How Much Does SEO Cost?

How Much Should I Pay for SEO Services

Note: This article was updated on October 5th, 2020. 

Your business is your baby and every dollar you spend is important. When analyzing an SEO agency to hire, you want to know that you are not only getting a reputable company but that you are not overpaying for this service.

My Expertise on the Topic

I started one of the largest SEO agencies in Ohio called The Media Captain. We help Fortune 500 brands with their SEO while also formulating and executing strategy for smaller local businesses as well as medium-sized companies. The scope of an SEO project can vary greatly and I’ve charged from as low as $500 to over $10,000 per month for SEO services. The price depends on the what the project entails and the size of the company.

NOTE: I hope this article doesn’t come off as self-promotional. Most SEO companies are not transparent with their pricing, which can make the process of hiring an SEO company confusing, since you are unsure of how much you should pay for SEO services. The point of this article is to help you understand what goes into our pricing, which will hopefully make your decision-making process easier.

If you are looking for a bargain, don’t expect great results

If you get an email from someone guaranteeing page one results on Google, be wary.

I’ve helped a lot of companies recover from negative SEO, which was the result of low-quality link building and poor on-site optimization. Most of the people that were negatively impacted had signed up for SEO services they found for $99 or $199 per month.

[Read This Article: Why you shouldn’t outsource your SEO services overseas]

If you try and get SEO services for a bargain, don’t be surprised with lackluster results, or even with results that do more harm than good. At these low monthly prices, there won’t be a lot of personalization involved with your campaign, so you shouldn’t expect much. The reason personalization is important is because the person running your SEO should understand your business objectives.

Experienced vs. Inexperienced

There are times when you can get a bargain from someone who is inexperienced. Hell, when I started my digital marketing agency in 2010 at the age of 22, I was inexperienced when it came to SEO. I knew the foundation of the algorithm. I didn’t know nearly as much as I do now after working on hundreds of client accounts.

That being said, I was reading articles and deploying SEO tactics on my own website (www.themediacaptain) each day to learn as quickly as possible. If I made a mistake, I’d quickly try and rectify the issue.

Someone who is inexperienced, for example, might recommend focusing on internal blogs on your own site. You could benefit more, however, from external blogs on other websites linking back to your site to improve your domain authority. Someone who is inexperienced might also not consider your backlink profile to determine whether there were low quality links built to your site in the past.

You get the gist! If you find someone who hustles their ass off and truly has the best interest for your business, it can work.

Include this in your contract

If you sign a contract with an SEO company, make sure you get a 45 or 60-day opt-out within the contract. You don’t want to sign a 12-month agreement only to see 2 months into the contract the SEO company is under delivering on their promises.

We include either a 45-day or a 60-day opt-out within all our agreements.

You must be patient when it comes to SEO so don’t pull the trigger too soon. Just make sure you have the flexibility to pivot if needed.

Our Prices

Our beginning SEO package begins at $750 per month. Search Engine Watch states that most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer. Hopefully this provides you with a starting point and an average for what to expect when looking for an SEO company.

How do we arrive at our beginning price point for an SEO package? We value our expertise on the topic. In working with hundreds of business across all verticals, we know what tactics to deploy to generate positive gains and what efforts will be a waste of time.

For any company that does over one million dollars in annual revenue, they do not qualify for this baseline package with our agency.

You might be wondering why we charge more for larger businesses. It’s quite simple. There is more at stake. An enhancement we make to the campaign can result in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenue. On the contrary, a mistake has larger ramifications, which is why we have a team of developers (all in-house) along with SEO experts overseeing the changes we make.

We like helping smaller businesses, which is why we have a starting package at $750.

[Read This Success Story: How we generated over a million dollars in revenue for Sears with our SEO enhancements]

At the basic package, each month we can conduct the following services:

  • On-Page SEO Adjustments
    • We’ll go through several pages on your site each month to optimize title tags, H1 and Alt Image Attribute (to name a few)
  • Article Creation
    • We’ll write an article for your website and select a strategic topic that has a high intent search volume, which means it would result in traffic to your website that is relevant and could convert into new business
  • Keyword Tracking
    • We’ll track all your keywords versus your competitors – This will be telling to see how you stack up on Google versus your rivals
  • Local SEO
    • We’ll make sure you are properly submitted to local directories and properly situated in your local market
  • Proactive Recommendations
    • We provide recommendations that can further enhance your SEO, such as conducting outreach for link building opportunities and technical SEO

Higher Level Pricing

You’ll notice that in our basic package we don’t include link building services. Let’s say you just started a chiropractic practice in your local market. If you have a low domain authority, it’ll be tough to outrank your competitors, even if you have the perfect on-site SEO.

[Learn how Domain Authority can have a direct correlation on your keyword rankings – READ HERE]

Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. We like to use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time.

According to Search Engine Land, backlinks still remain one of the most important ranking factors.

For some clients, 1-2 new high quality backlinks per month can move the needle. For others in a more competitive space, there is much higher quantity needed.

Our agency has worked with hundreds of reporters and publications which means for each industry, we have certain connections, which can expedite the SEO process. We also have PR/SEO specialists that conduct outreach on behalf of your business to try and forge new external relationships. We come up with unique strategies to garner publicity and exposure, which can move the SEO needle for your business as well.

If you have a larger site with more content that needs enhancing, this takes our team more time, which obviously increases pricing.

We also like to bring our web developers into the mix to analyze your website from a technical perspective. For example, we recommend conducting redirects at the .htaccess level versus using a plugin on your WordPress site. There is an additional expense to this.

No Two Accounts are the Same

This may sound the cliché but it is the truth. We customize each of our SEO packages based on the size of the account and the scope of work, which varies for each business.

Closing Out

Choosing the right SEO agency is a tricky game. There are tens of thousands of agencies and many won’t enhance your rankings enough to justify the return on investment.

Make sure you ask for references from reputable businesses and they talk glowingly about their experience with the agency you are looking to hire. Don’t just settle on one reference. Ask for at least three.

Ask for examples of links the SEO company has recently built for a couple of clients. This will help determine whether they are proactive with their link building strategy.

Lastly, make sure you understand what tactics are being deployed for your website. If you are going to shell out a lot of money for SEO, you should understand the strategy to know where time and resources are being allocated.

Jason Parks

Jason Parks started The Media Captain in 2010. He’s grown TMC into one of the largest digital agency’s in Ohio over the past decade.The Media Captain has worked with hundreds of small, medium and enterprise clients on digital marketing and development projects.The Columbus Based Digital Marketing Agency has received numerous accolades. TMC was named a Top 1% Agency in the U.S. by UpCity in 2019 and 2020. They also won the “Best PPC Campaign,” which was a national award from DashThis. They were also the recipient of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Agencies in Ohio.

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