SEO Stuff

How Much Should SEO Cost?


EO companies like to use the word “need” a lot when pitching their services. You “need” to be ranking for this term, you “need” to be ranking on the first page for this. You “need” backlinks and you “need” to pay them a lot of money... Next time you hear an SEO company use “need”, channel your inner child, cover your eyes and tell them to shut the hell up.  

In our last article, we covered whether you even really need SEO. Long story short, you do but just how much depends on a couple of key factors (your market size, type of products and services you sell, and the types of clients you’re looking to acquire).

In this article, we want to discuss just how much should SEO really cost you. 

How Much Does SEO Cost?

If you stumbled upon this article as an SEO expert just looking for the raw numbers, Ahref’s (super smart SEO folks) has a really good breakdown here. Enjoy!

For the rest of you non SEO nerds, here are the two main points you should know…

  1. The average hourly rate for SEO is between $101 - $150...

  1. The average monthly retainer for SEO is between $500 and $1,000...  

What’s the Difference Between Hourly and Monthly SEO?

A lot of SEO agencies and freelancers naturally prefer to charge for their services differently. As much as I’d love to run the word count on here and give you in in-depth analyses of both options, we personally operate and can really only recommend monthly retainers. My soap box please…

The Problem With Hourly SEO 

SEO should first and foremost always be about your results and ROI. After all, does it really matter to you how many hours someone spent or how many backlinks they acquired? If SEO isn’t improving your bottom line, then it’s clearly not working.

Unless you’re Nike and you’re hiring a ginormatron SEO agency who has their own reasoning, you should avoid hiring SEO work by the hour. While it might feel more comfortable and trackable from a strictly business standpoint, doing so really shifts the focus away from results to the effort. A dangerous game which can misalign the goals and incentives for both parties. Furthermore, when the results aren’t what you’d hoped, you’re setting yourself up for the “I’ll need more hours” conversation. Which, while it may or may not be warranted, is just another layer of unnecessary headaches.

The Benefits of SEO Monthly Retainers

Monthly retainers by contrast are simple and 100% results focused. Whether they had to work 20 minutes or 6,947 hours last month, does it really matter if you’re ranking for all the right keywords and they’re paying for themselves 5 times over?

If throughout the length of your contract, you’re seeing a substantial growth in revenue over the months prior to signing up, it’s clear something’s working. Now whether that growth can be attributed to your new SEO strategists or your bookkeeper going to jail for embezzlement is another story. But by hiring someone on a monthly retainer, you’ve simplified your measurements for success and can make decisions accordingly from there.

How Can You Tell if SEO Is Actually Working?

Say you hired an SEO company last month but you also launched a new line of bubble gum and Missy Elliot couldn’t stop raving about it in an interview with Elle Magazine.

How do you know who to attribute your boost in website traffic to?

You want to make sure your SEO peeps are doing 3 key things.

  1. Tracking your website’s rankings for DESIRED KEYWORDS
  2. Tracking conversions for said DESIRED KEYWORDS
  3. Reporting monthly on aforementioned DESIRED KEYWORDS

I have “DESIRED KEYWORDS” in all caps because it’s very important. Sometimes SEO agencies like hide behind the success of irrelevant keywords and take credit for jumps they may have had nothing to do with. 

Going back to the SEO company or Missy Elliot Paradox. If your SEO company told you your website ranks number one for “Missy Elliot’s favorite gum” and that 83% of that traffic ordered a pack would you keep paying them?

Making sure you’re on the same page with the above 3 metrics is a safest way to make sure you’re tracking success accurately and honestly.

How Much Should You Be Paying for SEO?

So by now you read last week’s article and have a better understanding of what SEO is. You’ve read this article and you know what folks charge and how to structure your contract. But how much should you actually be paying for SEO?

That depends on one final piece of the puzzle; SEO strategy. While I could try and summarize everything in another 300 words I wouldn’t be doing it justice. Join us next week where we’ll cover what exactly goes into an SEO strategy. 

Stay tuned and as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss SEO for your business.

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