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  • “Considerable time is spent researching, comparing, and talking to owners of Search / PR / Marketing firms, today. I can reveal a number of SEO generalizations as a result, but none of which should be considered exacting data as this business is always on the move.”

    Paul Hamilton


Producing Internet results requires mingling with a variety of skills and variables, of which can and do change often. Here today, gone tomorrow, is unfortunately what many businesses experience; contributing to the rising need for help from the Search and PR industry.

To help facilitate some additional understanding on pricing & cost structures of SEO business, I have put together a very small bit of information pulled from the world wide web's SEO pricing models. Both sides of the seo business will be supported with info to help organizations identify.

For starters, let's view how SEO companies commonly price services, then examine how companies and organizations should expect to pay for SEO.

Popular SEO Pricing Models

Hourly Web Consulting

Receiving web consulting at an hourly price for Internet projects. Rates in SEO vary with the low, entry level @ around $40-50, mid-tier web consultants charging $100-$200 and high-demand / high-performance firms / people from $300-500. Web Consulting firms may charge as high as $1000 / hour to limit clients to the relationships that are the most mutually beneficial.

Project-Based Consulting

Many Web companies use project-based consulting; developing results for flat fees, often in several chunks over any period of time. Fees are based on an estimate of time, effort and personnel involved in the project. often uses this model for site reviews + keyword research + consulting time or for an on-site SEO training period / series.

Standard Profit Sharing

A limited number of SEO providers allow profit sharing based compensation. These often include a "retainer fee" or down payment to begin projects and move into profit percentage of revenues (usually before non-essential expenses) from sales through the website. This can be an effective option for SEOs with great confidence in their abilities as well as high faith in the products / business model they are assisting. Significant risk is assumed by the web agency. has assisted many using this model over the last decade with mixed results >> the largest barrier is the insurance that the business operations, outside of the website, are running on all cylinders, which really doesn't mesh well with the job of SEO / Web Firm. Both SEO Web Firms and those seeking their services should be wary of any kind of profit-sharing deal. This is much the same as a business partnership in many ways and shouldn't be treated with any less weight.

Monthly Retainer, and a few other good SEO firms we know often assist using monthly retainers with a standard workload package (or several options). This system is often modified during development, marketing & ongoing web maintenance with different prices being charged as part of the retainer. Monthly Retainers are good models for companies seeking to retain clients over a long period of time, but it can also be abused by both sides.

Pay for Rankings

This SEO strategy implies that a business pays a fee for reaching page 1 or 2 of a particular result, different fees for actual position 9, 8, 7, etc. Bonuses are often given for higher achievements (eg: #1) and rankings. This model makes sense for companies seeking to rank high in areas they feel convert highly. The "Pay for Search Rankings" model is simplistic, but comes with complications as well, like:
1. Time to remain in search position.
2. Fluctuations during indexing
3. Browser settings showing "local" results

Pay for Traffic or Pay Per Click

As with paying for search rankings, traffic payment systems look at SEO much like PPC. This model measures the SEO's work, but it can get messy as the quality of traffic is not actually measured. A business may receive highly qualified traffic from a search firm, but poorly qualified traffic often represents the highest percentage.

General SEO Pricing

If your Company is in the market for SEO services, there are a lot of factors that can affect expectations of pay. These are the main factors that can affect the price you might pay for organic optimization, consulting, or hands-on web search and PR services:

  • Size & Complexity of Website
  • Size of Brand / Organization
  • Difficulty of Project / Competitiveness of Rankings
  • Personalities / Relationship
  • Reputation, Notability & Demand for the SEO Firm

While prices for seo services are all across the board, here is a general range:

Varying rates for SEO per hour:
  • Entry level: $40-50
  • Mid-tier consulting: $100-$200
  • High-demand firms: $300-500
  • Elite: charge $1000 / hour

SEO Industry Services and Prices


Site Review + Consulting

Hands-On Editing of Pages / Code

Manual Link Building Campaign

1-Day SEO Training Seminar

Keyword Research Package

Viral Content Development + Mktg

Web Design, Development + Mktg

Monthly Retainer for Ongoing SEO
Low End








Mid Range








High End SEO









Search and PR Industry Notes:

Budget Considerations

1. Working very hard to produce very impressive results on a shoe-string budget often leads to an unreasonable expectation. Any company seeking Internet SEO and/or PR needs to understand that performing at high levels is maintained with reasonable budget commitments.

2. Companies attempting to "test the waters" so to speak, with very small budget resources often find their results are never amazing. It strains Internet PR Firms to convince companies to commit more money as their initial desired results may have seemed lacking.

Who is Working on your Project?

Note: Many large Search and PR firms charge large consulting rates, then use interns and unskilled staff to perform SEO. A positive track record and glowing statistics are not all a company should be looking for in an SEO firm. Before using any SEO company, make sure you know exactly who will be working on your projects, and what their experience level is.

How was initial Contact Made Between You and the SEO Firm?

Note: Some of the largest Search and PR firms routinely spam potential clients in hopes of getting a "bite". If you return contact, you will find that you have now become a "lead" that the main SEO firm now contacts. Is this type of marketing acceptable to you and your business? Probably not. In fact, any Firm wishing to represent you that conducts business in this manner is more likely to hurt your long-term Internet presence, than help it.

» Contact us for any additional consulting or to provide assistance specific to your search / PR Business needs.

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