What Does SEO Cost?
So you want to know how much SEO costs.
I wonder if you’ve ever heard the saying “how long is a piece of string?”.
A good answer to which is “as long as I want to make it”.
And that’s basically your answer to how much SEO costs – as much as you want to spend on it.
SEO pricing models seem to have no rhyme or reason. There are SEO providers offering hourly rates between $10-$150, other SEO companies offering monthly retainers for $500.00, and others saying they will do a complete SEO package for 20k.
The question is – how much should you pay for SEO?
With so many people, freelancers, contractors, SEO experts and SEO agencies selling SEO services, how do business owners know how much to spend on SEO, and how do you know that your money is invested wisely?That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.
We’re going to talk about the different elements of SEO, how much each should cost, and the ideal cost of SEO for your business.
What Does Seo Cost
The SEO industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world. Most estimates suggest that in 2020, businesses in the US spent more than $80 billion on SEO services – significantly higher than the $65 billion spent in 2016.
With businesses spending this amount of money, it is clear that SEO, or search engine optimization, is a highly sought after service.
But to understand what SEO costs, we first need to break SEO down into different components.
What does SEO do?
SEO is the process of optimizing a website for performance in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The better your SEO, the better chance you have at ranking on the first page of Google and other search engines, and the better your brand awareness will be.
SEO is different to SEM, and investing in SEO provides longer-term results, while SEM and pay-per-click advertising are better suited at attracting short-term traffic.
Put briefly, there are three different elements to this:
- On-page SEO – content creation
- Off-page SEO – link building
- Technical SEO – hosting
Each of these SEO components addresses different parts of search engine ranking algorithms, and each requires a different approach. As such, each element of SEO has different prices accordingly.
On-page SEO is an ongoing campaign to continually research, create, publish and update the material on your website.
On-page SEO consists of creating a content strategy that enables your business to focus on your target audience. Your on-page SEO attracts your target audience by answering the questions they are asking search engines by writing high-quality content.
As such, on-page SEO is often an ongoing effort to consistently publish new, relative material on your domain that gives your target audience a reason to keep visiting your website.
Depending on the competitiveness of your niche, you should expect to spend anywhere between $100-$800 for SEO-optimized articles that are well researched, well written, include backlinks, include images, and include expert advice on the topic at hand.
While the price tag isn’t necessarily an indicator of article quality, you should look into the portfolio of the writer you hire to do your SEO research and writing.
Off-page SEO is frequently one of the more overlooked elements of an SEO strategy – but it is absolutely essential to SEO success.
Off-page SEO generally refers to the backlink profile of a website. That is, how many inbound links point to that domain from other websites.
Link building is costly and time-consuming. That is why many webmasters invest in buying links – however, it is essential that you purchase links the right way.
Links won from websites that are known to sell links will actually do more harm than good to your website SEO, which is why guest posting is one of the more effective approaches to link building available to webmasters.
Depending on the quality of the link, you can expect to pay between $100-$500 per backlink won through white hat methods. Generally, the higher the DR of the link – the more you can expect to pay.
Technical SEO takes an advanced skillset – however, it is often a one-time payment, making it one of the more affordable components of an SEO strategy.
Technical SEO means setting your website up optimally. This involves:
- Hosting on a fast, HTTPS (secure) URL and domain
- Selecting a domain name that helps your target audience remember your business
- Using a content management system that facilitates easy content storage, access, and crawling for search engine recognition
- Optimizing your website and individual web pages with metadata, title tags, and descriptions, so search engines know what your website is about
It’s best if a new website owner gets their technical SEO correct from the beginning – as having a stable, older domain is good for your SEO authority in search engines. A technical SEO audit can show common problems websites have – frequently page load speed – and can suggest the best courses of action.
Why are SEO Costs Important?
Understanding what you should expect to pay for SEO is essential because if you opt for cheap SEO services, you’ll likely do more harm than good to your domain – and you’ll waste your money.
However, you can also spend way too much on certain SEO specialists, so equipping yourself with some knowledge regarding a basic SEO marketing strategy and SEO plan is the best way to get a good price for your website SEO.
Consider SEO as an investment in your business
The best way to look at SEO is as an investment in your business. Let’s take a look at our Loganix domain as an example.
Back in January 2020, we started investing heavily in our link building strategy. This meant doing huge amounts of guest posting outreach, offering our expert advice to writers, and creating content that would earn backlinks.
As you can see, the number of domains that linked back to us grew rapidly.
This increase in referring domains correlated with an increase in our domain rating, which is the entire point of a link building campaign.
Along with this increase in domain rating came an increase in our organic listings in search engines, which directly correlated with a significant increase in the amount of organic traffic we were getting to the website.
This increase in traffic then meant we had more potential customers, and once we had optimized our website for conversions, we started to see significant growth in our profitability because of our investment in SEO.
SEO Costs FAQ
How much should I budget for SEO?
An important thing to remember when budgeting for SEO is your competition.
Your SEO doesn’t need to match that of the best websites on the internet – they just need to be competitive relative to the businesses that are within your niche.
So, if you’re a local business, it’s highly likely that you won’t need to invest a huge amount of money in your SEO to make yourself stand out against your competitors.
You might only need 20 backlinks with ten extensive articles to make your business stand out from your competitors – an SEO package that will cost somewhere in the vicinity of 2k over six months – not a bad investment!
However, if you’re competing with bigger websites that are also investing in SEO, then you’ll need to play with a bigger budget. You need to:
- Consistently build backlinks at a faster rate than your competition
- Always publish high-quality content that is relevant and time-sensitive
- Regularly conduct SEO audits, keyword research, target audience and competitor research to stay ahead of your game
When you need to be doing this regularly, you can expect to work with SEO agencies who will likely charge somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20k per month for their services.
How much does SEO training cost?
There are different courses available that will teach you the basics of SEO.
Some of the best courses come very cheaply on distance-learning platforms such as Udemy:
(I’m writing out of Indonesia, which is why those prices are shown in Indonesian Rupiah – Rp899,000 is about $60).
There are other courses created by freelance copywriters, marketing agencies and digital marketers as well, but these can cost between $1000-$10,000. You should remember that these courses are completely unregulated.
As such, if your looking to learn SEO, only do a course that has solid social proof, and some kind of guarantee.
Is SEO worth the money?
Good SEO is most certainly worth the money. Cheap SEO normally isn’t – as you can expect to get what you pay for.
But if you’re prepared to invest several thousands of dollars over a 6-12 month time frame, then you should see some good SEO results – which will have a significant impact on the profitability of your business in terms of web traffic and paying online customers.
Do you have to pay for SEO?
Any SEO service that is worth your effort, you have to pay for.
Good SEO services benefit your business exponentially, and good SEO providers understand this – they won’t sell their valuable services for free.
Why is SEO so expensive?
SEO is an expensive service for two main reasons:
- The competitiveness of the niche
- The value that good SEO services deliver
Good SEO takes hours of skilled work, normally from a team of experts. A comprehensive SEO strategy normally takes a campaign manager to conduct SEO research and design the SEO template. Then, content creation is delegated t a team of writers, which is checked by a content editor.
Backlinks are built by a team of backlink builders, and all the while the strategy is audited and managed from a technical perspective by a technical SEO specialist.
The fact that SEO is a game of relativity – meaning your SEO performance depends on the SEO strength of your competitors, also drives up the price.
Can I do SEO on my own?
There is no reason you can’t do SEO on your own – but you might not get the results you’re hoping for.
It is important that you get the right direction for your SEO campaign – often a good idea is to work closely with an SEO agency first to decide an appropriate SEO strategy for your business and then execute said strategy.
The thing about SEO is that the material you create and publish, and the backlinks you earn, need to be top-quality in order to be effective. So while business owners can certainly publish their own material on their websites, and build their own links, their time invested might not earn the results that a few thousands of dollars could have. This is why either white labelling SEO services, or working with a team of SEO professionals, will probably be a wiser investment of your resources.
How much do companies pay for SEO?
Enterprise-level companies spend hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars per year on their SEO.
Medium-level businesses might spend somewhere between 50k-200k, and small businesses or local businesses might spend 5k-10k per year.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the cost of SEO services.
As you can see, how much your SEO will cost depends entirely on the nature of your business, and how competitive your niche is.
If you work with a reputable SEO and online marketing agency, your monthly SEO costs will be well-spent as you see your organic search volume increase and your monthly web traffic grow exponentially.