As an SEO company and digital marketing agency we often times get questions about SEO pricing and where it comes from. Established in 2009, as an SEO agency we have talked to hundreds if not over a thousand people all with unique businesses and unique needs that have a variable level of experience when it comes to SEO campaigns. This said, no matter the size of the business and the level of experience every SEO prospect wants to know, “what does it cost”? Of course, this is a fair question as consumers or business owners we need to understand what we are paying for and what it does for us.
In the marketing world, specifically the digital marketing world this can be a tough thing to fully understand. With this in mind, we decided it would be beneficial to compose an article about where SEO pricing comes from. Bear in mind, every agency is set up a bit different, so this is from the lens of our own agency and the way we operate and put out proposals for SEO implementation and SEO consulting work.
SEO Pricing - Competition and Geography
One of the biggest drivers of cost derives from two simple concepts of competition and geography. These are two variables that will dictate what needs to be done to get a client with real SEO results. When planning a strategy for a client these are often times the first two things that we talk about and look at to see what needs to be done.
The Effect of Competition on Pricing
Not unlike anything else in the world, the more competitive something is the more work it takes to get results in that area. This same concept applies to SEO and creating a viable strategy. The more competitive the business niche, it will take more implementation and creative strategizing to gain results.
If you are in an extremely competitive business niche such as legal, medical, or emergency services, it should be expected that you may pay a premium when getting pricing for SEO campaigns. If you are in a niche business, generally it takes a bit less work to get results, so the pricing will likely reflect that.
How Does an SEO agency Determine how Competitive a Business Niche is?
Determining the competitive landscape of a business niche is fairly straight forward. Any established SEO company will have tools at their disposal to complete keyword research and by doing so will gain insights into how competitive a business niche may be. Most keyword research tools have some sort of competition score associated with them, which is often compared across a variety of different tools to asses how competitive that particular niche may be.
Additionally, looking at CPC (cost per click) trends in PPC (pay per click) advertising platforms like Google Ads will paint a picture of the competitive landscape as well. As a general rule, it can be assumed that the higher the cost per click the more competitive the niche will be. While this isn’t always the case, putting this data side by side with competition scores will create a clear picture.
The Effect of Geography on SEO Pricing
It should be no surprise that some cities and geographies are simply just more competitive than others. So if you live in a major city (say top 10 metro areas of the US), you should expect to pay a premium for SEO services as it will take a lot more work to move the needle for you in those markets than it would in smaller markets. As a general rule, the size of your city, along with the competitive landscape of your business type, will dictate what needs to be done to get results and in turn have an effect on the pricing that a company can offer you and realistically get you results. On top of that if you are seeking to cover large areas (regions, countries or International efforts) you should also expect that the pricing may be a bit higher than a smaller local only SEO campaign.
SEO Pricing and Deliverables
A solid SEO campaign will certainly have a lot of deliverables and if it is a quality campaign those deliverables will be customized to your business, not one size fits all solutions. That said, for this example, we are going to focus on custom solutions, as frankly, the low dollar solutions just don’t work anymore, that’s assuming they ever did.
The deliverables in an SEO campaign will vary from need to need, hence the discrepancy in pricing across the industry. Below we will outline some of the high-level deliverables and a quick outline of what it is and how it relates to SEO and SEO pricing.
- Content - SEO requires a lot of content in order to gain results. Everything from fresh content on the website to social posts and press releases will likely be required to get your results. As a general rule the more competitive the more content that will need created and in turn the higher the price of the SEO campaign.
- On-Page SEO - This is the part of SEO that deals with the things happening in your website. Things such as title tags, website speed, and image sizes all come into play for on page SEO. This on page SEO work is crucial to gaining results and just as in the other categories the more competitive the niche the more work that will have to happen in this arena.
- Off-Page SEO - Conversely from on page SEO off page SEO is anything happening outside of your website that can have an effect on rankings. These offpage deliverables will often include things like link building, citation building, google map embeds, social posts, press releases and a ton of other stuff we could list. This category takes a lot of effort for all SEO campaigns, but especially so for competitive niches.
Agency Experience and SEO Pricing
One other major factor that will ultimately dictate the pricing of your SEO campaign is the experience and set up of the agency that you are engaging with. No different than any other industry if you are working with a very experienced professional, you would expect to pay a premium and SEO is no different. While there are other factors, such as overhead of the agency, the experience of the team you are looking to work with will certainly have an effect on the pricing structure as people that are good at what they do and have experience demand a higher rate than those with only a few years or months in the industry. Be wary of deals that sound to good to be true or large agencies with lots of overhead. While we are a bit biased you want to find an agency that does custom work and has a team large enough to support your need, but not so large that you will pay 2-3xs the price for the same work that you would get from someone else. *Industry Secret: Most of the BIG agencies outsource to us medium sized guys anyway 🙂
Wrapping it Up - Where does SEO pricing come from?
As you have likely surmised the two biggest factors of SEO pricing are geography and competition. If you live in a large metro area or want to cover large areas, such as entire countries or regions, you should likely expect to pay a premium. Additionally, if you are in a competitive business niche the same principals apply. No different than any other industry the more work it takes to get the job done, the more the end client would expect to pay. SEO companies operate in the exact same way! Hope it helps!