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Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important marketing avenues that most business owners tend to neglect. And, honestly, it’s easy to see why.

While SEO is the best known digital marketing technique to drive website traffic and increase conversions, it’s also difficult to do well, particularly if you’re just starting with your business. Even if you get the chance to optimize your website before you launch, chances are that you won’t have the time to continually work on your SEO while you’ve got so many other things demanding your attention.

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For this reason, thousands of business owners like you choose to partner with SEO professionals to take care of their website while they build their business. 

But, how much does SEO cost, and what can you expect to get for your money? Let’s dive into the world of SEO pricing. 

If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

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Why is SEO So Important?

As a small business owner we know why you would ask, “how much does SEO cost?”, and we know you’re reading this because you’ve heard that SEO is essential to your business, and you’re wondering if paying for SEO is worth it. 

In short – yes. 

While SEO can be expensive – and we’ll get more into average costs shortly – it’s an investment in your business. Just like you’d pay to have an advertising campaign in your local newspaper, an industry magazine, or even on local radio, you need to invest in SEO to market your business online which is why I am glad you are looking into how much does SEO cost. 

Research shows that 68% of online experiences start with search engines, and nearly 93% of all global traffic flows through a Google search or results from Google Images and Maps. While your website will still be listed on search engines regardless of if you invest in SEO, leaving where you rank up to chance can mean missing out on organic traffic. This is why you want to rank as high as possible for as many relevant keywords as possible.

Not only that, but if it’s done right, SEO has an average conversion rate of 14.6%. Compared to traditional channels like print advertising, which average at around 1.7%, SEO is easily the best marketing channel to invest in to improve conversion rates. 

It’s understandable if one of the reasons why you’re reading this today is because you’re not sure if SEO is worth the cost for your business. However, SEO campaigns are 13 times more likely to generate a positive ROI when compared to other types of marketing. Plus, with research showing that 40% of business revenue comes from organic searches, investing in SEO is vital for your bottom line. 

However, it’s important to understand that, unlike traditional marketing, SEO takes time. Most SEO campaigns won’t start showing early results until six months after they begin. We typically advise running a campaign for at least a year, as this will give you a good idea as to whether your campaign is working and generating the results you’re looking for. If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

Understanding Your SEO Goals

Mapping Out Your SEO Game plan | How much does SEO Cost?

Before we take a closer look at how much does SEO cost, you need to narrow down what you’re looking for from an SEO consultant and see what the typical SEO cost breakdown is. 

The first thing you need to think about is whether you want a one-off service, or you’re willing to pay a monthly retainer. 

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One-off services are great if you’re looking to:

  • Optimize your website before it launches
  • Redesign your website
  • Order a bulk of SEO copy to release over a set period
  • Set up your social media profiles
  • Perform a content or link profile audit


However, if you’ve got more complex SEO needs, or you want to pay for someone to take care of your website’s SEO for you, monthly retainers are a great option. Monthly retainers typically focus on:

  • Driving more traffic to your website
  • Increasing conversion rates
  • Improving your Domain Authority (DA)
  • Decreasing your bounce rate
  • Optimizing your website for multiple keywords
  • Optimizing your website for local and/or national SEO

However, that’s not to say that we expect you to have all of the answers right now. If you’re just getting started with your business, or you’re not familiar with digital marketing, just knowing that you want to get more people to visit your website or even improve your online sales is enough. 

Almost all SEO consultants are used to working with clients who don’t know the nitty-gritty of what they’re looking for, which is why almost every SEO consultant will offer consultation sessions that help get to the bottom of a client’s SEO needs. If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

Local Vs National SEO

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The other thing you need to consider is whether you want to narrow your focus down to local SEO. Local SEO can be a good option if you’ve only got a limited budget, as it focuses on keywords that can be smaller, and with less competition, than ones used nationally. 

For example, “best vegan Korean restaurant” will typically be a more competitive keyword than the location-based keyword “best vegan Korean restaurant in Brooklyn”. Quite simply, this is because the second keyword tells search engines the user specifically wants results within a certain area, and this often makes it easier to compete because there are fewer results. To really understand how much does SEO cost, you have to figure out whether you are going to target a local or national audience. You also have to consider the competition. 

Local SEO also focuses on making sure your business’s details on online directories like Google My Business are up to date. 

Local SEO services can be cheaper than if you wanted national SEO – however, this isn’t always the case. SEO strategies for local SEO are often just as extensive as national campaigns, and regardless of the keywords you want, you’re going to be paying the same amount for SEO copy. 

However, some SEO agencies and freelancers may offer a cheaper service dedicated to maintaining your business listings on online directories, which is a good middle ground if you don’t have the budget for a full-scale local SEO campaign. If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

Who Are You Paying?

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As you might expect, more experienced SEO professionals will charge more per hour, month, or project. To properly answer the question, “how much does SEO cost?” it all depends on what type of SEO we are talking about. According to research from Ahrefs, SEO professionals who have been in business for more than two years will typically charge just under 40% more per hour and 275% more per project than their less experienced counterparts. 

While it’s tempting to pay for a less experienced SEO professional in the wake of that information, you should also bear in mind that the experts typically charge more because they’ve got proven results under their belt. We’ll take a look at SEO red flags later on in this article, but for now, we’ll just say this – cheaper isn’t usually better when it comes to SEO. 

When you’re looking to pay for SEO services, these are your main options. How much does SEO cost? Let’s take a look below.

How much does SEO cost if I use Freelancers/Consultants

SEO freelancers and consultants work for themselves, so they often only work on a handful of projects at a time. Because they’re not being directed by an agency or manager, they may also choose to only work on a single project at once if it’s large enough to demand all of their time. 

Average Pricing*:

  • $100-$150/hour
  • $1000-$1,500/month
  • $2000/project

*Pricing often depends on experience


  • Usually the cheapest option, because you’re only paying for the services of one person
  • Well-suited for small campaigns and SEO for small businesses
  • Can offer flexible working hours, with some offering weekend or evening support
  • Tend to focus on a specific niche, so you can find someone who fits your exact needs


  • May not have access to top-end SEO and marketing software due to cost restrictions
  • Usually have tighter payment schedules than agencies
  • You may not get the same legal protections as if you hire an agency


How much does SEO cost if I use a Small SEO Agency

A small SEO agency is usually a business of up to ten SEO specialists, including various other support staff. These small agencies tend to focus on SEO in specific industries or niches or specialize in working with small businesses. 

Average Pricing:

  • $100-$250/hour
  • $1,000-$10,000/month
  • $5,000-$30,000/project


  • You get access to a broader range of skills than if you hired a freelancer because you’ll have more than one person working on your project
  • Agencies typically can afford to pay for enterprise-grade SEO tools
  • Smaller agencies may only work with a few different businesses at any one time, so you get a more personalized service


  • Agencies have higher overheads, which means higher fees
  • You’ll only be able to talk to your account manager during working hours, so if there’s an issue out of hours you won’t be able to address it
  • You don’t get to choose who you work with, so you may be working with a less experienced SEO professional for the same cost as hiring an expert SEO freelancer


How much does SEO cost if I hire a Mid to Large SEO Agency

Mid to large SEO agencies typically have anywhere from ten to hundreds of SEO and digital marketing professionals working for them, as well as a variety of other support staff. They usually specialize in enterprise-grade SEO, or they offer a wide range of SEO services. 

Average Pricing:

  • $11,500-$21,500/month


  • Well-suited to large scale projects, particularly for large eCommerce businesses and other enterprises
  • You get access to a wide range of SEO skill sets at one monthly cost
  • Mid-large SEO agencies typically attract more senior SEO professionals and have a better standard of training for juniors


  • Often too expensive for small businesses just starting out
  • You don’t get to choose who you work with
  • Smaller businesses often don’t get the same standard of care as larger businesses, because they don’t offer as much revenue to the agency

If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

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Typical SEO Pay Structures

Now that you’ve got an average cost in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at how SEO professionals tend to charge for their services. 

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How much does SEO cost for a Project-Based Campaign

Typical Pricing: $1,000 – $5,000 on average, but variable depending on needs

Project-based pricing is one of the most common ways to pay for one-off SEO services. 

The main advantage of project-based pricing structures is that it doesn’t lock you into paying for a monthly service. While monthly retainers are also a common pricing structure, some businesses may not have the ongoing budget for SEO, but they may be able to pay for improvements to their SEO on an infrequent basis. 

Project-based pricing can also be a lot more flexible than monthly retainers or fixed-price contracts because prices are based on what you need as a business. Monthly retainer fees can often be a package deal where you get a certain amount of work each month, but project fees can be tailored to pay for only the services you need. 

However, because you’re paying a single fee for work to be completed, you won’t get any ongoing support once the work is completed. While this is great if you just want to get your website up and running, it won’t cover the cost of keeping everything optimized in the future. 

Plus, depending on what level of service you’re looking for, project fees can quickly become more expensive. More often than not, you can get the same work completed under a monthly retainer, but it’ll be spread out over a few months instead of completed in one go.  

How much does SEO cost for Fixed Price Contracts

Typical Pricing: $1,000 – $8,000

Fixed-price contracts aren’t as commonly used as project-based pricing, but they’re used by some freelancers or agencies that are happy to take on short-term, quick work. 

Fixed-price contracts often encompass the following services:

  • SEO copywriting/content writing
  • SEO content audits
  • Social media marketing setup
  • Link profile audits

The great thing about these contracts is that, because the price is fixed, you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. They’re a great way to start investing in your SEO without paying a fortune with project-based fees or monthly retainers, particularly if you or one of your employees has time to maintain your website. 

Like with project-based pricing, you’re only paying for the completion of a single contract. So, once you’re happy with the work that’s been completed, the person you worked with isn’t responsible for updating that work or maintaining your website. 

This is even more important to remember with this pricing structure because, taking the above services as an example, you’re responsible for how the end product is implemented. This means that, particularly with audits and reports, there are no guaranteed results, because it’s up to you what you do with that information. 

How much does SEO cost if I hire someone Hourly

Typical Pricing: $100 – $300/hour

Paying for SEO services by the hour is becoming less common as SEO consultants and agencies move towards monthly retainer models, but this payment model is still a lifeline for businesses that want to invest in SEO but don’t have the regular budget for it. 

While monthly retainers are often priced based on how many hours of work you need each month, paying by the hour is also perfect if you only need the occasional support with your SEO. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re only paying for the work you need to have done, not for anything that potentially may need doing. 

However, when you’re looking to pay for your SEO hourly, make sure you read the fine print carefully, and evaluate how many hours of work you need doing. In some cases, paying for a monthly retainer may be cheaper in the long run. You should also check how time is calculated, and whether they only charge for a full hour, or are willing to charge in denominations for smaller jobs. 

How much does SEO cost- Monthly Retainers

Typical Pricing: $1,000 – $10,000/month, plus setting up fees (if applicable)

Monthly retainers are a popular pricing structure for both business owners and SEO freelancers and agencies. With a monthly retainer, you pay for a guaranteed service from your chosen SEO provider each month, so you can rest easy knowing that your website’s being cared for. 

There are usually two main ways monthly retainers are done in the SEO industry. 

The first way is that the SEO agency or freelancer will work a specified number of hours on your website, but these hours can be used however you want. 

Alternatively, some SEO agencies or freelancers might offer certain services, like SEO copywriting, local SEO management, or link building. In some cases, you may get to choose from a ‘menu’ of services to customize your monthly retainer package. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that, more often than not, you’ll have to factor in a setting up fee into your SEO monthly retainer budget. When you’re on a monthly retainer, agencies or consultants will need to set up your account, determine what SEO services you need, and consult with you about the best way for you to reach your goals. This helps to streamline contact between you and your SEO provider, and lets them get on with their work without you needing to direct them each time. 

So, you might be expected to pay extra to cover consultation meetings, audits, or other preliminary work. Don’t assume that these will be rolled into the monthly retainer fee – while some agencies and freelancers will do this, others will charge for them separately. 

If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

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How Cheap Is Too Cheap?

If these SEO costs are causing you to worry about finding the revenue, then you might be tempted to search for cheap SEO packages. The thing you need to remember is that SEO is an investment, and with SEO agencies or consultants, you get what you pay for. 

So, how much does SEO cost? While it’s true that you can find so-called SEO services for extremely cheap prices, you have to ask yourself how they can offer their services for cheap. Most reputable SEO services start at around $1,000 per month or per project because this covers all of their overheads and fairly compensates them for their expertise. Just as you need to make a profit to stay in business, so do they. 

If you’ve found a provider that offers SEO services for less than $500/month, unless those services are extremely rudimentary (like one blog post a month, or automated updating of your Google My Business profile) then we would recommend being cautious. 

In our experience, agencies and freelancers who can offer such low rates tend to do so because they cut corners. Either they use black-hat techniques – which are SEO strategies that Google will penalize your website for if you’re caught – or they’ll only offer very basic SEO services that you’d be able to do yourself with only a few hours of learning. When look at answers on how much does SEO cost, you have to understand that you get what you pay for. 

Can I Pay For Guaranteed Results?

The thing about SEO is that it’s not an exact science, and it’s not a quick fix. Even the most experienced SEO professionals know that getting to the coveted first page of Google isn’t guaranteed, even with the best SEO campaign they can think of. That’s why no reputable SEO freelancer or agency will guarantee where your website will rank. 

That’s not to say that you’ll never get results from SEO, but rather that where your website ranks on search engines is as much about the engine’s algorithm as it is your website. 

So, if you come across an SEO professional that guarantees a first-page or first result ranking, then don’t bother using their services. Either they’ve not done their research and have underestimated how much work it’ll take to get you anywhere near that ranking, or they’re trying to reel in clients that don’t know enough about SEO to see through their claims. 

How Much Does SEO Cost? In Summary:

As a small business, you need to be investing in SEO as part of your marketing strategy. Whether you’re looking to focus on local SEO or want to cast your net wider, monthly retainers will typically cost upwards of $1,000 for local businesses, and usually around $3,000 for national SEO campaigns. However, if you don’t have the budget for this every month, most one-off projects will start at around the same cost, and will generally cap out at around $10,000. 

It’s important to remember that while SEO can be expensive, particularly as a new business, it has a great ROI when compared to other forms of marketing. So, it really is a worthwhile investment. 

If you want to talk to someone about how much does SEO cost for your business, you can call us at 631-292-7770 or Contact Us.

How Much Does SEO Cost? Additional references

These articles may help you if you are searching, “How much does SEO cost?”

How to rank higher on Google

How to drive traffic to your website

Website homepage tips and ideas


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