As time progresses, every business in every sector relies more on their websites to market their services. In order for their websites to be successful, they depend on search engine optimization (SEO) to get them out there in front of the public. Without SEO, a website doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. All it ends up being is another piece of real estate on the Internet gathering dust.
With SEO, a website is given the opportunity to shine. The question, however, is how much a business should pay for SEO services. The following is a breakdown of the four types of payment structures that are used and what you can expect to pay for each:
- Contract services – Contract services have fixed pricing and are offered by nearly all SEO agencies. Even when the services require a monthly retainer, contract services have to be chosen. Being that the SEO firm will offer multiple types of contract services, the client can choose which services they want. Expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $7,500 for link profile audits, $500 to $3,000 for social media site setup, up to $.50 per word for SEO copywriting, and between $500 and $7,500 for a site content audit. Of course, prices can vary based on the exact scope of services.
- Monthly retainer – The client pays a monthly fee in exchange for the SEO services they sign up for. This is a very common payment model, as it provides the best return on investment (ROI). Monthly retainer arrangements tend to include a regular analytics report, press releases, keyword research, optimization, link building, and on-site content improvements. Expect to pay between $750 and $5,000 per month based on the size of the business and the scope of the services.
- Hourly consulting – Some services or the simple providing of information to a client may warrant an hourly consulting fee. The typical cost is between $100 and $300 per hour.
- Project-based pricing – The project-based pricing model is similar to the contract services model in that the projects are custom created for the client. The pricing can vary based on the scope of the project. For example, a company may want an SEO agency to update their on-site content to include the latest search trends. The SEO agency and the client will decide on the cost of the project based on its scope. The cost can be anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 based on the size of the project.
All of these payment models are used in some way by all SEO agencies. The agency may decide which model works for specific services or may base the payment model used off of client need.
Beware Of These Things
There are a number of things that you MUST be aware of when it comes to purchasing SEO services because you are paying good money for results. If you see the following, steer clear:
- Guarantees – An SEO agency can’t really provide a guarantee because of the constant changes in the industry. SEO is an ongoing process, as your web presence needs to be maintained to keep up with the latest trends.
- #1 Ranking – No one can guarantee you the number one spot on Google. A firm can’t promise it because of the changing online environment. It’s great if you get it, but it’s also great if you get high enough ranking that you benefit your bottom line with that ranking. From there, you and your SEO agency can continue to strive for top placement.
- Results tomorrow – Yes, there are some SEO tactics that can get instant results, but this is usually done by using illegal methods that could hurt your website later. If a search engine finds out a tactic was used to manipulate the organic nature of their search results, then penalties can be assessed and it takes months to recover from such penalties.
- Not charging enough – SEO is more about finding the right service than it is about price. If an agency charges less than $750 per month, then you should beware. The saying, “you get what you pay for” comes into play here.
- Poor link building tactics – An SEO agency should be able to tell you how they build their links and where their links come from. Link building is a fantastic practice to improving rankings, but link trust is becoming more important. It is imperative that the inbound links that are built for your site are trustworthy and authoritative links.
Things to Remember
Keep in mind that SEO takes time, so a monthly retainer may give you the best return on investment. This ensures work continues on improving your site rankings. Utilizing a monthly plan also means that adjustments can be made as SEO changes affect rankings.
Also remember that not all SEO services are the same, as you want to focus on quality of service rather than the cost .When you have a high quality service working for you, you are going to receive a return on your investment, which is why price is hardly ever a consideration. The better the service, the faster that return is achieved.