What Should SEO Cost?

We always hear about SEO, but what is the best measurable result of SEO dollars? And what should that be worth, how much should you pay for SEO?

The first goal of any SEO effort is creating sustainable organic listings on the first page of search results (FPSR).

Today, in 2018, Google/Bing have made great strides to display local businesses on search results pages to improve local results. Those local results are produced at the whims of algorithms. Being an organic results on FPSR, using proper SEO techniques, is a highly sought after achievement and considered a marketing success.

For example, the Google Local Business maps and the Bing Local Business maps display local business results at top of FPSR. But, we know that those maps do not show all local businesses today, And, Google/Bing continues to make efforts to improve those local business results.

On a national basis, when searching for a product or service, the websites that have the optimized SEO are the ones displayed on the FPSR. Time will tell if Google introduces algorithms to manage those search results.

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Three Steps Of Purchasing SEO

There are three steps in the SEO life cycle. Each of these steps integrate the keywords and key phrases discovered by qualified SEO research.

Content In this step is the designing and producing the content, creating the platform of your business reputation, and each content piece must be SEO'd with proper techniques. This content comprises several types of media. For example, website pages, graphic images, videos, and podcasts to name a fe

Technical The focus in this phase relates to the engine algorithms regarding data structure. For example, the architecture of a website, the naming of files, meta tags, adding keywords to a video and so forth.

Frequency When you have the content completed and the technical aspects installed, you are ready to publish your material. Search engine algorithms consider many variables, one of which is the frequency at which content is published. For example, it is a well known fact that Youtube channels who publish consistent new videos will be displayed more often on the "referring" section in pages of videos being viewed. Successful YouTubers have stated 3 videos a week is optimum. I have seen results with publishing one video a week.

Always remember, SEO does not happen over night. Depending on the SEO goal, results can takes months to appear. Overall, the foundation of seeing success in SEO is finding the right chemistry in you business marketing of these three phases.

SEO - Two Key Questions

The two key questions everyone asks about SEO .....

  1. How much is the SEO going to cost? Nearly every business today must decide how much to spend on search engine optimization (SEO).

  2. Do I really need SEO ... to have to pay for SEO, or can I do it myself? Robust online marketing is imperative for survival in a web-driven world.

This post will answer those questions in detail and I' will be using a 2012 SEO research plus my 10+ years of experience working successfully with clients to accomplish quality SEO.

SEO Coverage

The ultimate factor(s) of the price you pay in SEO work relates to the scope of work that creates the content on your business.

For example, consider that today, in 2018, a successful effort to produce organic results on first page of search results (FPSR) will involve multiple content types: website pages, videos, social media, and possibly additional media like white papers and downloads.

The web based content of each client account has to be designed, developed, and written content along with appropriate graphics. There are proper SEO techniques in the writing process and the publishing process. In addition there are SEO techniques to marketing channels like a Youtube channel or a Facebook page.

The degree of content that is created, maintained, and monitored is the foundation factor of SEO cost - both initially and also over time.

SEO Payment Models

SEO providers/agencies typically offer four main forms of services and payment:

Monthly retainer: In this model, clients pay a set fee each month in exchange for an agreed-upon array of services. The monthly retainer is the most common payment model, because it provides the greatest ROI. Monthly retainer arrangements usually include regular analytics reports, on-site content improvements, press releases, link building, keyword research, and optimization.

Contract services at fixed prices: Nearly all SEO agencies sell contract services. Often, before a client is ready to engage a monthly retainer, they will select contract services that they want to have completed. The services that an SEO agency offers are often advertised on their site, along with a price. A typical example of this is an SEO website audit which can help determine existing strengths and weaknesses in the client’s online presence, competitive analysis, as well as keywords that have the highest potential to return positive ROI.

Project-based pricing: Project fees are similar to contract services with the exception that they are custom projects created specifically for a client. Pricing varies according to the project. For example, a local cupcake shop may ask an SEO agency to help them with their local online marketing. The client decides that they want the agency to establish their social media accounts. The cupcake business and the SEO agency will decide on the scope and cost of the project.

Hourly consulting: This familiar consulting model is an hourly fee in exchange for services or information.

Most SEO agencies use all of these payment models. Likewise, clients may work with an agency using more than one model. For example, a client may choose to enter into a monthly retainer, purchase a contract service, and engage in a special project with the agency, thus entering into three of the payment models.

SEO Cost

Monthly retainer: $2,500-5,000 per month on larger companies. To a medium size business the average cost is $1,00 to $2,500 per month. Within this range, the amount that a client pays depends on the size of their business and the extent of services provided by the agency. On the lower end of this spectrum are small SEO agencies that offer a limited range of services. On the upper range are businesses with greater needs working with full-service SEO agencies.

Contract services at fixed prices: price variable. Businesses that are just testing the waters in SEO usually choose a contract service as an entry point. Typical contract services include things like SEO copywriting ($0.15-$0.50/word), site content audit ($500-$7,500), link profile audit ($500-$7,500), and social media site setup ($500-$3,000).

Project-based pricing: price variable. Since there are a variety of projects, there is a wide range of prices. Most projects cost from $1,000 to $30,000.

Hourly consulting rate: $100-300/hr. SEO consultants, whether individuals or agencies, usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.

SEO Concerns

Any discussion of SEO agencies and pricing isn't complete without a few warnings. To help you guard against indiscriminate SEO agencies with unethical business practices, read and heed. Be suspicious of the following promises:

SEO firms generally can't provide guarantees due to the constantly changing nature of the industry.

Instant results.
True, some SEO tactics can get "instant results" by gaming the system. Be warned that these can hurt you in the long run. Instant results often involve SEO practices that are against webmaster guidelines put out by search engines. Invariably, Google seeks out these techniques and penalizes them, resulting in lost rankings that can take months to recover.

Ranking spot on Google.
If an agency promises you the number one spot on Google, it sounds great. Hopefully, you'll be able to get it. However, it's not something that a firm can promise to hand over to you.

Costs lower than $750/month.
When it comes to SEO, you aren't shopping for the lowest price; you're seeking the best level of service. Be wary of rock bottom prices or "unbelievable deals."

Shady link building services.
Link building can be a crucial part of SEO. You can't have a highly-ranked site without inbound links. But there's a dark side of link building. Link trust is the foundation of good SEO to appear high in the rankings.


As you begin shopping for SEO agencies and making your decision, be mindful of the following points:

SEO takes time. A monthly retainer is best. Think of SEO as a long-term investment. Aggressive campaigns and major pushes may have their place, but the most enduring SEO results come from a long-term relationship.

SEO changes, and your rankings will change, too. The field is full of competitors, and rankings rise and fall with the changing of algorithms and the entrance of new competitors. One-and-done SEO tricks simply don't work. It takes constant monitoring to keep your website ranking well and performing at top-notch levels.

Not all SEO services are created equal. Again, SEO isn't about shopping around for the lowest prices. It's about finding the finest agency you can. Look for an SEO agency that defines its scope of services, and takes the time to educate you.

SEO is important. Do it. The point of your website is to increase and/or improve your business. Unless people are finding your website, it's not even worth having one. The smart thing is to pay what it takes to keep your site findable by the people who are looking.

You may be thinking, "Can't I just do this SEO thing on my own?" A tiny percentage of business owners or professionals have the skill and savvy to do their own SEO. Even so, comprehensive SEO takes way more time than most business owners can afford. Even an employee who "knows a lot about SEO," will be hard-pressed to deliver the level of services and excellence found in a SEO agency. You'll rarely come out on top if you try to go it alone, and you'll never get the same level of ROI that you would with a competent SEO agency.

For most businesses today, SEO is the highest ROI marketing effort. The benefits it provides exceed the value of other marketing approaches – direct mailing, broadcast advertising, online ads, and other traditional marketing methods.

No longer do businesses decide whether they need SEO services. Instead, they decide how much they're going to spend. As long as they choose a quality SEO agency, their decision will lead to incredible amounts of revenue.