How Much Does SEO Cost in 2023?

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Sabrina Dougall

How much does SEO cost? According to our research, the average cost of an SEO agency is $100-$149 per hour. We calculated the average monthly fee for an SEO agency is $3,594.

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 exact SEO services costs then we can match you with trusted partners who’ll give you a quote tailored to your business.

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

Businesses should invest in boosting their websites’ search engine visibility consistently across the year: that means some work should take place each month. 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 $3,594 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.

Should You Buy a Fixed SEO Package?

“A set SEO price package is unlikely to meet your business' needs because it's too rigid. You may end up paying for services you don't really need, and miss out on vital SEO work that would bring real gains to your website traffic.

“Rather than rushing into buying a fixed bundle, you should take your time to figure out SEO goals that would be meaningful for your particular business. Do you need more backlinks? You need content marketing. Need more targeted traffic? You may need technical SEO and a copywriting strategy. And so on.

Cameron Blair
Cameron Blair Head of SEO, Expert Market

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.

Want better SEO but don't know where to start? We'll match you with experts who'll increase your business visibility

SEO Pricing models: How SEO Companies Charge

SEO Hourly Costs

The average cost of SEO services is $100-$149 per hour. The vast majority of SEO agencies we recommend quote this price range (therefore it's the modal average).

Higher-end agencies that cater to large enterprises, such as Major Tom and OuterBox, charge $150-$199 per hour.

If you're willing to outsource to India, Webential charges start at $35 per hour for their SEO services. Or there's Uplers, whose clients include Disney, with pricing from $25 per hour.

Should You Outsource SEO?

The lowest price SEO services come from outsourcing talent from India, and other lower income countries. While this may seem to keep your costs down, we've heard from small business owners who've had to spend so much time editing written content from international copywriters that it didn't seem worth it.

SEO Costs Per Service

Recognising the increasing need for flexible pricing arrangements these days, many companies offer individual SEO services. 

This is a good way to go for business leaders who've read up enough on SEO services that they are confident on what they can handle in-house versus what they need to outsource.

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

Prices vary according to how many websites you have, how many pages each website has, and how detailed a report you need.

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. The cost of digital marketing services such as SEO echoes that of web design; you may agree a fixed-term contract or find a month-to-month payment deal.

We worked out the average monthly SEO package costs $3,594. To calculate this, we only included figures from reputable SEO agencies that we'd be confident to recommend to you. We excluded agencies that outsource labor to countries like India and The Philippines because their low fees would skew the data. Likewise, we didn't count any sky-high fees aimed at multinational corporate clients.

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WebFX

Straight North

WTM Digital

Wiideman

Volume Nine Digital

4.8
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Backlink content creation

Best For

Project management

Best For

Ecommerce SEO

Best For

Local SEO

Best For

Multichannel SEO

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$2,500-$8,000 per month

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$2,000-$6,000 per month

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$2,000–$30,000 per month

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$99+

Price Range

$2,000–$10,000 per month

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 each company. You’ll find many provide organic search services as part of a wider digital marketing offering. Many will offer to design and build you a website as well. And some will add in social media marketing to boot.

One agency that prices per client is Hibu, an agency that will build you a website optimized for SEO if you don't already have one. Check out our Hibu review for more details.

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…

Annual SEO Costs

It’s important to see SEO as a long-term strategy; that means paying for a one-off service is unlikely to keep customers rolling in from Google long-term.

This begs the question: how much does SEO cost over the course of a full year? Taking the mid price point of $6,000 per month, this works out at $72,000 for the year. However, this is just a rough guide.

If you’re willing to hire an agency that outsources to Eastern Europe or Asia, your costs could come in much lower. Closer to $14,400 for the year. But this may require hours of your time each month to double-check spellings, tone, and audience targeting in copywritten work.

Given the ROI is typically very strong for SEO services – if you hire a quality agency – it's a lifeline for business growth rather than a “nice-to-have.”

How Much Does SEO Cost for a Small Business?

In general, SEO is not about spending the smallest amount possible, but investing as wisely as you can to grow your revenue long-term. That said, a two-person bakery business doesn't have the budget of a global software firm.

Thankfully, a small business can expect to pay far less for SEO services than enterprise-level firms because there's a far smaller “online footprint” to manage. The scope of SEO work required for a microbrewery, for instance, is altogether less work than launching a multinational insurance company.

To keep costs low, you may contract a freelancer around the average hourly rate of just $68. Or you may direct investment inward, and choose to upskill a marketing manager with a training course, taking on the work in-house.

Yet a small business with limited in-house resources may need an agency instead. This applies to businesses that need a wider range of services than a single freelancer could possibly provide, such as backlinking and content creation.

As mentioned earlier, the average hourly agency cost is $100-$149, but you could get a better deal if you shop around.

We've found some lower-cost SEO agencies that come highly-rated with verified reviews. We've listed these below:

SEO AgencyServicesPrice ($)
Netpeak

(US & Ukraine)

  • On-site SEO
  • Reputation management
  • Local SEO
  • Backlinking
$50-$99 per hour
Cheenti Digital LLC

(US & India)

Local SEO Package 1:

  • Up to 15 web pages optimized
  • Google Business Profile listings x 2
  • Blog post (500 words) x 1
  • Keyword ranking reports
$399 per month
Prontomarketing

(Thailand and The Philippines)

Website Audit (up to 30 pages):

  • SEO health score
  • Page speed tests
  • Broken links (404s)
  • Content quality check
$200 per audit

You should bear in mind these agencies won't take on projects under $1,000.

You'll notice some of the above companies may have offices in the US, yet their business is primarily based internationally. Technical SEO may not need knowledge of US culture, but copywriting and content marketing often does. If you specifically need these services, it's worth checking out our guide to the best SEO content writing services.

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.

SEO costs $100-149 per hour on average, although it’s much more useful to consider monthly costs since one hour of SEO work won't achieve much. You should budget for between $1,000 to $6,000 per month to cover SEO costs if you're running a small business with modest growth goals.

Larger companies can expect monthly costs of $8,000 to $200,000 or more from a corporate agency. With ROI rates sometimes as strong as 12.2x, we'd say it's definitely worth it.

If you want to compare price quotes specific to your business, we can provide tailored pricing for free. If you provide some basic details we’ll match you with our partner SEO experts that’ll consult with you on what exactly your business needs.

Jargon Buster

Domain: This refers to the virtual location of your website, specifically the URL. For example: Expertmarket.com. 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. Domains can be bought and sold, and domains retain the authority value for search engines.

Domain authority (DA): A measure of website reputation according to search engine analysts at Moz. There's also an alternative metric known as “domain rating” from Ahrefs. Neither of these are perfectly accurate interpretations of how Google interprets your website, but they give a fair indication of the value of a backlink from a certain website, for instance.

SERP: This stands for “search engine results page,” which is the list of links you see after typing a question into any search engine. Most Google users never click beyond the first SERP.

On-site SEO: Also known as “on-page SEO,” this refers to work on your website to improve its visibility to search engine users. It includes fixing technical elements of your website so that Google bots interpret it correctly. Improving the quality of your website's written content is another example of on-site SEO.

Keyword ranking: This is the position on a SERP that a domain appears for a particular search query. “Keyword” refers to 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. Usually this figure is averaged according to data from the past 12 months.

Off-site SEO: Also known as “off-page SEO,” this is work done outside of your website to signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and benefits web users. It usually refers to link building strategies, which means convincing other websites owners to publish links back to your site.

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.

Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina Dougall Web Marketing Expert

Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master’s in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camen New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.