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The Cost of SEO: How to Determine the Value of SEO Pricing Packages

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More than 78,000 Google searches happen every second.

And, 93% of digital experiences start with a search query. Your audience is looking for information via search engines. So, it’s up to you to meet them there.

If you can lend a helping hand at any stage in the (non-linear) sales funnel, you will rise to the top. But, helping solve their problems doesn’t do much good if they can’t find you when they need you.

Proper SEO means you show up when you have something valuable to offer. You get eyes on your business and they get help with what they need.

In reality, SEO is a win-win for everyone involved. But, it also comes with a price. How much does SEO cost and what are the most common SEO pricing packages?

Those are great questions.

Investing in SEO isn’t a light decision. But, it’s important for growing passed the time constraints of DIY SEO efforts. Keep reading to learn more about average industry prices, what to watch out for, and what to expect.

Shocking Trends Making the Case For SEO in 2020


Businesses are getting serious about SEO and organic traffic. 61% of businesses say that growing their organic presence is their top priority. So, if you’re not focused on SEO, 3/5 of your competitors are. 


61% of businesses say that growing their organic presence is their top priority. #SEOCLICK TO TWEET


57% of B2B companies say that SEO generates more leads than anything else. More leads equal more revenue. Whether you’re in the B2B vertical or not, targeting qualified traffic is beneficial.

The more qualified consumers you meet where they are, the more money you’re going to make. Going further, SEO leads turn into customers 14X more often than outbound marketing leads.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, local searches result in in-store visits 50% of the time. So, whether your business exists solely online or not, SEO is great for getting customers in the door. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to attract qualified leads.

And, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

The best time to get started is now. Your competitors already have. And, the longer you wait, the more competition there’s going to be.


The Cost of Bad SEO: Avoid Cheap Like the Plague


What’s worse than getting banned from Google forever?

Almost nothing.

Aside from that, every relevant search you don’t rank for is a missed opportunity. That in itself is expensive. And, avoidable as long as you avoid cheap SEO companies with nothing more than empty promises.

Search engines take attempts to game their systems seriously. Black hat SEO companies may promise you the moon. But, the cost of it being close enough to touch isn’t worth it.

After search engines notice your attempts, they’ll move you down the rankings. They may even block your business from appearing in search results altogether.

Shady SEO companies looking to earn a quick buck exist around every corner. Go read the first sentence of this section. Hiring a cheap “SEO specialist” and them getting you banned from Google forever is worse.


The Truth About SEO Pricing Packages


There’s no easy way to determine how much SEO costs.

Pricing depends on a variety of things, including:

  • The agency or specialist’s ability to produce results
  • Country and language of optimization
  • Level of experience
  • The scope of work
  • Pricing structure
  • Industry competitiveness

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If you feel lost in a sea of first-page guarantees and countless agencies to choose from, you’re not alone. To make matters worse, premium prices don’t always indicate premium services.

Each pricing structure has its own set of industry-standard pricing. With that comes an added level of confusion. Which structure is right for you and your business and how do make the most of it?

Keep reading to find out.


Performance-Based SEO Costs


Performance-based pricing structures are rarely used. They tend to hurt the performance agency. But, if it is an option, it can be beneficial for your business.


Because you don’t pay a dime until you see results. This offers unprecedented flexibility in the industry. But, many keywords and business categories are too competitive for performance-based pricing.

Additionally, you never know what your monthly costs are going to be. It depends on how your rankings are doing. So, you may pay $100 during the first month but pay thousands during the fifth.

This makes SEO budgeting (especially for small businesses) difficult.


TL;DR for Performance-Based SEO



  • No payments until you see results.
  • Based on individual keywords and your rankings
  • Easy to track results


  • Some business categories are too competitive
  • Not widely offered
  • Unreliable monthly spending
  • Difficult to budget for


  • Varies by performance.


SEO Project-Based Pricing Structure


SEO projects range from optimizing single pages to entire websites. They range in price from $750-$7,500 depending on the scope of your project.

If you know the state of your SEO, hiring someone with a project-based structure is a good idea. You know where your weak points are and can hire someone to help strengthen them.

This is one of the most common SEO pricing packages. Both parties clearly define the scope of the project and you know how much you’re going to pay upfront.


TL;DR for Project-Based SEO



  • Project clarity from start to finish
  • No hourly costs or extra fees
  • Easy to budget for
  • Easy to merge with your in-house team


  • No room for flexibility
  • Huge price range


  • $750-$7,500 one time fee


By the Hour SEO Costs


Many industries use an hourly system.

With SEO, you can expect to pay anywhere from $60-$200 an hour. Specialists and consultants aren’t cheap but they do know what they’re doing.

With an hourly pricing structure, you know exactly what you’re getting into. You can estimate how long a project is going to take to predict the total cost. But, projects have mishaps and roadblocks.

Many times, they take longer than you expect which can mean costly fees you didn’t plan for.

SEO is a long-term strategy and paying someone hourly for months at a time may end up hurting your wallet. Plus, performance doesn’t dictate how much you pay.


TL;DR for Hourly SEO



  • Transparency and logged hours
  • Set rates you can easily budget for
  • Good for small, short-term projects


  • Performance doesn’t influence the price
  • Can be unsustainable for long-term or ongoing projects
  • Roadblocks and issues can cause things to take longer than expected
  • The longer something takes, the more it costs you


  • $60 – $200 an hour


Monthly SEO Packages: The Cost of a Retainer


Large-scale projects tend to work best when priced for a recurring monthly payment. This typically gives businesses a hands-off approach to SEO. It’s also one of the best ways to get results.

You set your SEO goals and a team of experts works to make it happen. Hiring an entire team means things get done efficiently. You don’t have to rely on the manpower of one person.

But, it can be easy to get suckered into paying for benefits you don’t need. Once you’ve signed the retainer, that’s what you pay whether you actually need what you signed up for or not.

Some SEO companies can’t deliver the results you want. And it might be hard to tell before you get started. But, signing a contract means you have to pay the recurring fees even if you’re unhappy with the agreement.

Ahrefs surveyed 350 SEO’s and found that 75% of them use a monthly retainer pricing structure. Additionally, 95% charge less than $5,000 a month.


TL;DR for Monthly SEO Retainers



  • Offers a hands-off approach to businesses
  • Great for large-scale and all-inclusive projects
  • Develop a strong, ongoing relationship
  • Easy to budget for
  • Fast results


  • Recurring payments even if you’re unhappy
  • Not performance-based
  • You may pay for benefits you don’t need


  • Varies by project and agency but, usually between $500 and $5,000 a month


So, How Much Should You Pay For SEO Services?


Choosing a reliable SEO partner isn’t easy. Deciding how much you’re willing to pay for services isn’t, either. There’s no definitive way to define a one-size-fits-all SEO pricing package.

Large businesses with a lot of content should expect to pay more than small or new businesses. But, now you know the average industry prices to get an idea of what to expect.

To recap, here are the average SEO prices:

  • Performance-based: Varies by performance
  • Project-based: $750-$7,500 one time fee
  • By the hour: $60-$200 an hour
  • Monthly retainer: $500-$5,000 a month

If you come across prices that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Be wary of cheap SEO specialists and agencies. Think about where your business currently sits with SEO.

Do an internal audit to figure out how much help you need. The more you know about your state of affairs, the easier it is to talk about what you need. A good SEO will help you with this.

Then, set a budget, communicate it, and stick to it.


Red Flags to Look For When Choosing an SEO Business Partner


Outsourcing SEO is like hiring a business partner. Do they care about your success? They should.

Does their satisfaction rely on yours? It should.

A good SEO behaves like a business partner and involves you in any decision making. Unfortunately, shady SEO companies have ruined transparency within the industry.

Choosing an SEO company can make or break your business. So, when choosing one, avoid companies that:

  • Aren’t charging enough for their services
  • Don’t offer transparency or refuse to answer your questions
  • Can’t explain what they’re doing in simple terms
  • Focus heavily on building inbound links (these should happen organically)
  • Claim to have inside connections with Google
  • Guarantee you the #1 spot on Google
  • Feature outdated case-studies
  • Use bad practices on their website (keyword stuffing, buying links, etc.)
  • Don’t respond within a few days


Common Traits of a Reliable SEO Partner


There are commonalities and signals that indicate high-quality SEO services. Not all agencies and specialists are equal. Nor are they always honest about their abilities.

But, some are undoubtedly better than others. That doesn’t really mean anything unless you know what to look for. So, those commonalities include:

  • Referrals from trusted businesses or friends/family
  • The ability to offer transparency and answer questions in full
  • Clear, precise, and quick communication
  • Getting to know your marketing strategies
  • Positive reviews from reliable sources
  • Realistic guarantees
  • Verifiable experience and case studies to prove it

Choosing the right partner is as important as understanding the benefits. Take your time and reach out to prospective companies. Take note of their communication style, how they speak to you, and what questions they ask.

Pro-tip: If they’re not asking you questions, run! That’s a warning sign they don’t care about the specifics of your business. Either that or they don’t know what they’re doing.


What to Expect From Us


GHAX SEO specializes in using SEO to help you generate more leads. Getting a lot of traffic is nice. But, getting more of the right traffic is better.

We offer custom SEO pricing packages to meet the unique demands of your business. Cookie-cutter strategies aren’t good enough for producing results. Your business is as unique as your fingerprints.

Because of that, you need a specialized plan.

Rest easy knowing you’re hiring a business partner who cares about your success. The team takes pride in getting to know your business from the inside out. Then, using that data and information to develop a customized strategy.

Additionally, we know how tumultuous the SEO world is. Staying up to date with changes and best practices is key. Dynamic optimization is an important part of the team’s skillset.

Book your free growth strategy call to start growing your business, today!

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