To answer the above question we need to break it into 2 parts. The first part is how much does SEO cost and the second part is how much should you spend on SEO services.
Let me try and answer both parts with real life examples and experiences I have gained the last few years in the SEO services industry.
Why do you need SEO?
Before talking about cost, the obvious question to answer first is why you need SEO. I won’t go into many details here since I already wrote about the benefits of SEO for businesses in these articles:
- Small business SEO in simple terms
- Benefits of SEO for small businesses
- 10 SEO tips for startups and small business owners
What is necessary to note though is that SEO and Internet marketing in general, can help your business grow faster than any other medium or method.
According to a study by Google, businesses that use the web are more likely to grow faster than businesses that don’t.
SEO will help your business use the web more effectively and achieve a greater return from your online investment.
How much does SEO Cost?
This is the first question many small business owners ask me and it is perfectly normal to know in advance and before making a decision, how much will SEO cost your business.
To get directly into the point, there are 3 different pricing models when it comes to buying SEO services:
1) Per hour
2) Per project
SEO Services per Hour
Per hour is the most popular pricing scheme. You pay the SEO Company or SEO consultant a fixed rate per hour.
What usually happens is that you make an agreement in advance of the activities to be performed and the estimated hours needed.
At the end of each month (or project) you are given a report with the details and the actual number of hours worked. You then have to process payment according to the agreed hourly rate.
What is the range for hourly rates?
The range for the SEO services rate goes from $20 per hour to $200 per hour. This huge difference depends on a number of factors, some are explained below:
Region – According to different studies SEO services in Australia costs more (on average) than buying SEO services from a United States firm.
Size of the company – The bigger the company the more money you will pay for SEO
Of course there are always exceptions to the above rules.
For example, our hourly rate at the moment is $50 and we offer SEO + Internet marketing services for small and medium businesses (see details below as to why we can offer lower prices).
SEO Services Per project
This is different than the per-hour pricing scheme. You agree with the SEO firm a standard price for the project as a whole regardless of the hours spend.
Usually there is a 30% down payment and the rest in predefined milestones (i.e. completion of campaign, go live for a redesigned website etc.).
This method is sometimes better in cases where you are not sure how many hours are needed for a given task and it is also preferable for budgeting purposes.
Most successful SEO campaigns expand over one month so one of the best solutions is to agree on a monthly charge.
The most common monthly range is $500 -$1500. This is also our most popular package and what most of our clients prefer, especially those located in the US.
What is the best pricing model?
The best pricing model is a combination of all 3 above. What we do with clients is come to an agreement where:
- Any clearly defined tasks (like a website redesign) has a fixed charge
- We agree on an hourly rate and a monthly ceiling. In other words, we combine both the hourly rate with the monthly charge.
For example, if our current rate is at $50 per hour and the client has a budget of $600 per month then we agree that the max number of hours worked will be 12.
How much should you spend on SEO Services?
So, you now have an idea of the hourly rates and the most common pricing plans, the next thing to decide is how much should you spend on SEO services.
It goes without saying that there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer since it depends on the type of business, current Internet presence, what you want to achieve from SEO and many more.
The following guidelines may help you decide how much to pay for SEO:
SEO is not a cost but an investment – The first thing to understand is that SEO is not a cost for your business but it is an investment (and probably one of the best investments you will ever made).
The reason is that once you start practicing SEO the results will be visible both in the short term but also in the long term.
You can SEO your website this month and start getting more traffic and that traffic will continue to grow for the next 12 months or more without having to do anything else.
What percentage of your profits is coming from your online presence? – If your business depends on online traffic i.e. you have customers online, then SEO spending should represent your biggest budget.
I would also suggest to associate that with your monthly profits i.e. the more profits you make the more money you should allocate on SEO and Internet marketing.
If you are mainly working offline and you just need to have a proper internet presence then a fixed monthly budget would be more appropriate.
I would say that hiring an SEO consultant or firm for 20 hours per month is sufficient to keep your presence (web site and social media) in good shape.
Start low and go long term than high and short term – SEO takes time, this is a known fact. I would say that it may take up to 6-7 months for an SEO campaign to generate optimum results, so have this mind when fixing your budgets.
If you have $10,000 to spend on SEO this year then better make it 10 months x $1000 rather than 2 months X $5000.
How much do we charge for our SEO services?
As mentioned above we follow a combination of all 3 methods but with the lowest rates in the market.
The reason is that we have managed to keep our costs low by adopting a new form of business governance and this allows us to pass the savings on our clients in the form of lower prices.
Our most popular SEO package is the bronze package which consists of 15 hours per month.
The cost is $750 per month and the package includes a range of services that go beyond traditional SEO like social media marketing, keyword research, competitor analysis, email marketing, content marketing and many more.
Before starting our monthly work with a client we usually do an SEO Audit and this helps us understand the amount of work required to optimize our client’s internet presence and also helps the client get a feeling of our quality of work.
As a general advice, when you decide to work with an SEO company or consultant you should have these in mind:
SEO services is not an expensive service if you take into account the benefits and the high return on investment.
Prices vary per company and type of services offered but for small businesses that need to have a good presence on the web and social media should allocate a monthly budget in the range $500 to $1000 for SEO services.