How Much Does SEO Cost in 2022?

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How much does SEO cost? This guide breaks down the average cost of SEO from several angles: per month, per individual service, via an agency or with a freelancer. 

According to our research, SEO costs start at $25 per hour to hire an SEO agency expert, but that’s well below average. The average cost of an SEO agency is $135 per hour. As far as monthly costs go, $1,147 is the mean price of the agencies we looked into.

No matter what kind of business you’re growing, you want to invest to ensure its online reputation is as good as can be. SEO (search engine optimization) costs seem scary and complicated, but they aren't. All it refers to is the price of improving the online image of a business so that search engines bring more visitors to its website.

We understand the importance of insight into different SEO costs for your unique business needs. That’s why we’ve done the number-crunching for you and broken it down in this guide. But if you’re looking for precise costs for SEO services then we can match you with trusted digital marketing agencies who’ll solve your search engine woes for the best price possible.

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Average Cost of SEO: What's a Fair Price for SEO Services?

Businesses should expect to invest in boosting their websites’ search engine visibility for at least six months to a year. Bearing this in mind, companies should be prepared to set aside a fairly generous slice of budget for SEO costs.

Average costs of hiring an SEO agency fall in the range of $2,000 and $10,000 per month if you choose to work with a reputable agency. It’s possible to spend far less, but you may end up working with less experienced professionals and fail to see the ROI your business needs.

It’s difficult to ascertain average SEO prices because the majority of agencies only offer bespoke pricing. However, for the companies we found advertising monthly price packages online, the average price point is $1,147 for SEO services

What you’ll notice with some of the lower-priced monthly packages is a focus on research and auditing as opposed to implementing strategies. Most of the time you’ll need to pay upwards of $1,200 monthly for agencies to put SEO recommendations into practice. And even more if you need content such as blog posts, images and videos produced.

Curious about where your business’ SEO needs will fall on the pricing scale? Let’s take a look at how SEO experts calculate their costs.

SEO Cost: Major Price Influencing Factors

  • Reputation of agency: A more established SEO agency or consultant will charge more for their services because they have sufficient demand for their services.
  • Scale of project: The scope of work that’s needed depends on how strong your site’s domain authority already is, how many websites or social media channels need optimizing, and how competitive the marketplace is.
  • Office culture: SEO agencies will make recommendations to grow your keyword rankings and domain authority; how quickly your team understands and implements necessary changes will affect the success, duration and types of follow-up work needed.
  • Client goals: If your company wishes to scale up rapidly then a more aggressive approach is needed to achieve the desired results – this could significantly accelerate your monthly leads.
  • Location of SEO workers: Some agencies outsource SEO talent to India and other countries where currency differences mean overall costs are far lower.  

Getting an SEO Pricing Quote

We know it can be frustrating to figure out your business’ SEO budget given all the complex variables at play. The truth is, it takes time to understand what your company really needs to succeed at the search engine game. 

However, you can save time by requesting tailored pricing info and a breakdown of costs directly from agencies. We’re proud to offer our free quote requesting tool where you let us know a few basic details and we’ll match you with suitable suppliers to solve your SEO struggles ASAP.

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SEO Pricing models: How SEO Companies Charge

SEO Hourly Costs

 

In the US, around two-thirds (62%) of SEO experts charge between $75 and $200 per hour according to an Ahrefs survey in 2018. Freelancers are cheaper than agencies on the whole, charging an average of $68 hourly.

 

We’ve dug up some prices that buck the trend, however. Webential charges $35 per hour for their SEO services. With Uplers, whose clients include Disney, pricing begins at $25 or $30 per hour for their Google Analytics expertise, specifically. The reason these rates are so much lower is because they rely on outsourcing talent from India.

SEO Costs per Service

It may be that you know exactly what your business needs and just need precise pricing for certain SEO services. Recognising the increasing need for flexible pricing arrangements these days, quite a few companies have begun to offer this. For instance, if you’re simply looking for SEO-friendly content production, a one-off site audit or certain web pages to be polished up.

Here are some prices for specific SEO services based on our research:

  • On-page optimization (per page): $60
  • SEO technical audit report: $350
  • Keyword research, recommendations and metadata: $500
  • SEO audit recommendations report: $650

How Much Does SEO Cost per Month?

A monthly price package is suitable for many businesses as it gives budget managers the best chance of planning ahead. It’s a familiar model echoed across the digital marketing services industry and website builder packages offer similar pricing models as standard.

 

For those wanting to know how much SEO costs per month, the majority of agencies (76%) charge under $2,000 monthly for a set SEO package. Our original research found the average monthly SEO package costs $1,147.17 (to the nearest whole cent), excluding enterprise pricing.

 

A higher-end agency that only takes on enterprise-level clients will charge far higher rates. For example, the monthly rates of Accelerate Agency start from $8,000 ranging to $200,000 plus.

 

However, the majority of agencies will only give pricing on request because there are so many variables concerning the SEO needs of individual companies. You’ll find most SEO providers do not solely offer SEO services, but often supply full spectrum digital marketing services of which SEO is just one part. Hibu is one such agency where you won’t find fixed costs advertised online because they can provide several marketing services and prefer to offer bespoke pricing.

 

Nonetheless, some agencies provide monthly “SEO packages” for companies that want to see concrete pricing up front. This is helpful to give an idea of which SEO services you can get for your budget. Let’s look at three examples of monthly pricing plans in detail…

Low-Price: Foreignerds SEO Monthly Price Plans

Delaware-based Foreignerds is five-star rated according to customer reviews. They offer five different monthly price plans, the majority of which come in at the cheaper end of the average price range for SEO agencies. Lower price points are particularly beneficial to small businesses that need to be frugal with outgoings in post-pandemic times.

foreignerds SEO services price list

Mid-Market: Webential SEO Monthly Price Plans

 

Some price plans offer better value for money than others, and it’s always handy to know what competitor SEO agencies are charging for similar services. In the case of Webential, the ‘Medium business’ package seems like decent mid-level pricing for essential SEO services. The ‘Large business’ package seems to be good value considering it includes three pieces of content as well. The ‘Enterprise’ package seems to be the worst deal when it comes to budget because it’s a steep price increase compared with the previous tier and only includes four extra pieces of content.

 

The cost breakdown of Webential’s services is so granular that we couldn’t include all the details, but here’s the broad-brush summary:

Webential SEO services price card

It should be noted, however, that Webential also offers price points for individual SEO services such as link building. They charge on a per-link basis, with varying costs relative to the domain authority of the particular domain. These range from $110 to $850, though you should contact the agency directly if you seek specific prices.

High-End: Prontomarketing SEO Monthly Price Plans

On the slightly farther end of the SEO pricing scale is Prontomarketing, another well-regarded digital agency with various monthly price plans. Truth be told, their services seem a little sparse compared to the generous offerings of their lower-priced competitors. Nevertheless, a 4.9 star average customer review score is a compelling reason to give them a try. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from them:

Prontomarketing SEO services price list

Annual SEO Costs

It’s important to note that SEO is a long-term business consideration, and hiring an agency for a one-off service is not going to improve your keyword ranking unless further work is done. The expert consensus is 5-12 months is the minimum length of time that SEO strategies need in order to take effect.

 

This begs the question: how much does SEO cost over the course of a full year? Taking a mid-range price point, $1,200 per month (the ‘Medium business’ price package from Webential) this works out at $14,400 for the year.

If you’re willing to put the time and effort into teaching yourself SEO and using free tools available online, then your costs could come in much lower than this. However, the ROI is typically very strong for SEO services – so long as you hire a quality agency – meaning you should consider it a worthwhile investment rather than a ‘nice-to-have’.

How Much Does SEO Cost for a Small Business?

Thankfully, a small business can expect to pay far less for SEO services than enterprise-level firms because there will be fewer websites and a far smaller “online footprint” to manage. The scope of SEO work required is altogether simpler with a small business, particularly one that is only based in one geolocation.

 

Additionally, a small business is able to hire a freelancer with whom it’s possible to work long-term. It can be far easier for a small business to hire remote workers on a casual or temporary basis without having to go through the chains of command necessary at larger companies. As mentioned above, the average hourly rate of a freelancer is just $68.

 

Or you may take a longer-term approach and choose to upskill a marketing manager with a training course or hire an SEO specialist part- or full-time.

 

Yet a small business with limited resource for hiring in-house may need an agency instead. This applies to companies that need a wider range of services than a single freelancer could possibly provide, such as backlinking and content creation. In terms of monthly cost, this could be as low as $199 with the ‘Value’ price plan from Foreignerds, for example.

 

A small business would be wise to pay more than $199 monthly for SEO services, for instance, if managers decide the company needs to grow domain reputation and backlinks faster. This particular price plan only includes one piece of original SEO content created per month, which is unlikely to boost a domain’s SERP visibility all that fast.

What is the Return on Investment (ROI) for SEO?

If the above prices are making you think “There’s no way I can afford that kind of budget as a small business” then consider this: the ROI for SEO spend can be as much as 748%. Yes, you read that right, 748% and that’s an average from SEO agency First Page Sage. If you’re in a particularly lucrative market such as financial services or real estate, then the profits can be even greater.

The same agency calculated return on investment by dividing the clients’ net profits from their SEO campaigns by the costs of the SEO campaigns. Here are a few of the ROI results per industry:

  • B2B SaaS (software as a service): 702%
  • Commercial insurance: 758%
  • Ecommerce: 317%
  • Financial services: 1,031%
  • Higher education and college: 994%
  • Legal services: 526%
  • Real estate: 1,389%

New York-based SEO agency Terakeet puts their ROI at between 5x and 12.2x – clearly, you’d be nuts not to at least consider how your business can invest in this marketing stream. 

The reason the return on investment is so supercharged for SEO services is because there is no extra cost for advertisement placement fees. Whereas you’d normally pay an advertising agency to design and coordinate your advertising campaigns, and then pay for the advertising space on billboards, TV commercials or radio slots, there’s only the first cost to pay for SEO. That said, organic search strategy often goes hand-in-hand with search engine marketing (SEM), for example paid ads on Google or Facebook. 

Local SEO Costs

Certain businesses rely on their local community for revenue such as eateries, retailers, gyms, designers and consultants with physical storefronts or offices. This is where local SEO comes in: getting your business to appear on search results pages for specific geographic locations and in business directories for a particular area. Sometimes companies will offer specific ‘local SEO’ packages where you pay a set price to have your business appear on map tools online and crop up on searches for “X near me” and the like.

 

Here are indicative agency costs of local SEO services:

  • 1-2 locations: $700
  • 3-5 locations: $1,000
  • 6-10 locations: $1,250

Or you can try managing your own local SEO with purpose-built tools. Here are the prices of local SEO tools:

  • Moz Lite: Listing management and review monitoring for $14 per month
  • Moz Preferred: Automatically tell local directories about your business for $20 per month
  • Moz Elite: Update a wider range of local directories for $33 per month
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Expert verdict

Search engine optimization should be a core piece of your digital marketing strategy, and it takes long-term investment to make any difference at all. If you’re not willing to invest in SEO then your competitors will easily entice web users away from your business.

 

Hourly costs of SEO ring in at $68 on average, although it’s much more useful to consider monthly costs since that is a more useful scale to budget on. You should set aside $1,150 per month to cover SEO costs if you’re looking to go with a monthly package from an agency. With ROI rates sometimes as strong as 12.2x it’s surely worth the expense.

 

If you want to compare price quotes specific to your business, then we can match you with trusted suppliers to cover your SEO needs. If you provide some basic details we’ll put you in touch with agencies that’ll give you bespoke pricing. How easy is that!

 

The above prices serve as general guidance only. It should be noted that the prices quoted are correct at the time of writing yet individual providers may change their price points at any time without notice. Extra charges may apply based on your business’ specific needs and what the supplier is able to offer. ROI is not guaranteed but results are indicative of specific agencies’ own clientele.

Jargon Buster

Domain: This refers to a website, specifically the URL. For example, www.Expertmarket.com is a domain. The reason we use the word ‘domain’ instead of ‘website’ is because the website (i.e. the pages, along with their design and content) can technically be moved to another domain and would lose all their ranking credentials. Domains can be bought and sold, and domains retain the authority value for search engines.

 

Domain authority (DA) How highly regarded your website is according to search engine technology. You want your business to try to achieve a higher domain authority and there are many free tools to test domain authority. The better your domain authority, the greater your chances of appearing higher up on SERPs.

 

SERP: This stands for “search engine results page,” for example the list of results you see after typing a question into Google and pressing “Search”.

 

On-site SEO: The technical elements of your website which Google bots interpret as ‘good'. It’s a category of services that SEO experts typically provide, including content strategy, keyword optimization, internal linking, and producing well-structured pages which meet accessibility guidelines and are easy to navigate. 

Keyword ranking: This is the position on a SERP that a domain appears for a particular search query. ‘Keyword’ can refer to a word or a phrase that web users type into a search engine. SEO experts will try to improve a website’s particular position on the SERP so that web users see your business before they have a chance to see the competition.

 

Search volume: Sometimes abbreviated to ‘SV’, this is the average number of times a keyword is searched for per month.

 

Off-site SEO: This is work that can be done outside of your website to signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and beneficial to web users. It usually refers to linkbuilding strategies, which is when high-authority domains include hyperlinks to pages on your site (and vice versa).

FAQ

How much does it cost to hire someone for SEO?
The average cost of hiring an SEO freelancer is $68 per hour, according to Ahrefs research. If you’re OK with a time difference, you can hire SEO experts in India from as little as $25 per hour from Uplers. Their pricing starts at $35 per hour for Google Analytics expertise. If you’re looking to hire an agency, fees go up considerably; the average hourly fee for an SEO agency is $135. An expert with several years of experience will, of course, charge more for their time compared with a junior executive.
How can I do SEO for free?
It will be difficult to achieve the same SEO results as a professional agency, particularly if you attempt the work without any budget. However, it is possible to do your own SEO for free if you are willing to invest significant time and effort into educating and equipping yourself for the work.

 

There are some free SEO tools available for you to use, including a domain authority checker, keyword research tools and a SERP snippet optimizer. But free SEO tools are not going to significantly improve your keyword ranking without a dedicated strategy and long-term investment of resources.

 

Many digital marketing agencies will provide a free SEO audit of your site to establish what needs improving and where you’re already doing well. This can provide you with the basic research you’d need to carry out your own SEO improvements.

 

It’s also worth being aware agencies often provide SEO services in a broader package of website creation, plus there’s often free SEO tools included in DIY website builders.

Why does SEO cost so much?
It takes at least 5-12 months of SEO strategy implementation before you’ll see tangible results for your websites. This means long-term investment is an absolute must, and the costs therefore add up over time. However, given the ROI on SEO is so strong – up to 1,220% – it is a smart money move for almost any business. So if your annual SEO spend is $14,400 and you’re lucky enough to see a strong return on investment, such as 500% (the lower bound of Terakeet SEO agency’s ROI calculations) that’s $72,000. You won’t be left wondering whether SEO is worth the money if your company websites convert well following a successful strategy implementation.

For an easy way to get started on your SEO and realize that ROI, simply fill in our quote request form and we’ll match you with the right professional for the job.

Sabrina Dougall

Sabrina writes about tech for business as well as consumer software. She covers topics ranging from digital marketing to ecommerce fulfilment, security systems, franking machines, and more. Having run her own successful small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how much there is to keep on top of. Writing with your company’s needs in mind, she distils truly useful product information (without the sales pitch).