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The cost of SEO fluctuates based on the pricing model, the size of your website, and the scope of work required. In the United States, agencies report charging an average between $1000-$5000 USD per month to handle a small to medium-sized business’s monthly SEO. Some enterprise businesses pay more than $100K USD per month.

SEO pricing models

Many SEO companies and consultants have very different ways of charging clients for SEO services. The most common pricing models are per hour, per month, and per project.

Per hour pricing

SEO consultants are a good fit for companies who have in-house resources to complete the various tasks required every month. An SEO consultant can assess the website and outline the strategies and monitor the results of the in-house team on a weekly or monthly basis.

Freelancers mostly use this pricing model and charge according to the number of hours they spend working on the project. The most common hourly wages for an SEO consultant fall between $100-and $200 per hour.

Average of hourly rates charge by SEO's to determine how much does SEO cost

Monthly fee

If you’re working with an SEO company you’ll likely be on a fixed monthly payment schedule. Most agencies won’t consider working with any client for less than $1000 at the low end. Of course, there are “SEO professionals” who dip below the minimum but in the end, you get what you pay for.

In 2018 Ahrefs surveyed the monthly retainers and the results came back confirming that in the US, 66% of companies charge over $1000, and 25% of companies charge between $2000-$5000usd.

average price of SEO charged monthly

Here are the averages charged by the different groups of SEOs from the 2018 survey:

  • Agencies: $2,819.87/month, on average.
  • Consultancies: $1,906.48/month, on average.
  • Freelancers: $1,364/month, on average.

SEO pricing per project

If you have a specific goal that can be met in a one-off project, then an SEO company could quote you a total price for the project. Quotes could range anywhere from $1000 for a small business to millions of dollars for a large corporation.

Project quotes vary depending on the scope of work to be performed and because they are customized to the clients’ specific needs.

What exactly are you paying for when you invest in SEO services?

An agency will take full responsibility for a company’s SEO and typically performs the following duties every month:

Keyword research

Researching search terms that represent business value is an ongoing monthly task. Keywords are researched and evaluated to be in line with your keyword strategy before any page is published or optimized. This includes researching the intent of the words by understanding your clients and what they are looking for. Research is one of the most time-consuming tasks of an SEO who is doing due diligence on identifying the ideal keyword targets.

Competitor research

One of the most effective ways to establish a winning strategy is reverse-engineering the websites that are winning the top positions on Google. This includes everything from site structure, content gaps, keyword gaps, backlink gaps, and on-page optimization tactics.

On-page optimization

There are so many facets now to creating a well-optimized page. The user experience, topical content, internal links, and structured data markup are just a few of the ways to improve on-page optimization.

Technical audits

It’s important to keep a pulse on the technical performance of a website-especially when things are changing all the time. Links can be broken, pages can be orphaned, and having a professional run an audit on a routine basis can stop problems before they affect your business.

Link building

As one of the largest ranking factors, SEOs are responsible for quality link building to improve competitiveness and rank ability. This is typically an area where the lower quality SEO services fall off and can become toxic to your site.

Analysis and reporting

Without knowing exactly what’s happening on your site, it’s impossible to maximize your growth. Analytic reporting gives companies insight into the behavior of website visitors. This data provides the basis for logical decisions that can scale up growth and eliminate poor performance.


The experience of a veteran SEO is a valuable asset to every company. Every business should have an SEO strategy that’s being monitored and nurtured to achieve the overarching goals of the company. A consultant can provide the answers needed to determine the best direction for development as well as and setting new goals for website performance.

Other factors that affect the price of monthly SEO services

Remember there are a few variables that ultimately determine your monthly retainer for SEO services. Read on for our brief overview of each element you should be aware of.

Size of your website

When choosing your SEO company, make sure you choose one that’s best suited to you. If you’re a local small business asking for quotes from an SEO company that mainly works with enterprise businesses, you may be disappointed with how much they ask you to pay.

The size of your website affects the price you pay each month. A website with 30 pages vs one that has 100K is going to be a lot less work and therefore shouldn’t require top dollars for service.

Scope of work to be performed

The long-term goals for your business play a big part in the monthly cost of SEO services. To take a newly launched website and rank it the #1 position in a highly competitive market requires more resources than a domain that’s been around for 10 years.

Many companies are happy to take a segmented approach at a lower budget. Rather than attack 100s of keywords at the same time, it may be more feasible to focus on the 10 or 20. The goals are often similar (who doesn’t want to be #1 on Google?!) but the ways to get there will differ from website to website.

The country you and your SEO company are located

The cost of living is very different in the US to India. Therefore, it should make sense that some agencies out of the country will offer SEO services at a lower price than others. The biggest problem is that there are too many poor-quality services.

If it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You risk the health of your domain when you allow an inexperienced SEO (or unscrupulous one) edit and develop your website. Bad links and irrelevant content lead to poor rankings. Eventually, most victims of bad SEO need a reputable SEO company to reverse what was done.

Choosing “cheap SEO” results in paying more in the long run than had you just gone to a good company, to begin with. The time spent damaging and restoring your site is a lost opportunity cost coupled with higher SEO fees for reversing the damage.