In my years of working as an SEO consultant, Search Engine Optimisation pricing is probably one of the main controversial points when it comes to aligning with client’s expectations. The reason for this is a natural desire to save money, which is understandable, and I’m fully on board with spending less and making more myself. But the problem in this approach occurs when it comes without full understanding of the SEO market.
Many of us (consumers) have a habit of looking at prices as simple numbers, appraising services as we would approach a product. However, SEO consulting fees have many more variables than the price of a TV. Similar to products, SEO consultancy can be placed into 3 main categories; “budget”, “regular”, and “high-end” services. Each of these categories has its own set of rules and calculations behind the prices. In this article, we will aim to uncover what lays in the foundation for different SEO pricing options, and what you can expect as a return on your investments.
Low-end SEO Services Pricing
SEO prices are generally based on hourly fees, meaning that the price for your campaign will be made of a total amount of hours an SEO specialist will spend working on it. An SEO hourly rate can start as low as £5 to £50 on freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. Considering that most freelance websites charge an additional fee, the freelancer you are working with will receive even less than the outlined price. But as any worker, freelancers make prices to earn, not to survive. Basically, it means that whatever price you encountered, that fee is of value to the freelancer to conduct the work. What we don’t always keep in mind is what it actually means in terms of quality. In 2019, the average hourly salary in the UK was around £15 and in the US around $19 (without industry specific expenses such as taxes, software etc.). This would mean that a person charging less than at a minimum of £20 decided to earn less than an average hourly salary? Unlikely.
In order to achieve these prices and yet receive a sufficient (let minimal) paycheque, the service would have to come from the combination of the following:
Can you spend £5 an hour and get great results? Everything is possible.
Can you spend £5 an hour and expect great results? No, you can’t.
Whether you want to give it a go or not, would depend on you. But the chances of you really seeing any return will be very low, while the trust in the process might be lost for no reason. £1,000 is a much higher bill, but if it can bring you £5,000 return in the long run, it is certainly cheaper than just wasting even £200 a few times a year “testing the waters” and potentially being in a worse place than when you started from a search results perspective.
Mid Range, Yet Affordable SEO Services
When it comes to native speakers, local professionals, or agencies, you can expect hourly prices to vary anywhere from £50 to £200. The final price will depend on many factors such as some listed below (aside from how much extra money they want to make):
This level of SEO service will provide additional consultancy, guidance, reports, help with setting up tools, and overall higher customer experience. It will also give you a better clarity of what you can expect and the timeframes for achieving your goals, as well as explanation of challenges on the way. This doesn’t mean that results will come fast (anything under 3 month is generally considered quite fast) as SEO takes time, but it does mean that the results will come, bringing you growth and profit.
Mid range SEO services, generally, focus on quality and the longevity of campaigns rather than on the quantity of projects. This means that keeping you happy and showing good results is in their best interest, so that the average quality for this price point is significantly higher.
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Affordable SEO Packages and Tailored Campaigns
Before we move on onto the next pricing range, it is important to clarify that the hourly rates we cover in this article aim to explain the pricing structure and not the process. When looking for SEO quotes, you will most likely be provided for the “project price” that becomes a monthly retainer, not an hourly fee (unless on a freelance website). So before you move with the lowest proposed price, take your time to talk to each provider and understand exactly what comes with the price, since it is possible that extra savings of £200 are not a lower rate but less time spent on your project.
All of the above is relevant for “tailored campaigns”, however, many consults can offer affordable SEO packages you can choose from. SEO packages often contain a standardised set of tasks at a lower hourly rate. It is always better to go with custom solutions, but in case you are looking to work on a specific project, for example, you just want separate content strategy service, link building packages, keyword research, migration recommendations, or regular SEO reporting, you can safely go with “pre-made” options.
High-End SEO Services
This end, generally, starts at £200-£300 per hour and can go as high as the sky. This rage is mostly made of “SEO gurus” and large digital marketing agencies that combine many services. These services are most suitable for enterprise level clients who are looking for high-scale operations. These types of businesses can provide exceptional customer support and additional value in terms of non-SEO services, yet it is hard to call them “affordable”.
In terms of SEO quality, large agencies can rarely bring higher quality compared to mid range service providers making prices questionable, but depending on your needs they might be able to fully run your whole marketing from A to Z with hardly any involvement from your side.
I hope this article gave you a better idea of how SEO pricing works, and the true meaning of Search Engine Optimisation costs when it comes to quality and long term results for your website and your business. Take these insights on board and grow your business, smarter.