Is SEO really free?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is considered as free because it does not require any direct expenditure in the purchase of advertising space, visibility, or software.

Indeed, the effectiveness of the SEO strategy lies in two factors only: time and expertise.

Thus, we can assume that the natural referencing whether it is on Google, Bing or any other search engine represents a certain investment for a company, because time is .... money.

Why is it difficult to estimate the costs of SEO?

When you ask yourself if it is worth investing in free SEO and at what cost, the worst answer you can get is: it depends.

But the truth is that SEO prices vary considerably, depending on many factors.

You've probably already realized that there are far too many choices. Too many pricing models, too many agencies, too many prices...

In fact, according to extensive research by various specialized sites, you could end up paying less than €500 per month as well as €25,000 per month!

But such a wide price range doesn't help anyone. So let's take a closer look at some numbers, and then the pros and cons of each SEO pricing model.

How much does SEO cost for small businesses?

The average cost of SEO for small businesses is €400 to €2000 per month or €5000 to €30,000 for one-off projects. Small businesses that invest in SEO consulting services can expect to pay between €25 and €80 per hour.

What determines the cost of SEO?

A few different factors determine the average cost of SEO services, including

  • The agency or consultant's pricing model
  • The experience of the agency or consultant
  • The objectives of the SEO campaign
  • The timing of the SEO campaign
  • Tools, software or resources required

When looking at SEO costs, remember that SEO is an investment. You are setting your site up for success by making it more visible on search engines, which will help your business get more traffic, leads and sales.

Compared to other digital marketing strategies, such as online advertising (cost-per-click), SEO is a long-term investment in the success of your business. It will continue to provide a return on investment (ROI), whereas other strategies, like CPC, stop providing results as soon as you stop spending.

That's why, when considering the cost of SEO, focus on partnering with a qualified and experienced partner rather than the cheapest provider on the market

How much does SEO cost per hour, per month and per project?

No two SEO agencies or consultants price their services the same way. Company size, business model, and SEO needs will dictate the scope of your SEO program and how much you'll pay for it.

However, there are some basic SEO pricing models that many agencies and consultants use to determine the cost of their SEO services. The most common are hourly, monthly, and per-project rates.

Read on to find out the average cost of SEO for each of these models:

By the hour ($25-$200)

SEO consultants who don't work for agencies typically charge by the hour, and can charge anywhere from €25 to €500 per hour. The majority of clients, however, spend between €25 and €200 per hour, depending on whether they hire an individual or a small team and whether the consultant is a newcomer or brings years of SEO experience to the table.

Project ($5,000 to $30,000)

Although not very common, a company may occasionally hire an agency or consultant to execute an SEO strategy on a particular project or campaign. Since the needs of a project vary depending on the company and the campaign, it is difficult to provide an estimate, and prices can range from €5,000 to over €30,000.

The cost ultimately depends on the scope of the project, the time frame and the level of experience.

Monthly (€750 to €2000)

This is the most popular model for companies that want to implement an ongoing SEO strategy and use services on an as-needed basis.

At the lower end of the spectrum - around $500 per month - an agency will handle basic SEO tasks, such as on-page optimization and copywriting. At the higher end of the spectrum - $5,000 per month or more - agencies will produce high-quality content and distribute it to other sites to build links.

Most companies fall somewhere in between these two extremes, investing about $750 to $2,000 per month in a customized strategy based on the services they need. The advantage of this pricing model is that as you establish a relationship with an agency, they will be able to build your site's SEO over time.

How much should I pay for SEO?

As you can see, the cost of SEO varies widely, which means you're probably asking yourself, "How much should I pay for SEO? You want to invest the right amount of money for your business, but how do you find the perfect figure.

A small company's website will not require as much time or effort as an international company's. If you have a small website or just want a starting point and plan to do ongoing SEO in-house, a project-based pricing plan or hourly consultant may be all you need.

For an ongoing strategy, however, monthly and annual plans are more cost-effective than paying by the hour.

What can you afford? If your business is in the startup phase, you probably don't have room in your budget for full Digital Marketing. Nevertheless, your site must be found online if you want to grow.

For the first few years, you may only need to work with a part-time consultant or contract with a basic SEO agency. As your business grows, so will the size of your business, your website, your SEO needs and your budget.

Then, if you decide you want to improve your SEO strategy, you can decide whether it makes more sense to hire an in-house team or contract with an agency.

What does your staff know about SEO? One of the reasons marketing agencies are so valuable is that they have years of experience building their clients' businesses online. However, if your business is technology-related, you may already employ people who know how to optimize your website and will stick to an internal cost structure.

If you run another type of business, it may be better to outsource the implementation of an SEO program to an experienced outside agency rather than trying to learn the practice and focus on the core business.

So Google SEO is not free

How much does SEO cost? Ultimately, not as much as what it brings in terms of revenue, traffic and brand awareness. Nevertheless, the appropriate SEO budget will depend on what your company wants to achieve and what it can afford.

If you are looking for an experienced consultant to help your business reach more customers online, I can help. Contact me today to discuss how we can boost your online visibility and sales.

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