How Much Should We Pay for SEO Services? SEO Pricing

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seo pricing

As an SEO services agency, we are often faced with the question “How much should I really be paying for SEO services?”

That is often a loaded question. It usually depends on the industry and the state of the companies findability when we talk to them.

Look at it this way for industries that are more digitally savvy getting found online is more competitive. An obvious example is the SEO industry itself. Since we are all experts in the field it becomes very competitive. Whereas industries such as fitness, sports, travel or even metal fabrication may not have as many players that are fully leveraging digital marketing.

With that said though there have been a few studies that have gone down the rabbit hole and developed some real pricing to answer this question.

One of the most notable studies was performed by ahrefs. Ahrefs is a tool for evaluating SEO that is very popular among SEO consultants. The data from their SEO Pricing Report is what I will reference in much my discussion.

First, let me breakdown how the study was conducted. They surveyed Agencies, Consultants, and Freelancers to see how much they charged for SEO services in 2018. As you would expect the most expensive of the three was Freelancers and Agencies commanded the highest rates. Consultants sit somewhere in between.

Just as we do at Blackbird e-Solutions, most SEOs offer a variety of pricing models.

  • Monthly retainers
  • Project based
  • Hourly rates

How Much Should We Pay for SEO Per Month?

It depends on who you work with. Agencies, Consultants or Freelancers

seo pricing per month by business type

On average if we take the upper level of the pricing tier we see the following averages, with Agencies at the highest level:

  • Agencies: $2,819.87/month
  • Consultancies: $1,906.48/month
  • Freelancers: $1,364/month

Does experience play a role in SEO Pricing?


SEO Monthly Rates by time in business

You’ll notice that there is a pretty steep upward slope from 1 month to 2-4 years. Pricing does level off after that. Probably partly because once an SEO gets to a certain level they become more efficient which means they spend less time to do research and implementation.

How Much Do SEO Projects Cost?

This one is a bit more nuanced because the report doesn’t include exactly what type of projects were included in the data. For example, a one-off project could be optimizing a page for one keyword or a full website redesign with 10,000s of pages. Obviously the second would be much more expensive. But I don’t know for sure if that type of project is included in the pricing per project data. Also, typically larger projects are handled by large agencies, which might skew the pricing averages.

With that said, here’s the breakdown:

  • Agencies: $5,222.06 per project, on average.
  • Consultancies: $4,481.94 per project, on average.
  • Freelancers: $1,530.85 per project, on average.

Does Experience Play a Role in SEO Project Based Pricing?

This is an interesting case because, yes it does and by a lot!

SEO project rates by time in business

As you can see in the graph above. Things are pretty level until you reach 1 year. Then there is a big jump from $1,234.60 to $4,629.59 for professionals that have been in the business for more than 2 years. Then once you get to 10+ years the average is almost $6,000.

Quick Thoughts and Summary

As you probably expected there are a lot of different variables that come into play when considering pricing, but basically, it breaks down to these key things.

  • You’ll pay more for experienced professionals.
  • Freelancers are your most inexpensive option, but they may not be your best because they often have full-time jobs or other commitments that will mean that they may have time restraints.
  • Agencies while the most expensive are more readily available and typically have more people that can service your account.
  • One thing I didn’t mention is outsourcing. You can get a better rate if you work with an SEOs or agencies in places such as India. However, I always caution outsourcing anything that has to do with marketing or language because even if they speak the same language as your market, unless live and breath in the market that you are targetting they can never be an expert. But that’s a whole different discussion.

Hopefully, this helps answer the question of how much you should expect to pay for SEO. If you have any questions or insights, please leave a note in the comments.

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