How Much Does SEO Cost?

Around 2.14 billion people worldwide will purchase goods online this year (2021), and global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.891 trillion. (1) As the global pandemic continues to impact daily life, more businesses than ever before and realizing the benefits of SEO. While the concept of search engine optimization can often be challenging to explain, if you manage to get SEO right, you’ll be able to increase your visibility within the search results and boost organic traffic. And this means attracting relevant users online to your website without relying on paid ads with the goal of optimizing online sales.

The question is, how much does SEO cost, and should you bring in the professionals, an experienced SEO agency, or partner up with an SEO freelancer instead? We also discuss whether SEO services are better priced in a retainer or broken down into SEO packages. SEO prices are all over the board so let’s get into it and discuss SEO services are priced.

In this article, we’re going to explore the financial reality of rolling out an SEO strategy and highlight the cost of investing in keyword research, content generation, and organic traffic. Does SEO generate a healthy ROI, and do you really get what you pay for when hiring an agency over a freelance expert? Make yourself a coffee, and let’s get into it.

SEO Pricing for Content & Keyword Research 

A lot of business owners fail to realize the time it takes to implement an effective SEO strategy. SEO isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t expect to see a significant increase in organic traffic just by updating page titles and meta descriptions on your website. An in-depth SEO campaign usually involves keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink generation, and high-quality SEO content.

Here’s just a quick overview of what a generic SEO campaign can include:

●      Keyword research

●      Local keyword research

●      On-page SEO content generation

●      Page titles

●      Meta descriptions

●      Image alt tags

●      SEO blog posts

●      FAQ development

●      Competitor research

●      Backlink & outreach strategy

Basically, you are trying to make it clear to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo what your website is about, who the content is intended for, and that it is active and adds value to users. But to increase organic traffic, you need to update your website on a regular basis with high-quality, valuable content that is keyword rich. In addition, the more medium to high domain websites that link to your eCommerce store, the higher search engines view your domain and, therefore, increases your visibility within the organic search results.

The Real Cost Of Content Generation

Content reigns supreme online, and high-quality content is a key ranking factor. By carrying out keyword research, you can identify new topic ideas for blog posts and improve user experience. Focus on value over word count and remember that quality beats quantity, hands down. The beauty of content generation is that you can increase the number of searches you appear in and therefore boost your chance of being found online for relevant search terms.

In terms of cost, you need to consider the amount of time it will take to carry out keyword research, analyze competitors, research topic ideas and data, as well as create the content and publish/ format it. According to Hubspot data, a short blog post can take around one hour to write, but more in-depth pieces will need several hours to put together.

But, once the content is live, your work isn’t over. Great content is a waste if your audience doesn’t know it exists. Content distribution should be an integral part of your overall content and SEO strategy. (3) To boost views and earn relevant backlinks, you’ll need to share and market blog posts, ebooks, and FAQs via social media and outreach. The goal here is to get as many eyes as possible on a single piece of content, which can add several hours to your workload.

How Much Does SEO Cost If You’re Using An SEO Agency?

Now, let’s talk cold, hard cash. How much does SEO cost if you choose to use an agency? Typically an agency will follow three distinct pricing structures.

1: Monthly Retainer SEO Pricing

A monthly retainer is the most popular SEO pricing model and allows customers to control how much will be done and pay each month accordingly. Approximately 75% of agencies charge a monthly retainer for their work, and the average cost is between $500 to $1,000 per month.

2: Hourly Fee SEO Pricing

If you’re really low on cash, you might be tempted to go for an hourly fee. But, be aware that this SEO pricing can often work out more expensive, with 53% of SEO agencies charging around $100 per hour, compared to only 33% of consultants and 15% of freelancers. Let’s say you need 4 blog posts per month, and they will take 2 hours per article to research and write. You’d be paying around $800 for content generation alone. This isn’t taking into account SEO audits, competitor research, and monthly reports/ analytics.

3: Price-Per-Project SEO Pricing

For a one-off SEO strategy, an agency may charge you on a per-project basis. This is often recommended to front-load SEO services and get a website ready for ongoing SEO strategies. But while this technique is faster, front-loading links and content doesn’t give Google the opportunity to measure a constant and steady growth, which is best for SEO.

The most common hourly rate for SEO agencies is $100-$150/hour. For SEO consultants, it’s $75-$100/hour, and for freelancers, it’s $41–50/hour. (4) So, is it actually worth paying an agency over a freelancer? When on a budget, an agency will offer basic SEO plans, which tend to be completely automated and outsourced with no tailored strategy to give your business a competitive advantage. While this SEO pricing can be affordable, it can also be harmful to your current rankings. You need to bear in mind that agencies have overheads. They need to charge more to pay an entire team, and office expenses, and the higher price point might not reflect a higher service when compared to a freelancer. An experienced freelancer can offer the same level of SEO experience and skills without increasing their fees since they don’t have the same overheads as an agency. 

Should I Hire A Freelancer For My SEO Services?

While there certainly is a demand for SEO services offered by the freelance market they do have their limitations. Most freelancers are also working at least part-time for SEO agencies and their availability can fluctuate based on the demands from their place of employment. Since they do not have the overhead of a traditional SEO agency, their SEO pricing tends to be more affordable but there is a massive trade-off on the skill, availability, and experience that they can have. As freelancers load up with clients they tend to have less time to spend working with the actual clients. Because they are the only ones on staff to fulfill their SEO services some freelancers overbook what they are able to do and can cut corners if they find themselves overloaded. Their SEO pricing, although usually cheaper, can sometimes equate to a less productive campaign because they lack the resources, tools, and general collaborative environment that comes with a traditional agency that charges more for their SEO pricing.

SEO Pricing Varies By SEO Agency

In Conclusion, There is no right way to price SEO services. Depending on the skill, size, and experience SEO companies can price their services well below or above market value. Instead of focusing on SEO pricing, it’s more important that you judge SEO companies by their experience as well as the skill of their SEO services. I tend to recommend looking for an agency that offers customized solutions that are designed to meet your needs and not subscribe to “one size fits all” SEO Packages which usually underperform and are built for scaling client count, not individual results.


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