SEO Pricing in 2020: Understanding the True Cost of SEO
Even though business owners have come to accept the importance of SEO in their business, the industry has a very huge pricing variations which makes it hard for business owners to understand what its average SEO cost should be
Some often ask; how much does SEO cost in 2018? How much should Search Engine Optimization cost per month? How much should be my SEO retainer price per month? Why is the price of SEO services uncertain?
A couple of years back, you could easily page for cheap outsourced SEO which would include directory and article submissions.
In current times, you need a comprehensive strategy if you are going to increase your ranking. Your SEO provider should be optimizing your website for speed, user experience, making sure that the technical elements of your websites are optimized and developing SEO optimized content in-depth content.
A recent survey done by HubSpot studied a sample size of 750 SEO agencies. The results showed that the average SEO cost and agency pricing per month were as follows:
You would notice that majority of SEO agencies charged within the range of $2,500-$5,000. Other agencies charged within the range of $1,000-$2,500.
The changes in methods of operation for big search engines like Google have had a big influence in the reviewing of SEO costs, for instance. These changes caused the reduction of those sharp practices that were used to give effective SEO services at outrageously low SEO costs pegged at $99 monthly.
Two years ago, the suggested SEO retainer rates was a minimum of $500 monthly or an option of $50/hour as a minimum SEO consultancy hourly rate.
In truth, that price range would have made a dent in – medium-sized niches, the past 2 years of updates from Google has completely changed the role of an SEO agency. In the past, SEO relied on the amount of backlinks you could build and was less reliant on content. Unscrupulous agencies could easily take shortcuts to get results for as low as $99/month. Doing this in current time would simply result in this;
In order to truly understand why average SEO costs per month has increased, let’s take a quick look at some additional roles that falls under the umbrella of “SEO”
- Website speed optimization
- User experience optimization (split testing)
- Comprehensive content research
- Text/video content creation
- Press outreach for links (e.g., HARO, Press Release)
- Technical SEO
A lot of SEO agencies offer an integrated digital marketing campaigns. The functions of SEO providers are still undergoing many changes with more creative additions being included. At this point, we should also consider how much it will cost to run a marketing campaign on other platforms just to compare the pricing.
What you should get in an average SEO Campaign
A good SEO provider should have increased the scope of their services to cover web development, content marketing, technical SEO, link building and general marketing services. Even the most basic SEO Campaign should contain;
- Analytics implementation & setup
- Keyword research and mapping
- Technical SEO audit and Correction
- Site speed optimization
- Website hierarchy (architecture) review
- Content research & creation
- On page content optimization
- Link building & link outreach
- Campaign tracking & reporting
Now, if we use the hourly rates I mentioned above ($50/hr), how much value do you really think you would be getting from an SEO agency rate of about $399/month?
Just to clarify, most agencies use a retainer model. That is what I do. Even so, if you think about the things mentioned above, what do you think you would get for an SEO retainer fee of $399 and what quality of work will you receive?
Cost of SEO and how your budget is being used
The most common billing method is the monthly retainer fees rather than the hourly billing. This can be attributed to the ability to plan better with a monthly retainer payment model in terms of budgeting and providing the best client service. The following analysis breaks down a monthly retainer fee of $2,500.
Content Research - About 2 – 4 hours to review the top 5 - 10 posts for the research topic, noting areas that can be improved and the format your content would follow.
Developing the SEO content – $100-$500 for 1,000 words created by freelancers who are knowledgeable in the field. In truth, some in-depth contents can cost thousands of dollars but we are going to stick to an above average piece of content for this example.
Link prospecting- about 3 hours in a month to identify resource, skyscraper, broken link building and guest post opportunities.
Current Total Expense: $500 - $1000 (note: this fee depends on the cost/value of content)
Link Outreach – Approximately 10 hours per month of outreach link building would be $500 - $2000
Total Expenses: $1000 -$3000 (depending on cost of content)
The remaining budget will be used to service overhead costs like analytics set up and tracking, on page optimization, technical site audit and revision, website speed optimization, client reporting and the voice call bills for communicating with the client through the phone, etc
What is your ROI?
Let’s diverse for a little moment and discuss another crucial factor that influences the creation of an SEO budget. I am talking about ROI, knowing this can help you measure the success of your SEO more accurately. I think it is important for us to really understand the importance of ROI because it seems that providing value for the customer has taken second place to making money from SEO. You will be amazed at the ridiculously cheap offers that you can find on the internet when you search for affordable SEO services.
Just to be clear, I do not know any of these companies or what they offer but if you think about everything I have written so far, what exactly would they be doing for $49 or £70 per month?
Interestingly, people still buy cheap SEO packages every day. It usually stems from the fact that they do not understand SEO or know what is involved.
Things to Consider when hiring an SEO company.
To choose the right SEO provider, you need to carefully research potential prospects to ensure you are matched with the right service partner to drive results. When making your choice, look out for these red flags:
1. Instant Results or Overzealous Guarantees
No matter how good an SEO company or consultant is, they should not make any guarantee about sudden growth or quick guaranteed results. Good SEO can take up to 6 months to begin positively affecting your campaign. For complex campaigns, you can expect the campaign to take as much as 12 months before you start seeing significant results.
2. Suspicious Link Building Techniques
If your SEO provider starts mentioning things like “buying a large quantity of links to boost your rank”, you need to start getting wary. While these techniques can accelerate your SEO efforts, they would lead to a penalty from Google.
Google and other search engines frown upon suspicious SEO activities and when they find out, they can penalize or even blacklist your website. Make sure the SEO agency or consultant you are working with has enough experience with dealing with Google penalties and knows how detect shady backlinks.
Check out 7 other things SEO Companies say that are completely false and would only end up hurting your ranking.
At last, you finally know the TRUTH about Search Engine Optimization pricing and how to find cost-effective SEO services. And that means that you can now hire an SEO consultant confidently, because you’re armed with the knowledge you need to succeed. See you at the top!