SEO Pricing: How Much Should SEO Services Cost?

by | Last updated Apr 3, 2024 | SEO

Read Time: 8 min read

Summary: TL;DR: SEO services in 2024 come with costs influenced by factors like service type, experience level, and project size. Costs range from $10 to $20,000 per month, varying based on services like keyword research and link building. Red flags to watch out for include unrealistic promises, lack of transparency, and focus on quantity over quality of backlinks. Pricing models include hourly rates ($20 to $250), monthly retainers ($100 to $2,000), and project-based fees ($500 to $5,000). Choosing the right SEO services involves clear communication, avoiding hidden fees, and ensuring ethical practices. For effective online marketing, consider investing in SEO to enhance your website's visibility and reach potential customers.

While technically an organic marketing strategy that’s considered free, implementing an SEO strategy has some associated costs—especially if you want to leverage the proficiency of SEO experts to make your marketing more effective. Here’s a cost breakdown of SEO services in 2024.

YouTube video

Factors Influencing SEO Cost

To understand SEO pricing, you first have to understand what elements will impact the cost of SEO for your business. There’s no one flat price for SEO—every business will find their optimization costs vary depending on the following factors.

Type of SEO Service

Keyword research, citations, website audits, and more are all examples of services you might be offered in an SEO plan as one-time or recurring costs. Some companies or freelancing SEOs will even offer them individually. Ultimately, getting an accurate idea of what SEO will cost your business will heavily depend on which sub-service you contract.

While you can take advantage of free SEO tools for some of these service types, most businesses sourcing agency or freelance search engine optimizers will find the following marketing service costs:

SEO Service Average Cost
Keyword Research $10 to $100 per month
Citation Building $20 to $135 per month
Link Building $100 to $500 per link
Website/SEO Audit $200 to $20,000 per audit
Mobile Optimization $200 to $500 one-time or recurring
Site Speed Optimization $50 to $1,000 one-time or recurring


It’s also a good idea to further consult an agency or research different SEO tactics to understand how a too-pricey initial investment can benefit you in the long run.

“Link building is an SEO service that is more expensive than most people think, and therefore not included in most SEO strategies. The time and resources needed for an effective link building strategy can be cost prohibitive, making it out of reach for many businesses. However, high-quality natural links can be attained as byproduct of an effective content strategy, often negating the need for a costly dedicated link building project.” – Hurrdat’s SEO Director, Ross Allen

The cost of SEO services like schema markup, meta data, and header tag optimization isn’t as easy to estimate, as these services are more of an extension or implementation of keyword research. Chances are, these costs will come from the amount of time it takes for an agency team or freelancer to get your work done—in addition to how many pages you’ll need this optimization for, which you can estimate by looking at your cost of website design per page.

“Meta data—title tags, meta descriptions, and H1 headers—is a hugely overlooked opportunity for businesses. Optimizing these three facets not only gives search engines important information about the page, but they also serve as an opportunity on the SERPs to make their business stand out from competitors. This can be a cost-effective solution, depending on the size of the website, and can be extremely effective even if it’s the only optimization implemented.” – Ross Allen

Scope of SEO Services

If you’re just beginning to get your business online, odds are you’ll only need basic SEO. If you have an established website and some local listings, it might be time to consider upgrading to advanced or comprehensive SEO, thereby investing more into attracting new customers. Here’s some examples of what these options usually include:

The other thing to keep in mind in terms of considering the scope of needed SEO services is whether you’ll require a one-time service or ongoing work. Where one-time work will likely cost you a lump sum or payment-per-hour, ongoing SEO opens you up to more payment plan options that will make a greater impact on your marketing budget.

Experience Level of Hired SEO Professional

The more years of experience a person or company has, the higher the fee they’ll likely charge.

  • Less than 10 years: $500 to $1,500 per month
  • 10+ years: $2,000 to $5,000 per month

It scales the same when you consider the SEO cost for a full team (i.e., from a full-service digital marketing agency) as opposed to a freelance SEO expert. You could find an SEO freelancer with years and years of experience, but they’re still likely to charge less than an SEO agency, where you’ll pay for the collective experience of a team.

Size of Your Business

The more people you want to reach across a larger distance, the more your SEO strategy will cost. This factor mostly comes down to competition.

  • Small Business SEO Cost: $300 to $2,000 per month
  • National Business SEO Cost: $2,500 to $15,000 per month

For example, a small business in a small to medium-sized city will need local SEO, as it’s likely only competing with other local businesses of similar type. While a large business with locations across multiple cities or states will likely compete with more businesses nationally or even globally. On top of this, a national or global-level business will need to widen their targeting to that level, which also costs more.

SEO Project Size

The larger the SEO project, the longer it will take, and the higher your SEO cost will be. The size of your SEO project will usually come down to which SEO services you require and how long the hired freelancer or agency will take to complete the project.

If your choice of hired SEO professional is particularly busy, doesn’t have the capacity to handle the size of your project, or cannot meet your timeline, you could be looking at higher pricing. However, if you have a small project needing only a few services, your SEO cost will probably stay on the lower end.

Understanding Common SEO Pricing Models

SEO pricing varies from person to person, business to business, and agency to agency. There’s no one “correct” price since there are so many elements, but you can still estimate how the cost of SEO will factor into your marketing budget by understanding the following common pricing models for SEO services.

SEO Hourly Rate

  • Freelance SEO Expert: $20 to $150 per hour
  • SEO Agency: $75 to $250 per hour

These baseline hourly SEO rates fluctuate based on the expertise of the SEO expert(s) you’ve hired, as well as the complexity, number, and urgency of tasks you need done. If your SEO project with a lot of moving parts—or services, which likely have different hourly rates themselves—surpasses your budget or grows, it may be time to negotiate a flat monthly rate or project fee to keep your budget organized.

An hourly rate is frequently used by freelancers and SEO agencies to account for the amount of time different tasks will take. Because of this, it’s a great option for smaller projects and isolated tasks.

SEO Monthly Retainer

  • Freelance SEO Expert: $100 to $750 per month
  • SEO Agency: $500 to $2,000 per month

If you anticipate a need for many ongoing services in your online marketing strategy, you might take out a monthly retainer with an SEO agency or freelancer. Businesses with a larger website or larger reach can benefit from a monthly SEO retainer, too. When paying a flat monthly fee, the hired party should get a specific set of tasks done every month—usually related to general maintenance and upkeep of your SEO strategies and analytics.

However, if you just need a few tasks done every once in a while or to implement an SEO strategy made up of one-time optimizations, going with a different pricing model is appropriate.

SEO Project-Based Pricing

  • Freelance SEO Expert: $500 to $3,000 per project
  • SEO Agency: $2,000 to $5,000 per project

As you might expect, project-based SEO pricing is when you’re billed a fee for each SEO project, including all its elements. Project-based SEO fees are a great idea if you need a finite number of SEO services but don’t anticipate needing them on a regular basis.

By paying per project, all you’ll need to account for in your marketing budget is the single lump sum payment. However, similar to hourly rates, if you have many different projects running at the same time, stacking the average project-based SEO rate for multiple projects can quickly add up to an overwhelming total, at which point it might be better to consider a monthly retainer.

Red Flags While Shopping for SEO Services

When it’s time for you to find the right SEO services for your business and marketing budget, you’ll most likely want to shop around and compare plenty of sources for the best option. These are some red flags you should avoid:

  • Unrealistic promises of quick results. No matter how great you might be at optimizing, organic SEO requires time to take effect—at least three to six months. If anyone promises you immediate results, chances are they aren’t telling the truth.
  • Lack of transparency and detailed proposals. Since the cost of SEO varies so much due to different factors, transparency is essential so you know exactly what you’re paying for each service. Detailed proposals also help ensure they’re not using any illegal or black hat SEO tactics.
  • Sole focus on quantity of backlinks over quality. If you’re looking for a good dinner spot, would you listen to 20 people who recommend a restaurant they’ve never been to or five people who recommend a restaurant they visit weekly? Backlink profiles work similarly—each link from a quality source is like a recommendation from a knowledgeable, trusted person, so you want to hire an SEO expert that will focus on giving you quality as well as quantity.
  • Recommendations of paying for backlinks. This is one of those black hat SEO strategies that’s punished by search engines. If someone is advising that you pay for backlinks, they don’t have your best interests in mind.
  • Hidden fees. Similar to a lack of transparency, an agency or SEO freelancer that keeps adding extraneous fees is a red flag. If you’ve agreed to a contract for your SEO project in advance, there shouldn’t be added charges unless you add SEO services to your project.
  • Unclear billing practices. This can go hand-in-hand with hidden fees. Ultimately, if an SEO freelancer or agency isn’t clear about how they’ll bill you for work, you may not know the method, timing, or amount they’ll charge. This could put your SEO budget at risk.

To avoid these red flags, make sure to communicate well and often with prospective SEO providers on your expectations and the specific services you’ll need before signing a contract (and make sure a contract exists in the first place). In this communication, be sure to also ask about their billing system and the predicted time frame for your project.

Looking for a marketing agency with an experienced team of SEO experts to optimize your online presence? Hurrdat Marketing offers a variety of SEO servicesincluding free website audits that can take your website and search engine presence to the next level. Contact us today to learn more!

Stefanie Vanderbeek


Stefanie is a Content Strategist at Hurrdat. She is the primary author on the Local Search Fuel blog. She specializes in long-form digital content, website SEO, and competitive keyword research for small and local businesses. To better optimize blog content for search engine ranking, she uses a variety of AI tools.

Stefanie lives in Omaha, NE, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor of Journalism in Advertising and Public Relations in 2021. In her free time, Stefanie can be found singing with her professional vocal jazz group, researching video game lore, watching anime, or traveling.

Ross Allen

Ross Allen

Expert Contributor

Ross Allen is a man of diverse interests, including craft beer, golf, and spending quality time with his wife. However, his true passion lies in search engine optimization (SEO), a field he excels in as the SEO Director at Hurrdat Marketing, where he works with all types of clients from small-to-medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies. In this role, Ross leverages his expertise to assess client needs, develop SEO strategies, manage projects, and support his team. He also handles analytics and reporting, delivering comprehensive reports to both clients and internal brands.

Originally from Leicester, England, Ross started working with computers after a gap year, eventually pursuing a full-time education in multimedia computing at De Montfort University. His introduction to SEO at a language travel agency marked the beginning of a fulfilling career.

You May Also Like…