How Much Does SEO Cost? A Quick Guide To SEO Pricing

How Much Does SEO Cost? A Quick Guide To SEO Pricing

In this guide we are talking about how to find a reliable SEO partner and what SEO will cost to your business.

Is Organic Search traffic really free? No, it is not free. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) whose goal is to help a site get more organic search traffic has a cost. This cost comes in the form of SEO audits, keyword research, onpage copy optimizations, and more.

SEO is usually offered as a service by either SEO agencies, consultants and freelancers. Like for any other service the expertise levels may differ from provider to provider. Choosing an SEO partner is an exercise that does not only involve the final price quote. You will want to spend some time to get more details about your future SEO partner. 

How to Choose an SEO Partner

Finding a reliable SEO specialist is not easy. Here are 5 areas to check before signing an SEO expert to help your business.

  1. SEO experience is a must.

    Several years of doing SEO helps understand how SEO works. SEO experience means seeing the impact of search engines’ algorithm changes, getting positive results from link building campaigns, performing successful onpage copy optimizations. Experience also means finding issues on your site faster and knowing solutions to these issues.

  2. The SEO partner should be interested in the mechanics of SEO.

    Oftentimes, SEO agencies and consultants are keen on signing up new customers with no regard to results.

  3. You want to work with a partner who cares about the relationship.

    Larger agencies may not be able to develop such relationships as you are just a number in their system. Working with a partner who cares is key to achieve positive results.

  4. Your future SEO partner should have access to SEO tools and methods.

    Plus, they should be aware about the latest industry updates: from algorithm updates to site performance requirements from search engines.

  5. Your SEO partner needs to be business oriented.

    SEO specialists tend to focus on technical details too much. This perfectionism may not be necessary when the business needs to move fast and get results.

How Much Do SEOs Charge?

SEO service is offered with a few pricing models in the US and Canada. The popular pricing models include hourly rates, one-off fees, and monthly retainers.

The price is negotiated based on the customer’s needs. The price quote may be also influenced by the initial research and the quality of your website. If well-tuned modern sites may not require much SEO work, older sites may need more attention and more time to find and describe all issues.

Here are the common SEO pricing models:

Hourly Rate

Businesses with limited budgets tend to hire SEO experts for specific tasks. Such on-demand SEO is a convenient service when issues are not known or when businesses don’t have budgets for full SEO audits and ongoing SEO work.

With this type of approach a business has a good control of how the SEO expert used their time and what deliverables resulted from their work.

The downsize is the SEO specialist may not have enough time to get the overall picture and learn about your business.

Hourly rates for SEO services in the US and Canada are between $80-$150/hour depending on the complexity of the work and number of hours needed.

One-time Projects

In certain cases businesses have specific requirements and a clear strategy about SEO. They need SEO specialists to execute projects based on these requirements and strategy. Here it makes sense to negotiate pricing based on projects.

Paying for SEO projects is usually a good fit for companies and business groups that know SEO. This helps to get the best quality and the right deliverable from the SEO partner. 

SEO projects may range typically from $500 to $5,000 per project.

Monthly Retainer

Monthly retainers lean toward long-term relationships. Here the SEO agency or consultant becomes a part of the engineering or marketing team.

Retainers are a practical solution for businesses that focus on consistency and ongoing SEO efforts.

The contractual obligations may be the only caveat with this pricing model. If the partner is not good or is below your expectations, it may take several months to end the relationship.

Monthly retainers range from $500 to $3,000 depending on the size of the site and the SEO needs. Larger SEO agencies may charge tens of thousands of dollars when they work with large websites.

Measuring the SEO Efforts

In the end the SEO efforts should be always measured against the business results achieved.

Increased rankings for a bunch of keywords is not a good measure of success. A percent increase of revenue from Organic search due to the effort is a pretty good way to understand the value of the investment in SEO.


Want to continue reading about SEO and how to use it to your business’ benefit? See these resources:


If your business needs SEO support, send us a note and we will start with a free site audit.

By Nick

Nick is a seasoned search specialist with 10+ years of hands-on experience in both paid and organic search campaigns. Nick has managed both multi-million ad budgets and small-budget SEO campaigns.

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