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SEO Plans and Pricing in 2021: Everything You Need to Know

Like any business marketing tool, one of the biggest questions that people have surrounding SEO services is their cost. Many marketing managers and business owners search for SEO plans and pricing information before they even start trying to learn about search engine optimization and how the process can benefit their organization. 

Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t come with a single price point. 

In fact, although there is some merit to be had for those companies that do offer pre-priced packages and SEO plans, the mere nature of SEO makes it best as a custom solution. That includes pricing. 

Nonetheless, we’re going to dig through the details of SEO plans and pricing in this guide. Hopefully, we’ll be able to address some of your biggest questions and help you better understand how you’ll pay for SEO and how much you’ll pay. 

What we can’t do is give you exact numbers — no two campaigns are exactly the same. However, if after you’ve read this guide you decide that you want more information or a specific quote for custom SEO solutions, we can provide a custom quote. 

For now, let’s focus on getting down to the nuts and bolts of SEO plans and pricing, including what types of pricing options are out there. We’ll also help you understand why pricing is so variable, and get to the real value of paying for custom SEO solutions rather than choosing a prepackaged solution.

Oh, and we’re going to skip the SEO 101 stuff like why SEO is important. It’s 2020. If your business is online, you need SEO. That’s all there is to it. No matter how much it costs, or how much you think you can afford, or even if you want to pay for it, you need SEO. 

After all, 75% of all Internet searches end on the first page of the results and search engine optimization is the proven way to get there. Now, onto the pricing discussion.

SEO Pricing in 2021

Of course, it’s pertinent to have the most relevant information, since SEO pricing can change from one year to the next. 

Right now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are finding more and more people seeking out professional SEO solutions, which may be helping drive prices down a bit since there is so much demand in the current market. However, that’s not always going to be the case. 

Ultimately, you have to look at how SEO services are charged to get more accurate pricing information and find actual numbers, but in 2020, basic SEO pricing hasn’t changed a lot from the previous year. 

Plus, more companies are offering estimates, sample pricing, and other data that is helping provide you with more actual numbers to get an idea of what to expect. 

How Much Does SEO Cost?

This is not a question with a single, or simple, answer. What you pay for search engine optimization services depends on who you hire, how they charge, and what types of services you need. Based on recent research, here are some average ranges to keep in mind:

  • $1,500-$10,000 per month for monthly plans, usually on a 6-month contract
  • $5,000-$40,000 for a one-off project
  • $100-$400 per hour for SEO consultants that charge hourly rates 

As you can see, there’s a whole lot of room for variation here. That’s because SEO campaigns themselves are inherently variable. What you need isn’t ever going to be the exact same, or even similar to, what someone else needs. 

Plus, remember those numbers are just average ranges. You could spend more or less on your SEO, depending on a variety of factors. In addition to the services that you need, factors that influence pricing for SEO services include things like:

  • Expertise level of the staff working on the campaign
  • Number of people working on the campaign
  • The geographical location of the SEO firm
  • Time allocated for the project, including ongoing maintenance
  • Hard costs required for the campaign

The last thing to know about the basic concept of SEO pricing is that this is not an expense. Quality SEO plans and custom solutions are an investment, and they’re an investment that is well worth making. 

SEO can take up to a year or more to return its investment in full, but in the meantime, you’ll gain things like more targeted traffic, new audiences, better visibility, and a better professional image. All of that is worth every penny, no matter how much you pay. 

How are SEO Services Charged?

The way that search engine optimization and other marketing services are charged is going to depend on a few different factors. The agency or consultant that you use may have their own preferred way of charging for services. Some choose hourly rates, although this is generally a less common option. 

Others, and the majority of SEO providers, prefer to offer a package or plan price that includes everything that they are doing for your business in terms of search engine optimization efforts. 

Also, this may or may not be in addition to monthly fees or other ongoing costs related to the monitoring and maintenance of your account. Again, every provider will have their own way of billing. These are just different examples of what you might encounter. 

Here are a few other things you should know about SEO costs and how services are charged. 

  • Cheap or heavily discounted SEO services may be located overseas, so beware of this if you’re looking to work with local or US-based services. 
  • Templated SEO services are becoming much less popular as custom marketing strategies and pricing structures are growing in demand and necessity. 
  • Beware of guarantees, hidden costs and fees, and other extra expenses that you might not be advised about but that could show up on your estimate. Any reputable service will be transparent about these things. 
  • Ecommerce and enterprise SEO costs more than local and small business SEO, and rightly so since the campaigns are more dynamic and complex. 
  • Most companies have a minimum monthly fee or retainer that is charged for their services, typically ranging in the $2,500-$8,000 range for average-size campaign needs. 

What about Freelancers and Consultants?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a freelance SEO consultant or individual person to work on your campaigns. If you only need one small issue handled or don’t have a lot of optimization needs, this might be an acceptable way to go about it. 

The problem here is that freelancers can take a lot of your time and require more attention than you might have to dedicate to the process. After all, you’re hiring someone so that you don’t have to worry about your SEO. 

If you’re constantly checking in with (or up on) a freelancer, you’re wasting time that could be spent on your business. 

The ideal choice is to choose a small firm that has a well-rounded team. That way, you get more than one person dedicated to your SEO campaigns and you get the professional results that your business needs. 

Plus, you’re not going to become another number at some huge multinational firm that doesn’t give you that personal attention that you deserve. 

It might not be the cheapest option, but can you really put a price on the success of your search engine optimization efforts? It is the future of your brand, after all. 

SEO Plans and Pricing by Business Size

Most often, the easiest way to research or divide SEO plans and pricing structures is by the size of the client or business that requests them. 

Small business and mid-size companies will have more options for prepackaged SEO solutions and budget-friendly services, while enterprise companies almost always need customized SEO plans that include custom pricing structures. 

Again, we’re back to the point that it really all comes down to what you need. 

Small Business SEO Packages

For the small business, an SEO package plan might be fine. When you don’t need excessive SEO services or an extensive custom optimization plan, some of the pre-packaged solutions actually offer something worth considering. 

While going the custom route might be necessary for a larger business, small business packages and plans are much more commonly available. Of course, the entire concept of plans and pre-packed solutions is starting to go by the wayside so it might be a good starting point, but you should be prepared for eventual custom pricing solutions.

A typical SEO plan or package could include services like:

  • On-page and off-page optimization
  • Keyword research
  • Website audit 
  • Content development
  • Link building
  • Monitoring and ongoing maintenance

Depending on the services included, as well as their frequency and how many people are working on your campaign, the available package prices and structures will change. 

Enterprise SEO Plans and Pricing

At the enterprise level, there are even fewer plans available that are pre-packaged. 

In fact, although a lot of agencies have gotten to a place where they have pricing models and base packaging available, they’re almost always going to suggest a custom solution that includes all of the services that you need with a price estimate tailored to your specific needs. 

However, this is where you’ll find yourself at the higher end of the price spectrum than a small business might. Naturally, after all, your business is much larger and has much larger needs. 

Enterprise SEO is going to be in the higher end of the price bracket, with most companies investing in bigger packages or better custom plans that provide comprehensive solutions. 

For example, while a base package might cost around $3,000 to get started, an enterprise-level solution could require as much as twice that or more. 

The best thing that you can do, regardless of your business size, is to get an idea of average pricing and then request your own custom quotes to see how they stack up. 

SEO Plans vs. Hourly SEO Services

Regardless of whether it’s custom pricing or pre-packaged, SEO services will come in one of two formats. Agencies will either charge an hourly rate or a plan rate. Some will offer a hybrid, charging for the base plan and then incorporating occasional hourly charges for other services. 

You’ll need to talk to the agency. That’s really all there is to it. You will not be able to determine how much SEO plans will cost you until you talk to someone about what you need and how their services are billed. 

Besides, as we just mentioned, you can’t get an accurate estimate of how much you’ll be spending on SEO until you know what your business needs based on its size, the size of your online presence, and how much optimization assistance you need. 

Whether you pay hourly or by the project is a secondary consideration, so long as you’re getting a fair price. More importantly, how you pay or how much you spend matters less than what you’re paying for. 

The Real Value of Custom SEO Pricing and Plans

When it comes to doing your SEO the right way, it is almost always going to be that a custom solution is the best way to go. In the vein of getting what you pay for, SEO plans and pricing are all about what you get for the money. 

If you choose cheap SEO plans, you’re probably going to get cheap results. If you base your entire decision on which agency to work with on cost alone, you’re not giving yourself the chance to get the best SEO solutions. 

Yes, SEO can get expensive. However, it’s an investment, not an expense. Remember that always, because it can make all the difference. 

Remember, SEO has a huge return on investment. Plus, that return comes within the first year, if not sooner. Optimization won’t happen overnight, but it happens a lot quicker and easier than other marketing solutions. 

Even if you’re spending more than you expected or you feel like you’re stretching the budget, look at what you’ll get back. That will make it easy for you to spend the money on SEO in the first place. 

How to Plan Your SEO Budget

If you want to avoid spending more than you should on professional SEO solutions, the best thing that you can do is to get a budget in order. 

After you’ve done some research, you’ll know what you should expect, or at least have a ballpark idea of how much you will want to set aside. That way, when you do start getting quotes and discussing your options for search engine optimization services, you’ll be able to prioritize the elements that you need most. 

For example, a mid-range plan that includes 100 keywords and phrases might be enough for the first endeavor into professional SEO if you’re on a limited budget. It still gives you plenty of optimization power, but it’s not the most expensive solution, which is really just icing on the cake in many cases. 

If you aren’t sure about this, you can always choose to get your own quotes and estimates first, and then figure out whether you can make the budget work for it. Either way, you’ve got to plan ahead if you want to make the most of investing in SEO at any price point. 

Here’s a glimpse of what your budget for SEO plans might include:

  • Initial optimization efforts (usually the biggest investment)
  • Ongoing maintenance and monitoring (often a monthly cost)
  • Backlinking and networking assistance (may be charged separately from other services)
  • Content creation and copywriting (if not included in the initial estimate)
  • Technical SEO and backend support (again, if not included in the estimate)

The exact services and solutions that you need will help you create the ideal budget, but it will typically consist of similar elements to those listed here. 

Tips for Getting the Best SEO Plans

Now that you’re aware that SEO is not cheap, and that the cheap plans are rarely worth it, there’s only one thing left to do: figure out how to get the best SEO plans at the best price. 

To begin with, you’ll want to find a reputable, professional SEO firm that can offer the solutions that you need. 

  1. Make sure that all pricing and plan details are transparent. Even the best companies that demand providing custom pricing will do so willingly and disclose all included costs and charges so that you know what you are getting. If the pricing is vague or there are hidden charges on the estimate that weren’t discussed, you might not have the most reputable agency. 
  2. Choose a provider that creates quality content and takes the optimization approach from a top-down directive, improving all aspects of your online presence in as many ways as possible. That way, you will be paying one provider for all of your online optimization needs. 
  3. Stick to agencies that cater to businesses of your size. Like anything, search engine optimization is a slightly different process for a small company than what it would entail for a large corporation. Therefore, different SEO experts will have different types of experience, and you want people who know how to help your business succeed. 
  4. Make sure that they offer customizable plans. After all, while a starter package is fine for base pricing or to get things moving, every company should have its own dedicated SEO strategy that is based on the unique needs and goals of the business. 

Do I Really Need Professional SEO Services?

Now that we’ve broken down all the costs, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with pricing information. At this point, it could be tempting to throw all this information out the window, tell the pros to get lost, and try to take on SEO by yourself. 

After all, it doesn’t get much more budget-friendly than doing your own SEO. 

However, that’s just putting you back in the place where you started, or worse. Plus, it’s getting back to the lost focus of cost. Yes, how much you pay for SEO matters, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. 

What’s important is getting good SEO, and getting it from a reputable, professional agency that knows how to help you succeed. 

If you’re tired of trying to figure out how much SEO is going to cost or asking why it has to be so expensive, it’s time to start looking for the right agency and getting estimates for professional SEO solutions that will help your business improve its online presence. 

When you find the right team to work with, you’ll find the right pricing and the best results. 

Our team has years of experience in search engine optimization for all kinds of businesses from various industries. We provide boutique SEO solutions that give you the dedicated attention that you deserve and help position your business as a leader in its industry by increasing your search rankings and other optimization efforts. 

Call us today to discuss your needs for SEO and see how we can help. 

If you’re working on a budget, let us help you figure out how to stretch your marketing dollars further, with a custom SEO solution that will deliver results for less than you think.

Author avatar
Perrin Carrell

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