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How expensive is SEO in 2020?

Given the current business and economic landscape, one digital marketing tool is getting more attention than ever – Search engine optimization. Why? 

With today’s recent events, many companies are realizing the internet is now their primary sales and marketing tool and adjustments are needed in order to compete. SEO services are widely used across every industry to increase visibility in search engines, increase brand awareness, drive up website traffic and increase inbound leads. 

SEO is critical for search engine visibility, and quality SEO services provide a fantastic return on investment.

Having said that, aside from SEO professionals and SEO agencies, not many people really understand how it works. In fact, Fractl surveyed 977 people about their knowledge of SEO, and only 13% of consumers and 26% of business owners thought that they had a “good” or “expert level” understanding of how Google displays its results. Fewer still have an idea of how much SEO costs. 


One of the more common questions I’m asked is “how much does SEO cost?” 

For sure, when it comes to SEO service providers is there is no “one size fits all” model, and you’ll find a wide disparity in pricing, with some SEO companies offering SEO services for as little as $500 or less per month, and others ranging from $1000 to $10,000+ per month. Why the disparity?

Right off the top, there are numerous variables that can affect the cost of SEO and the length of time it will take to see results with SEO. Here are a few:

  • Number of Keywords. If you’re looking to boost rankings on 5 keywords, that’s going to require less work than improving SEO rankings on 10, 20 or even 30 keywords. As a result, trying to rank for fewer keywords will cost less than it will with more keywords. Keywords are the search terms that are used when people are searching for your product or service online. 
  • Geography, Reach and/or Locations:  Are you wanting to improve search engine visibility in a small city, or are you wanting to see better SEO results in Greater Minneapolis, Denver or Chicago, or all of the U.S. for example? Local SEO, regional SEO and national SEO services involve different strategies. Casting a net over a wider geography means more work to get you there. 
  • Your Niche: The more competitive your industry, the more work it will take to rank in search engines. If you are a doctor, lawyer or dentist in a large metropolitan area, SEO is going to be much more expensive than it is going to be for a company in a less competitive space. Why? These are examples of niches who are spending a lot of money on SEO services, and they’re not going to give up their rankings easily. Less competitive niches are easier to rank for and thus, less expensive. 
  • Your Website-On-page SEO: More specifically, what is the technical state of your website? Website content, structure and performance are critical to an effective SEO campaign. The size of your website matters as well. Properly optimizing a website for on-page SEO takes time. Thorough research, content creation, generating proper page titles, header tags, schema markup, meta tags, inner-linking, external linking, image renaming and tagging and properly resizing for the web all take time. If much of this has already been done properly, that would involve less labor/time than a website that requires a thorough on-page SEO overhaul. 
  • Content Creation- Content Writing: Content is a critical component of any effective SEO strategy. This is an area that will provide a glaring difference between cheap SEO companies and reputable SEO companies. The $99/month SEO agency will search the web for relevant content, steal it and then use what’s called a content spinner, article spinner or article rewriter to repurpose it. Different names, same outcome. It’s not much different than throwing the words into a washing machine and scrambling them up a bit with unrelated synonyms and sentences that no human would ever write.  Articles that are spun read like gibberish, and provide zero value to a human audience. Legitimate content writing takes time. Research, drafts, rewrites all take time, but content that is carefully researched, thoughtfully written and formatted for on-page SEO will provide value to your audience while playing a critical role in your search engine optimization success.  
Affordable SEO services

Why Are Some SEO Companies So Cheap, and Others So Expensive?

Typical of most investments or purchases, there can be huge pricing extremes. One offer is much lower, and the other is much higher.  Let’s start with the SEO companies that typically flood your spam folders and your website contact forms. These are the inexpensive, often overseas SEO companies who promise first page rankings for extremely low prices. Is there a hidden gem in there? Perhaps, but be careful! The reward “could” be an expert SEO specialist who produces fantastic results for cheap. The risk is getting your website penalized by Google for the use of shady SEO tactics. Trust me, you do NOT want that to happen. 

Cheap SEO Services

SEO Services for under $500 per month

“Guaranteed First Page Results For $99 per month”. Have you received these emails before? Resist the temptation!

Business and website owners are inundated with spammers making similar promises to this. How can you resist first page results for $99? As with anything that’s too good to be true….it is.

 Besides a potential lack of results, there are risks involved in working with SEO agencies that make outlandish claims*. That said, we do have clients investing in SEO with us at the $500 per month price point (NOT $99). Here is where SEO services for under $500 per month might work for you:

A little bit of effort can go a long way in very specific situations. Here’s where you run a risk:

Cheap SEO services

To be able to offer SEO services at extremely low prices means corners have to be cut. Many SEO companies who offer SEO plans at such low prices have automated many of their services, including link building, and content creation. With services like Article Forge, your SEO can whip up content for you in 30 seconds or less.  Now mind you, the content is terribly written, they’re able to show you activity without actually involving human activity. 

* The bigger concern is that many sub-$500 SEO plans involve unnatural black hat SEO techniques that can get your website penalized. You don’t want that. Not only that, but your SEO company will gladly accept your monthly payment for as long as it takes you to realize the results aren’t showing up. A better option you might consider if budget is lacking:

Research DIY SEO courses online. The #1 reason SEO campaigns fail is not investing enough money and time into them. If your budget doesn’t allow for a proper investment why not take it on yourself? There are tons of articles and online SEO tools out there that can help turn you into an SEO expert. If you’re interested in learning how to do SEO, here’s a good place to start: DIY SEO: A Basic 4-Step Guide That Anyone Can Follow – ahrefs.com

Professional SEO Services

Realistic SEO Pricing For Most Businesses

A typical range of prices for local SEO services for small business with us is $500-$900, which is a suitable level for many of our small business clients. One thing any ethical SEO company won’t do is blindly throw out a number without understanding your goals, and your competitive landscape. If you have a $300 monthly budget and you want to rank for “Nike Tennis Shoes”, for example, it’s just not gonna happen. Some companies would promise you results and take your money until you become fed up and fire them with the lack of results. 

Our first step with any potential SEO client is to gain an understanding of your business, your objectives and your competitors. From there, we’ll give you a realistic range of prices that fit your scenario. 

Why is SEO So Expensive?

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to doing SEO properly. Continuous optimizing and fine-tuning your website, creating content, building out social media profiles, directory submissions, strategic backlinking, writing off-page content, creating videos, and the 200+ other factors that Google considers. 

If you annualize a $1000 per month SEO service, for example, you’re looking at a $12,000 per year employee. Imagine advertising for a job, requesting someone fluent in website design, website development, content writing, graphic design services, digital marketing, social media marketing, and you want to pay them $12,000 per year. How many applicants do you think you’d get? For sure none that are qualified.

SEO is actually one of the least expensive investments that you can make in your business, that offers the greatest potential impact. Adding SEO services to a well designed, easy to navigate website has the potential to be a game-changer for any business.

How Long Does SEO Take?

This depends on your goals, and your competitors. For the best SEO results we need to outwork and out hustle your competitors. If they’re investing heavily in working with a top quality SEO company, that scenario looks much different that scenarios where no one is actively using SEO as a strategy, or their SEO company stinks. Our recommendation is to put the blinders on for four months, then reevaluate. 

Is SEO Permanent?

Everything that we do, such as optimizing your website, creating content, optimizing your social profiles, etc. all stay in place, even after you’ve moved on. However, what’s “good” today, may change tomorrow as Google is constantly rewriting their algorithms to become smarter and smarter. Also, when you stop doing search engine optimization, yes, you are susceptible to competitors reclaiming the traffic and rankings you acquired during your SEO campaign. The timing of this varies wildly from industry to industry, but yes, you can expect rankings to deteriorate over time. 

Does SEO Require a Contract?

Not here it doesn’t. We earn our SEO business each and every month. That said, we want to set very clear expectations up front so you can know what to expect. If you are wanting to only invest in SEO for one month, we won’t accept that business. Why? It’s not fair to you. One month is just not enough time to give SEO a fair shake, so if you’re expecting to see results after a month, we’d suggest holding off on SEO services for now. 

How Do I Get Started?

Reach out to us by phone, email or using our contact form HERE. Let’s take a look at your website, learn a bit about your business, and we’ll come up with a game plan for you to consider. Zero pressure or obligation. 


Have a question about our pricing or capabilities?

Call Us: 612-361-7499

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