Why Does SEO Cost So Much?


If you’re looking into a search engine optimization package for your business website for your first time, you may be getting sticker shock. Why does it seem like agencies charge an arm and a leg for SEO?

Worse yet, why do you only find out that SEO seems to cost so much only after going through a long pitch and marketing spiel with these agencies?

First things first: there is no industry standard for SEO pricing. As we explained on our page about the cost of marketing services:

Unfortunately, there is no standard for pricing when it comes to online marketing. Some companies may charge an hourly rate as low as $25 for a service, while others may ask for several hundred dollars. Cost isn’t necessarily an indication of quality, either! Since every agency has different prices for their services, it can be hard to know if you’re getting a good value.

This means that SEO and marketing agencies can generally charge whatever they want for their services. Also, because very few agencies publish their pricing online, it’s hard to know that you’re getting a good deal.

When you do get quoted pricing for a plan, though, you’re probably bound to ask this question: “why does SEO cost so much?”

Although SEO doesn’t seem expensive to us, now that we have experience with it, we can share with you a few reasons why we think it’s not as inexpensive as you might expect it to be.

1. Optimizing a website requires a lot of time and effort.

SEO isn’t something you can do in just an hour or two. It’s not like your dedicated SEO expert (which, hopefully, your agency will give you!) will flip a switch and say “hey, you’re ranking #1 now.” Instead, they’ll have to spend hours, if not weeks, tweaking bits of your code, running tests, and asking you for permission to change little things to slowly push you up the rankings.

Also, SEO doesn’t just depend on your site — it depends on sites that link to you. So your point of contact will also have to try to create linkable content, and get links from other sites, and preserve those links in the event of them being removed.

It’s not an easy job. SEO can be really frustrating, for agencies, in fact. So that’s why it’s not cheap. If it was, the results would reflect that.

2. What you invest gets paid back double. (If not more.)

Although SEO may not be a magic switch you can flip to rank #1 for your targeted keywords, investing in it can result in substantial gains for your business. In fact, it’s not uncommon for companies that do even basic SEO to see 50% to 75% increases in leads or revenue in the first year of their optimization.

3. There are a lot of moving pieces.

As we mentioned, SEO involves changing many pieces of your website, as well as trying to gain links from other websites, in an attempt to influence how it is ranked for different keywords. There are a lot of moving pieces involved, and Google’s algorithms aren’t set in stone, either — so what ranks #1 today may not rank #1 tomorrow.

It may cost more to optimize a website to rank #1 if it is very large, in a very competitive industry, or starting from scratch with no links or influence whatsoever. On the other hand, SEO may not cost very much for a website if it already has a lot of good links, or if the pages load very quickly.

Just keep in mind that there is no proven way to make your site’s SEO perfect, much less make it optimized to rank #1 for any given search term overnight. Even the most experienced Internet marketer knows that SEO is a moving target, and they will have to spend a lot of time trying to hit it for you.

Posted in SEO In Depth