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How Much Do SEO Services Cost? Most business owners now recognize that search engine optimization (SEO) is the best way to drive customers to your website. The burning question is, how much do SEO services cost?

By Alexander Thomas Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A quick Google search will bring up millions of SEO agencies. You may find that most firms offer similar services and charge competitive prices. You may also find smaller companies that charge attractive lower fees. On average, small and mid-size enterprises pay $497 per month for SEO services to a freelancer or marketing agency. Companies that pay more for SEO services see better results, while companies that pay less than $500 for SEO services are the unhappiest.

SEO is a long-term strategy that delivers long-term rewards. Get it right, and you can expect to maintain a healthy position on the first page of search engines for a long time. It's worth budgeting for.

Other factors determining how much SEO services cost are whether you purchase individual services or a packaged bundle. Try to avoid packages that include services you don't need. Ideally, you want to work with an SEO agency that works within your monthly budget. They should provide a customized service that delivers the service you need when you need it.

Typical SEO pricing structures

SEO firms typically offer three pricing structures: monthly retainers, hourly consultancy and ad hoc projects.

Monthly retainers

SEO agencies give you access to dedicated professionals that can enhance your online presence and scale your business. A monthly retainer with a reputable SEO agency is the best strategy to improve organic traffic to your website. If you take the monthly retainer route, you enter into a long-term relationship with SEO professionals. This allows them to understand your business and implement a strategy that works.

Another benefit of monthly retainers is that you get more assurance the agency will dedicate adequate time, resources and expertise to your project. Businesses need to retain their clients to survive and grow. Your budget will determine the monthly cost, but you should be looking to set aside at least $500 a month. If you have a higher budget, you should expect quick results.

Investing in the early stages pays dividends. There is naturally more to do at the beginning of an SEO project than there is moving forward. The sooner you see results, the more assurance you have that the agency's SEO strategy is working. If you're prepared to spend a low retainer for slow results, you may invest more before you start getting a return on your investment.

Hourly consultants

Top SEO consultants can feel expensive, but their knowledge can be a game-changer. This type of service is best suited to firms with an in-house marketing team with some SEO knowledge but will benefit from expert advice.

Bear in mind that SEO projects require implementation and management. This can pose a problem for businesses that do not have technical SEO skills or the tools to conduct an effective analysis. SEO consultants charge anything from $100 to $1000 per hour, depending on their reputation. What consultants bring to the table, however, is expertise and insights that can help your in-house team to deliver tangible results.

Ad hoc projects

Some businesses will benefit from investing in SEO services on an ad hoc basis. It can be more cost effective to pay an SEO professional when you need technical SEO tasks at some point during a project. This pricing option is best suited to companies with an in-house marketing team with some knowledge of on-page SEO but does not know how to carry out technical SEO.

Ad hoc SEO services are beneficial because they accommodate almost any marketing budget. You can expect to pay fees from around $235 to $2350 depending on the number of services you need and the time required to complete them.

Avoid cheap SEO services

For an SEO agency to perform a high-quality service, it has to invest in tools that perform the job effectively. The SEO agencies that deliver results use specialist tools. Naturally, the prices are higher. On the flip side, you will also find SEO companies that charge lower fees to stay competitive. While fewer costs may appear appealing to small business owners on a slim budget, low prices can be a dangerous attraction.

The incentive for SEO agencies that provide low-cost services is to deliver results as fast as possible. However, they use "black hat techniques" to manipulate search results.

Black hat techniques typically include building out PBNs (private blog networks), paid backlinks and bot manipulation. While these SEO agencies may deliver quick short-term gains, the long-term effects are detrimental to your website. If an SEO agency claims it can rank you on the first page of Google in three to six months, the chances are they are using black hat techniques. They use black hat techniques if they make these promises and charge below the $500 mark.

A better solution for businesses on a small budget is to set up a Google Ads account and invest in pay-per-click campaigns. While you may not receive a great deal of traffic, you will get some click-throughs without risking the long-term profitability of your website.

Alexander Thomas

Founder of Breakline Agency

Alexander Thomas is the founder and managing director of Breakline, a reputable UK SEO Agency. His work has been featured in many reputable publications including HackerNoon and The Next Web.

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