What’s the most common question we get from prospective clients? How much does SEO cost? Below, we’ll cover a deep dive into how much SEO costs.
What Determines SEO Prices?
Competitiveness. The more competitive your keywords are, and the more established your competition, the more work that needs to be invested upfront to gain positive ROI.
Scale. Are you interested in going global with your SEO rankings? Do you have tens of thousands of products? Do you offer dozens of unique services? Does your brand run multiple websites? The greater the scale of your campaign, the higher the cost.
Complexity. The more complex your business, website, processes, products, and services, the more time we need to invest in understanding your business to get to a point of generating positive ROI.
Creativity. SEO is a marketing service designed to appeal to human beings who use search engines. Creative SEO work is often the most effective in taking a site visitor and helping convert them to a customer. The more creative you want your SEO campaign to be, the more you can expect to pay. Creativity takes trial and error, time, and challenging existing norms.
Communication. Talking about our SEO campaign with you is a worthy investment, but it does take time. Some organizations, based on bureaucracy, poor internal communication, multiple decision-makers, and a lack of education, may require more communication than other campaigns and that can unnecessarily increase costs.
Quality. Getting things right takes talent and it takes time. The higher quality the work, the higher the cost.
Companies that are willing to accept compromises on quality often can get cheaper options. (Not that we’d recommend going that route).
Recovery. If you have a website or online property that has been penalized by search engines for prior bad faith SEO work, or due to issues with site security and reliability, it can take time to help you get out of the doghouse and ranking properly again.
Factors that Influence Pricing
- The SEO firm’s geographical location
- The number of people dedicating time to the campaign
- The experience and expertise level of the people dedicated to the campaign
- The time allocation for the campaign (on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO)
- Any hard costs the firm must cover (backlink opportunities, content curation, content distribution, directory placements, competitive research tools, etc.)
- Internal employee, outside agency, or outside specialist help
- Payment models and service plans
- How the value of SEO is defined
- Link profile analysis.
- Rankings, content, and timing of results
- Targeted audience and business goals
Typical SEO Pricing Models
SEO companies price their services in many different ways. Here’s our perspective on them.
Perhaps the most common and problematic form of SEO pricing is based on the notion of SEO packages. They’re appealing to you as a business owner because it feels more substantial to receive a list of 10 things you’ll get every month for your $2,000 investment BUT the reality is that most SEO companies that offer packages fail to provide valuable SEO.
Coalition has worked with nearly a thousand companies on SEO, and even when the businesses are almost identical in terms of industry, location, services or products, or objectives, the individual needs of each campaign and website are unique. Some brands need more links. Others need less. Some brands need more content. Some need more quality content. SEO packages often are indicative of black hat SEO practices as well.
Project-based SEO is less common in the industry, but many customers mistakenly think it’s an ideal way to pay for the services we offer. Project-based SEO usually works like this- a service provider or SEO agency agrees to do a set amount of SEO work for you, for a flat fee, and then you part ways for a while till something new comes up.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work- SEO is an ongoing marketing campaign that requires frequent updates, management, and evolution to be successful. Think about it like a race- it’s almost impossible to win if you drive your car a lap, stop for a few minutes, then drive for another lap, then stop for a few minutes. By the time everyone else has finished, you’re still going to be on the track.
Recurring SEO Retainers
An ongoing SEO campaign is our preferred way of providing successful outcomes to our clients. Our retainers are unique in that you are not agreeing to a recurring package of activities, just a recurring management and execution of SEO activities.
Unlike other SEO companies that sell retainers, our goal with our campaigns is to have a rather simple agreement with you- you agree to pay us, and we agree to provide you with expert SEO strategy and deliverables. We’ll manage the campaign, manage the activites, manage the strategy, and you just need to pay (and occasionally sign off on a deliverable). That puts more pressure on us to generate great results, since you’re giving us more freedom. And for over 600 clients, we’ve been able to generate results when we’re given the freedom to execute on the campaign the way we know how.
Hourly SEO and Freelancers
More and more brands are trialing SEO-by-the-hour campaigns through freelancers and other independent service providers. The issue with hourly SEO campaigns is similar to the problems you encounter when you pay other service providers by the hour- first, you’re never quite clear on what you’re going to end up paying. Second, you’re never quite clear if the service provider is looking to achieve your goals or simply rack up the hourly billings.
The final significant problem is that most hourly SEO providers are limited in scope and abilities, so they often require added support that introduces further complexity and costs beyond what you initially planned on.
Be Wary of the Following:
Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. Some keyword rankings will be nearly impossible to take ownership of the top result. Any SEO agency can determine which keywords will require extensive work and time to achieve high rankings.
A red flag is raised when a business achieves rapid rankings, because the agency is most likely performing unethical methods. Once your website has been flagged by a search engine for these practices, it may take an extended period of time to build up your reputation on search engines again.
Placing in-bound links across the web will boost the notoriety and accessibility to your site – but only if they’re quality links. The agency could be linking spam, which will only link to your site for a brief period of time, until the spam is detected. When the spam is detected, your links can be broken or removed.
SEO is a luxury service available to any business that is interested in investing in their own business. When considering a proposal that is deemed extremely discounted, should your business consider the risk?
Coalition’s Typical SEO Prices
Below is a rather crude outline of what a typical SEO campaign might cost based on a few common objectives and business types.
Neighborhood or Suburb Focused Local SEO
Avg Price of $1,500 / mo
Usually these types of campaigns are run for a local service provider, like a home-services contractor. They require a lower volume and complexity of work, and are operating against less competitive businesses.
Regulated Service Provider SEO
Avg Price of $2,700 / mo
Financial, medical, and legal service providers will often have more complex and more demanding SEO campaigns due to the legal oversight and requirements put on their business. Further, the higher value of each lead tends to mean that competitors are investing more into SEO work, which can add to the cost.
Ecommerce SEO Campaigns
Avg. Price of $2,500 / mo
A typical campaign for a nationally focused ecommerce business with a simpler product line and a modest catalog size can come in below $3,000 a month. That being said, ecommerce campaigns often have the most significant variability in price, since competition, complexity, and scale can change dramatically from brand to brand.
Metropolitan Area Focused Local SEO
Avg Price of $2,200 / mo
Larger population centers often umbrella multiple smaller suburbs and neighborhoods, and introduce new, more significant competition. That added competition and broader targets introduce a need for more work.
B2B SEO Campaigns
Avg. Price of $2,000 / mo
Due to smaller audiences and more narrowly focused targets, B2B SEO campaigns can be more affordable than D2C campaigns that may have other similarities. It’s worth noting that B2B campaigns can also be significantly more costly due to extreme competition, extreme complexity, and less marketing opportunities.
Restricted Industry Campaigns
Avg Price of $3,100 / mo
Adult, tobacco, alcohol, CBD, marijuana, firearms, and other industries that are regulated not only by government agencies but also by search engines and by other online platforms tend to have higher costs due to the complexity of scaling these campaigns and navigating the various boundaries put in place by outside parties.
Recent SEO News and Resources
Check out our recent SEO blogs and announcements. We share some of our top recommendations through our blog so it’s well worth the time to check it out.