Search engine optimization is as old as the world wide web itself. While SEO was important in the early days of the internet, it lacked the complexity and sophistication that colors its practices today. Over the years, Google has taken its role in improving SEO by constantly updating its algorithm to keep up with the wide boom of websites popping up everywhere on the internet. The competition in the market is heated, as almost every business is doing its best to find a way to rise to the top of the ranks of search engines.
The progress of SEO from spamming keywords to creating relevant content surely took its time. Nowadays, a career in SEO is very promising as it’s considered one of the pillars of digital marketing. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t care about being visible on the internet. Whether you’re looking to start an agency or freelance your way to the top, you’ll want to make sure that you’re equipped with not just the technical knowledge, but knowledge about the market when it comes to pricing your services.
What Makes SEO Pricing Complicated?
Whether you’re an SEO beginner who is testing the waters or a business owner who is looking to check the market’s prices, you’ll notice that there are some huge discrepancies between the prices. SEO can be categorized into 4 pricing plans, which is why many seem confused about what they should charge or pay to get their SEO services in-check. There is no such thing as an industry standard when it comes to SEO costs. Nothing can stop an agency from naming the price they like, leaving it in the hands of their customers to decide whether it’s fair for the job required. In the long run, the variety between agencies and freelancers allows the consumer to almost always find an expert that can get the job done at the right price.
Projects are usually categorized into two different paying methods; an upfront fee that includes all costs and expenses, or divided pieces of the project that are paid as they are done consecutively. Naturally, it’s hard to put a price on big projects before starting to work on them as there is a lot of research and variable work involved. The fees are usually calculated on a case-by-case basis and they’re usually for specific tasks. The most common project-based fee is from $500 to $1000. It’s not that odd to find projects that cost upwards of $2500 in countries like the United States, Germany, Spain, and Italy. The average costs of local SEO per-project campaigns are below $1000, which is very close to India’s rates as well.
Agencies cost significantly more than freelancers with an average of $5,200 in the United States, making them close to triple the cost of freelancers. Consultants cost a bit less $4,500 while freelancers come last at around $1500. If you’ve already set prices that you’re not really sure of, you’ll have to start fixing your SEO pricing to match the average costs; only bid the price that will get the job done even if it’s high. Low bids are usually not motivating and could push you to cut corners as you find yourself not getting a fair value out of the deal. Knowing the prices of SEO is very important when you’re discussing your bid with a client.
Hourly rates are preferred by many who already have a solid marketing plan, and perhaps an in-house SEO team that may not be able to tackle certain projects. The hours are usually invested in one project or more. The most popular hourly rate price for many SEO experts is in the range of $100 to $150 per hour. It’s not odd to find some agencies charging up to $200, mostly based in the United States. It’s important to note that agencies usually charge more than freelancers, and consultants average around $75 to $100 per hour. Freelancers get the short end of the stick, with an average between $40 and $50. The more experienced the SEO expert, the more they’ll charge, but freelancers are usually the go-to for business owners with a tight budget.
Performance-based SEO is very alluring to clients as it doesn’t come with contractual pay-outs and has free cancellation, as the money is only paid upon obtaining the required results. The pay-for-performance model is highly variable, depending on the industry and the market. The clicks distribution is a major factor in determining whether the SEO service has worked its magic or not. Knowing the relevance and value of targeted keywords is very important -as it will help you determine the exact costs of your SEO services by taking into consideration the industry, competition, website, and links.
This is a very good choice for businesses that are still starting out with no SEO basis. This is different from project-based, hourly, and performance-based campaigns as it’s considered a partnership with an agency or consultant. The customization provided gives you leeway to prepare for future projects while having a long-term client. Monthly retainers are usually less than $2000 per month on average, depending on the country. The cheapest monthly retainers are found in India, with the majority charging less than $1000 per month. Experience matters a lot as SEOs who have been in the profession for less than 2 years are paid $1,200 on average, while those with experience exceeding 2 years get paid around $2,500, more than double. Worldwide SEO services cost double those of local ones in almost any place in the world.
The SEO industry is seeing a surge in popularity as the internet paves the way for digital marketing. Starting out in SEO may be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to manage yourself pretty well. Working in an agency is great, but freelancing is a great opportunity to gain a lot of experience as you learn to manage every aspect of the project by yourself. Rates are quite flexible, so never charge less than what you think your work is worth unless you’re only interested in the experience.