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How Much Do Companies Charge for SEO?

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A first-rate SEO campaign can offer growing businesses a lot of promotional mileage.  Over 90% of online customer interactions start with a simple search engine query. And with three-quarters of potential customers never going past the first page on search engine results, it’s vital to rank in a highly visible area. 

The value of a good SEO campaign can’t be overemphasized. Businesses that rank on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines are likely to get more site visitors without spending money on paid advertising. 

Expert SEOs will also ensure that your website provides a seamless user experience that generates more conversions. Some small business owners who operate in non-competitive industries choose to DIY their own SEO. Whether this is a good idea or not is a story for another day. 

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re looking to invest in professional SEO services.  But before you do, you’d most likely want to know how much do companies charge for SEO?

While SEO mechanics are quite similar for most projects, an insane number of variables affect how much each company eventually charges. American SEO agencies can charge as little as $20 per hour to as much as $350 per hour for their services. Monthly contract prices typically range from $250 to around $5,000 per month. 

Ideally, these price tags should reflect the level of expertise and the quality of SEO services that you’ll get. But in the murky waters of SEO, it’s vital to understand what you’re paying for and make sure you’re getting it. 

Understanding the Numerous SEO Variables

When you browse through the different SEO packages at agency websites, many small business owners tend to gasp at how expensive the services are. When you finally find an agency that charges seemingly reasonable prices, you may end up getting suspicious of their expertise. How do SEO agencies price their services and why do the prices vary so wildly from company to company?

If you’re looking to work with expert-level SEO agencies that have produced consistent results for several high-level companies around the world, you should be prepared to spend a lot of money. Because these companies are in demand, which makes their time extremely valuable. Fortunately, most small businesses don’t need to work with the top 1% SEOs to get excellent results. 

Just like any business, SEO companies also have overhead. The best SEO results are backed by teams of web developers, researchers, content creators, and more. Depending on what your business requirements look like, you may have to pay more or less. For example, a company that needs 10 unique content pieces uploaded on its website will pay less than one that needs 50 uploads. 

The competitiveness of your industry and the location in which you operate also has a major influence on how much you should expect to pay for SEO services. For example, a minor SEO tune-up for a Krav Maga dojo in a mid-sized city may result in a number one Google ranking but the same adjustments won’t result in any major gains for a local pizza delivery service, facing high competition. These factors also determine the amount of research and work an SEO agency needs to do to get your business high on SERPs.  

Common Pricing Models

Now that you have a rough idea of why SEO companies charge different prices for their services, you need to work with a pricing model that corresponds to your desired outcomes. 

Most small to medium-sized businesses pay an hourly rate to get as much flexibility as possible. For this pricing model, you can DIY most of your SEO requirements, then pay between $20 and $350 to get SEO support whenever you need it.

Companies that already have competitive websites but require once-off services, such as content creation, site migration, or mobile optimization are likely to go with project-based pricing. Here, you typically have to pay between $500 and $10,000, depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the project. With a project-based pricing model, you know exactly what you’ll get and how much it’ll cost you.

Grabbing the number one spot on search engines doesn’t mean that you should rest on your laurels and bask in your new found glory. Monthly retainers with an SEO agency can range from $250 to $5,000, but they ensure that your business can continue to amplify its visibility in the search engines. 

Some companies even sweeten the deal for SEO agencies by offering an extra amount of money if they hit certain targets. 

The Cost of Cheap SEO

It’s no secret that businesses don’t want to spend a penny more than they need to. It’s only natural—modern businesses survive due to low overheads. This mindset can, however, do more harm than good when applied to SEO pricing. 

Overly cheap SEO services usually produce terrible results. You may get low-quality content that neither ranks nor resonates with your target market. You’ll also most likely get bad web development that bogs down your site loading times and low-quality backlinks that may get your website penalized by Google. 

SEO packages that are extremely cheap compared to the industry averages are often not worth your time and money. You should also be wary of agencies that promise guaranteed results. Search engines constantly change their algorithms, so nothing is promised in SEO.


SEO is a powerful tool for businesses that are trying to grow their online reach. When combined with paid advertising campaigns, it helps your marketing budget stretch even further. A successful SEO strategy depends on a wide variety of factors, chief among which is your budget. 

While different agencies charge different prices for various SEO services, it’s important to understand that you can make progress at any reasonable price point. Most times, it’s better to pay a reputable agency per hour and work out a strategy than go with a dirt-cheap company. It’s also important to fully understand what an SEO company is offering for each package and make sure that they deliver.  

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