Do You Need To Pay For SEO?

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Anyone who needs to optimize their website quickly asks themselves what search engine optimization (SEO) actually costs and which price models are necessary or which services they even need.

If you don’t know much about SEO, it is difficult to estimate the prices for search engine optimization. If you have already searched the internet for prices for SEO services, you will have determined that there are almost no upper limits.

But can you do these search engine optimizations yourself and save a lot of money? In this article, I would like to explain to you what is involved in search engine optimization and why it is sometimes better to hire a professional.

What do you have to pay attention to? How should you calculate SEO costs? What should the experts do and what can I do myself? In our guide, we will help you to better understand and overview the costs of search engine optimization.

Here is the quick answer to the question “Do I need to pay for SEO”.

Basically, you can say that it is always worthwhile to hire a professional in the field of SEO. An expert in the field of SEO can tell you exactly which measures make sense and which measures make no sense for your website.

Of course, it costs a lot of money to commission an expert on the topic of search engine optimization, but if you need a precise action plan and the measures should be targeted, there is no way around an SEO professional.

What does search engine optimization cost?

What SEO ultimately costs is difficult to determine, because in principle many factors influence the price calculation. Your services or products, your business goals, the complexity of the website, the content, and the focus of the site play an important role here. Above all, the question of the competition and how competitive your area or the keywords or topics are.

Is it a niche or a very competitive area? Then you should probably think about hiring a professional.

Nevertheless, we would like to explain to you what search engine optimization should and should not cost. The prices for SEO must be determined according to certain criteria and should not be arbitrary.

this is search engine optimization
Search engine optimization consists of many different areas. A good SEO strategy has to consider many points in order to rank a website higher in organic search results.

When and why should you consult an expert?

There can be many reasons to consult an SEO expert. Not infrequently, there is a lack of time and know-how to deal with search engine optimization. Experts are familiar with the profession, have many years of experience, and can also ensure that you save costs for search engine optimization.

How is this supposed to work? If you work a lot with search engine advertising (SEA) in search engine marketing (SEM), you have to invest money in ads. If these ads (e.g. Google Ads) come up empty and do not generate the desired click rates (CTR) and conversion rates, the money is wasted. In this case, it would have been better to pay an expert to get more traffic and conversion.

Google Ads KeyWords
If you invest in Google Ads you will see quick results and more visitors to your website. But these visitors will only find your website as long as you spend money on Google advertising. SEO, on the other hand, brings you, free website visitors, over a long period of time.

However, experts are not only helpful for SEA measures but especially for SEO, because it has been shown that an investment in SEO achieves long-term success or a long-term return on investment (ROI). Studies have proven that SEO generates 20 times more traffic than SEA, however, the budget is usually wasted on SEA. If the right strategy is applied, SEO will eventually become a sure-fire success and with increasing authority, the ranking on Google will stabilize. Nevertheless, search engine optimization must be carried out constantly, because the competition never sleeps. So having it optimized once and then putting your feet up is not advisable.

Facts & Figures: What do SEO professionals charge and how is it billed?

According to Ahrefs, around 75% of SEO agencies bill their clients on a monthly basis, estimating between $501 and $1,000 per month. Hourly billing is typically $100-$150 per hour and project-based billing is $500-$1000. On the other hand, those who have more than 2 years of experience charge around 40% more per hour, 103% more per month or 275% more for a project. Those who work worldwide usually charge 130% more fees compared to locally active SEOs.

SEO Pricing Hourly
Image Source: AHrefs

SEO prices and pricing models

One-off SEO packages aren’t worth it for everyone, as search engine optimization is often an ongoing process. The link profile, the content and the on-page optimization must be constantly adjusted and improved. Google must constantly receive signals that the website content is relevant, up-to-date and user-oriented. Before the prices and the right price model can be selected, however, it is necessary to check the initial situation and the budget you have.

You also have to keep in mind that your competitors are likely doing professional SEO as well. For this reason, it is worth investing in professional SEO campaigns every month to get a higher ranking for certain search terms or topics.

  • Budget: how much do I want and can I invest in SEO?
  • Competition: Is my focus competitive or niche? How strong is the competition and what content has it published?
  • Demand: Are my services or products in demand?
  • Objectives: What do I want to achieve and how quickly should visibility be improved?
  • Domain Authority: What about my authority, keywords and content?
  • Complexity of the website: How extensive is the site?
  • Keywords: What is my focus keyword? What about long-tail keywords?
this is how you can find keyword ideas and topic ideas to rank for
Here you can see that there are a ton of different keywords and topics that are worth going after. With the right SEO strategy you’re able to rank for good keywords with high search volume. Click here to visit the free AHrefs Keyword finder tool.

Hourly and daily rates

Hourly and daily rates are usually more expensive than project-based or performance-based billing, with costs ranging from around $90 an hour to as much as $200. A daily rate can range from $720 to $1,600 per day. With this form of billing, the customer has no insight into whether the service provider actually needed the calculated hours to implement the project. The question also arises as to whether it took him longer to implement it than was absolutely necessary. Therefore, billing by hours or days does not always make sense.

Performance-based pay

This billing model is rarely found in the SEO industry, but it can be useful and cost-effective under certain circumstances. Customers have the choice between paying for search result positions in the SERPs, per visitor, per lead/sale or via profit sharing.

  • Positioning in the SERPs: It is crucial here where the website ranks for a keyword. The first position is usually estimated at around 35 dollars per day and for position 2 around 30 dollars and for each additional position that is below the second around 10% less.
  • Payment per visitor: 1 to 10 dollars will be charged per visitor.

Monthly flat rates and SEO packages

This billing variant is common in the industry; the customer has a fixed term of 1 to 24 months and receives monthly search engine optimization from the service provider. A flat rate can cost between $500 and $20,000 a month and include various optimization measures. It is common in online marketing that hourly or complete packages are offered for on-page and/or off-page optimization.

If there is not much SEO work to be done on the website in one month, this model is only worthwhile to a limited extent. However, it is advisable for websites that constantly need new content and optimization. That’s why you have to weigh up how often the site needs to be optimized and whether a monthly flat rate is worthwhile.

For example, here you can see our monthly costs for SEO services (click on the image for more details):

seo services monthly pricing plan
Here you can see our SEO pricing plan on a monthly basis. You can click on the image to see further details.

Project-based billing (deliverables)

Project-based billing is very common in search engine optimization because the deliverable can be clearly identified and verified. The service provider estimates a fixed price for predefined, specific optimization goals that are implemented within a certain support period.

For example, a full OnPage and OffPage optimization could be completed within 12 months for a certain price.

What budget should I expect for SEO?

On average, an SEO agency’s hourly rate is around $90, with top agencies charging between $120 and $170. It is usually important that new content is created, the link building remains active and errors on the website (e.g. 404 error pages) are corrected. As a result, you can expect monthly costs of 700 dollars to 1,000 dollars for SEO.

When calculating the price, the size of the company, the location, the size of the website and the competitive situation also play an important role. Pay accordingly

  • Smaller companies (e.g. doctors, smaller online shops, etc.) in small towns 1,000 to 3,000 euros per month
  • Businesses (e.g. lawyers, real estate agencies) in medium-sized cities and in highly competitive markets between $3,000 and $7,000,
  • Medium-sized to very large online shops with a national niche more than 7,000 dollars per month.

It is particularly expensive for large companies and online shops with an international reach.

How many hours are needed for optimization measures?

This also depends on the complexity of your project and your site, so no general statements can be made. However, it is safe to assume that researching, writing, correcting, adapting, optimizing, designing and ingesting SEO content takes time. Depending on the scope, you can expect around 10 to 20 hours here.

Finding keywords or topics that are worthwhile and offer quick success takes a long time. Since this keyword research or topic research is done manually, it can take a lot of time.

Writing the website copy or writing relevant blog posts also takes time. If website copy or blog posts are to be written well so that they comply with the current Google Guidelines, it can take a few hours.

Link building campaigns also require a certain amount of effort, which can amount to over 20 to over 30 hours. High-quality backlinks cannot be shaken out of the blue, but take time. In an online shop, the optimization measures can also take some time, because technology, usability and SEO have to be coordinated.

Beware of empty promises

You should be particularly wary of empty promises from agencies, because you can forecast in advance and work towards a certain goal, but you can never promise success. Ranking promises or traffic numbers can at most be forecast, or even promised. No real SEO expert will be able to predict 100% what will happen in the next 12 months and how the competition will perform within that time.

warning of seo promises
If someone promises you or gives you a guarantee of success in a certain time, you should be very careful! When it comes to search engine optimization, there are no guarantees. You should also be very wary of very cheap SEO offers. SEO takes time, a lot of energy, and a professional who knows what he is doing.

Is the Google algorithm changing and will new updates corrupt the optimization measures or is it perhaps even going better than expected? No one can say that, so no agency should make ranking and traffic promises. Anyone who promises that a website is guaranteed to be number 1 in 6 months sounds implausible to any SEO expert. Vague forecasts are legitimate to a certain extent, everything else is simply dubious.

Don’t trust anyone who gives you SEO guarantees or ranking guarantees. You should also be very careful when buying backlinks. If you see cheap backlink offers, these are mostly from spam sites and can even damage your website or even lead to a panelty.

dangerous fiverr backlinks
Never buy cheap backlinks! Regardless of which platform. These backlinks are generated by spam sites and directed to your website. While these offers promise good DR (Domain Rating), they mostly come from spam websites, adult content websites, forums, or listing websites. These websites are then probably totally irrelevant to your niche and bring you absolutely nothing. In the worst case, this can lead to a Google panelty.

Real backlinks are achieved through outreach campaigns and link worthy content. Real and valuable backlinks have to be earned and come from the same niche/industry. So it’s no use if you run a hairdresser’s shop, for example, and then get backlinks from casino websites. Google will find out that you bought the backlinks and will penalize your website or online shop for doing so. (Don’t trust cheap backlinks from Fiverr 😉 )

The most frequently asked questions about SEO at a glance