One of small business owners’ biggest questions regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how much it will cost. The cost of SEO services can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the size and scope of your project, the competition for keywords in your industry, and the experience of your chosen agency or consultant.
That being said, you can expect to see a few general cost ranges when budgeting for SEO. For example, smaller projects may cost anywhere from $500-$2000 per month, while larger projects could cost $5000-$20000 per month or more. These numbers are rough estimates, and your actual project cost will depend on the factors we’ll dive into momentarily.
Keep in mind that the cost of small business SEO is an investment. It’s no different than any other marketing cost like print, radio, or TV ads. The goal is to ensure that your SEO spend brings in a positive return on investment (ROI). Of course, these results may take time, but a good SEO campaign will be worth the cost in the long run.
I’ve broken down the cost of SEO into five general sections. However, some of these may be combined or eliminated depending on your particular project and how the agency you hire wants to approach them.
- Technical SEO.
- On-page SEO.
- Content strategy.
- Backlink strategy.
The strategy will determine the price.
SEO is a massive industry. There are so many considerations and angles that it’s difficult to give an overall cost. If you’re starting with SEO, be aware that the cost can be substantial. You need to consider time, money, and resources.
SEO for a small business is different than SEO for a large enterprise. The cost of SEO also scales with the size of your budget. A large company can afford to spend more on SEO than a small business. But that doesn’t mean the cost is necessarily proportional.
The cost of SEO also depends on your goals. Are you trying to rank for highly competitive keywords? Or are you aiming for long-tail keywords? Maybe you, as the business owner, don’t know what you want to rank for and want to leave it in the hands of the SEO – and that’s perfectly fine as well. After all, they’re the experts.
There are, however, various aspects of SEO that can be generalized. These include on-page optimization, technical SEO, link building, and content marketing.
Technical SEO is the backbone of everything else.
Before anything else, technical SEO needs to be fixed. This is because if your website isn’t crawlable or indexable, no matter how much effort you put into other areas of SEO, it won’t make a difference. Technical SEO can be complex and time-consuming, but it’s essential.
For the most part, technical SEO is a one-time thing. Unlike other aspects of SEO, which need to be continually worked on, once you fix the technical aspects of your website, it should stay that way. Of course, there are always exceptions and new technologies that come along, but technical SEO is a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing for the most part.
Depending on the size and scope of your small business website, this SEO cost can range between $500-$1,000. For that price, you’re paying a seasoned expert to go through your website with a fine-toothed comb and fix any technical issues holding you back. It’s critical to get this right. Otherwise, the rest of your SEO efforts will be in vain.
Initialize and set the scene.
Now that your site is indexable and crawlable, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to rank.
This is where the SEO will ensure your Google Analytics and Google Search Console are appropriately set up. Furthermore, they’ll start keyword research and mapping those keywords to pages on your website. During this phase, the SEO will look at your website’s architecture and how easy it is for users (and search engine bots) to navigate.
This is an essential cost because if you don’t set the scene right, all your other SEO efforts will be for naught (just like the technical SEO). If you’re not targeting the right keywords, you’re not going to rank, no matter how much effort you put in. Honestly, I could write for days on end about keyword research and never run out of things to say. Because of that, I’m going to leave it here and say that cost for this phase will vary depending on your website’s size and your industry’s competitiveness. But a ballpark cost to initialize SEO for your small business is $500-$2000.
Getting the basics right with on-page SEO.
Up to this point, your site is ready, and you have a clear direction that you want to go in.
SEO will help you get there by ensuring your website is search engine friendly. This includes optimizing your title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, images, schema, etc. All these elements play a role in how well your website ranks.
There may be some content that needs to be generated or modified to make your website more search engine friendly, but, for the most part, this is a little different than a content strategy (more on that later). We’re talking about your website’s copy. Copy is the actual text on your website that users read. This text will need to contain keywords you’re targeting, but it also needs to be well-written and informative.
This can be either a one-time project or an ongoing monthly retainer, depending on how much work needs to be done. This cost can range anywhere from $500-$2000 per month.
A content strategy to become an authority.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Your site is set, the scene is set, and your website is optimized for search engines.
But you’re not done yet. Not by a long shot.
You need to start producing high-quality content to help you build industry authority. This content can come in many forms, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, FAQs, etc. You (or your SEO) need to develop a content strategy that will help you rank and convert traffic into leads and customers. We’re not just creating content for content’s sake.
This is a delicate balance between being informative and “salesy.” For example, let’s say you run a handyman business. You might write a post titled, “6 of the Best Window Treatments for your Home.” Or something like that. After all, it’s related to home improvement, but it’s an informative post. How does that help the handyman? In the end, he could put a small section that says, “Looking to have window treatments installed in your home? Contact Joe’s Handyman Service for a free quote.”
See how that works? He’s giving the user valuable information while also promoting his business. He got a visitor to his website who is actively interested in window treatments and made a quick pitch to them. That’s a reasonably targeted customer.
As for a content strategy, the more, the merrier; the price range is excellent for this type of SEO work. Generally, prices range from $500/month for just a few posts to $10,000+ per month for several posts per week or even daily.
Backlinks to take you to the next level.
You’ve got the site, and now content is flowing. It’s time to get the backlink strategy in place.
Backlinks come in different shapes and sizes, but they are links from other websites that link back to yours. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the better your website will rank. This is because Google (and other search engines) see these backlinks as a “vote” for your website. It’s like someone saying, “Hey, this website is pretty good. You should check it out.”
There are a few ways to get backlinks. The most common is through guest blogging. You write a blog post for another website in your industry (one with a high domain authority), and, in return, they link back to your website. This is a win-win because you get valuable content for your website, and they get free content. It’s a relatively straightforward process, but it takes some time to pitch the idea, write the post, and then follow up to ensure it’s published with a link to your site.
There are countless other methods to obtain backlinks, but, for the most part, they require more time and effort.
The cost for a backlink strategy can range from $500-$5000 per month, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Higher authority sites tend to cost more because they are harder to get links from. You can get links from many lower authority sites reasonably quickly, but, unfortunately, these links carry less weight.
Is your small business ready to implement SEO?
SEO can be a cost-effective way for small businesses to reach new customers. While the cost of SEO may vary depending on the size and complexity of your website, it is often less expensive than traditional marketing methods such as print advertising or television commercials.
By optimizing your website for search engines and creating high-quality content, you can attract more visitors who are interested in what you have to offer. And unlike other forms of advertising, SEO results are long-lasting and highly targeted; once your site ranks higher in search engine results pages, it will continue to bring traffic to your business for months or even years after you implement the necessary changes.
It may seem like a costly endeavor for any small business, but the truth is that SEO should be considered an investment rather than an expense. When done correctly, it can provide your business with a steady stream of qualified leads and help you reach your target audience more effectively. In essence, SEO for your small business is worth the cost.