SEO Agency Pricing: 2023 Survey
For our 2023 SEO Agency Pricing survey, we pored through the business models of dozens of SEO agencies. The result is a simple comparison of the way SEO agencies price their services.
SEO agencies typically fall into one of three tiers:
- Tier 1: Full-service ($12,000+ / month). Agencies in the top tier work with SMEs from their clients’ industries, and create a custom-tailored SEO strategy that includes strategy development, keyword research, search intent analysis, thought leadership content, conversion rate optimization, and custom reporting.
- Tier 2: Content Marketing+ ($3,500-$7,500 / month). These agencies provide regular content in addition to a technical audit, but the quality of both the content and strategy is lower than that of pricier, full-service agencies. Reporting is often minimal or auto-generated.
- Tier 3: Technical Only (One time investments of $5,000 or less). These agencies focus on technical SEO fixes, with no content creation and minimal reporting.
Examining the range of SEO agencies’ pricing reveals a long-standing truth about the industry: there is a lack of agreement on what SEO actually means. While some firms provide substantial offerings that include advanced strategy and SME-written content, others lack content entirely and focus only on pagespeed fixes and obscure back-end optimizations. As a result, SEO pricing varies considerably from agency to agency.
SEO Agency Pricing, Compared
The following table compares 7 representative agencies and packages from across the tiers listed above to give you an accurate idea of average cost as well as the features offered. In it we identify several of what we consider to be the essential features provided by SEO agencies, including Technical SEO, Meta Page Title (MPT) Optimization, Content Production, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and Reporting.
SEO Agency Pricing Comparison
|Company||Tier||Service Model||Technical SEO||MPT Optimization||Content||CRO||Reporting||Pricing|
|#1||Full-service||Assigns specialist in your industry, custom-tailors SEO strategy that includes technical SEO, keyword research, content, and CRO.||Yes||Yes||Yes, 8 pieces/ mo written with input from industry SMes + interviews your team||Yes||Yes||$10,000 to $15,000/mo|
|#2||Full-service||Technical audits, keyword research, in-house (generalist) content creation, and link building. Only the highest-tier package includes everything.||Yes||Yes||Yes, but one piece per week and written by in-house generalists||Yes||Yes, included in higher-tier packages or upon request||$7,500 to $12,500/mo|
|#3||Content Marketing+||One-time $5,000 upfront investment for restructuring web pages and editing HTML tags, followed by monthly maintenance and link building.||Yes||Yes||No||No||One report generated automatically and sent monthly||$5,000 up front and $2,500/mo|
|#4||Content Marketing+||Personalized consulting model focused mostly on CRO||Yes, but minimal||Yes, but minimal||No||Yes||Yes, custom and highly detailed||$3,500 to $6,000/mo|
|#5||Content Marketing+||Does SEO with heavy emphasis on content & social media in conjunction||Yes, but minimal||Yes||Yes, 4 to 8 pieces/ mo||No||Yes, but minimal and generated automatically||$6,000 to $10,000/mo|
|#6||Technical Only||Individual consultant working with a team who does technical SEO & keyword research||Yes||Yes||No, attempts to partner w/ content creators at client company||Yes||Yes, but minimal: One report generated automatically and sent monthly||$135/hr|
|#7||Technical Only||One-time customized report on keywords, competition, and technical SEO. Does not create content and builds links via directory submission.||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes, ad hoc & charged hourly||$150/hr|
Even within tiers, agencies price their services differently. Next, we’ll look at the factors that go into how an agency determines their pricing model.
How SEO Agencies Determine Pricing
The main factor that affects pricing is the specific services offered, but there are many secondary factors. These are:
- Industry Expertise: Creating content for highly technical industries such as Fintech or PCB Design & Manufacturing requires a specialized skillset. As a result, SEO agencies with industry expertise will price their services higher to account for the costs of employing SMEs and technical writers.
- Content Quality: Consistently creating expert-level content requires employing skilled writers and SEO strategists to create a content plan for each keyword targeted. Lower tier agencies will instead employ cheaper writers and skip the strategist entirely, leading to lower-quality content.
- Publishing frequency: Creating and publishing more content requires more resources, and costs increase as a result. Publishing at least twice a week is ideal, however, as it activates the News Website Bonus.
- Team Size & Specialization: Agencies in the Content Marketing+ tier employ teams of 2-4 generalists for each client, while top-tier teams consist of 5-7 members, each specializing in writing, editing, strategy, project management, web development, graphic design, reporting, or conversion optimization.
- Strategy Depth: Top-tier agencies devote more resources to evaluating keywords and building a comprehensive campaign strategy (for example, using the Hub & Spoke model).
- Location. SEO services can also vary depending on what city the agency is based out of to accommodate for business costs and living expenses in that area.
For example, running a business out of San Francisco will likely demand a higher cost than would be the case in Sacramento, as it’s more expensive to live and operate a business there.
Choosing an SEO Agency
The cost of higher tier SEO agencies can be difficult to justify for smaller businesses, but if dominance of your search space is the goal, you will need to publish expert knowledge on a regular basis. While cheaper agencies may fit the budget in the short-term, the content they produce will require revisions and further investment—assuming it reaches the first page at all.
We recommend reaching out to a Tier 1 agency, at least until you’ve grown your internal team enough to build an SEO team in-house. Our agency specializes in B2B SEO and has achieved excellent results across a diverse array of industries. If you’d like to learn more about our services, reach out to us here.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.