August 21, 2017

The cost of SEO

Published: 21 August 2017 

Are you looking to undertake some SEO work for your website? Worried about how much it might cost? If you’ve been looking up SEO agencies, chances are you’ve been quoted a lot of different prices. Here’s how you can find out the cost of SEO, and whether you’re getting good value for money.

How is the cost decided?

The first thing to know when figuring out the cost of SEO is what the variables are. The cost will vary depending on:

  • The goals of the business
  • The current position of the business
  • If there is a timeline on the completion of the business’ goals

A business that is ranking lower and wants to improve this on a shorter timeframe is going to find work may be more costly in the short term than those who have a longer timeframe. Knowing these variables can help businesses know how many links will need to be acquired and how many man hours it will take to complete the work in the required timeframe.

Cost will also differ depending on the business itself. The larger the business, the larger the profits per customer will be, and therefore the cost for SEO will also increase when compared to smaller businesses.


Once you’ve thought about the SEO variables, the next thing you have to consider is the quality of the work. Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for”? In the case of SEO, this is extremely true.

When you’re looking for an SEO agency, you’re bound to stumble across agencies who can offer their services for a low price. It is often tempting to go with these agencies, particularly when your budget is tight and you have limited resources. However, if you decide to go with a cheap agency, you may end up paying more in the long run. Work that is done for a relatively low cost can often mean it is black hat SEO. This means the agency will be using aggressive techniques which do not abide by Google’s guidelines. If this is noticed by Google, your business could receive a penalty. This means you could suffer a dramatic decrease in rankings on Google, or your listing could disappear altogether. This can result in a lot of man hours and money to fix, if it can be fixed at all.

Before you decide on hiring the cheapest possible agency, consider whether it will be worth it in the long run. Always remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you do your research before choosing the agency with the cheapest prices. Remember - SEO takes a while to complete. No one is going to charge dirt cheap prices for work that takes a lot of time and effort to complete. If they are, that should ring alarm bells.

So what is the actual cost of SEO?

These factors don’t really answer the question you want to know - what is the cost of SEO?

It’s first important to know the fee structure agencies set up. Agencies will either charge on a:

  • Hourly rate
  • Monthly retainer
  • Project-based (fixed)
  • Project-based (variable)
  • Performance based

So what are the standard hourly rates for SEO work? Moz undertook a survey from 10 different countries to find the average SEO costs. Moz found the average agency offers services between $75 - $200USD per hour, with offshore prices being much lower. Within Australia, the average costs are between $100 - $200USD per hour. Agencies who offer below $75USD per hour were often less experienced or have less specialisation.

The cost of SEO will also depend on the duration of the SEO campaign. In some instances, agencies will require you to choose a minimum term. However, it is more common for agencies to have no lock in contracts. When deciding on the length of work you require your agency to do, remember that SEO work takes time. As much as we’d like it, you’re never going to see results overnight. Generally, you will need at least six months to be able to see measurable results. Remember to be wary of agencies that “guarantee” results - they won’t work at Google, and therefore won’t have a better influence over the search engine results than anyone else.

How can you get the best value for money?

So now you know what variables will change the cost, and what average costs you can expect in Australia, you then need to know how you can determine that you received good value for money. It’s always annoying when you don’t get what you were promised, particularly when you invested a lot of money into it.

To avoid being in this situation, make sure you know exactly what the SEO company is doing for you before they start any work. This way there won’t be any mixed messages and your expectations won’t be let down. Make sure they clearly know your goals and what you want to achieve. If these aren’t made clear, you could both be working towards a different goal, which will mean you won’t really make any solid progress.

Remember to always measure your results. In the end, it’s your ROI that matters more than how much the SEO work actually costs. Compare the costs and results of your SEO work to how much it costs for AdWords and social ads. This way, you’ll know whether or not you got real value for money, and whether the investment in SEO is actually worth it.

Ben Maden

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