SEO – How much should you pay to outsource it?

First, a very brief introduction to SEO (please skip this section, if you know this already)

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) basically involves tweaking your web pages and website so that it gets listed on top of Search Engines like Google, for keywords that you want. To do good SEO – one has to do “onsite” changes and tweaks as well as “offsite” content changes. Onsite modification would involve making sure the title of your post contains the keywords, making sure the opening paragraph repeats this keyword / key phrase. Putting it once in the middle / body of the article and also towards the end.

This is just the basic stuff and there are countless indepth resources only (some free and some paid) through which you can learn the basics as well as advanced techniques. Offsite SEO would involve submitting your site links to other websites and resources. Why is this important? because, Google has something called PageRank – which ranks you higher in search results for keyowrds you desire if other sites link to your site using the keyword(s) within the link anchor text. There are many other methods and some “secret” methods which are known only to a select few individuals and companies. Those who want to dig deeper, can read the Wikipedia entry for SEO, which is an amazing place to start and learn about other prominent SEO blogs and information resources.

For those who do not have the time or inclination to learn about SEO in depth, and would rather outsource their SEO task to a professional SEO company, please read on…

Things to keep in mind when selecting an SEO Company

  • See their results.. how well does their site rank?
  • Ask for testimonials from past clients.. get in touch with these clients and do some basic checking up.
  • Who are their past Clients?
  • Is SEO education included in the fee.. perhaps they can teach you the basics.
  • What all services will be included for the price you are paying them.
  • How will the SEO progress be measured and documented
  • Do they do link building?
  • Can they write quality content?
  • Read published articles by the company.. see how credible their methodology is.
  • Are they using any BlackHat (unethical) techniques, that you may/may not want.
  • Listen to interviews of their key personnel.. see how good they are.
  • Do your homework.. know the basics of what is involved in an SEO campaign.
  • Beware of companies that guarantee you the #1 spot!

Seven Popular SEO Pricing Models

(1) Hourly Consulting – With this model, the SEO company charges you a flat rate by the hour. Rates can range anywhere from $40 for mid level companies to as much as $200 for high-demand companies and even $1000 charged by SEOmoz (a leading SEO company).

(2) Project Based Fee – Like many web projects are outsourced, this is model works on a fixed sum basis depending on the site review + keyword research + consulting time. The payments can happen over a period of time as various milestones are achieved and deliveries are made.

(3) Contract Services – Some SEO firms have a fixed package and trhey charge you a fixed fee for that. No customization. For example – a directory submission service that would charge you say $40 to submit your site to 200 directories online. Examples of such services being offered are – Debra Mastaler’s directory submission service , Eric Ward’s link building & publicity campaigns or Jessie Strichiola’s SEO assessment services.

(4) Standard Profit Sharing – With this model the SEO company agrees to do the SEO job for a very little upfront fee, in return for a cut of the revenues/profits generated by the client / product. Some variants of this model exist, whereby the SEO company gets a Minimum Guarantee that is paid from the initial earnings, and before any money goes to the Client it goes to the SEO company.

(5) Monthly Retainer – The client pays a fixed sum to the SEO company for “x” amount of hourly work or “x” amount of specific tasks done every month. Good for SEO companies as they retain clients for a long period of time, but it can be abused by SEO companies who say that websites will lose rankings if clients cancel the contract.

(6) Pay For Rankings – With this model the SEO company gets paid when the clients site gets listed on specific positions… for example $X for page 2 ranking for the keyword desired, or for ranking #10, #9, or #8 on the first page … or even for ranking #1, #2, or #3. Some SEOs demand a bonus for getting to the top 3 slots.

(7) Pay for Traffic – SEO company is paid for traffic they send you throug hthe search engines. Basically, this becomes like a PPC system. The only flip side here is that it can get messy and disadvantageous for the client if the traffic is not targetted, thus wasting their per visit dollars.

What are the specific rates one can pay for SEO Services

The following factors can affect SEO pricing in general –

  • Website size and complexity
  • Size of the Organization or Brand
  • Level of difficulty of the project – directly related to the keywords in question and competitiveness in ranking
  • Reputation of the SEO company and their demand in the industry, their past clients, portfolio and projects

Here is a table, with some indicative rates –

SEO pricing chart

Next, here is a list of individual SEO companies and their prices …

SEO Companies and Pricing

1st Query
Seattle firm charges $500 to $5,000 per month.
http://www.1stquery.com/

Matt Aaron
$500 to $2,000 per month for organic SEO services. Based in Houston, TX.
http://www.googlematt.com/

ACS SEO
California based firm that has some very large corporate clients. Charges between $10,000 to 150,000+ per month.
http://www.acsseo.com/

Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning
British Columbia based firm that charges between $500 to $25,000 per month.
http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/

Blue Moon Works
Denver firm charges between $5,000 and $100,000 per month.
http://www.bluemoonworks.com/

Clientside Search Engine Marketing
Oakland, California based SEM firm charging between $10,000 and $150,000+ per month.
http://www.clientsidesem.com/

ComuniLab
Italian firm charges $500 to $50,000 per month.
http://www.comunilab.it/

David Mihm
Portland, Oregon SEO guru charges anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per month for his expertise.
http://www.davidmihm.com/

DottedOnline
Chicago firm charges between $1,000 and $150,000+ per month for its expertise.
http://www.dottedonline.com/

Eastline Marketing
Lebanon based firm that charges $25,000 to $50,000 per month.
http://www.eastlinemarketing.com/

Eckweb Designs
Charges $51/website page (not sure what that includes or means but that’s the price they publish at: http://www.eckweb.com/prices/index.html

Freezing Hot
Ohio based firm charging between $500 and $5,000 per month for SEO.
http://www.freezinghot.com/

Future Now
Brooklyn based firm has monthly fees in the $2,000 to $25,000 range.
http://www.futurenowinc.com/

High Rankings
Massachusetts based firm is widely recognized as one of the industry leaders including hosting one of he better SEO forums around. Charges between $2,000 and $10,000 per month.
http://www.highrankings.com/

Sara Holoubek
New York based SEO asks $10,000 to $50,000 per month for her services.
http://www.saraholoubek.com/

Hybrid6 Solutions
Los Angeles firm charges between $500 to $25,000 per month.
http://www.hybrid6.com/

Local SEO Guide
Los Angeles firm charges between $500 to $10,000 per month.
http://www.localseoguide.com/

Magnet Search Marketing
Canadian company which bills clients $5,000 to $150,000+ per month.
http://www.magnetsearchmarketing.com/

Marketing Pilgrim
North Carolina based firm charges between $500 to $100,000 per month for SEO.
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/

Net Concepts
Madison, Wisconsin firm asks $10,000 to $150,000+ for its knowledge and skill-set.
http://www.netconcepts.com/

New Media Northwest
Seattle firm asks $2,000 to $10,000 per month for its services.
http://www.newmedianorthwest/

On React
German firm focused on their local market. Fees range from $500 to $10,000 per month.
http://onreact.com/

One to Market
Overseas company charges between $5,000 to $150,000+ per month.
http://www.onetomarket.com/

Portent Interactive
Washington based firm that charges $10,000 to $150,000 per month for its services.
http://www.portentinteractive.com/

Rank Smart
Austin, Texas firm charges between $5,000 and $100,000 per month.
http://www.ranksmart.com/

Rapid Blue
United Kingdom firm charges between $500 and $150,000+ per month for SEO. Targets small businesses.
http://www.rapidblue.co.uk/

Real Estate Marketing
Los Angeles firm specializes in the real estate marketing niches and charges anywhere from $500 to 50,000 per month for its services.
http://www.realestatemarketingblog.org/

Refresh Web
Tighter range of pricing for a set of targeted campaigns as demonstrated below.
http://refreshweb.com

Reinvent Business
It has been awhile since I have chatted with James (owner and operator of Reinvent Business), but the last pricing quote received was for $2,500/month for a minimum of six months.
Learn more at http://reinventbusiness.com

Rusty Brick
New York based firm charges between $10,000 to $100,000 per month for SEO.
http://www.rustybrick.com/

Shimon Sandler
Charges a monthly retainer of $2,000 for 10 hours of consulting.
http://www.shimonsandler.com/?p=200

Search Engine Genie
Firm located in California that charges clients $500 to $5,000 per month.
http://www.searchenginegenie.com/

Search Rank
Phoenix based SEO firm charging between $1,000 to $150,000+ per month.

Home

SEO Genies
Indian firm that charges anywhere from $299 to $2,199 per month depending upon complexity of the project.
http://www.seogenies.com/SEO-Packages.php

SEO Inc.
Highly reputable firm that does not publish pricing publicly. You must request a quote from them to eceive any pricing information.
http://seoinc.com

SEOmoz.org
Seattle based firm has large following in the SEO community. Charges $5,000 to $100,000 per month for SEO. Very reputable organization that is one of the pioneers of the industry and has one of the best SEO logs and communities around.
http://seomoz.org

EOptimism
Charges anywhere from $1,995 to $7500 for a range of SEO services. Learn more by visiting:
http://seoptimism.com/SEO.htm

SEOptimize
UK firm charges between $1,000 to $25,000 per month.
http://www.seoptimise.com/

SEO Visions
Charges anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000+ per month
http://www.seovisions.com

Slingshot SEO
Indianapolis based SEO firm charges clients $1,000 to $150,000+ per month.
http://www.slingshotseo.com/

Stone Temple Consulting
Southborough, MA firm charges between $5,000 and $150,000+ per month for its services.
http://www.stonetemple.com/

Sugarrae
New Jersey based firm that charges between $2,000 and $50,000 per month. Rae Hoffman is one of the more “colorful” personalities in the SEO industry.

Home

Top SEO Partners
Indian firm that charges anywhere between $500 and $5,000 per month.
http://www.topseopartners.com/

Tribal Internet Marketing
Netherlands based firm charges between $1,000 to $50,000 per month.
http://www.tribal-im.com/

Virante
Durham, North Carolina firm charges between $5,000 and $150,000+ per month.
http://www.virante.com/

Eric Ward
$5,000 to $10,000 per month gains you access to this SEO expert.
http://www.ericward.com/

We Build Pages
New York based firm that offers wide range of internet marketing services. Reportedly charges between $5,000 and $25,000 per month for SEO services.
http://www.webuildpages.com/

Web Optima
Firm based in Spain that charges between $500 and $5,000 per month for its services.
http://www.weboptima.es/

WebPageFX
Charges a setup fee that ranges anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 then a monthly link building and monitoring fee ranging from $250 to $650.
http://www.webpagefx.com/Search-Engine-Optimization-Pricing.html

Zing Sales Solutions
Kentucky based firm that has served smaller businesses for SEO. Charges between $500 and $4,000 per month for organic SEO services. (Editor’s NOTE: I am affiliated with this firm as a principal.)
http://zing-solutions.com

SEO Company list above is courtesy of Zing Solutions

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