How much should SEO cost-

SEO is a very complicated service, as each offering from each provider is different. It’s crucial to find out what exactly makes up the SEO service you are paying for.

(If you need a refresher read: What is Local SEO?)

No matter how complicated SEO services, pricing models and promised results may be, I’m not going to use that as a cop-out. The point of this post is to give you a baseline for how much you should be paying for SEO services.

Hourly SEO Work:

According to a survey by, the most popular hourly SEO rate is between $76 and $200 an hour. If you are a small company needing simple a simple SEO project done, you can expect to be okay on the lower end, in the $75-$100 an hour range.

Project Based SEO Work:

Project based SEO could include having your web pages for specific services optimized. It could also include off-site link building for certain pages or articles on your site. Usually, a service will give you a quote based on how much work they will have to do to accomplish a specific goal you want to achieve. They will factor in how much time and resources they will need and give their quote accordingly. Typical rates for most common projects range from $1,000 to $7,500.

The more specialized the service you are seeking, the more you can expect to pay. Search Engine Watch says you can expect to pay up to $7,500 for a site-wide link audit if you have a large website. A small website could pay as little as $500.

If your website requires a full bad link cleanup, Entrepreneur Magazine says you might be looking at anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 as it can be an incredibly time-intensive project.

checklist for small businesses to take advantage of SEO

Get this checklist on the resources page.

Most small businesses will be looking to hire an SEO provider on Retainer. Search Engine Watch warns of companies that charge less than $750/month for SEO retainer services, as this is probably not enough money to make any real dent.

They also warn of companies promising first page results for low rates like $300 a month. These companies are usually just after the quick buck and don’t care that you’ll leave in 3-6 months after not seeing results.

My experience with SEO Companies: Good SEO companies will tell you exactly what they are going to do for your website in terms that you can understand, and they don’t work for pocket change.

If it sounds sketchy, then it probably is. Some SEO companies will use every dirty trick in the book to get your website to rank higher and keep getting your retainer. If your SEO person comes to you with some crazy story about “well what happened was I had to do (insert complicated and sketchy sounding things that don’t make sense) but it will all be better in a couple of months,” run away, and run away fast.

(Related Post: How to Improve Your SEO Without Breaking the Bank)

Measuring Results Is Critical

A good way to measure the success of an SEO campaign from a monthly service is to measure your net increase in monthly traffic. If you’re receiving 20% more monthly visitors to your site than you were three months ago when you hired them, that’s a pretty good showing.

These best way, however, is to increase the net increase in contacts from your website. Some SEO keywords may be easy to rank for but provide no real value. The value is in the new contacts and the new leads. You want more traffic to your website, and more contacts. The quickest way to increase your number of contacts is to increase the quality of the traffic to your website.

Final Warnings

Don’t ask SEO services to rank you for keywords, and don’t take a list of the keywords you are ranking for from your SEO provider as success. You don’t care about keywords, you care about new leads.

SEO today is more about topics than it is keywords, topics you can build content around. If you are a Cosmetic Dentist, you want an SEO provider to optimize your site for Cosmetic Dentistry, and then naturally you will rank for Cosmetic Dentistry related keywords that people actually search for.

Judge your SEO success by RESULTS.

checklist for small businesses to take advantage of SEO

Get this checklist on the resources page.