What is the Average Cost of SEO for Small Business?

Based on the average level of competition of most small business websites the average cost of SEO for a small business ranges between $1000-$3000 in monthly fees. The wide range in fees results from the fact that no two websites are completely identical and therefore require a custom-built SEO program to achieve the best results.

To be clear, many factors determine the average cost of monthly SEO services. To the point of custom SEO campaigns, the services that are being offered and the degree they need to be implemented are also crucial indicators of your monthly cost in SEO fees. Every website has unique needs and therefore you cannot create a “cookie cutter” plan for every business that maximizes search visibility.

Every business needs a strategy that addresses the past performance (what has been done), the current status (how it’s performing), and a strategy that achieves goals based on all three aspects. Therefore many SEO companies will not list a specific price on the website because an audit should be performed to identify the service that’s needed before determining the monthly fee.

Prices can vary widely between companies as well-even when they’re offering similar services. The SEO tool kit is essentially the same when you work with experienced professionals. However, the location of the company, the size of the company, the experience of your SEO specialist, and the pricing model your consultant offers are all variables that can change the amount of money you pay each month.

The details of each factor are discussed below. Feel free to click the links to skip to any section. 

Pricing models

Not every company charges the same way. There are a few different pricing models that can affect the average monthly SEO fee. Here are a few may you encounter.

Hourly rates

Some SEO consultants will offer an hourly rate. The average hourly rate in the United States for an SEO consultant is between $100-$250 an hour.

This pricing model may be suitable for businesses that have the staff on hand to perform specific SEO tasks and require the skills of an experienced SEO for guidance on improving the technical aspects of the website and overall strategy. 

While this may seem like an economical option, if the staff on hand is not competent or doesn’t have the right SEO training, the consulting fees can quickly rise beyond the price of a fixed monthly fee to maintain the same level of growth.

Having said that, this option may be the best for a start-up that has little to no budget to invest in a long-term project. A website with little to no content is a good candidate for an hourly SEO pricing model since a large part of SEO is based on content. With the right consulting, a business owner could write and publish the core pages of a website to get the ball rolling while also establishing a solid foundation for SEO by identifying the right keywords from the start.

average cost of SEO for a small business at an hourly rate

Monthly fees

Approximately 70% of SEO agencies use a monthly pricing model when offering SEO services. This option is for companies that can dedicate a monthly budget to growing their business. This pricing model also allows for more complex projects since all aspects are now being handled by an SEO specialist. The average cost of SEO for small business ranges from $1000 (on the low end) to $3000 for high-end SEO campaigns.

Companies that offer a fixed price for all clients should raise somewhat of a red flag. There is no “one way” to implement SEO in a “size that fits all” manner. While many companies use a monthly pricing model, that price is determined after a full assessment. After an assessment, a company can give you options A, B, and C pricing to determine how aggressive the campaign will be in terms of how much service is performed each month.

One-time projects

A one-off project could also be an option when you’re looking to accomplish a specific goal or aspect of optimization. Website audits are an excellent example of one-time projects where you can receive an in-depth assessment of your website. These audits will reveal the items that need to be optimized and elements that should be fixed on your website. 

Most SEO agencies will start at $1500 for a website audit but can also be as high as $10,000. The pricing here depends on the size of the website, how many pages, and your particular needs for the audit.

Why is SEO so expensive?

Search engine optimization includes a broad number of services that must be implemented in virtually every SEO campaign. Successful implementation of these services leads to some of the best ROIs in the digital marketing industry. SEO surpasses the ROI of pay-per-click campaigns exponentially the longer you’re invested in organic traffic generation.

cost of SEO vs the cost of PPC

Not only does paid traffic become more expensive as you continue to pay but SEO becomes less expensive and provides a larger ROI. Most businesses report that organic traffic provides better conversions than paid traffic which increases the value of SEO.

Many business owners who are strapped for cash may not have SEO built into the budget. SEO has always been the long game so there can’t be an expected return on your investment for the initial period that your site is being optimized. This adds to the misconception that SEO is expensive when the truth is it is essential to realize your website’s full earning potential.

Take a look at the average hourly rates (below) of SEO services, should you hire professionals a la carte. This data was provided by Clutch.co

average hourly rate for individual SEO services

Essential SEO services offered

To make an accurate assessment of different SEO proposals you should understand what services are being offered in each proposal. The fundamentals of optimizing a website to rank for important search phrases include site audits, optimizing site structure, keyword research, keyword strategy, content audits, content strategy, on-page optimization, link building, and monthly reporting.  

monthly SEO services offered

Website auditing

A website audit can identify many technical aspects that need to be improved on your website. The technical side of things includes fixing broken links, missing metadata, duplicate content, and indexing issues that affect visibility on the search engines.

Site structure

The user experience of your website is an SEO ranking factor since it helps users AND search engines understand your website. When visitors understand how to navigate through your site to find the information they’re looking for it contributes to longer site sessions, increases in pages per session, reduced bounce rates, and a better user experience.

Search engines also reward well-organized websites. Using the “filing drawer” technique to systematically establish the URLs on your site is one aspect of creating a solid SEO foundation. Incorporating keywords and creating a silo using pillar pages points to the most content and keyword themes of your website.

Keyword research

Researching keywords is a regular part of every SEO campaign. It isn’t a “one and done” service because they are always changing and there are always new keywords to target. This aspect of your SEO services is crucial in determining the success of your campaigns.

Keyword strategy

Not only does your SEO specialist need to target keywords that they effectively rank for but also that will generate business value by turning visitors into clients. Your campaign should have short-term and long-term goals included.

Content audits

When your site is initially assessed, an SEO professional will look at the pages that perform, the pages that don’t rank at all, and determine what content should be added, refurbished, or deleted.

Content strategy

Like your keyword strategy, your content strategy is established largely through competition analysis and effective keyword targeting. The content on your site should be largely published in pillar page form with major keyword themes in mind.

On-page optimization

The pages on every site should be optimized to target a specific keyword group (except for the pages exempt from being indexed on Google, such as a checkout page). In addition, structured data markup is added to provide “behind the scenes communication with search engines. This can often result in more clicks to a page directly from the search engine result page.

Link building

The links on your website are one of the largest factors for determining organic ranking positions. They can also provide large volumes of referral traffic from external websites. Your link network should consist of a collection of highly natural, relevant backlinks. This aspect of SEO (combined with content) requires skill and experience for maximum results.

Monthly reporting

Every agency should provide you with a monthly report to show you the performance of your website. These reports should include changes in ranking, monthly traffic, where the visitors came from, and how well they converted to the goals you’ve set out to achieve. An accurate monthly report provides enough data to finely tune your website optimization and maximize the value it contributes to your overall revenue.

Location: The average price increases in larger cities

The average cost of SEO for small businesses will increase when you search for SEO companies located in large cities. The overhead is always a factor when in the pricing model. So, while it may seem that a fancy SEO company in Fort Worth may charge a much higher price per month, it doesn’t guarantee that you will be getting a better service than an SEO company in Plano.

To this point, it’s risky to hire companies from countries that don’t speak American English. Google’s BERT update continues to make search engines more accurate by fine-tuning them to the way we speak. Hiring someone who understands not only understands your language but speaks it fluently is the best possible situation for an all-inclusive SEO campaign.

Experience

The experience of the SEO specialists you work with can also greatly affect the price you pay for monthly SEO services. If you’re working with an SEO pro who has ranked thousands of websites and has proven to achieve incredible ROIs with every client, you’re going to pay more monthly than someone fresh to the industry.

More often than not, you get what you pay for. If you do your due diligence on the SEO company you hire, you’ll get insight into what they’ve done for past and current clients. The experience of your SEO provider is invaluable as it can save you time and resources.

The main takeaway here is that you want to work with someone who has ranked websites like yours before or at the very least has a good track record with their past and current clients. Any SEO worth their salt should be able to give you a few clients that will attest to what they’ve done. If your industry is very difficult you may need the skills of an experienced professional that is worth the extra bucks per month.

Our SEO services are geared towards small businesses

If you’re looking for an SEO company you can rely on, look no further. Our agency works explicitly with small to medium-sized businesses and has the results to back it up. Contact us today and schedule your first hour-long consultation absolutely free. We’ll provide you with the insight needed to grow your business and make an informed decision on the best choice for your SEO provider.