If you’ve considered engaging the services of an SEO agency, your first question is likely to be: how much does it cost? It’s difficult to give you a straight answer to this question because the cost of SEO agency services varies depending on the agency, the deliverables, and the scope of the project.
Therefore, instead of trying to name a specific cost, let’s look at this question: what are you paying for when you hire an SEO agency?
Types of SEO Agencies
SEO agencies are not all alike, and each agency will offer different services and packages. Here are some examples of the kinds of SEO services typically provided by agencies:
- Local SEO.
- Ecommerce SEO.
- Traditional SEO.
- Voice Over SEO.
- Enterprise SEO.
Some agencies will undertake work in any of these niches, while others will specialise in just one. Each one encompasses a wide range of services, some of which overlap and some which do not.
Some agencies also specialise in SEO specific to a particular industry.
The more comprehensive the SEO service, the more costly it will be.
You can also expect to pay a premium for highly specialised services. More established agencies are likely to charge more than newer ones, and prices may vary depending on geographical location and industry.
Remember that just because one agency charges more than another does not necessarily mean you will get a better service. Many factors go into deciding which agency is the right fit for you and your business.
Factors that Affect The Cost of SEO
No two agencies work in precisely the same way. However, you can expect many of them to take the same general approach.
The larger the geographical location you want to target, the more expensive your SEO services will be. In most circumstances, ranking nationally or internationally is much more challenging than ranking locally. Therefore, local SEO services are usually cheaper.
The complexity of your campaign will also naturally have an impact. The more people are involved, and the more experienced those people are, the more you’ll pay. You might be working with one consultant, or you might be working with a whole team, including an SEO expert, a content creator, a marketing graphics creator, and a social media expert.
A fully-staffed SEO company can easily have to cover £150,000+ in wages alone. Therefore, the company needs to charge you enough to cover the cost of everyone’s time and then make a profit.
Many essential SEO tools have costs attached, either in the form of a one-off fee or a subscription charge. In most cases, as the client, these costs will be included within your retainer.
Let’s imagine you’ve engaged an SEO agency to work on growing your site’s backlink profile. The agency team will need an email verification tool to assist with their email outreach. This can cost anything from £49 to £499+ per month. They would also need advanced keyword research and backlink analysis tools to ensure your site ranked for the best keywords.
Moz Rank Tracker is one such tool and allows you to see a site’s ranking on a global, national, and local scale. Its agency plans cost a minimum of £299 per month and can cost up to £599. As you can see, the cost of the vital SEO tools can quickly add up.
SEO Pricing Structure
Different agencies operate different pricing structures. Some charge per project, others on a per hour basis. In some cases, you’ll pay a monthly fee. In others, you’ll pay based on results delivered. There are pros and cons to each, and the cost can vary dramatically. Your SEO agency should work with you to find the most appropriate pricing structure for your project.
Let’s look at the four main pricing structures for SEO services and their approximate costs.
The project-based pricing structure is the most popular among SEO companies. With this structure, you pay a fee for the whole project, agreed upfront. The advantage of a project-based pricing structure is that you know exactly what you’ll pay, and there won’t be any nasty surprises or hidden extras.
Project prices vary depending on scope, so you can negotiate what you want and how much it will cost with your agency. Once the price is agreed, you and the agency will sign a construct specifying the services, deliverables, and cost.
According to a Moz study of 490 respondents, nearly half of SEO companies offering project-based pricing fall between £1000 to £7500.
The disadvantage in project-based pricing is the lack of flexibility. If you suddenly need to pivot or drastically change your campaign, you will probably need to negotiate a new contract to allow for the changes or additional services.
Under a performance-based pay structure, what you pay depends directly on how well your website ranks. The performance-based pricing structure varies from agency to agency and can be complicated, making it difficult to give a price range.
A performance based pricing structure is ideal for businesses that want to see results. However, you often pay more for the service than a monthly retainer, because the agency is taking the risk. Many agencies using the performance based approach will include elements in a contract where the company is liable to pay fees if they fail to keep to the timeline or implement recommendations set out by the agency.
If you want to outsource your SEO completely, the monthly retainer pricing structure is likely to be your best bet. This structure is ideal if you want an experienced agency to handle your entire SEO strategy/link building and work with you for the long haul. Agencies typically expect at least a six-month commitment, so they’ll have plenty of time to get great results for you.
Expect to shell out between £1000 and £3000 every month in retainer fees. Ensure you understand what you’re paying for before you sign on the dotted line, though. The last thing you want is to end up stuck paying for something you don’t need or to have to pay more than anticipated because a vital component wasn’t included.
If you know what SEO services you want and they’re limited in time or scope, paying by the hour might suit you. This pricing structure usually involves working with one consultant as opposed to a team.
This is one instance where you do get what you pay for. You don’t need to hire the most expensive agency in town, but if you go for the lowest price available you can’t expect quality results.
The advantage of this structure is complete accountability and transparency – work hours are logged, and your consultant will report back to you regularly. Because hourly rate SEO services tend to be used for smaller projects, this pricing structure can get expensive quickly.
Now that you know how SEO services are priced, I’m sure you will want to know what return on investment you can expect.
Understanding SEO ROI involves understanding your baseline – how well you’re doing now – and where you can get to with your agency’s help.
Follow these steps:
- Look at your organic traffic. Use Google’s keyword planner to see the average monthly search volume for your site’s most important keywords. Multiply these by the estimated click-through rates.
- Calculate your estimated revenue. Multiply the average monthly traffic by your site’s conversion rate, close rate, and the average value of a sale. This will tell you approximately how much each click-through is worth.
- Estimate profit. Subtract the monthly cost of SEO services from the estimated increase in monthly revenue as a result of those services.
That number is your ROI.
Bear in mind that you can’t expect immediate results. SEO is a long-term and continuous process, not a quick win. Set realistic goals and deadlines and work closely with your agency team to achieve them.
SEO: A Great Investment
The cost of engaging SEO services can seem steep, and you might be wondering whether it’s worth it. No business wants to throw away thousands of dollars.
But SEO is a smart and necessary investment. When you spend money on improving your website’s search engine ranking, you’re investing in the long-term success of your website and business. A higher ranking in SERPs, coupled with a killer strategy by your social media marketing team, drives traffic to your site and ultimately results in more conversions.
It’s essential to choose the right SEO agency. Do your research, ask for recommendations, and look closely at the services offered and the various pricing structures. Make sure your agency team has expertise in your specific SEO needs. That’s the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification service. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.