seo services pricing

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Typical SEO Costs
  • Monthly retainer: $750-5,000 per month. …
  • Contract services at fixed prices: price variable. …
  • Project-based pricing: price variable. …
  • Hourly consulting rate: $100-300/hr.

The current business climate makes SEO all but a necessity. According to a survey by Yelp, 85% of people searching for the product or service that you offer, will begin their hunt online.

If your website isn’t coming up when someone types in those keywords, you better believe those customers are going to go somewhere else.

However, one of the biggest obstacles to getting involved is understanding what you’ll have to pay. How much does SEO cost anyways?

Truth be told, the price-tag can vary so greatly that it’s actually quite difficult to get a grasp of what constitutes a reasonable price.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • The average cost of each type of SEO
  • The various SEO pricing models available
  • The pros and cons of each pricing model
  • An overview of pay for performance SEO

Moz polled over 600 SEO companies and aggregated all of the data in an insightful (if not a bit inscrutable) article. As you can see, we can reasonably guess that an average hourly SEO costs something between $80 and $130 per hour. Further, the average monthly retainer lies somewhere between $750 and $1500 per month.

There’s a problem with the article though. After reading through it, you most likely won’t feel any the wiser as to which type of SEO would be best for your own business.

So how do we fix this problem?

I think the best and only answer is to break down the different types of SEO services various firms offer, and to establish a standard price point for each.

How Much Does Hourly SEO Cost?

At face value hourly SEO services may seem like a worthwhile investment.

After all, you know exactly what you’re going to pay for.

Whatever hourly rate you negotiated or accepted before work commenced, is what you’ll pay. Depending on how many hours were worked, you can accurately estimate what your bill will look like.

The peace of mind associated with this system isn’t without merit. But like all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a bit of a catch.

The catch is that often SEO projects can take longer than expected. Further, if you’re buying the services of a respectable SEO expert, the rates can get pretty high.

Expect to pay somewhere between $75 and $150 per hour if you want to avoid hucksters and wannabes. Pro tip: Avoid anyone super cheap on the assumption that they might employ black-hat techniques that ca land you a Google penalty.


Accountability and transparency. The time worked will always be logged, so you’ll be able to easily track where your SEO expert or firm is devoting the most energy.

Easier to predict costs. Having a set hourly rate allows you to budget accordingly and control how much you are spending.


Rankings will come slower. It often takes up to 6 months to see noticeable improvements in rankings. While it might be easier to control how much you spend, you’ll still often end up getting less value and paying more per hour than if you had gone with a different pricing model.

Nothing is tied to results. Paying a company by the hour is much like having an employee. They get paid for showing up. Would you rather have your SEO company focused on results or punching the clock?

Best for…

If you are trying to run your SEO campaign yourself, I would recommend hiring an SEO consultant to validate your work and assist on a touch-and-go basis. They can help ensure you’re making the right decisions from the beginning. The insight and peace of mind will trump the financial investment of paying a consultant for a few hours of their time.

How Much Do Project-based SEO Services Cost?

According to the Moz study we referenced above, project-based SEO services are the most popular pricing model you’ll find amongst SEO companies. Nearly half of respondents fell into four price ranges:

  • $1,001 – $1,500
  • $1,501 – $2,500
  • $2,501 – $5,000
  • $5,001 – $7,500

The wide range of prices is a bit surprising given this being the most popular pricing model.


All it takes is one lump sum. No need to worry about hourly costs racking up or getting stuck in the hole for more than you budgeted on any given month. This is clearly a better choice than hourly services if you have a very strict budget or need help in one specific area.

Know exactly what you’re getting. With project-based pricing you should expect to have a contract that describes in simple black and white what you will get and how long it will take to deliver.


You might be paying too much. If you don’t have prior knowledge regarding SEO, you won’t be able to understand how much time actually goes into your SEO campaign. This of course means you could easily end up being overcharged.

No flexibility. Project-based pricing normally comes with a contract that outlines all deliverables and due dates. If your needs change or you need to pivot your campaign, chances are you won’t be able to without spending more money.

Best for…

This type of SEO service is ideal for companies who need help developing their SEO campaign or want to outsource specific tasks. SEO audits, on-page optimization and link building campaigns often fall under this category.

How Much Do Monthly SEO Retainers Cost?

Monthly SEO services favor long-term partnerships over one-off projects. Most companies choose this option when they need to outsource SEO completely. While this tends to be a common decision for many companies, the need to quantify ROI is moving more and more people towards results-based SEO.

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