If you have a website, you need search engine optimization (SEO). But where do you start? And how much do SEO services cost? How will you know who is reputable and who is a low-quality knockoff? These are a few important considerations when you contemplate hiring a trustworthy SEO company or professional.
SEO is a digital marketing strategy that increases brand awareness, drives traffic to your site, and boosts performance in search engines. It’s a great way to get your products and services in front of the audiences that matter.
If you’ve been living under a rock or would appreciate a refresher, check out this article which discusses the SEO process and more.
How Much Do SEO Services Cost?
The cost of SEO services can vary widely depending on your goals. That’s why it is so important to establish goals and a budget before meeting with any SEO company or professional.
As mentioned before, the cost of SEO services will largely depend on your needs. There are some general guidelines, however, for what you can expect to pay for SEO services in today’s market.
Below, you will find a summary of the types of services, the average cost you can expect to pay, and what you will receive for your investment:
Monthly retainers are month-to-month contracts between you and an SEO provider. This is one of the more popular ways to use SEO services. Most SEO providers have different packages offering different services. An average monthly retainer pricing model may resemble the following:
$500 or Less per Month
In this price range, you are likely to work with an SEO company that outsources a lot of their work – most likely overseas. SEO companies or individuals at this level may have only a basic knowledge of SEO strategies. If your goal is simply to appear in more search results, then this price might work for you. But if you are looking to increase your ranking using competitive keywords, you may need more individualized SEO help.
$1,000 – $5,000 per Month
At this price range, you can expect to make some trade-offs. At the lower end of the scale, you may work with a smaller company or individual that can produce results at scale. While you may save some money, you may not have the full range of SEO services needed to meet your goals.
On the higher end of the scale, you will have a better chance of working with a team of SEO professionals who can meet various needs and show you proof of their results. This is often a good option for small websites but may not offer the full range of services you need for larger growth or expansion.
$5,000 – $10,000 per Month
At this price range, you are more likely to find larger, more established SEO companies that have a full range of skills and experience. Most likely, you will have access to a dedicated team of SEO professionals including:
- Content Managers
- Copy Editors
- Conversion Specialists
- Web Development Experts
- Link Outreach Coordinators
- Account Executives
- Analytics Experts
This team of SEO professionals will help ensure your goals are met and will support you and your website throughout the process.
$10,000 – $20,000 per Month
At this level, you are working with an ambitious SEO company that is fully staffed to meet even the most complex SEO needs. You will be partnering with SEO professionals that handle your goals from start to finish. This gives you access to a team of experts who know how to drive results and maximize the return on your investment.
If you work in a market that is competitive or is saturated, this investment is worthwhile! You can generally expect to see results, and a return on your investment, within the first year or two.
Fixed-price contracts can be helpful if you are looking for a standalone SEO solution. These à la carte options are great for businesses that have some in-house talent but need some help in certain areas. The general price range for à la carte services are as follows:
- SEO/Website Audits: $1,000-$3,000
- Link Profile Audits: $2,500-$7,500
- Link building: $250-$2,000 per link
- On-Page Optimization: $100-$250
- Copywriting: $0.75-$1.00 per word
A Note about Linkbuilding
Link-building is one of the most popular fixed-price contracts in SEO. Many businesses hire individuals or companies to handle link-building. That is, they hire someone to find quality websites where they can insert a link into existing content, or post content with a link back to their site.
It’s important to note that not all backlinks are equal. And the price you pay for link building may be an indicator of the quality of the link. For example:
- $5-$100 per link: Someone charging this low amount for link building is most likely scamming you or using a private blog network (PBN). Either of these can actually hurt your ranking and should be avoided.
- $101-$250 per link: At this price, you may have an SEO consultant manually reaching out for links, but they may not be as high-quality as your site needs. Make sure you have a link-building strategy in place, not just someone grabbing links.
- $251-$500 per link: At this price, you are most likely getting a high-quality link that will only improve your SEO. Websites that charge in this range are more likely to be reputable and have great domain authority (DA). That is what you want! Your link-building strategy should include manual outreach, high DAs, and low spam scores.
- $500 + per link: At this price, you can expect only high DAs and very reputable websites. This may even include media placement and graphics.
If you want to work with an SEO professional on an hourly basis, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour. A good SEO consultant is worth the time and the return on your investment once their expertise pays off.
Beware of an SEO specialist or company that seems “too good to be true”. Yes, you can find SEO services at an affordable price point, but you should expect to pay SEO consultants and experts appropriately for their training, expertise, and time. Always look for SEO companies and consultants that have a proven track record and can show you results.
If your company has multiple websites, ongoing projects, or long-term needs, it may be beneficial to hire or train a full-time SEO strategist or manager. The amount you pay an SEO employee will be based on the individual’s training and experience. Generally, a well-trained SEO employee’s salary ranges from $50,000 to $120,000 per year. In certain demographics, the salary requirements may be even higher.
How to Avoid Potential Pitfalls
What happens if you choose the wrong SEO services or company? You could actually lose money and cause your website ranking to suffer. Avoid these potential pitfalls by considering the following red flags when hiring an SEO company:
No matter how great an SEO company or consultant is, getting results takes time. Generally speaking, you may see positive SEO results within a matter of weeks, but more substantial results take up to six months. An SEO provider should be able to provide an estimate of when you’ll begin to see results when you speak with them. Be wary if they promise or guarantee you a specific timeline.
Suspicious Linkbuilding Strategies
Be wary of an SEO provider who recommends purchasing a bulk number of links, especially if they are international websites, have low DA, or have high spam scores. Google and other search engines track suspicious SEO activity, including the links that point back to your site. Make sure that whomever you hire for link building knows how to identify potentially detrimental or spam links and avoid them.
Of course, you have a budget in mind for SEO services – and that’s great! But be wary of an SEO provider that offers services at a price that seems too good to be true. Sometimes, companies that lack experience will offer services at a lower price, which can hurt you if they don’t know how to properly build your SEO strategy.
However, do your homework! Sometimes smaller SEO companies will offer lower prices in order to build their clientele and brand. So it’s not always a bad thing to offer SEO services at a lower price. Just beware.
Lack of Proven Track Record
If you are interviewing potential SEO companies or consultants, ask them for proof of their track record. This should be easy for well-established companies. If the SEO provider is in-demand and has a solid base of clients, they should be able to show you how they have met other clients’ goals and transformed poor SEO services into SEO leads and sales. Ask SEO providers for proposals or SEO case studies that show you how their clients benefit from their services.
“Well it Worked for Them”
Sometimes, a service provider will offer you a solution based on its previous success with other clients. When it comes to SEO, that can be dangerous. Just because a certain strategy worked for one website does not mean it will work for yours. Every business is unique and has unique goals and needs. When choosing an SEO provider, make sure you look for someone that will assess your needs and goals and create a collaborative strategy.
Key Takeaway: Hire for Your Goals
When shopping around for SEO services, look for companies or professionals that suit your needs. If you have a handful of areas that need addressing, a single professional may be all you need. But if you need your entire website revamped, then an SEO team may be better suited to meet your needs.
Here are a few important things to consider when it comes to hiring for your needs:
- Training someone who already works for you to become an SEO specialist will be more expensive upfront due to training. This is a good option if you have long-term SEO needs, however.
- Veteran SEO specialists who are trained in technical SEO, link building, content marketing, social media, and analytics often make over $100,000 per year.
- If your SEO needs are strictly content-related, consider hiring a content marketer or agency. This is a cost-effective way of getting your content needs met without paying for knowledge or training that you don’t really need.
- Dedicated SEO firms have more experience, and generally better outcomes, than general marketing companies. SEO firms are better equipped to handle the changing digital environment and algorithm updates.
- SEO firms are generally more flexible in their pricing and offerings. You can often build a package that fits your needs and may be able to pay monthly or on a project-by-project basis. This is a good option for businesses with specific SEO needs.
If you’re looking to increase your business’s sales from search engines, contact our Atlanta SEO company for a free consultation.