How Much Should SEO Cost? Your Guide to Cost-Effective Strategies (2024)

How Much Should SEO Cost?

During the last decades, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has established itself as an essential element for businesses aiming to enhance their online visibility and attract more customers. As the online landscape becomes increasingly crowded, the role of SEO in a company’s marketing strategy has never been more vital. Recent trends show that 88% of companies are looking to continue with their SEO investments through 2024.

That is understandable considering that a good SEO agency can help you exponentially increase your traffic and visibility, just as we did with this client in the educational industry in the UK over the past year:)

Results from a good SEO strategy

Yet, understanding what constitutes a fair price for quality SEO can be challenging amidst the plethora of online information. Companies must navigate the delicate balance of investing adequately without succumbing to the low costs offered by less reputable providers or overspending unnecessarily.

SEO pricing is influenced by several key factors, each impacting the overall cost and effectiveness of the strategies employed. This guide aims to demystify SEO costs, offering insights into cost-effective strategies tailored to diverse business needs and ensuring that your investment not only enhances visibility but also drives substantial returns.

Key takeaways

  • Factors Influencing SEO Cost: The cost of SEO is determined by multiple factors including current brand visibility, business goals, expected time to see results, business size, and industry competitiveness.
  • SEO services are available in various pricing models such as hourly rates, monthly retainers, and project-based pricing, providing flexibility to meet different business needs.
  • The average cost of hiring an agency for standard SEO services is $100 per hour, $1500 per month and $2,500 to $5,000 per project.
  • Technical aspects and skills: The technology underlying your website and the specific skills required for your SEO strategy can greatly affect pricing and efficiency.
  • Level of collaboration: If you have your own developers or content writers, the SEO agency you hire can focus more on SEO-specialized tasks, leading to more efficient efforts and better value for money.
  • SEO Packages: While some agencies offer standard service packages for all clients, high-quality SEO agencies create custom packages based on a detailed analysis to meet specific business requirements, ensuring both cost efficiency and effectiveness.

📈At SEO Alive, we strongly focus on actions that will truly make your SEO strategy effective, performing only those tasks that will bring relevant results. To determine them, we first offer a free diagnosis, based on which we will craft a quote you can decide on.

How much does SEO cost?

Determining how much is SEO per month requires assessing various factors such as your business size, goals, and market positioning. Monthly expenditures on SEO can vary widely. Smaller businesses may typically charge as low as $500 per month for basic SEO services, while companies with bigger budgets available could up to $20,000 per month!

SEO budgets

What is important to understand, beyond the overall cost, is what you are paying for. The best agencies are not always those with the most competitive prices, but those who can match exactly what you are looking for.

Aside from the average cost for overall standard services, each of the services offered within an SEO strategy has average prices individually and varies according to several factors. Here are some key prices in SEO:

Key prices in SEO

Main variables of SEO pricing

Current brand awareness & visibility

Your brand’s existing awareness and visibility greatly influence SEO costs. A well-established brand with a strong online presence may require less intensive SEO efforts compared to a newer brand looking to build visibility from the ground up, potentially reducing initial investment.

Business goals

Your business objectives are pivotal in shaping your SEO strategy and its cost. For instance, aiming for a top spot in highly competitive keywords or expanding market reach involves more resources and advanced techniques compared to maintaining current standings or targeting local SEO improvements.

Site development & technology

The platform and technology underlying your website significantly affect SEO efforts. Sites built on WordPress might need less technical SEO and easier content management, whereas custom-built sites using JavaScript could require more complex SEO interventions and collaboration with developers to ensure optimal structure and performance.

Additionally, it may be necessary to make changes in the website’s inherent structure, and the price will be influenced by whether you have your own development team or you are also outsourcing this service.

Business size

The scale of your business influences the scope and cost of SEO strategies. Larger businesses typically face more complex challenges due to multiple product lines or services, requiring a broader, more detailed SEO approach compared to smaller enterprises focusing on a niche market.


The industry in which you operate impacts SEO pricing due to varying levels of competition and market saturation. Highly competitive industries like real estate or finance may demand more aggressive and costly SEO tactics to stand out, whereas less saturated markets might require less investment to achieve visibility. Therefore, the aggressivity and complexity required for your SEO strategy can directly impact pricing.

Skills & specialties

The required skills and specialties significantly impact the cost of SEO services. If your project needs specific expertise such as advanced coding, specialized platform knowledge, or high-level content creation, and you lack these capabilities in-house, the agency will provide these resources, which can increase the cost.

📈 At SEO Alive, we are equipped with specialized areas that include developers, analytics specialists, designers, SEM specialists, link-building specialists, native writers, and various SEO experts. This comprehensive expertise allows us to handle complex SEO needs internally, ensuring a more integrated and cost-effective approach for our clients.


The specific services included in your SEO package can significantly influence the overall cost. For instance, adding press release distribution or advanced analytics to your plan will adjust the final price. Whether you require a basic one-time audit or a more elaborate strategy encompassing a selection of several services, the scope of services dictates the investment needed. Each service contributes differently to the overall strategy’s effectiveness and cost-efficiency.

Content strategy

The content strategy you employ is a central component of SEO pricing and depends significantly on your content stance and annual objectives. Content strategies can be mild or aggressive, meaning that you will post more or less blog posts. The number of words written monthly, as well as the number of languages used, will determine the price to pay for the service as a whole.

Additionally, the use of AI in combination with human writing can also affect pricing. Quality agencies offer a mix of both, leveraging AI to reduce creation times (providing better value for money) while having native writers proofread grammar and ensure information accuracy and SEO specialists optimize content through detailed keyword research and link-building.

Geographic targeting

In line with the content strategy, geographic targeting is a crucial element in SEO that adjusts the cost based on the focus area. For businesses targeting specific locales, local SEO is essential and generally less costly compared to broader, multi-regional strategies.

When expanding into multiple regions or countries, complexities such as cultural nuances, language differences, and varied search behaviors come into play, raising the stakes and the costs. All these factors are imbued in international SEO strategies.

📈 At SEO Alive, we are equipped with native writers who can craft new landing pages and blog posts or translate entire websites to meet these geographic and linguistic demands effectively. Such tailored content is vital for successfully penetrating targeted geographic markets, balancing the initial investment against the potential for significant returns.

Client’s budget

The client’s budget is a fundamental aspect that shapes the scope and scale of SEO services. Agencies like ours adapt to client budgets while ensuring they understand the potential outcomes based on their investment. For example, competing against established brands will require a more substantial budget compared to niche markets with fewer competitors. This way, the company’s business goals and market placement also determine the price to pay to achieve successful results.

It is essential to conduct a thorough diagnosis to illustrate these points clearly and justify the cost. This approach helps set realistic expectations, ensuring clients are aware of what can be achieved within their budget. Investing wisely in SEO not only suits your financial capabilities but also aligns with strategic business goals, maximizing the potential return on investment.

🚀Get a tailor-made SEO proposal for your business today! Claim your free diagnosis now, and let our experts dive deep into your current SEO performance. We’ll unveil opportunities for enhancement and craft a roadmap to elevate your digital strategy.

Different pricing models in the SEO industry

Understanding the various pricing models available in the SEO industry is crucial for businesses aiming to enhance their online visibility. Each model offers distinct advantages and may have drawbacks depending on your business’s specific needs and resources. Some agencies offer one of these pricing models, while others, like SEO Alive, adapt the strategy based on each client’s needs.

Hourly consulting fees

Hourly consulting fees are ideal for businesses that need targeted assistance with specific SEO tasks or projects. This model is particularly beneficial for companies with in-house SEO teams that require expert guidance on complex issues or for training purposes.

The flexibility of paying for only the hours worked makes it a cost-effective option for limited engagements. However, it’s important to monitor the hours closely as costs can quickly escalate if the project scope expands unexpectedly.

Monthly retainer services

Monthly retainer services offer a more consistent and comprehensive approach to SEO. By entering into a long-term partnership, businesses benefit from continuous optimization efforts that adapt to ongoing changes in search engine algorithms and market conditions.

This model typically includes a range of services such as keyword research, content development, link building, and regular performance analysis, making it suitable for businesses that require sustained SEO assistance to maintain or improve their search rankings over time.

Project-based pricing

Project-based pricing is well-suited for businesses with specific, well-defined SEO projects. This could include overhauls like website redesigns, audits, or implementing a new content strategy. Pricing is determined based on the project’s scope and complexity, providing businesses with a clear upfront cost.

This model allows for easy budgeting and is effective for tasks with clear objectives and timelines. However, it may not include ongoing maintenance after the project’s completion, which could be necessary for long-term SEO success.

It is important to note that, though there are agencies offering very competitive prices for what seems to be a “magical solution”, these often do not lead to success as paying higher prices. According to Backlinko, many customers pay around $500 monthly for SEO prices, but there is a direct relation between prices and quality, making more expensive options more reliable and effective.

For this reason, we highly suggest looking for agencies with adaptable offers, who can offer different services based on your budget. This way, you can hire those services that you consider necessary and adapt the SEO strategy to your needs without jeopardizing quality.

💡 Want to see how our clients are performing? Have a look at our success cases and how they continue growing non-stop.

In-house vs. freelancers vs. SEO agencies’ cost

Many businesses who are not very much aware of how SEO is done, but understand its importance, may wonder “Can I hire someone to do my SEO?” And the answer is yes! SEO strategies can be carried out by various structures: an in-house team, freelancers, or specialized SEO agencies. In-house teams offer deep integration but come with high costs for hiring, training, and updating skills due to SEO’s dynamic nature. Freelancers provide a flexible, cost-effective solution ideal for smaller-scale or specific projects, though finding reliable experts can be challenging.

SEO agencies represent a balanced option, combining a broad range of expertise under one roof to offer comprehensive strategies tailored to your business goals. Though the initial cost might be higher than hiring freelancers, agencies bring a depth of resources and cohesive strategies that often yield a superior return on investment. For businesses looking to make a sustained impact, investing in an agency’s monthly retainer or project-based services can be a prudent choice.

In summary, here is how much freelancers, agencies and consultants charge for their services depending on their price models. These numbers are an average for an overall service, but these can widely change based on the many factors mentioned above.

SEO price models

💡 Ready to start working on your SEO? Find out how to choose the right SEO agency for you.

SEO packages

Standard SEO packages often come with a set list of services, which might not align perfectly with every business’s specific needs. This one-size-fits-all approach can lead to businesses paying for services they don’t necessarily require, simply because they are included in the bundle. Let’s have a look at this competitor’s pricing strategy:

Competitor's packages

In this case, even the basic plan is in the medium-high pricing tier (according to the chart shown earlier) and it includes services a first-time customer may not require.

At SEO Alive, we recognize that every business is unique, with its own challenges and goals. Therefore, we offer flexible SEO packages that are initially based on general frameworks but are fully customizable. Our packages can be adapted based on the many factors listed above. Additionally, the pricing is dynamic, adjusting according to the tailored proposal crafted to meet the specific needs and budget of each client. This approach ensures that you pay only for the services that deliver value to your business, enhancing both cost efficiency and effectiveness.

Looking for a customized proposal? Get a free diagnosis!

Start your journey to enhanced online visibility with our free SEO diagnosis, which is the first step towards a tailored SEO strategy. Here’s what you can expect when you partner with us:

  • Free SEO Diagnosis: We begin by assessing your current SEO standing and identifying key areas for improvement.
  • SEO Setup: Based on the diagnosis, we set up the necessary tools and frameworks to track and enhance your SEO performance.
  • Roadmap: We’ll develop a plan that aligns with your business goals, improving engagement and search rankings.
  • Let’s conquer these rankings! This is how a long-term partnership starts. Contact us for a free diagnosis and access to exactly the SEO services you need.


Can I do SEO myself?

Attempting SEO on your own can be less effective and time-consuming, especially without a solid background in SEO tactics and trends. The complexity of SEO—from technical adjustments and content strategy to link building—requires expertise that most business owners or marketers may not have. Doing SEO yourself might result in slower, inefficient outcomes, potentially using outdated methods that could harm your site’s ranking.

How much do businesses typically spend on SEO services?

Businesses can pay anything between $500 and $10,000+ for SEO services depending on the services offered and their price.

Though it is true that many SEO agencies offer a “complete” service for just $500 a month, it is also true that, in this industry, the price is directly related to the quality of the services offered. Studies have shown that companies paying less are also less satisfied with the results achieved.

Is SEO worth the money?

Yes, SEO is worth the money for most businesses. Investing in SEO helps improve a website’s visibility in search engine results, which can lead to increased organic traffic, higher conversion rates, and enhanced brand awareness. Over time, these benefits can significantly outweigh the initial costs associated with SEO services. Have a look at how our client CloudLearn has reached top positions in several SERPs (Search engine result pages). In the case of the “can you resit a levels” keyword, we didn’t only achieve a top result, but a featured snippet!

Featured snippet of 'Can you resit a levels' keyword

Is SEO cheaper than Google Ads?

Investing in SEO over solely using SEM like Google Ads has distinct advantages. SEO offers long-term benefits, maintaining high search rankings and delivering sustained organic traffic with minimal ongoing effort. In contrast, SEM results cease once advertising stops. Additionally, users generally trust organic results more than ads, enhancing engagement and conversion rates. While both strategies together are effective, SEO alone establishes enduring credibility and visibility that SEM doesn’t provide.

How much should you budget for SEO?

Your SEO budget should reflect factors like business size, industry competitiveness, and marketing goals. Generally, small to medium-sized businesses might allocate 5% to 10% of their revenue to digital marketing, focusing a large part on SEO. The average cost for reliable SEO services lies between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the specific services you require. Look for agencies with adaptable SEO packages that allow selecting the services you need and adjusting your budget accordingly.

🚀Get a tailor-made SEO proposal for your business today! Claim your free diagnosis now, and let our experts dive deep into your current SEO performance.

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