How Much Does SEO for Small Businesses Cost?

Small Businesses Cost

As a small business owner, you know how to make each penny count.

You understand the importance of getting the most value out of your investments and in marketing; the focus is on strategies that offer a high ROI. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the best marketing channels available to you.

SEO today is all about using the relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, having a fast-loading website, and providing a flawless online user experience.

Over 90 percent of people searching on the internet click on organic results—this is huge!

It also means that SEO is an essential component of any small business’ strategy. However, it requires significant investment in terms of time and money.

So, how much should small business SEO services cost you?

SEO Pricing Schemes

While looking into SEO cost, we must remember that there isn’t a set price.

Different agencies and companies charge different prices for their services. So, it is up to you, the business owner and marketing manager, to determine how much your business can afford.

Understand that agencies charge for their services depending on various factors (more on this later). Further, many companies do not share their prices for marketing SEO services, so you need to contact them for quotes. This makes it hard to provide an accurate figure of what the standard SEO cost may be.

While researching the different options available, you will notice that most agencies provide their clients with one of these four basic pricing models.

Hourly rates

Some SEO experts charge an hourly fee for their services.

The packages and their prices are based on the average client and the services they require. A local small business will probably get a lower quote compared to bigger multinational companies that require more services.


Such a scheme focuses on achieving a specific goal, such as achieving a short-term boost after launching a blog or in your social media blog.

The specific projects are unique to your business and your requirements. The cost depends on the work the project requires and the services you need.


In this option, you select the SEO services you require, and the agency puts together a quote.

Contract services have a start and end date that does not change. Whether it is setting up a social media presence for your business or copywriting, the cost varies depending on your needs. The costs range from $5,000 to $30,000.

Monthly retainer

Many SEO agencies and companies provide a monthly retainer option to their clients. This means you pay a flat monthly rate for ongoing work.

The monthly option is quite popular as it makes billing easy.

Costs vary depending on the services you are using, and you will also find different ranges for different business sizes. Further, the ongoing relationship between your business and a single agency ensures better SEO results.

What’s the Right Budget for Small Business SEO Services?

SEO is not a one-size-fits-all service.

It is easy for small businesses to either spend too little or too much. Finding the right spot means that you achieve a significant result from your budget. So, what is the right budget?

Spending less than $1,000 a month is too low

While a higher SEO budget equals less money in the pocket, spending at this level means that your investment is going to waste.

Providers offering low quotes are more likely to cut corners and costs somewhere. SEO is expensive, and the best SEO companies spend on content, backlinks, and staffing. A low monthly retainer means the provider is working with low-tier SEO staff or purchasing some unscrupulous backlinks.

More than $5,000 a month is too high

Some agencies are expensive, perhaps because they are excellent at what they do or provide more services than the average company.

However, too much cost can be unsustainable for a small business.

Spending $2,000 to $2,500 a month is just right

The best SEO agency provides proven, safe, and comprehensive services at this range. A business that invests more than $2,500 each month is more likely to experience better satisfaction from the affordable SEO services provided.

This range is affordable for most small businesses.

Does a Bigger Budget Equate to Better Results?

Every business has different requirements. So, your SEO strategy and eventual cost may be different.

A professional SEO agency carries out an in-depth conversation with clients to understand the unique market, SEO needs, and objectives. Only then can you come up with a true budget.

Some key factors that SEO companies look at when determining the cost of your SEO project include:

  • Your niche—A highly competitive industry in terms of search engine traffic may require a significant amount of investment. Businesses in some of the most competitive niches, like the construction industry, overlook SEO benefits. This means early adoption may see you work with a lower budget to gain a competitive lead.
  • Objectives—SEO helps businesses achieve various goals, from improving conversion rates to increasing site traffic or establishing themselves as industry leaders. Your objectives and the time to achieve them may impact the SEO budget. The more extensive and longer the goal, the higher the rates.
  • Audience—Targeting multiple or a wide-range of audiences requires a bigger budget to achieve great ROI. Niche or vertical businesses do not, however, spend less, but they can achieve more using the same resources. The target audience might also make it hard to rank and bring traffic to your site.
  • Location or locations—Citations and links from authoritative sites and directories are harder to achieve for local SEO. The work involves significant money and time investments. Plus, it gets complicated when your business has multiple locations, and each of them is treated separately with its content, citations, links, and unique pages on your site.
  • Keywords—While keywords are not as important as they were in the past, they are still critical components to achieving rank in search results. Search engines are robots that crawl your site and quickly understand what each page is talking about using keywords. Keywords also influence your SEO strategy and budget. Highly competitive keywords bring in more clicks but require advanced and costly strategies to rank. Conversely, more specific keywords and longer phrases have less competition, allowing you to rank cheaply.

SEO is not a one-time activity that follows a set list of tasks.

There are several roles, skills, and activities required for your website to rank consistently in search results. Some components in an effective SEO strategy that are also likely to affect your budget include:

  • Designing and optimizing your site
  • Researching keywords
  • Producing and publishing content
  • Building trust and authority in your industry
  • Implementing off-page SEO
  • Performing regular website maintenance

So, if you have a big website with thousands of pages, expect the SEO cost to rise.

How to Find the Right Small Business SEO Agency

Your strategy for choosing an SEO agency should be logical and smart.

Rushing the process means you might sign with an agency that does not meet your expectations or understand your requirements, which easily leads to frustrations and does not help you drive leads, traffic, and sales from searches.

Partnership with a professional ensures guaranteed SEO marketing for small businesses (and helps you avoid the scenario above). Here are three tips every small business owner should consider.

Look at past performance

Performance is critical not only for SEO agencies but also for small businesses like yours.

Investigating what a company has done helps you determine if it can deliver. Do this when choosing an SEO agency.

Understand what they have done by looking for case studies, client testimonials, portfolio examples, and industry awards.

A concrete proof of agency performance means you can confidently get into a partnership or consultation. Plus, you know you are working with a good firm when it comes to achieving the goals of business growth.

Avoid agencies who talk about SEO abstractly

People who claim they have special insights into search engine algorithms or play up SEO mysticism are usually lying.

Instead, good SEO requires a deep understanding of the working of search engines, the constant Google algorithm modifications, and attention to detail. Plus, shortcuts such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, and purchasing links may lead to search engines demoting your site. Such strategies are called black hat SEO since they violate search engine rules, which leads to a decrease in organic traffic.

Meet the agency and ask questions

Before signing with any SEO agency, have a meeting with them. Whether virtually or in-person, these meetings can help you determine if you are looking at the right SEO company for your small business.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What is their experience working with businesses within your industry?
  • When should you expect to see tangible results?
  • How much do their services cost?

Conduct a brainstorming meeting with your business leaders and team before the meet-and-greet to determine what your overall objectives are. While team members have questions on reporting and strategy, decision-makers might have questions on ROI and pricing.


So, how much does SEO for small businesses cost?

It depends!

We can suggest that you set a budget of at least $500 each month to achieve a steady improvement for a small business. But the best budget should ensure you get well-written articles that convince prospects to become loyal customers, high-quality backlinks that increase site traffic, and the right industry keywords that improve your ranking for relevant searches. Remember, small business SEO services are an investment, not a cost!

Are you looking for help on how to enhance your search rankings? At Ardor SEO, we can help get your small business’ SEO game on track. Click here to get started today!

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