seo costs

How much does SEO cost for a small business in 2023?

With so many services and varying price points, understanding small business SEO costs can be intimidating. However, knowing these costs is pivotal to solidifying your existing SEO strategy. 

This article will uncover everything you need to embark on your search engine optimization journey. Without further ado, let’s get straight into the numbers. 

Why do small businesses pay for SEO?

Small businesses invest in SEO services for various reasons. 

SEO improves website visibility

Primarily, SEO helps small businesses with visibility and reach. In an increasingly competitive world, showing up in search engine results is no longer optional – it’s a necessity. SEO helps small businesses rank higher in these results, making them more visible to potential customers.

SEO is cost-effective

Additionally, SEO is a cost-effective marketing strategy. While traditional advertising methods can be expensive, SEO provides a high return on investment. It’s an ongoing process that continues to deliver results over time. Better still, these results are often highly targeted, reaching customers actively searching for relevant products or services.

SEO helps small businesses compete with larger competitors

Lastly, SEO can help small businesses compete with larger corporations. A well-optimized website can rank alongside or even above a big-name competitor in search engine results. SEO creates a playing field where small businesses can compete on the same stage as industry giants.

How much does SEO cost for small businesses?

How much do monthly SEO services cost?

The cost of monthly SEO services can vary depending on your business’ size, the competitiveness of your industry, and the specific services you need. As a rough estimation, most SEO companies charge between $100 and $5000 monthly

At the lower end, you can get basic services like keyword research and on-page optimization. Mid-range services might include more comprehensive digital marketing strategies like content creation, link building, and technical SEO. 

At the higher end, you would expect a full-service SEO package that could include ongoing content strategy, user experience improvements, and website redesign. 

How much does it cost for hourly SEO services?

Typically, most business owners can expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $200 per hour. If you are low on your marketing budget, you can hire a freelancer or marketing agency to provide basic SEO services. As the rate increases, businesses can expect more strategic and comprehensive services from experienced SEO professionals or established SEO agencies. 

Remember, while the price is important, the value received should be the primary consideration. An experienced SEO expert charging at the higher end of this spectrum could potentially provide a more significant return on investment than a cheap SEO. 

How much do one-time SEO services cost?

One-time SEO services typically range from $5000 to $30000, depending on the scope of work required. They are project-based SEO services that include website audits, keyword research, content optimization, and link building.  

Businesses should keep in mind that one-time SEO services may not provide long-term success and may require ongoing maintenance to see continued results.

How much does Local SEO cost?

Local SEO is essential for businesses that operate on a regional level. The pricing for Local SEO can vary based on the scale and complexity of your local SEO efforts.

Automated Local SEO

Automated Local SEO, which involves using software to manage your location data across various platforms, typically costs between $300 to $500. This option is generally more affordable but may not provide the same level of personalization or attention to detail as a human-managed service.

Small-scale Local SEO

For businesses requiring more hands-on attention, small-scale Local SEO services may be a better fit. These services, which can include managing online reviews and local-centric social media engagement, usually range from $400 to $900.

Comprehensive Local SEO

On the other hand, comprehensive local SEO services provide an all-encompassing solution for businesses thriving on local search. They integrate strategies like local keyword optimization, locally relevant content creation, citation management, and more. Given the high level of attention to detail and broader scope, these services are typically priced at $3000 per month or more. 

What factors impact SEO pricing?

SEO pricing varies based on several factors. It’s essential to understand these variables and make an informed decision when investing in SEO services.

  1. Scope of the project: The size and complexity of your SEO project is a big determinant. Larger websites with more pages require more comprehensive SEO work, meaning higher costs. 

  2. Niche competitiveness: Highly competitive niches may require more advanced SEO strategies to stand out, which can increase the cost. Examples of highly competitive niches are credit cards, insurance, SaaS, etc. 

  3. Reputation and expertise: The reputation and expertise of the SEO agency can impact cost. Highly reputable digital marketing agencies typically charge more. 

  4. Geographical location: The cost of SEO services can vary significantly depending on the geographical location of the SEO company.

  5. Level of service: The cost can also fluctuate depending on the level of service. If you’re looking for not only SEO but also content creation, social media management, and other digital marketing services, the cost will be higher.

How can you know if the SEO costs are worth it?

To be honest, this comes down to experience. If you have more experience with SEO, you will know whether or not the SEO packages are worth the price. However, you can use a few key indicators to spot good packages. 

  1. Higher search engine rankings: The #1 goal of SEO is getting to the top of Google. If your website starts appearing on the first page of search engine results for relevant keywords, it suggests that your investment in SEO is worth it.

  2. Increased website traffic: The name of the game is TRAFFIC. The more traffic you have, the more sales and money you can make. If you notice a significant increase in website traffic, it’s a clear sign that your SEO investment is paying off.

  3. Improved quality of traffic: While the quantity of traffic is crucial, the traffic quality is equally vital. Quality traffic means visitors who are genuinely interested in your products or services and are more likely to convert into customers. So, if your SEO costs attract a highly target audience, they are worth the price. 

  4. Increased conversions and sales: SEO should help your website increase conversion rate. If you enjoy the increased sales and conversions from your SEO efforts, your investment was worthwhile.

How should you determine your SEO budget?

What to do if you have a tight budget?

For small businesses, their marketing budgets can be small. If funds are limited, it is crucial to prioritize your SEO needs. Start by focusing on critical areas that could yield significant results, such as keyword optimization and content creation. 

There is a good deal of SEO work that can be done even on a shoestring budget, especially if you are willing to put in some elbow grease. 

Should you increase your SEO investment over time?

As your business grows and starts reaping the benefits of your initial SEO investment, you may want to consider increasing your budget. 

SEO is an ongoing process, and as the digital landscape evolves, maintaining your visibility and ranking requires continuous optimization. Furthermore, as you dive into more advanced SEO strategies like link building and technical SEO, there will be additional costs. 

However, remember that any increase in your SEO investment should be proportional to the expected returns. It’s essential to regularly review the impact of your SEO efforts on your bottom line to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.

What is the Return on Investment (ROI) of SEO?

The Return on Investment (ROI) of SEO is a performance metric used to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of your SEO efforts. In simple terms, it tells you whether the money you put into SEO is making you a profit. 

Calculating the ROI involves comparing the cost of your SEO efforts against the revenue generated through the organic traffic you’ve gained. 

SEO ROI formular

However, bear in mind that there is no such thing as guaranteed ROI. If an SEO service guarantees you results, you better run! But that doesn’t mean there cannot be a solid ROI that you can refer to before launching an SEO campaign. 

Here are some SEO returns on investments for each industry that you can refer to. 

SEO ROIs by industries
Image Source

You can see that these results often take place after several months, even more than a year of hard work. ROI is not always immediate with SEO. SEO is a long-term investment, and its true value unfolds over time. You may start seeing improvements in website traffic and search engine rankings within a few months, but the substantial financial returns often come later. 

Remember that SEO not only brings in organic traffic but also improves the user experience, which can lead to higher conversion rates. Therefore, while measuring ROI, consider indirect benefits like increased brand loyalty, brand visibility, and customer satisfaction, which significantly contribute to your business’s long-term financial health. 


In conclusion, the cost of SEO largely depends on various factors such as your website’s complexity, the competitiveness of your niche, and the expertise of the SEO service providers. 

While it is a considerable investment, it’s crucial to remember that SEO is a long-term strategy that offers significant returns over time. Besides driving organic traffic, SEO enhances the user experience, leading to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction. Therefore, when planning your budget for SEO, take into account its potential value for your business’s long-term growth and success.


Why is SEO so expensive?

SEO is expensive because it’s a long-term strategy that involves a lot of expertise, effort, and time commitment. 

Succeeding with SEO requires deep knowledge of search engine algorithms and an understanding of your specific business niche. This expertise doesn’t come cheap. 

Additionally, effective SEO involves multiple components such as comprehensive keyword research, building a well-structured website, creating high-quality content, and obtaining relevant backlinks. Each of these tasks demands substantial time, effort, and, in some cases, other resources. 

How to research SEO costs?

Researching SEO costs (or SEO prices) involves several steps. 

  • Understand your needs: Identify the specific SEO services you require, which could range from keyword research to link building to content creation. 

  • Research SEO service providers: Look at various service providers to understand their SEO pricing models. Some may charge an hourly rate, while others may offer a monthly retainer or a project-based fee. It’s also important to understand the expertise and experience offered by the SEO provider, as this can significantly influence the cost. Be sure to ask for client testimonials to validate their claims. 

  • Consider the potential ROI: Lastly, think about the potential ROI of the SEO services. Remember, it’s not about how much you spend, but rather the value you get in return.

Is SEO a one-time cost?

No, SEO is not a one-time cost. SEO is a continuous process that requires ongoing investment. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing. To keep up, your SEO strategies need to be regularly reviewed and updated. 

Furthermore, ranking on search engines is a competitive process. Even if you have an SEO god on your team, your website will still lose rankings occasionally. Therefore, while initial SEO setup might be a one-off cost, maintaining and improving your SEO performance typically involves recurring costs.

Is SEO cheaper than Google ads?

The answer to whether SEO is cheaper than Google Ads depends on the timeline you consider. 

In the short term, SEO often requires a more substantial investment, and it may take several months to begin seeing results. However, once you’ve achieved high rankings, the ongoing costs can be minimal, and the benefits can last for a long time, often making SEO a more cost-effective strategy in the long run.

On the other hand, Google Ads are expensive due to these recurring costs, making them more expensive long term. 

Does SEO have a cost per click?

No, SEO doesn’t have a cost per click. SEO focuses on organic search results and doesn’t involve any direct payment to search engines. However, as mentioned earlier, SEO does require ongoing investment for maintaining and improving your website’s rankings. 

What do SEO services typically include?

SEO services typically include various strategies to improve your website’s visibility, including:

  • Keyword Research: This process involves identifying the most relevant keywords for your business. It’s a crucial step in ensuring that your website ranks for the right search terms.

  • On-site Optimization: SEO services often include optimizing your website’s content, which involves creating high-quality and search-engine-friendly articles.

  • Link Building: This process refers to obtaining high-quality inbound links from other websites, which can enhance your authority and improve your search engine rankings.

  • Technical SEO: This includes optimizing your website’s technical aspects, such as improving site speed, ensuring a mobile-friendly design, and creating an XML sitemap.

  • Local SEO: For businesses with a physical location, local SEO services help improve visibility in local search results.

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Mac Li

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