should spend on SEO. More specifically, the price will depend on the competition in your industry, your marketing goals, and the SEO strategy selected. The higher your goals, the more money you will spend.
Before you look at the numbers, beware that online marketing channels continue to broaden, which continuously changes the definition of SEO. Most SEO firms will offer a variety of services and pricing options. Do your research to ensure you get the most comprehensive services based on the latest SEO trends. Most services should include an SEO audit, competition analysis, content marketing, conversion analysis, social media optimization, link building, and SEO copywriting among many other strategies.
Popular SEO Pricing Models
Although almost every agency will quote its own prices, most SEO packages in the industry come in the following pricing models:
1. Hourly Consultation
The client will pay an hourly rate which depends on the expertise of the consultant and client’s industry. Most SEO consultants charge from $100 and up to $300 an hour. This fee is typical for an experienced SEO expert who can deliver the expected results. The exact figure will depend on the competitiveness of your market and the array of services offered by the consultant. Although there are less expensive consultants out there, be careful when hiring them. Most of them are inexperienced and will take longer to achieve the desired outcomes.
2. Fixed Price Or A La Carte Contracts
A company may wish to pay for specific services before committing to a monthly package. Such services include keyword research or competition analysis. An SEO audit to determine what services are required to improve online performance is also a common type of fixed price contract. Most agencies give you the option of choosing one or a combination of services priced at a fixed amount. These packages are a common way of testing the waters before determining what services will be needed long-term.
3. Project Based Pricing
Clients may prefer an SEO package that is tailor-made for their specific requirements. This project based pricing will have a fixed cost depending on the scope of services and competition in the industry. For example, a company may want social media optimization or help improving local search rankings. Such project contracts vary from between $1000 to $30000.
4. Monthly retainers
This is the most common pricing model. A fixed monthly fee is levied for a range of SEO services agreed upon beforehand. Since SEO is a long term investment, this model has the best ROI. It also allows companies to determine and set aside a specific budget for the service. This type of pricing usually includes content and site improvements, link building, press releases, regular analysis reports, keyword research, and optimization.
Monthly retainers usually come in the following price ranges:
1. Below $750 per month
This model is a very basic package which is better suited to a small company in a market with little competition. Most agencies that work with this type of fee offer a limited range of services, use overseas labor and automate their link building. Such services frequently include very basic on-site technical work and do not generate useful results in competitive industries.
2. $1000 to $5000 per month
This price point is suitable for small to medium sized businesses with less complex websites and marketing strategies. Smaller but experienced SEO agencies will charge this type of fee. Choose your SEO firm very carefully to ensure there are no trade-offs as far as their expertise is concerned, especially when paying less than $2500 per month.
3.$5000 to $10000 per month
Established SEO firms with a proven track record charge this type of monthly fee. Such firms have a large pool of highly experienced and specialized SEO experts. By paying this amount, you will have a dedicated SEO team of analysts, professional copywriters, conversion specialists, link building experts and content managers, who will deliver good results.
4. Above $10000 per month
This monthly package is ideal for companies that are targeting a market with highly competitive and lucrative keywords. Such markets also have well-established players with large marketing budgets. This pricing model gives you access to top SEO experts in the field and is aimed at generating significant results since it’s well funded. Large firms can spend an upwards of $30000 per month or even up to $100000 depending on their ambitions and goals.
Finally, bear in mind that as far as SEO is concerned, you only get what you pay for. SEO is a long-term investment with a good ROI if done properly. Do not fall for marketing tactics that promise the number one spot on Google search, or any other form of guaranteed results. SEO is a rapidly evolving field, so building a long-term relationship with a trusted SEO partner is the only way to ensure success.
written by: Stella Hillary