How Much Does SEO Cost?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a vital part of any successful business’s repertoire in the internet-centered age we live in in 2019. Statistics of its success, and projections about the societal use of technology point toward the importance of SEO becoming even more important in the coming future.
It’s no secret that SEO can take awhile. Good, legitimate practices that won’t result in Google penalizing your site can take months to come into effect, and the positive repercussions of fixed SEO issues can take months to come into effect as well. For example, according to Search Engine Journal, the positive effects gained from reclaiming/fixing a broken link on your site may take 4-12 months(!) to come into effect after implementation of the solution.
Besides this incredibly unfortunate, though unavoidable downside to SEO, good, competent, practical, and long-lasting SEO work is expensive.
It is undeniable in today’s Googling culture that this money is well worth spending for any and all companies that don’t plan on getting 100% of their business from word-of-mouth referrals or real-world advertising.
Ahrefs has done the work and shared the statistics: 91% of all online content receives ZERO traffic on a monthly basis. Considering how easy it is to set up a basic website these days, it’s understandable why this is so. People set up their website because they know they should have a website. But what they’re missing is how to set it up. A poorly built website gets no traffic because it is not set up in a way that Google can find it and understand its content. If Google doesn’t understand the purpose of your website, it won’t direct customers to the content. Google’s goal is the same as ours: user satisfaction. If its bots can identify your content as relevant to whatever a searcher is searching, it can then reward the searcher with a useful website, and the site owner with a business lead.
All this is to say one thing: SEO is required in order to expect any searching customers to ever see your site. Without it, your site is invisible because Google will either not be able to find it, or will actively hide your site from customers because you haven’t taken advantage of its guidelines in order to provide its users with helpful content. Not using SEO tells Google you don’t value your customers or theirs.
So what does “SEO” really entail? All kinds of things. Here at Tustin SEO, we take the term “search engine optimization" seriously and do anything and everything that can be considered helpful to a business’s total online profile; anything and everything that would be considered “optimizing” for both Google’s bots and the users it will direct to your content. This often involves such things as website creation, tagging optimization, HTML setup and fixes, image optimization, load speed optimization, online social profile optimization, online business listing optimization, and many more practices and processes.
As this is clearly a lot of work, it can begin to be understandable why SEO’s charge so much for their work.
So, How Much Do SEO Services Cost?!
Sorry: the answer is, “it depends.”
Larger companies have been known to spend $10,000+ on their monthly SEO campaign strategies. For others, they can get away with $500 per month SEO bills.
Some pay per project, others by the hour. Still, others, pay a flat fee once per month no matter what their SEO specialists do for them. For some, all they need is “strict-SEO,” and they don’t need to take advantage of PPC/ad campaigns. Others need a little from both avenues.
Even what one company involves in their SEO work will differ compared to others. Technically, anything that optimizes for a search engine qualifies, and different agencies use different practices, though some are obviously universal.
All of these variables, and more, can have a large effect on how much a company may need to spend on their SEO campaign in order to get a constant stream of customers and be ahead of their competitors—what every company is really after, and the entire point of all of this.
Okay, now we can get to the actual amounts…
These amounts are estimates and can vary up to nearly any amount. It obviously depends on the nature of the project, the industry involved, the business’s customer base, keyword density and customer intent while searching that business’s keywords, and of course, the company’s competitor SEO efforts.
If you want to pay per project, you should expect to spend at least $1,000. This is almost no matter the project, because as I’ve explained, many effects of SEO can take months, or up to a year, to really be implemented and see results. So in order for the SEO to tell the client “I’m done” is nearly impossible until those results can be quantified and evaluated as complete. This means almost any project will require months worth of work, and for that reason, one ought not to expect to pay someone less than $1,000 for months of work.
As I said, these amounts are estimates, and this is meant to be read by people who aren’t very familiar with SEO. If you are not familiar with SEO, you likely will need many things to be optimized, not just a simple tag-fix job. If you do just need a simple tag-fix job, unless your site is huge, this would be an obvious exception to this $1,000 number because that requires little effort at all. Other situations may be cause for an exception to this amount, too, but suffice it to say $1,000 is on the lower-end of the spectrum when it comes to SEO jobs (per project) that are being done for people who are not experienced with SEO and have not had a full SEO workup already.
Considering our prices at Tustin SEO, paying per project, unless you really know what you need, and that it’s a small project, is usually not worth it. Paying for a few months on a monthly retainer will be much more cost-efficient in the long run.
In the SEO world, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you’re willing to pay a monthly retainer. By far.
75% of SEO’s charge by the month. This is better for the SEO and for their clients because it’s consistent and avoids the insane hourly charges that SEO costs. Because the average hourly charge for SEO work is $100-$150/hour, this means even at $2,000 per month, you’re only paying for 20 hours of work, while certainly getting more than that. I don’t know about other SEO’s, but no matter what my client spends, I spend more than 20 hours per month on their SEO. Check out some of our fixed-prices at the bottom of this blog post to see where else Tustin SEO helps out their clients in regards to price.
Unfortunately, at over 24% of monthly retainers, the most popular pricing tier in the U.S. is $2,501-$5,000/month. 23% fall into the range of $501-$1,000 per month. Anyone providing SEO for under $500 a month isn’t likely to provide any meaningful work or results, and is probably after quick money, using quick schemes that “trick” Google into high rankings but inevitably fail and result in your website being either penalized or banned.
Especially when considering more experienced SEO’s charge significantly more per project, per hour, and per month, than non-experienced SEO’s, when it comes to SEO, it is always in your best interest to pay for quality and not try to go cheap on it. Going with the cheaper option will likely result in work that wasn’t worth paying for at all.
*Monthly flat-fee costs depend so much on the client’s situation that the estimate for that plan can vary much larger than the rest.
“The quick set up for invisible sites” (1 month of specialized SEO) : $1,250
Web Design (always done with SEO in mind) : $1,250 -- comes with a $500 discount on 1 month of SEO services
Per month: (generally) $600 - $2,000 after the first month setup cost. Comes with a complimentary $400 Comprehensive SEO Audit, and continuous SEO Reports.
Per project: (generally) $1,000 - $3,000
Per hour: (generally) $85
Consulting, per hour: (generally) $75
SEO Report, with personalized video and transcript included: $55
Tustin SEO Audit: $200
Comprehensive Audit: $400