How Much Does SEO Cost?


2023 Statistics on the Cost of SEO Services

  • Most businesses that pay a monthly retainer for SEO will pay between $500 to $1,500 per month [source]
  • $2,501–$5,000 is the most popular per-project rate [source]
  • $75–$100 is the most popular hourly rate [source]
  • The average salary of an SEO professional in 2023 is $62,090 per year [source]
  • The high-end salary for an SEO professional is $93,323 [source]
  • $501–$1,000 is the most popular monthly retainer [source]

Key Takeaways on SEO Salary & Pay Statistics

  • Based on the statistics above, you can expect to spend between $6,000 – $18,000 annually if you hire an agency.
    • This is primarily for small to mid-sized businesses. Larger businesses with more competitive keywords can expect to pay more of a monthly retainer.
  • If you hire an in-house SEO, you can expect to spend between $62,090 – $93,323
    • More seasoned SEO professionals will require a substantially larger salary as they know their skill set will bolster the business’s bottom line.
  • One-time projects can require more up-front work but will not require an ongoing fee.
    • The issue with one-time projects is that you won’t have help with the implementation and oversight.

You might wonder why someone would pay for an in-house SEO professional versus an agency based on the price discrepancy. I wrote a blog on the pros and cons of hiring an SEO professional vs. keeping it in-house. I highly recommend you check it out!

What’s Included in SEO Services?

There are 191,307 SEO & Internet Marketing Consultants businesses in the US as of 2023 [source]. The majority of these agencies will offer services similar to what’s outlined below:

  • Creation of goals and benchmarks
  • Keyword and competitor tracking
  • Enhancements of key pages on the site
  • New page creation
  • New blog creation
  • UX Audit (recommendations to the site to improve SEO)
  • Technical audit and implementation
  • Page load speed audit and implementation
  • Local SEO optimization (directories, Google Business Profile)
  • Title tags, descriptions, alt image attributes
  • Google Analytics set-up and integration
  • Link building to enhance the overall authority

What Makes Someone Charge More Or Less For SEO?

A variety of factors can dictate pricing or salary when it comes to SEO services.

Competitiveness of Industry

If an SEO agency knows the changes they make to your site can positively or negatively impact your bottom line in the millions, they will charge more of a premium. The same applies when interviewing for an SEO position at a Fortune 500 company versus a local law firm. Larger accounts have more upside and downside potential, hence the extra cost.

Related Success Story: Learn how we helped SafeAuto Insurance recover from a Google penalty, which had a multi-million dollar impact on their bottom line.

Scope Of Work

If you work with a local business, there may only be 15 pages on their website to optimize. Whereas if you work with an eCommerce brand with tens of thousands of products, the amount of work needed to make a significant impact could be more substantial. The man-hours needed can greatly impact how much you’ll need to pay an agency or an in-house hire. Just because you hire an SEO in-house doesn’t mean they can complete all the tasks themselves.


Paying more for someone with extensive SEO knowledge can be well worth it. Back in 2020, our website was negatively impacted by a Google algorithm update due to thin content. I consulted with Glenn Gabe, one of the top SEO professionals, for penalty recovery. After a 30-minute call, he could detect the exact issues with my site. Rather than wasting time and energy on what I thought was the issue, I had a clear game plan. Too often, I see mindless SEO work being done because businesses are on a shoestring budget. Paying more can rank you on Google, which will have one of the best ROI’s for your business.

Below are business types that generally require a higher retainer:

  • eCommerce
  • B2B
  • National Brands
  • International Brands
  • Negatively impacted by a Google core algorithm update

ROI To Expect From SEO

There are many varying statistics when it comes to the ROI of SEO:

  • According to the Website Building Experts, SEO marketing has an average ROI of 22:1 (source). For every $100 you invest in SEO, you generate $2,200 in return.
  • The ROI on Google organic search traffic is 5.3X, compared to 2X from paid search [source]
  • TeraKeet estimates that its average ROI of SEO ranges from 550% to 1,220% [source]

I’ve been in the SEO profession for 13 years. I would take these statistics with a grain of salt. If you succeed with SEO, the return could be 22:1 (or beyond). If you don’t rank on the first page of Google, which happens to many businesses, the ROI could be 0.00%. This is why choosing the right in-house person or agency is so important.

When I started The Media Captain, I was on a shoestring budget. I couldn’t afford a $30 cost per click on Google. Instead, I focused on our SEO efforts. Ranking at the top of Google for “Columbus SEO Company,” along with digital marketing blogs, has led to our agency amassing over 100 clients. This shows you the power of SEO and the potential return on investment.

Hiring The Right SEO

Making the right hire is crucial if you plan on investing in SEO. Below are some questions you can ask to help you find the right person for your business:

  • Call references and make sure these align with case studies.
  • Ask them to prepare a 3-6 month SEO strategy for your business.
    • Make sure the deliverables align with your business objectives.
  • Ask for a backlink report from another client
    • This will ensure the legitimacy of their link-building tactics.
  • Ask for articles they’ve written for other clients to ensure it’s well-written.
    • Ask if they conduct expert interviews for the content they write.
  • Ask if they have knowledge of implementing the SEO changes on the website or if they need assistance with this.
    • Many SEOs will have WordPress knowledge. If not, you will have to budget for development support.
  • Ask if they handle technical SEO or if their experience is more with content creation.
  • Ask if they provide a 30-45 day opt-out within their agreement if the results aren’t justified.

In Closing

Hopefully, this blog helped you better understand the costs associated with SEO. Whether you want to hire an agency on a retainer basis, keep SEO in-house, or hire an SEO expert for a one-off project, you will have a better idea of what needs budgeting based on your project needs.

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