How Much Does SEO Really Cost? An Expert Analysis

The truth is SEO is not free.

Search engine optimisation makes up the staggering majority of the finer details of digital marketing. A precedent Google research indicated up to 85% of people who are looking to buy a product or hire a service start by entering the query online.

Good search marketing (white-hat tactics) gets you to the top of search results, making those people find you. That results in droves of traffic in interested audiences from all over coming in to check out your offer. That’s enormously influential.

Bad SEO (black-hat techniques), on the other hand, turn your website into a lonely oasis because nobody can find your supplies safe haven through the maze of internet sand-dunes without the proper signs. Think of SEO as the proper road signs.

But the best SEO strategy doesn’t come cheap or does it?

We look at how much SEO truly costs, and whether you’d be better off alternating and experimenting with other digital marketing techniques now.

SEO Service Cost and Pricing Models

How much are you going to spend on SEO? – That depends.

Because there is a multitude of SEO service providers– it can all too easily become overwhelming.

Think of types of SEO providers, for instance. There is a huge range that includes SEO agencies, freelance SEO consultants, and in-house SEO specialists. All of them use different pricing models that range from $10/hour to as much as $30,000 per project or monthly charge.

But to nail more accurate insight into how much SEO truly costs, we’ll need to show the numbers. The following figures from a combination of a Moz survey of 600 SEO agencies and full-on companies, Search Engine Watch analysis and other concrete research sources say a lot.

Using pricing models is one solid method to establish a strong answer.

Numbers Won’t Get it Twisted: How Much SEO Truly Costs

According to Search Engine Land and Moz, most SEO services have 3 major pricing models. The pricing models you can expect are:

1. Project-based SEO Service Pricing Model

Charging SEO services by this pricing model is the most popular among more than 50% of SEO companies, according to Moz and Search Engine Watch. It entails details such as what you’ll gain at specified milestones for what specific amount of investment—and what to expect at the end of the project.

Research shows the ranges between $1,000 and $7,500, depending on the expertise of the service provider. You can choose to have your web copy or profile pages optimised for certain keywords, timed online marketing for a specific product, and so on.

Choosing this model is great if you have a strict budget, want to know what value you are getting for your money and time, as well as if you aren’t sure how long it’ll take to get your pages spruced up for better ranking.

Be careful not to be charged for “extra” services you might request for later that were not part of the initial project checklist you signed.

2. Hourly-based SEO Pricing Model

If you want to see what your SEO provider does by the clock, or are running the large chunk of the campaign yourself or mostly in-house, you can use this SEO cost method.

This SEO payment model is popular with freelance SEO consultants, for specific tasks that need to finish in specific time, and ad-hoc consulting sessions to gain specific SEO information. Such services may include SEO website audits and keyword research sessions.

However, with hourly SEO payment model, it can be hard to justify value, since the amount and quality of work done could be restricted by the hourly rate; high-quality SEO providers might slack if you are not paying well and normally charge high prices ($100-$300/hour).

You also do not know what should be achieved by when as in a project-based SEO costing model. So, you might not reach your targets within your allocated budget.

Depending on a number of targets you have, the size of your organisation (hence the scope of work), and budget, you can find a professional SEO provider starting under $100/hour.

3. Monthly-retainer SEO Service Pricing Model

Ranking on search engine results prominently takes time. Sources indicate that it takes on average 6 months to optimise multiple pages and profiles to do well on search results and search marketing.

And even when decent results do come up today, they may slide down again in weeks since search engine algorithm is always changing—hence the need to have an ongoing relationship with a good SEO provider.

According to Search Engine Watch, decent SEO consultants charge a monthly retainer of between $1,500 and $ 5,000.

Most charge medium to large organisations between $2,500 and $5,000 a month. For that, you get on-site enhancements, ongoing keywords research, and optimisation, as well as continuous link building.

Conclusion: The Real Cost of SEO

Each of the above SEO pricing models can help you decide what’s best for your search ranking needs. Also, do remember that the best SEO service providers are not the cheapest around, we know we aren’t. While the best are pricier but worth the while, effort and offer the best return on investment.

The real cost of SEO isn’t in paying someone to help you get better rankings – it’s not investing in this service at all, or (worse) – doing it yourself. What would it mean for your business to be ahead of others online? What would it mean to your bottom line if you were losing traffic, leads, customers? Before you make a decision on how much to spend on SEO, think about what you’ll lose if you don’t.

Find out more about what a powerful SEO strategy can do for your business. Contact us today.

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