Over the last decade, search engine optimisation, or SEO for short, has become a vital part of digital marketing. Most businesses, small or big, already have some understanding of how SEO works. No one wants to miss out on those 5 billion Google searches a day. It’s a race against the clock and against themselves to determine who gets to be seen by potential customers.
However, very few business owners have a clear idea of how much SEO services can cost. This is one of the main problems of SEO. According to the 2021 CMO Survey, nearly 74% of companies invest in SEO. That means that there’s a whopping 26% portion of businesses that has no budget at all for this marketing channel. And for the 74% that do? From our experience, it’s not usually enough to get real results.
We’ve put together this guide to help business owners realise the importance of having a budget for SEO services. We will cover how outsourced SEO is priced, the many factors that would help you determine your own businesses’ budget, and more.
SEO cost structures
Much like any other service out there, search engine optimisation has several pricing structures. However, before we get into that, let’s first go over what we mean by “SEO costs”. Well, for starters, when we say SEO, we are obviously referring to the process of optimising your website to gain better rankings in search engines, namely Google.
Now, you can very well do all of this in-house. However, most businesses can’t afford the time or training to do it, so they resort to local SEO agencies or digital marketing firms instead. And to truly get an idea of the average costs of SEO services, we need to understand how these businesses charge in the first place.
Paying per project
SEO agencies or digital marketing firms will often come up with a price that covers the entirety of an SEO project. Of course, the pricing they come up with won’t be made up. They will have to provide an overview of the scope and extent of the project.
Generally speaking, a project covers one aspect of SEO. For example, a project might be writing 20k words of content, doing extensive keyword research, scoring 10 high-quality links from DA40+ sites, etc. In other words, you’ll have to develop your SEO strategy yourself and get help when needed.
Usually, expect to pay more per project if your goals are quite ambitious. Still, most trustworthy SEO agencies will deliver on those goals, given that they accepted them in the first place.
Paying per month
This is perhaps the most common payment structure amongst SEO service providers. You will get constant coverage of SEO duties on your website for a fixed amount per month. Put differently; it’s a more complex process that covers pretty much everything you need SEO-wise.
Most of the average costs discussed later will be in this pricing format since it’s the most commonly used one.
According to a survey done by Ahrefs, 74.71% of respondents said that they charge their clients using this model.
Paying per hour
The hour(s), in this case, refer to the time spent by an SEO agency or professional on whatever project you throw at them. This pricing structure is mainly used by SEO freelancers, but many agencies also use it.
Average SEO costs
Now that we have gone through the different pricing structures of search engine optimisation, let’s delve into the average costs of SEO. But, before we get into that, let us first explain our working logic here. To make this easier to read, we have divided SEO costs into four main categories, each with its average price range as well as its pros and cons.
Cost: (Almost) free of charge!
In case the name hasn’t given it away already, DIY SEO refers to the process of handling optimisation by yourself. This is perfect for small business owners who have little to no budget set aside for SEO and would happily learn how SEO works. However, before you go with this route, you should know that there is a significant learning curve.
People considering this route should ready themselves to do many tasks. Those tasks include as background research, competitor and keyword research, on-site optimisation, and more. And as we have mentioned above, such tasks require a lot of your time and attention. You’ve probably also mentioned that “almost” in the title. Well, we’ve added it for transparency. That’s because you will still have to pay for several tools to conduct your research, not to mention that some links cost money to build. So, if you can’t afford to give some of that away, you should consider paying for a professional or agency.
Cost: Anywhere from £50 to £2,000 per month
Cheap SEO is the way to go for small-time businesses that are looking to get a grip of what SEO is and want to set clear content marketing strategies for the near future. If you go with this, expect suggestions for content and basic recommendations for onsite SEO-related edits.
One thing to keep in mind when dealing with cheap SEO providers is the fact that in order to deliver on their promises, some agencies may cut corners in the optimisation process. This might render their services ineffective or downright dangerous for your website and business in general. This is because whatever shortcuts they might rely on are already on Google’s radar, and the moment they (Google) realise something is off, you are done for.
Cost: £2,000 to £6,000 per month
This range of SEO is perfect for businesses looking to have a definitive content marketing strategy. Services offered at the lower end of this range usually involve fixing existing issues on the level of your website. In other words, any alterations and optimisations to the way your website is structured, all for the sake of SEO.
As for the higher end of this price tier, businesses should expect intricate content marketing strategies. This includes creating regular and unique content for a blog, updating existing content and more. Some agencies will also provide thorough keyword research, link building, and more.
Yet, similar to cheap SEO, businesses interested in this tier should do their due diligence to find an agency that can deliver on most of their promises.
Cost: More than £6,000 per month
People who go for high-end SEO usually have websites that get a lot of traffic, and we mean a lot! This includes large e-commerce websites, for example.
Agencies that operate within this price range usually have the required expertise and workforce to solve technical SEO issues to help companies rise in the ranks within a very competitive market.
Businesses who go for this price range should expect their SEO agencies to provide them with an intricate, long-term plan that can take anything from 3 to 24 months.
SEO costs factors
Now that we have provided you with an idea about the average prices of search engine optimisation in the UK, let’s delve into some of the many factors that can affect the cost of SEO services.
The amount of content that already exists on your website and the one added throughout your service subscription will affect how much your SEO services will cost. This is because if you pay for a reputable SEO agency, expect them to take their job very seriously. This includes scouring your website for any missing or conflicting bits of metadata and content that can badly affect your rankings.
Google’s algorithms are ever-changing. That said, if there is one thing that is constant, then it is the fact that backlinks are still the most important factor used by search engines to determine the rankings of pages. It works as follows: the better the quality of your backlinks, the higher it will end up ranking for relevant keywords.
Why? You might ask.
Well, having quality backlinks tells Google that your website is both trustworthy and relevant.
The process of building backlinks is a time and energy-consuming one. So, if your website is lacklustre in this department, expect to pay more for the services.
The overall state of your website
As we have just mentioned above, Google’s ranking algorithms are always updating. In other words, what worked a couple of years back might not work today. So, if the current technical state of your website is in dire need of an update, then expect higher SEO costs.
Of course, your current organic rankings will have a major effect on how much SEO services might cost you. This is because achieving a higher ranking is much harder than maintaining one. In other words, if you are already holding a respectable ranking, keeping it might cost you very little.
Where your business is set up, geographically speaking, and how many other local businesses are competing with you significantly impact how much SEO services cost. The latter can also be higher than usual if your business is physically set up in many locations. This is because you will have more content to optimise and more keywords to cover.
If your business operates in a highly competitive industry or within a tight niche, then expect more work SEO-wise, which surprise! surprise! Costs more money. Not only does your content need to outshine the competition’s but you also need to get more backlinks, amongst other things.
How to keep SEO costs at bay
If SEO costs your business wads of cash and you’re thinking of dropping this marketing channel altogether, here’s what you have to do:
- Take a deep breath
- Book a discovery call with us, and we’ll help you minimise SEO costs while still getting great results