A Brief SEO Pricing Guide From Semalt

How much does search engine optimization (SEO) cost, and which billing models make sense? What about performance-based compensation?  These are all questions you may want to be answered.

Indeed, anyone who doesn't deal with the subject of SEO daily will have a hard time evaluating what price is justified. Ultimately, as with any investment, the focus should be on what you get out of it in the end - the return on investment (ROI)!

Below, we will explain each of the following:

Invest properly in SEO

Webmasters who want their website to be professionally optimized for Google's organic search are faced with the all-important question: how much does it cost?

Many businesses today understand that search engine optimization is important, but trust and, therefore, budget is very limited for many businesses, especially in the beginning.

Studies show that mobile and desktop SEO has about 20 times more traffic potential than search engine advertising (SEA). However, according to the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, 87% of the search engine marketing budget is spent on SEA.

Yes, Google Ads is a great way to get targeted traffic to your website and should be part of any online marketing strategy. But this also applies to search engine optimization, especially in the long run.

Search engine optimization is so lucrative because it snowballs over time. Once all the important keywords are covered by pages tailored to the search intent and authority has been built in the niche, the process becomes more and more automatic.

With visibility, your website will gain new backlinks on its own. 

What are your initial situation and goals?

The following points should be clarified beforehand - that is, before going live:

Expert advice

If your project is already in an upward trend (according to SEO tools such as the Dedicated SEO Dashboard) and good practices have already been put in place, the SEO partner will have a much easier time winning new keywords.

If your web project is in a downward trend, it may take some time for the SEO measures taken to have an effect. Before things go south, the most important issues need to be addressed. 

If you have large projects, the SEO campaign will be proportionally more expensive. And the billing model can also influence the price.

Think about the number of additional customers/guests you need via the Internet to make the SEO offer profitable for your company.

But keep in mind that SEO takes time, and little will likely happen in the first few weeks. Depending on the competitiveness of your keywords, significant gains may even take years. Be sure to clarify these issues with the potential SEO service provider. They probably can't say anything specific, but at least there are usually some empirical values.

SEO billing and pricing models

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To answer the question regarding SEO costs, it is necessary to dig a little deeper, as the pricing model is also crucial.

Basically, you can choose between:
The SEO agency most likely has expenses. These can be included or billed separately. We know from experience that separate billing leads to delays and conflicts. That is why Semalt always includes all expenses. The budget should be well known in advance.

Hourly and daily rates

Hourly and daily rates offer you maximum flexibility when hiring an SEO service provider. However, it is clear that hourly and daily rates are more expensive. 

Trusting the service provider is crucial, as it is not always clear how much work the SEO professional does. Even hourly records give only limited insight if you don't have the necessary expertise.

Flat rates and all-inclusive packages

Flat rates are a very popular billing model in the SEO industry. 

Flat rates typically range from €500 to €20,000 per month and include some hourly rates or full packages for on-page and off-page optimization.

Performance-based payment

While flat rates and hourly or daily rates are common, only a few SEO service providers offer performance-based billing. If such a payment model is possible, billing is done in different ways:


A deliverable is an intermediate result of the project that is both uniquely identifiable and verifiable.

If an SEO provider works with this model, you can already see what you will get during the support period when you bid. The goal of this billing model is to make the support service more tangible for the customer.

At Semalt, we work with deliverables. When you submit an offer, you receive a list of deliverables that we will deliver in the coming months.

Deliverables create clear relationships and help plan internal resources.

How much does search engine optimization (SEO) cost?

How Much Does SEO Cost? - CreateAgile Blog

A 2015 study by iBusiness found that the average hourly rate for an SEO agency is €90.

Unfortunately, on-page monitoring is not enough to increase visibility on Google, but also to maintain it. No, hours must be constantly invested in content creation, link building, and other SEO measures. That's why you should generally expect SEO costs starting at €1,000 per month, even in small niches.

We mainly deal with large projects and clients with ambitious goals. For this reason, our ongoing SEO support remains affordable and is focused on achieving the set goals in a timely manner.

On the other hand, you should also keep in mind that investing too little in search engine optimization and content marketing will not bring you any return on investment, as all results accumulate on the first page of Google. If your page is ranked below 11th, you will get almost no visitors. 

The problem with cheap SEO

Of course, businesses always want to pay as little as possible and as much as necessary for a service. The only problem is that cheap SEO is usually just an expense and brings no results.

When it comes to SEO, you want to be ahead of the curve. To rank well on Google, you need to deliver the best result. Average is simply not good enough.

How do SEO agencies set their prices?

To understand how SEO agencies get to set their monthly packages, here are some examples of the effort involved in typical SEO measures:
With these figures in mind, it's clear that SEO for €100 per month is a total scam.

What about traffic promises, performance evidence, and goals?

At Semalt, we recommend writing as detailed goals as possible for long-term contracts. However, it should be noted that Google is constantly changing its algorithm, and the competition does not stop.

For this reason, we only set goals that we can achieve on our own, not estimates:
All other goal definitions are like weather forecasts. Good, but not quite right.

Moreover, in many cases, an SEO agency depends heavily on cooperation with the client.

Tracking success and proving performance is essential, but not in the form of ranking promises or traffic figures. It is clear that no SEO expert can accurately predict how all competitors will perform in the next 12 months and how Google's algorithm will develop. Otherwise, there will be nothing left to play for.

Why should you refer to Semalt's services?

Basically, we work with ongoing SEO support and a budget based on your goals, initial situation, and competition.

As mentioned above, we define specific deliverables so that you have a clear vision of what you are getting and how you should allocate your resources internally.

Small one-off orders are charged based on standard packages (SEO audits, keyword research, backlink packages, etc.).

On the other hand, search engine optimization requires a lot of manual work, because every company and brand is individual - and that should be reflected in the actions taken and the content.

In successful SEO, the right tools are crucial. Without the right tools, no data-driven decisions can be made. SEO tools facilitate research, necessary tracking of work, and provide essential competitive data. 

That's why we provide our clients with the best all-in-one SEO tool: the Dedicated SEO Dashboard. At Semalt, all team members are constantly training and improving their skills. Furthermore, to make our service as efficient as possible, we develop our own tools.

Our team members gain experience and know-how year after year to keep up with SEO trends and changes in search engine algorithms.

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