So, you’re wondering how much SEO costs?
Because as you’ve probably already noticed, the answer isn’t always clear.
And it’s really hard to invest in something when you aren’t sure exactly how much you’ll have to spend and what kind of return you can expect.
But you’re really intrigued with SEO as a marketing channel.
Your competitors are already ranking and driving free traffic and leads, and you want a piece of the pie.
If you only knew how much good SEO will cost you…
Luckily, there’s a formula for getting accurate cost estimates for SEO, along with a projected ROI.
And in this post, I’ll give that to you, along with general pricing for all the services SEO entails.
The Average Cost of SEO Service Packages in 2022
The cost of SEO varies based on several main factors (more on this in a minute) but here is what you can generally expect based on my 8 years in the space.
A good agency or freelance SEO will charge anywhere between $75-$250 per hour.
Where a service provider falls in that range varies based on their overall experience, industry-specific experience, and type of work being done.
For instance, a provider who specializes in eCommerce or B2B Tech will charge more if you’re in those spaces because they have the specific experience they can use on your behalf.
In terms of the type of work being done, very simple tasks like internal linking, cleaning up broken redirects, and fixing 404s will be on the cheaper end.
Strategy, research, site audits, and link building are usually on the higher end due to the higher skill requirements and business value.
2 Things You MUST Know About Hourly SEO
1. Steer clear anyone doing SEO for less than $50/hour.
SEO is hard, time-consuming, and valuable—people who charge this low are either inexperienced or will use black hat SEO (which can get you penalized).
2. Charging for SEO by the hour makes literally no sense, to begin with.
You’re paying for a result—more traffic, ranking for target keywords, etc.—not how long it takes to achieve it.
The amount of hours a service provider puts in, therefore, is irrelevant. This makes it easy for you to overpay these providers since easy tasks like internal linking can take a ton of time.
Project-based pricing or monthly retainers make much more sense because they’re aligned with actual business goals instead of time.
For most businesses, the average monthly retainer you can expect to pay for SEO is between $2,000 – $5,000.
Enterprise businesses or highly competitive industries (health, insurance, financial services) can be significantly higher.
Many of these companies pay $20,000+ per month due to how valuable SEO is to their business.
Monthly retainers are the most common pricing structure for SEO since it’s a recurring need.
Your ROI and traffic will continue going up over time, but if you stop pursuing SEO, you will lose your gains over time.
So, most companies opt for a monthly retainer with a trusted service provider so they can continue their traffic growth and ward off competitors.
Some service providers require minimum contract lengths (usually between 6-12 months) with monthly installments.
2 Things You MUST Know About Monthly SEO
1. Steer clear of anyone offering SEO for less than $1,500/month (unless it’s local SEO).
There’s so much work that goes into good SEO. Service providers who undercharge, in almost every case I’ve seen, aren’t able to get you meaningful results.
You get what you pay for.
2. Make sure you get a trial period before signing a 12-month contract.
Good SEO providers know that you want as much certainty that they can get you results as possible before you sign a long contract.
So, they should have no problem providing you with “outs” or a trial period where you can start seeing what they can do for you.
At Rank Tree, we do this by having month-to-month agreements with recommended minimums (like 3 months).
That way, clients know what to expect and have the power to pull out at any time for any reason.
If you’re looking for specific projects to support your current SEO efforts, here are the averages you can expect:
- SEO Audit – $1,000 – $30,000 depending mainly on site size and if you also want implementation
- SEO Strategy – $1,000 – $15,000 depending on how robust the strategy is
- Link Building – $100 – $750 per link depending on the Domain Rating of the sites you want links from
- SEO Content – $.10 – $.30 per word depending on the quality of the content and the experience of the writer
One Thing You MUST Know About Project-Based SEO
This is a great option if you have a team doing most or all aspects of SEO and just need specific support.
For instance, if you’ve got everything down pat except link building, you can outsource it and just pay for links.
But it’s important to understand that just getting an SEO audit or a “batch” of content and links likely won’t do much for you.
SEO is holistic and ongoing. It’s not a one-time fix.
Make sure you have a long-term SEO plan before you explore specific, limited-scope projects.
5 Factors That Influence SEO Service Cost
Industry competition is easily the biggest factor in how much SEO costs.
The more competition, the higher the rates.
And several industries are notorious for high SEO competition.
- Financial services
- Attorneys / Legal
- Health / Fitness
- And many more
Why is this?
Because SEO is a zero-sum game.
There are between 6-10 spots on the first page for any given query.
And the more companies vying for those spots, the more links and higher quality content you’ll need.
2. In-House Resources
The number of internal resources you can dedicate to SEO will also influence your costs.
For instance, if you can create content in-house with an SEO consultant’s guidance, that will save you a good bit of money.
Or if you have developers who can make site updates based on an SEO’s instructions, that’ll also help.
How fast do you want results?
Faster results mean more content and more links.
And that comes with a higher price tag.
4. Industry-Specific Results
Service providers who have a track record of results in a specific industry also tend to charge more.
But there’s also less risk with campaigns you run with them since they’ve seen success multiple times before with sites like yours.
With local SEO, your physical location matters a ton.
Because competition varies by region.
If you’re in a city with tons of competitors, your SEO prices will be higher.
If there are a ton of untapped opportunities and few competitors, your SEO prices should be lower.
How Much Does Local SEO Cost?
Local SEO is generally cheaper than international SEO.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 – $2,500 per month for good local SEO.
Anything less than that range, especially stuff like “automated SEO” is usually terrible.
You get what you pay for here.
Where a quote falls in the $500 – $2,500 range is dependent on the same 5 factors listed above.
But there’s another interesting twist here that isn’t present with international SEO…
This price is for a single location.
If you have multiple locations, the local SEO service price goes up.
The good news is that you usually get package discounts for multiple locations.
Why Is SEO So Expensive?
There are a ton of reasons SEO is “expensive”, but here are the main ones:
1. Few people can generate and sustain results.
SEO is complex and requires skill in several seemingly unconnected disciplines.
To do it well, you have to know how to:
- Diagnose and fix technical issues related to crawling, indexing, and site speed
- Build and manage relationships with other sites
- Write compelling content that satisfies “search intent” for your target keyword
- Analyze data to figure out what to change in order to improve existing rankings and acquire new ones
- Research competitors and industries to find opportunities for new content and links
And that’s not even all…
SEO touches on coding, writing, strategy, data analysis, PR, and more.
It’s truly a multi-disciplinary skill.
That’s why it’s so hard to do right.
2. Bad SEO is dangerous.
Since SEO is hard, there are a lot of providers who don’t know how to get results.
Some are legitimately scammers—some are just offering it to increase their profits on existing clients.
The issue is that bad SEO not only doesn’t ever get you an ROI but it sabotages your future.
Someone can mess up so badly that Google blacklists you completely. And while they might not deindex your site, they can make it nearly impossible for you to rank.
3. Demand is high and supply is low.
SEO is super well-known at this point. Everyone wants it.
But there are truly so few good SEO people out there.
And with high demand and low supply, you’re always going to see price premiums of some kind.
4. The ROI is ridiculous.
As I talk about in my article on whether SEO is worth it, the ROI on SEO is so good it can more than make up for the investment.
It can generate upwards of a 12x return on your investment when done well.
Obviously, many factors influence what kind of ROI you can expect in your situation, but very few other marketing channels (that can be measured) can offer such a crazy ROI.
Here’s a Question for You…
Can you afford not to invest in SEO?
It’s a worthwhile question to ask yourself.
Yes, it’s a significant investment, but it has significant upside.
Your competitors are already showing up when your customers take their questions to Google.
And they get exponential ROI on their investment to be there.
That’s why it’s critical to explore investing in a rock-solid SEO campaign.
You can try doing it yourself, hire an in-house team to do it, or bring in an agency to run the whole thing for you.
Regardless of what you decide to do, SEO is almost a requirement for being in business these days.
Discover Untapped Traffic Opportunities for Your Site
For a limited time, I’m offering a FREE, no strings attached website analysis where I tell you the top opportunities I see and how I recommend taking advantage of them.
Specifically, I’ll show you:
- The biggest low-hanging fruit opportunities we see for increasing your traffic and leads within as little as 30 days
- How we recommend implementing the strategies discussed in the training for your specific situation
- And answer your questions about ranking and growing your blog as a marketing channel (we usually charge for this!)
You can book yours now by grabbing a spot on my calendar below.
Note: I’m not sure how long I can continue doing these because my calendar stays booked, so if you’re remotely interested, I highly recommend booking now.