$ Why Is Ranking On Google (SEO) So Expensive??? (updated 12/15/2022)

Why SEO Is So Expensive

The cost of small business SEO services varies greatly because every small / local business has a different starting point and therefore requires a different scope-of-work which translates to different rates for different clients.

That said, it’s hard near impossible for generic SEO pricing to take all these nuances into account.

As a result, a lot of SEO companies will put together SEO packages because they’re very easy to sell and then provide customers with packaged services that aren’t designed to meet their needs.

If you’ve purchased SEO products or services in the past, this will sound familiar.

The reality is, there are lots of people throwing away $500/month for SEO bundles that don’t work because they’re not tailored to their specific needs.

Similarly, there are companies paying upwards of $50,000 a month for redundant optimizations that they don’t need.

These are typically eCommerce sites paying solely based on the amount of products the company sells.

Again, boilerplate strategies only work for the people selling them and fixed-price SEO will work against you.

What you really need is someone to do their homework, understand what you need, and then quote you a price that fits your needs exactly.

And yes, SEO will take more than a month to gain traction HOWEVER, if you’re doing SEO properly, paying for it shouldn’t be a forever thing.

It’s like investing in a great stock.

You make the initial investment, monitor and maintain it for awhile, then enjoy the benefits compounded over and over again over time.

There’s a sucker born every minute.
—P.T. Barnum?

If you want to know how fixed SEO pricing works at your local internet marketing company, here goes:

1. Your digital marketing company will analyze your site and hypothesize on what’s needed to rank your site on page 1 of Google for the keywords you’ve given them (ideally they’ve done their own research and found additional keywords you didn’t know of as well)

2. The internet marketing service will determine the hard costs of the work and resources needed (i.e., hours, outside party costs, etc.)

3. The internet marketing service company figures in their markup

4. Based on your budget (or the fixed monthly SEO fee), the internet marketing service divides the total cost to SEO your site by the fixed monthly SEO fee

5. Using the formula above, we know how many months it’ll take to complete your SEO

For example, if the total cost of SEO’ing your website is $12,000 and they’re charging you $500 a month, that means it’ll take 24 months to complete your work.

The above is how “ethical” SEOs work… and yes that’s pretty bad but most times, an SEO company will have only one package masked behind different names and cost structures and sell the same thing to everyone at the highest price possible.

If you’re in an ultra low-competition industry and you don’t have any local competition, this type of deal might work okay for you because Google literally has no one else to position over you locally.

If you’re in a more competitive industry however and your competition is even just a little smart, this wouldn’t work for you because at best, your SEO isn’t working effectively enough (or fast enough either) to keep up with everyone else.

Most people have a below-average idea of how strong their competition is.

They think their competition is just who and what they see but that typically isn’t the case.

A good SEO consultant will immediately take notice of your baseline competition but during their work, they’ll take the time to carefully uncover the not-so-obvious ones and tell you what it’s going to take to get you where you want to be.

So how much do SEO services actually cost?

What you’re going to pay for your SEO depends on a number of things … here are the main ones.

  • Is your website already optimized (i.e., what’s the current state of your web pages)?
  • Is your website optimized to work perfectly on all desktop and mobile screens (i.e., is the design responsive)?
  • Does your website load lightning fast?
  • Do you have already have keyword-optimized product and service pages?
  • Do you have supporting content with highly searched (and related) keywords?
  • Does your website already have optimized title and description meta tags?
  • Do you have the rest of your copy tagged with proper alt tags, heading tags, etc.?
  • How many “questionable” sites do you have linking to you?
  • Do you have high quality authority sites linking to you?
  • Is your internal linking structured in a way that makes sense to actual people reading your content?
  • Have you ever been penalized by Google? You might be blacklisted right now and not even know it!
  • Does your site have (or has it ever had) black hat tactics implemented with or without your knowledge?
  • How authoritative are the sites already ranking on page 1 of Google for the keywords you’re wanting to target?
  • Has there been any significant ranking change on the 1st page of Google for your keywords?

Reviewing these factors (and many others) tells an SEO pro how much work is needed to make your website SEO-ready, how much content creation is needed, how much link building will be needed given your competitive position, and all the other work needed to “convince” Google that your web pages are deserving of top rankings.

With an understanding of how much work you need, a digital marketing company can then be in a position to tell you what it’ll actually cost to SEO your website.

Some SEO pricing guidelines

Most monthly SEO pricing falls into one of the following categories depending on strategy and scope (and of course, you can always find cheaper more affordable SEO services but remember, you get what you pay for).

As of December 15, 2022, here’s what quality SEO done by in-demand (that’s important because if the SEO is not in high demand, that means they don’t have a proven track record of success) internet marketing services companies will typically charge:

  • Local SEO that you know will get results typically ranges between $1,500 to $3,500 per month for single-location campaigns targeting small to medium-sized cities (pricing increases for multi-location campaigns or single-location businesses in larger or higher populated cities)
  • A national SEO campaign will cost more than a local SEO campaign because the strategy is different for Google and the competition is stiffer and much more plentiful

    If you want results, expect to pay upwards of $5,000 per month

  • If you sell a niche product or service, you may be able to get away with paying less for SEO if what you’re selling is something no one else offers and your market is hyper local (could be as low as $500 per month since a couple of key optimizations could trigger big results)
  • If you have an eCommerce site with hundreds or more products, expect to pay national SEO campaign prices even if you’re targeting local shoppers due to the number of pages requiring optimization, platform complexities, and higher levels of competition (if you’re selling nationally, you’ll be paying in the tens of thousands of dollars per month but your return-on-investment will be almost always be triple digits)

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