Cost of Search Engine Optimization Guide

Cost of Search Engine Optimization Guide
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: March 08, 2024

The price of SEO services can range from $150 to $15,000. The average cost of SEO services is $1,000 to $5,000 monthly, while SEO pricing for national campaigns falls between $2,000 and over $10,000 monthly.

So, how much does SEO cost for specific services, and what are the types of rates you can expect to pay? We'll explain all of that, as well as what affects the price, in more detail and recommend some of the best SEO agencies out there.

SEO Pricing Models

Different industries require different SEO marketing tactics, and agencies offer services and rates based on your business needs and the project’s complexity.

These are the ways to price SEO services:

  1. Hourly Rate
  2. Project-based Rate
  3. Monthly Retainer
  4. Ala Carte

1. Hourly Rate

This pricing structure applies mostly to minor projects and specific tasks. These can be keyword research, web page SEO audits, and content creation.

SEO consultants, freelancers, and agencies often use this payment scheme, which goes from $100 to $250 per hour. The SEO cost will depend on the demands and difficulty of the task at hand.

Note that more highly skilled consultants may charge more for their time.

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2. Project-based Rate

When several activities are covered but recurring work is not needed, a project-based arrangement can be applicable. Your agency or individual consultant can charge for the required services in a bundle. The project has a fixed timeline and definite deliverables.

These are examples of projects:

  • Technical audits
  • Technical fixes
  • On-site repairs
  • Laser-pointed site structure revamps
  • Content marketing initiatives

Project-based SEO cost ranges from $500 to $1,000 or higher for more complex activities with more demand for resources.

While fees for more experienced agencies may reach tens of thousands, their work will be more advanced than the more affordable services, such as those of individual contractors.

3. Monthly Retainer

A monthly fee under a long-term contract is another common setup between businesses and agencies. This is known as an SEO service package. It enables you to stick to pre-arranged, specified marketing budget for measurable SEO work according to agreed objectives and keywords to rank.

The cycle of monthly retainer SEO services from the initial conversion covers the following:

  • Onboarding of SEO company
  • Technical audit
  • Keyword research
  • Recommendations and proposal
  • Monthly content production
  • Backlinks

The average cost of SEO in the monthly retainer pricing model is $500 to $5,000. There are agencies that offer packages in tiers with varying inclusions, which can affect the monthly retainer fees.

4. Custom

If you have a specific, immediate need, you can opt for customized SEO services like research, audits, backlink building, and content creation. The benefit of this model is that you can tailor it to a single specific need.

However, the drawback is that it can disrupt the overall coherence of your SEO strategy, as you may not be implementing a comprehensive SEO strategy.

“A la carte” services usually include:

  • SEO audits
  • Citations
  • Site speed optimization
  • Backlink cleanup
  • Additional blog posts for content marketing

Average Monthly Spending and Cost of Search Engine Optimization

As you’ve seen, SEO pricing can vary significantly, but your monthly allocation will likely fall in one of the following brackets. Here’s what you can expect to get out of each.

$500 and Below

Ideally, you should not settle for services that cost less than $500. You may not get the desired professional results. Unless you run a startup or a small-sized company with a strong geographic focus, you will likely get the most basic level of SEO quality at this price.

$1,000 to $5,000

Small to medium-sized enterprises with less competition and simpler web pages can employ services at a lower price. But this may come with trade-offs in terms of quality.

Find an SEO specialist who can work within your budget while ensuring they have adequate experience in the field.

$5,000 to $10,000

You will most likely find an experienced expert or an established agency with a proven track record at this price point. Get access to dedicated teams of content managers, website developers and copywriters to provide consistent optimization support for your brand’s long-term success.

Factors Affecting SEO Pricing

An SEO campaign aims to create a highly functional, accessible, catchy, and mobile-friendly website that performs well on search engines. Ultimately, the cost of search engine optimization will depend on the type and level of work your enterprise requires to boost brand visibility.

Listed here are the factors that impact the overall cost of search engine optimization plans:

  1. Website Size and Scale
  2. Business Goals
  3. Competition Level
  4. Service Model
  5. Ideal Outcome
  6. Timeline
  7. Experience Level

1. Website Size and Scale

An informative website for a dental clinic, law firm, and other professional services will differ from an eCommerce website maintaining thousands of product pages.

The larger your website is, the more work it will require to gain considerable traction for organic marketing. Your SEO campaigns should focus on optimizing the whole site by crafting a comprehensive content plan and updating the pages constantly.

2. Business Goals

The SEO services of your agency will depend on the goals you set for your business website. While some sites need fundamental structural site activities and maintenance performed, others may demand more resources for in-depth optimization processes.

3. Competition Level

Evaluation of your competition involves assessing your industry or niche, location, and the most appropriate keywords for your brand and product or service offers.

Since search engine rankings are also affected by the strength of your competitors, the cost of search engine optimization will also differ based on how your competition is faring. These are the factors to look into:

  • Your competitors’ activity level on social media
  • The frequency of your publication
  • How well they engage the target market

4. Service Model

Your digital marketing plan dictates the pricing scheme and the SEO package you choose—whether a fixed package or a customized bundle at an hourly, monthly, monthly retainer, or ala carte plan.

It is vital to communicate clearly with your consultant or agency about your online campaign to know which one is more suitable for your goals.

5. Ideal Outcome

You rely on your available budget and your vision for your digital marketing programs. Hence, it is imperative to prioritize the SEO services you employ to see which aspects can be restructured relative to pricing.

6. Timeline

The total cost of search engine optimization will also depend on your consultant’s or agency’s speed at completing the projects. Most of the time, SEO is an ongoing process as there will also be keywords to optimize, content to formulate, and insights to analyze.

You should consider all facets of the program to decide if you will hire experts on a per-project basis or employ full-serve search engine optimization.

7. Experience Level

If you operate a small business or a startup, the cost of search engine optimization can be lower.

You may not need a monthly retainer at this point, especially if you have a limited budget for the price of SEO services. In this case, you can expect less value in return because more qualified SEO professionals will charge higher rates for the same services with a more productive outcome.

Receive proposals from top SEO agencies. It’s free.

SEO Service Inclusions

Search engine optimization consists of many components. A package may cover one or more of these services:

Website Audit

Your SEO team should detect and prioritize website issues preventing it from performing optimally. Then, they will collate analysis and studies to report, plus recommendations for improvement.

Keyword Research

These identifiers are critical to ranking your web pages effectively on search engines:

  • Uniform resource locators (URL)
  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Headings
  • Site content

They need to contain all keywords relevant to your business and products or services. These will tell search engines what your enterprise is about and what your business offers.

Related keywords will display your site on search results pages (SERPs) higher so more people will visit your site and, expectantly, convert into a sale.

Content Creation

High-quality content is another factor in the cost of search engine optimization. It is crucial in engaging your target website visitors and, in turn, help search engines assess your pages for proper ranking.

This service includes:

  • Blog posts
  • About page
  • Testimonials, reviews, and ratings
  • Any other on-page content

Keep in mind the algorithm and the standards of search engines when creating content for you site.

Technical SEO

This is the more tactical aspect of search engine optimization, ensuring that your site follows search engine guidelines. Technical SEO also covers proper site speed optimization and website architecture.

Top Search Engine Optimization Agencies

1. BlckPanda Creative

  • Location: 4001 S.W. 47th Ave. Suite 202, Davie, Florida 33314, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $169/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Digital Design, Web Design, eCommerce Development, Digital Marketing, SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing.

BlkPanda Creative is a full-service digital agency specializing in branding, web design, eCommerce development, digital marketing, SEO/SEM (search engine optimization/search engine marketing), PPC (pay-per-click) and social media marketing.

With a team of creative thinkers who are passionate about what they do, BlkPanda Creative believes in the power of creativity to solve problems and make brands stand out from the crowd.

Their website usability is on par with competitors in the industry. Realizing there was more to content marketing than just pumping out articles, BlkPanda Creative took ample time and learned every skill required to make its work stand out from other large companies creating mediocre campaigns for their clients.

Some of BlkPanda Creative’s most notable clients include Volkswagen, FitSnitch, and Yolo & Co.

2. Pristine Advisers

  • Location: 8 Walnut Avenue East, Farmingdale, New York 11735, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $75/hr
  • Expertise: Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Facebook Marketing.

Pristine Advisers is a US-based consulting agency with over a decade of experience.

Initially, Pristine Advisers’ primary focus was on PR, digital, and social media marketing. Now, the agency covers a wide range of services for corporations and start-ups, like content writing, website maintenance, SEO and pay-per-click management.

Pristine Advisers takes on a scientific approach to SEO optimization. It’s an agency that always focuses on web design optimization and improving usability by making tweaks through web redesigns. Additionally, its online marketing services entail sourcing the best content for its clients to generate more online traffic through branded channels at affordable prices.

3. Redline Minds

  • Location: 349 Nancy St, Jefferson City, 37760, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $150/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Web Design, eCommerce Development, eCommerce Web Design, BigCommerce Web Design. WooCommerce Development, Shopify, eCommerce Consulting, SEO, Enterprise SEO, eCommerce SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, eCommerce Marketing.

Redline Minds is a full-service digital agency specializing in marketing, development, and branding services for eCommerce-centric clients. The company was founded in 2012 and has grown to become one of the leading eCommerce, SEO, and branding services providers.

Redline Minds provides digital marketing solutions to businesses across a range of industries. They are best known for their SEO Services that have helped many clients rank better on search engines like Google. In addition to SEO Services, they provide social media marketing, web development, and branding services.

Some of their most notable clients include Pure and Gentle Soap, Game Nerdz, and Stockyard Style.

4. Crypto Virally

  • Location: Victoriei Square, Bucharest, 010094, Romania
  • Average Hourly Rate: $20/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Web Design, Crypto Marketing.

Crypto Virally is a digital marketing agency that specializes in crypto marketing. They help businesses grow their brands and drive traffic to their websites/apps.

Priding itself in being a one-stop shop for all your marketing needs, Crypto Virally treats your business as if it were its own, placing immense focus on every detail of your project.

Crypto Virally has been in the digital marketing business for eight-plus years, and they have helped many clients succeed. Some of these include Crypto Coin Trader, BitPay, and Coinbase.

5. Level343

  • Location: 584 Castro Street #850, San Francisco, California 94114, United States
  • AverageHourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: SEO, Multilingual SEO, Content Marketing.

Based out of San Francisco, Level343 is a company that specializes in promoting brands and businesses in a global digital space.

Since opening its doors in 1998, Level343 has honed its skills in SEO geotargeting for local, national, and international markets and houses a team of highly skilled individuals adept in copywriting, print advertising, web developers, optimizers, link builders, and PPC specialists.

Some of Level343’s most notable clients include Transformation Holding, Belvedere Shoes and Project Heartbeat.

6. The Golden Vineyard Branding Company

  • Location: PO Box 475, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina 29576, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $75/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Search Engine Marketing, SEO.

The Golden Vineyard Branding Company was founded in 2009 with a mission to help small businesses grow their brands. The company has grown to be one of the top branding agencies in the United States, boasting a rich client list.

Golden Vineyard Branding Company (GVBC) provides traditional and cutting-edge branding, marketing, advertising, and promotions services for its clients, along with a few bonuses like web design and digital marketing strategies.

GVBC is an integrated marketing communications company for diverse organizations with different needs. Most of GVBC’s expertise lies in B2B Service companies and Marketing Agencies.

7. Infinite Ideas Web Design

  • Location: 2905 141 Street SW, Edmonton, T6W 3M4, Canada
  • Average Hourly Rate: $80/hr
  • Expertise: Small Business Website Design, Social Media Marketing, eCommerce SEO, SEO, B2B Digital Marketing, Digital Marketing, Shopify, WordPress Web Design, Website Development, eCommerce Development, Branding, Responsive Website Design, B2B Website Design, Web Design, Creative, B2B Advertising, Advertising, Graphic Design, Logo Design

Infinite Ideas Web Design is a Canada-based web design company established in 2007. The company is SEO-centered and builds websites that rank high on search engines. Infinite Ideas helps its clients with branding, web design, social media marketing, eCommerce development, and logo design.

With its all-encompassing expertise, forward-thinking solutions, and data-driven approach, Infinite Ideas Web Design helps your brand stand out from the crowd. Some of its most notable clients include La Nova Nails, Canadian Raw Food, and Joca-West Construction.

8. Pure Inbound

  • Location: 3324 E Ray Rd, Suite 1353, Higley, Phoenix, Arizona 85236, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: Search Engine Marketing, B2B Digital Marketing, Legal Digital Marketing, Small Business Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Small Business SEO, SEO Consultants, Enterprise SEO, eCommerce SEO, Local SEO, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing

Pure Inbound is a premier content marketing agency based out of Arizona. Open since 2017; Pure Inbound has quickly become one of the leading firms in its industry. Pure Inbound’s services range from search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing to eCommerce development and inbound marketing. They use advanced strategies to create tailored campaigns that suit each client’s needs.

Pure Inbound consistently delivers results for their clients, with measurable ROI for their projects. Their specialized team of experts is dedicated to increasing conversions, website traffic, and brand recognition. Some of Pure Inbound’s most notable clients include NY Martial Arts Academy, Mover Search Marketing, and Top Notch Cinema.

9. Elexoft

  • Location: Office# FF-10, City Center, New City, Wah Cantt, Pakistan
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: Web Development, Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Mobile Apps, Business Intelligence, SEO.

Elexoft is a premier digital marketing and web design agency based in Pakistan, founded in 2015.

Since its inception, Elexoft has sought to utilize cutting-edge technology to build robust products and enable companies to grow. Elexoft offers a comprehensive range of services, including web development, mobile app development, graphic design, SEO, CRM software, and ASO. Elexoft excels in developing custom solutions for various industries, from IT to retail businesses.

Elexoft has extensive experience creating digital experiences across all channels, from web design to mobile applications. Elexoft’s cutting-edge and innovative approach to projects has enabled them to deliver high-quality digital marketing solutions that match each customer’s needs. Elexoft provides customized campaigns and strategies that can be tailored to any budget, allowing their clients to maximize their returns on investment.

10. Trajex Marketing Solutions

  • Location: 140 Swanson Rd Unit 423, Boston, Massachusetts 01719, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $100/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Graphic Design, Public Relations, Advertising, Web Design, Shopify, Digital Marketing for Start-Ups, SEO, PPC, Google AdWords, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Digital Marketing

Trajex Marketing Solutions is a Boston-based digital marketing agency that offers a range of services in branding, graphic design, public relations, web design, eCommerce development, SEO, and PPC. This premier organization was founded in 2018 and has been at the forefront of providing cutting-edge solutions for businesses to reach their goals.

Trajex prides itself on having achieved industry-leading results and has satisfied various clients since its conception.

The Trajex team has collaborated with many businesses to create powerful marketing campaigns that have given them an edge over their market competitors. Trajex’s services are tailored to each company's unique needs, with a focus on developing bespoke strategies for each customer. Trajex has had the pleasure of working with some of Boston’s most well-known companies, such as the DIFFERENCE, Patch, and The Paul Center.

11. The Digital Hacks

  • Location: 114 Mare Street, LONDON, E8 4RU, United Kingdom
  • Average Hourly Rate: $20/hr
  • Expertise: Business Consulting, Creative, eCommerce Development, eCommerce Web Design, Shopify, Digital Marketing, Digital Advertising, Legal Digital Marketing, SEO, Facebook Marketing, Instagram Marketing, Web Design

The Digital Hacks is a digital marketing and growth hacking firm based in London, UK. The agency was established in 2016 and has since become the go-to for businesses looking to get ahead of their competitors through innovative marketing strategies.

The Digital Hacks sets itself apart from other agencies by combining traditional marketing and growth hacking techniques to create strategies that drive leads, conversions, and engagement. Their services include branding, development, advertising, social media, SEO and InstaInfluence. The team at The Digital Hacks understands the importance of maintaining loyal relationships with clients and is committed to ensuring success through their expertise in customizing plans to meet each client's needs.

12. Jeff Social Marketing

  • Location: 100-2 Toronto Street Suite 338, Toronto, M5C 2B5, Canada
  • Average Hourly Rate: $50/hr
  • Expertise: Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Based in Toronto, is a digital marketing agency that caters to corporate, small, and medium firms.

Their SEO services include website audit, competitor analysis, compliance security, and website speed optimization. They also help businesses get high-quality backlinks and make their websites more mobile-friendly. Apart from SEO, the agency also offers eCommerce and WordPress development, social media marketing, media relations, and crisis management.

Jeff Social Marketing boasts 99.9% uptime and 24/7 customer service.


  • Location: Camp David Co-Working 237 36th St, Brooklyn, New York 11232, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: 360° Digital Services, Web Design, Digital Marketing, PPC

DAVID.MARKET is a digital and creative agency composed of digital marketing consultants, SEO consultants, and creative designers with a combined experience of over 20 years.

The agency takes the time to get to know the client's business and market to deliver expert, customized long-term service and attention. Their campaigns help organizations communicate directly with their target audience through branding and visual language.

DAVID.MARKET caters to a small client list at a time to ensure personalized attention, focus, and care. Clients include SpaceMaster, Solid Merch, Parasol Projects, and Miko.

14. Design Rooster

  • Location: 10472 Islington Ave #2, Kleinburg, Ontario L0J 1C0, Canada
  • Average Hourly Rate: On inquiry.
  • Expertise: Logo Design, Product Design, Print Design, Advertising, Package Design, Web Design, eCommerce Development, eCommerce Web Design, Search Engine Marketing, Email Marketing, Lead Generation.

Design Rooster creates beautiful visuals that connect clients' brands with their customers across all touchpoints, including social media.

The agency works closely with its clients to develop a unique and custom digital identity for any business. Their team combines craftsmanship with creative thinking to cultivate brand identity while utilizing the design world’s latest trends. As experts in design, they believe in the importance of attracting an audience to make your business grow and exploring their clients' industries to develop something extraordinary.

Some of Design Roosters’ most notable clients include Leone Fine Foods, Boardwalk, and Upwardor.

15. Speck Designs

  • Location: 1514 Ottawa Trail, Hastings, Michigan 49058, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Small Business Branding, Logo Design, Reputation Management, Small Business Website Design, SEO, Branding, Web Design, Creative, Graphic Design, B2B Website Design...

Speck Designs is a creative business consultant agency whose mission is to help business owners increase their online presence to generate more leads without waiting months to see results.

All of the company's services are completed with the main project goals in mind and their team are focused on building a stronger longer-lasting relationship with each of the businesses and individuals they are blessed to work with. Speck Design's top priority is that you are hitting your goals and our biggest achievement is helping you surpass your goals each month!

The company has an extensive portfolio of work and has partnered with some of the major brands such as Cherry Valley Gardens, Good Time Pizza & More, Thornapple Financial Center etc.

Expert Insights on the Cost of Search Engine Optimization

We asked the agency experts: “How should a business go about evaluating their SEO budget?”

Charlotte Tomlinson, Head of SEO and Content at Distinctly

“Among many considerations, evaluate the importance of SEO within your current marketing mix. How much revenue is it currently generating in comparison to other channels, and how big an opportunity does it present based on market, user, and competitor research? If SEO is a bigger revenue driver than other channels, it makes sense to apportion more budget accordingly.”

Mateo Beltroy, Founder of Triton Digital

“A business should determine its SEO budget based on its annual revenue and the lifetime value of each customer. Depending on the type of business, we recommend allocating 5-10% of its monthly revenue toward marketing, and about half of that should go toward long-term marketing strategies such as SEO.”

João Aparício, Founder of Digital24

“Marketing is an expense you can't avoid these days, with SEO being one of its most important pieces. Talk with your agency, ask them questions until you feel comfortable with the investment, and don't go cheap here. Why? The ROI will surprise you as long as you are patient and don't expect yesterday's results."

Randy Johnson, President/CEO Mobile OPZ, LLC

“There is no set cost. For SEO, we first audit the client's website and see where the most significant need is. We then start with directory listings, followed by blogs, to gain keywords. We then begin with high authority backlinks to push the content & keywords higher.

Since each client has a different budget, we start with what they can afford, typically $500-$1000 monthly. And once the client sees the value and fully understands the process, they will start putting all their marketing budget into SEO. We have SEO clients [allocating] from $500 to $30.000 a month, and most have been with us for 5+ years.”

In a Nutshell: Understanding the Cost of Search Engine Optimization

The cost of search engine optimization may be higher if you require the expertise, software, workforce, and other tools necessary to arrive at the best possible results.

If you opt for the more affordable alternative, you will risk getting subpar services. It is ideal to conduct extensive research and collect as much information as possible to weigh your options better and arrive at a smarter decision.

Some of the top digital marketing agencies in the world offer SEO services as well, so you should consider giving them a call.


Is it worth paying for SEO?

Yes, paying for SEO is worth it. SEO enhances your website's visibility on search engines, drives organic traffic, and builds long-term credibility. Effective SEO can offer a high return on investment, which makes it a crucial component for sustainable business growth.

How much should you spend on SEO?

Depending on your business size and needs, you should spend between $1,000 and $10,000 monthly on SEO. Spending under $500 is generally not recommended for professional endeavors, as it's unlikely to yield tangible results.

For small- to medium-sized businesses with less competition, a budget of $1,000 to $5,000 may suffice but could involve trade-offs in quality. Consider allocating $5,000 to $10,000 for more comprehensive and high-quality services to access experts and dedicated teams.

Get connected with the right SEO agency for your project.
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