How Much Does SEO Cost?

Are you interested in hiring an SEO agency but are worried about the cost of their services? Understanding what can impact your SEO, the types of payment models, and the benefits of avoiding poor SEO can help you better understand what you can expect to pay.

What Impacts the Cost of SEO?

Many factors can impact the cost of SEO services throughout North America. These factors include the following:

  • Your Business Goals – What you want to achieve for your business is the number one factor that impacts the rest of your campaign. It all trickles down from the very core of what do you want to do? Rank first forever? Become a recognized brand name? Or harvest plenty of leads and sales? Determining this will set the template for everything.
  • Budget Restrictions – It would be foolish to throw all your eggs into one basket, so it makes sense that you would have a rock-solid budget from which you can work with. Your financial limitations will set the tone for everything else, as it impacts what you can do and how you can do it. However, the best thing about budgets is that they can change or adjust if you know the value is worth it. And in many cases, it is for SEO (
  • Your Current Site & Rankings – If you rank low on Google and want to rank on page 1, then it’s going to take some serious work – and time – to get there. That means higher costs, as it takes effort to overhaul competitors in front of you. The same applies to your current website. If you need to update it or change it completely, that can impact the long-term cost. Poor previous SEO work can also be detrimental as it means repairs are required. Where you start and where you want to go is a major factor in SEO costs.
  • The Competitiveness of Your Industry – Some industries (like renovations or lawyers) are more competitive than others. That requires a more detailed and complex approach to SEO, such as focused keyword research, implementation of techniques and additional services, such as social media.
  • The Geography of Where You Operate – Do you work in a big city like Edmonton or Toronto? Or do you operate on the edges like Airdrie or Hamilton? If you’re in the former category, you’re going to pay more for your SEO. Why? Competition is fierce, and so is the battle to rank for keywords. Outside the bigger cities, you have a better chance to rank as the competition is less intense.
  • Additional Services – Sometimes SEO isn’t enough to lift your business out of the funk. You’re going to need an extra hand from other digital services so you can get results. This can include new content creation, website designs and developments, branding, social media marketing, PPC advertising and backlink creation.

How is SEO Charged?

In most cases, digital marketing agencies operate on three different platforms when it comes to charging clients. Depending on what you choose and what you need, your choice will impact your budget.

  1. Hourly Rate – Services that are charged by the hour. These services are usually for small clients that require very little work or don’t have a lot of funds to work with, leading to an agreed-upon hourly rate and timeframe for the work to be completed.
  2. Monthly Retainer – You pay your agency a monthly rate to manage and continue to push your SEO. Depending on your campaign’s goals, a monthly retainer is ideal if you need time to rank and are in a competitive market.
  3. Project-Based – Some websites and businesses are strong enough on their own that a simple project upgrade could be enough. Or maybe a major rehaul is required. Setting a project timeframe and the rate is common in the industry. You tell the agency what you want to achieve, they set up a time and project fee, and an agreement is reached.

Avoid Cheap SEO

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. And when it comes to SEO, you don’t want the cheap stuff.

Cheap SEO can result in more problems for your business in the long-term. It can result in penalties from Google, dropped rankings and the extensive work needed to haul your site out of the mess.

Why does this happen?

Because despite what people offer and say, SEO isn’t cheap. It takes time (in some cases, up to 6 months or more to see results), requires resources and needs consistent work. A one-man army can’t do it himself; you need a team to work in tandem to monitor, make changes and push your business forward.

That’s why you must avoid cheap SEO like the plague!

How Much is SEO?

Searching and big data concepts with male hand using smart phone with search engine icon sign

Ideally, the best way to determine how much SEO will cost you is to speak to several different agencies, explaining your situation and budget. Provide detailed information regarding your business goals, what you want to target and where.

However, as a starting point, it’s good to have some firm numbers to work with:

  • Digital Current suggests that for “$5,000-$10,000+/mo”, “you can expect to find more established SEO companies with a proven track record of success in the competitive market.” They also recommend to “Steer Clear” of anything “Sub $500/mo.”
  • Marwick Marketing offers similar numbers, stating: “$650 (low end), $2000 (average) to $5000+ (high end), depending on a number of factors.”
  • Growth Ramp stated in their survey of SEO companies that “62% of respondents price their services between $76 and $150, with 75.6% charging less than $150 per hour”, while “24.6% of respondents charge between $1,000-2,000. About a third (30.6%) charge $1,000/month. But almost a quarter (23%) charge more than $4,000 per month” for retainers.
  • Forbes noted that cheap monthly SEO starts from “$250-$500 per month” and can go as high as “$10,000+ per month” for basically everything you need in a package. For hourly work, they state that “most SEO firms charge between $76 and $200 per hour”, while project-based “Detailed SEO audit [are] $3,000 to $20,000”.