Here’s How Much SEO For Small Businesses Should Really Cost

  • June 5, 2022
  • Cameron
  • 15 min read

If you’re confused about how much SEO for small businesses should cost, you’re not alone. I’ve been in this same situation with my own marketing clients. In fact, I’ve had so many conversations with people who are trying to work out how much they’ll spend on SEO and digital marketing that I decided to write an article about it.

What determines how much SEO costs?

The average cost of SEO services can vary greatly, depending on the agency or consultant you choose.

According to one study, the average cost for an SEO campaign is $1,500 per month. However, this is a very broad estimate and many factors will determine how much your specific campaign costs.

To help you understand how much SEO should really cost, I’ve broken down the process and listed some of the most important factors that go into determining what your budget should be.

A few different factors determine the average cost of SEO services, including:

The agency or consultant’s pricing model. Some agencies offer fixed prices while others charge by time spent on projects. If you can negotiate a flat fee with an agency or consultant, it could save you money in the long run if they have more experience than other companies.

The agency or consultant’s experience. The more experienced an agency or consultant is in SEO, the less risk there is that your campaign will fail or take longer than expected to complete successfully. It’s important to note that there are many variables when it comes to search engine optimization and it often takes months for results to appear on Google and other search engines because it takes time for Google to crawl your site and index the changes you’ve made.

The goals of your SEO campaign. An agency will probably charge more to create a new website from scratch than it will to optimize an existing one; similarly, an agency will probably charge more if you want them to develop PPC strategies as well as SEO strategies than if you just want them to focus on one area alone (although some agencies specialize in both). The timeline of your project also impacts how much it costs; an agency might charge less if they believe the campaign will take less time and resources.

The number of keywords you want to optimize. If you want to rank for as many keywords as possible, your SEO campaign will take more time and money than if you just want one or two pages to be highly ranked for a few specific terms.

Your industry and competition level. Some industries are easier to rank in than others, and some have less competition for high-traffic terms than others do.

The quality of the content on your site. Content quality can affect your rankings in several ways — including increasing visitors’ time spent on your site (which improves ranking signals) and encouraging other sites to link back to yours (which boosts credibility).

The tools, software, or resources needed. Often an SEO campaign will require different tools to conduct keyword research, audit your content and website, and sometimes you need to have copywriters write content for your site. All these tools, software, and resources cost money.

How Much should you spend on SEO?

If you are a small business owner, you may be wondering how much SEO for a small business should cost. The answer is not simple.

The short answer is that it depends.

SEO is an investment, and like any investment, you need to calculate how much it will cost and how long it will take to see the results.

Before you establish a budget for SEO, you need to set high-level business goals that are realistic. Your high-level business goals need to include measurements for results and a realistic timeline to deliver the results.

The most important goals to measure directly impact the bottom line most efficiently. In SEO organic sessions, goal conversions and revenue directly impact the bottom line.

When you are setting goals, keep two things in mind:

Your goals need to be achievable.

You need to give the campaign time to work.

According to Google’s YouTube video on “How to Hire an SEO“, you need to give your SEO campaign four months to a year. Doing so allows your SEO agency or freelancer to help your business make improvements. Then you benefit from those improvements over time.

SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Different businesses have different needs and goals. The cost of an SEO strategy will vary depending on your industry, size, and revenue goals.

How much is SEO per hour, month, and project?

The average cost of SEO for small businesses varies widely depending on the type of agency you hire. But if you’re a small business owner looking to outsource your SEO, here’s what you can expect to pay based on the different pricing models.

The following are some rough estimates based on research from SEMrush and other sources:

Hourly ($80-$200)

Hourly rates for SEO consultants vary widely. You’ll find that agencies typically charge more than independent consultants because they have overhead costs like staff salaries and office space.

If you’re looking for an agency that offers hourly consulting services, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 per hour. For example, if your agency charges $150 per hour and it takes 10 hours for them to complete your project, that means the total fee will be $1,500 (10 hours x $150).

Project ($5000-$30,000)

Agencies typically charge a fixed price when they work with clients on projects rather than billing by the hour. The size of the project will determine how much it costs as well as how long it takes to complete; however, most agencies offer a free estimate based on your needs.

Monthly ($750-$5000)

If you’re looking for more of a hands-off approach, a monthly retainer is the way to go. A monthly retainer can range from $750 to $5000 per month, depending on the size of your business and the scope of the work you need done.

This type of arrangement is ideal for companies that have a limited budget but want some SEO assistance or guidance. You’ll typically get an initial consultation with your consultant, who will then email you weekly reports on how things are progressing and offer suggestions on how to improve your site’s visibility.

Monthly retainers usually come with a one-year contract (although some companies offer shorter contracts).

Personally, I typically bill clients on a monthly basis.

How Long Does It Take To See Results From SEO?

Here are some real numbers from my own experience:

At the beginning of last year (2015), I started working with a local business owner on his website. He was looking for help getting more leads and sales from his website, so we agreed on a 3-month contract at $600/month (including maintenance).

After analyzing his site and competitor research, I made recommendations for changes to his site that would help him rank higher in Google searches. He also had some content needs so he hired me to write articles for him as well.

After 3 months of effort, we saw results! His traffic increased by 30%, which led to more leads and sales than before the project began.

As with any type of marketing, good SEO requires ongoing effort. The more traffic you get from search engines naturally, the less work you need to do (which means lower costs). If you don’t see results after three to six months, then it might be time to consider another strategy or provider.

What Are You Actually Paying For When It Comes To SEO?

SEO is a complicated, multi-faceted process. It’s not a simple matter of hiring someone to post your content on Google and call it a day.

SEO is a long-term commitment and requires a significant time investment on the part of your company. That’s why it can be so difficult to determine exactly how much SEO costs — because the answer depends on many factors.

If you’re a small business owner, the words “SEO” and “marketing” may be foreign to you. You might have heard about SEO and thought it was some kind of magic that would make your website go viral overnight. Or you may have heard about it but don’t know what it entails or whether it’s worth the money.

Here’s what you need to know: SEO is all about making sure that your website, blog, or social media posts are easily found by search engines like Google and Bing. This helps drive traffic back to your website and helps people find what they are looking for when they come across your site organically (without being prompted). It also helps build trust with potential customers who see that lots of people are talking about your business online — which is good for customer retention as well as getting new customers through the door.

SEO Strategies can include things such as:

Website Design and Optimization – This includes website design and development, load speed optimization, conversion rate optimization, and mobile-friendly design. The goal is to make your website as user-friendly as possible so that it can rank well in search engines. This is especially important if your website has been around for a while or doesn’t already have good rankings.

Site Structure and Navigation – We create friendly URLs that help users find what they’re looking for quickly and easily on your website. We’ll also optimize internal links between pages so users don’t have to click through several pages just to find what they need.

Keyword Research – Keyword research is essential when planning out the content strategy for your website because it helps us determine which keywords we should be targeting in order to rank high in search engines

Content Production and Publication – This is where most marketers start when they think about SEO. It’s an important part of your strategy, but it’s not the only part. You should also be thinking about building authority and trust with off-page SEO. This includes things like backlinks and social signals. Content production includes blog posts and articles that are relevant to your industry and target audience. It also includes social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram that support your business goals and objectives by driving traffic back to your website or blog page(s).

Building Authority and Trust – This is where most marketers stop when they think about SEO. You need quality content that resonates with your audience and provides them value in order to rank on search engines like Google, Bing, etc., but you also need authority and trust from other websites. This is where off-page SEO comes in handy — it helps build up your credibility by establishing links and shares from other sites across the web, which sends signals to search engines that your site is relevant and trustworthy.

Off-Page SEO – This includes link building, social media marketing, press releases, blog posts, and more. All of these activities help improve your rankings in search engines like Google and Bing.

Ongoing Website Maintenance – Ongoing website maintenance is any work done to ensure that your site is always running smoothly and working as intended (i.e., fixing broken links or broken images).

What To Avoid When Choosing an SEO Provider

If you’re looking for an SEO agency to help your small business take off, you may be tempted by the promise of low-cost solutions. After all, the cost of hiring a team of professional SEO experts can be prohibitively high.

But while some agencies offer affordable services, others use deceptive tactics to lure customers in with promises they don’t intend to keep. For example, some agencies use keywords like “organic traffic” and “local SEO” without actually knowing what those terms mean or how to achieve them.

Here are three types of SEO that you should absolutely avoid:

1. Keyword Stuffing and Cloaking

Keyword stuffing is a technique used by some companies attempting to boost their rankings on Google by inserting specific keywords into their pages more frequently than normal usage would allow.

Cloaking involves hiding the content on one page from Googlebot until it’s crawled by another user’s browser. Both techniques are considered spammy by search engines because they increase the number of irrelevant links pointing back to your site but don’t actually add value for users.

2. Building Links from Low-Quality Sites

There are a lot of people out there who are trying to sell you SEO services. They’ll tell you that they can get your website ranked on the first page of Google for keywords like “plumber”, “dentist”, and “accountant”.

They’ll say that they’ll do this by building links from as many different websites as possible, including directories and blogs.

This is probably the worst type of SEO for small businesses to purchase because it doesn’t work.

The truth is that Google has gotten very good at identifying spammy sites and black-hat techniques. If your website has been built using these methods, it won’t rank well at all.

3. Using Automated Software To Generate Links And Social Shares

SEO companies that use automated software to generate links and social shares are often called “black hat” because they violate Google’s guidelines.

These companies will charge you thousands of dollars for their services, but they won’t actually improve your rankings. In fact, they could hurt your rankings by spamming Google with low-quality links or engaging in other unethical practices.

3. Guarantees

No SEO company can give you a guarantee because the industry is constantly changing. In fact, even if they did give you a guarantee, it would be worthless in about six months because Google updates its algorithms so often.

4. Instant Results

It’s impossible for an agency to deliver instant results because it takes time for Google to index new content and rank it in search results. SEO takes time and effort to work properly. If someone says they can get you top rankings in less than 30 days, they’re lying (or doing something really sketchy).

What To Ask When Choosing an SEO Provider

You’ve decided that you need an SEO company. You know what you want done and you have a budget in mind. But how do you know if you’re getting the best deal?

Here are some tips to help you assess whether or not the SEO company that you’re considering hiring is worth your time and money:

1. Check Their Credibility

Take a look at their website, social media profiles, and business history. If they have been in business for less than two years and don’t have any sort of testimonials, it’s probably better to keep looking.

2. How Much Experience Do They Have?

If they’re new to the industry, then they’ll likely need more time before they can achieve results for your website that you expect

3. Know What Type of SEO They Do

There are so many different types of search engine optimization (SEO) services out there that can be confusing for even seasoned marketers. Some companies focus on link building, others on social media marketing or local SEO (which we will discuss later). Ask about what kind of service they provide before signing any contracts so that there are no surprises later down the line.

Do Your Homework…

When you’re looking for a new restaurant or a mechanic, you can ask friends for recommendations and read reviews online. But when it comes to SEO, many business owners don’t know where to turn.

“I’ve been hired by clients who have said, ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for,'” said Michael King, founder of Outspoken Media in San Francisco. “They want me to do magic.”

In reality, hiring an SEO professional isn’t like hiring a plumber. There’s no such thing as “magic” when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). You can get good results with a well-crafted strategy and solid execution — but only if you choose the right provider.

You’ll need to do your homework before hiring an SEO company: Ask what types of clients they’ve worked with before, how long they’ve been in business, and how much experience they have with your industry or niche. Make sure they’re not just after quick wins that might not last long term, but instead focus on creating long-term strategies that will improve your rankings over time.

In Conclusion…

So what does it cost to rank well on Google? The truth is that there is no one price for SEO for small businesses.

Every business and industry is different, and every website has its own challenges.

That being said, there are a few ways you can get an idea of what you should expect to pay. SEO doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg for it to be valuable.

While SEO is an important part of advertising and marketing your business online, you don’t want to take out a loan or displace money from your business.

So, ask yourself if this service will be worth it. If it is, go ahead and hire someone to help you with SEO.

Even if you decide against hiring someone, it can’t hurt to improve on your own by blogging more frequently and writing better content.

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