If you’re asking yourself how much should I budget for SEO you’re not alone. It can be difficult to gauge especially if your business is just beginning to offer products and services online. Usually, an SEO specialist will want to find out more about your specific needs, goals and ambitions before they give you a price.
Here are some factors to take into account when speaking with organic performance specialists and SEO professionals to help you understand how much you should spend on SEO for your business.
What affects the cost of SEO?
Several factors affect the cost of SEO and that will change the price you’ll likely have to pay to acquire SEO input that will help improve the status of your business.
Here are the most important factors that many SEOs consider when pricing organic search projects and why they matter.
For an appropriate estimate of how much you should pay for SEO on your website, use our SEO cost calculator.
Website size (number of indexed pages, multi-lingual or multi-geo, UGC etc.)
The size of the site matters because larger websites are generally more complex and technical SEO especially, becomes more difficult and slower on large sites.
A 30 page, plumbing services website that details the area in which a plumber operates, the services the plumber offers and contains examples of work they have completed will offer a relatively low complexity.
A plumbing supplies website, with over 30,000 pages dedicated to plumbing supplies, tools and equipment is a very different
The complexity of smaller websites (between 1,000 – 7,000 pages) can become complex quickly, especially if the product or service sold is particularly intricate or heavily customisable.
You’ll want to consider how complex your website is and choose an SEO specialist with a background that indicates they’ve worked with sites of similar size or complexity historically, so you can be sure they understand the processes required to improve your organic search visibility.
Ultimately, the greater the number of indexable pages on a website, the more repetitions of optimisation strategies your SEO contractor will have to make to fully optimise sections of your site.
Geographically varied websites (those that have equivalent pages for overseas traffic) are inherently more complex and, in many cases, can double the workload of an SEO.
Therefore, if your website is expanding or has expanded abroad, your SEO budget will need to increase alongside it to ensure your efforts will be successful.
The same is true for sites that offer content in multiple languages. As well as duplicating pages, you’ll also need to find an SEO professional that can understand multiple languages (or multiple SEOs) increasing your required SEO budget.
Content Management System (CMS)
The CMS (content management system) and features available you use to edit your website can also be a factor.
Simple CMS systems, like WordPress or Shopify, generally have quite an established ecosystem with plugins and add-ons that can help improve SEO quickly and efficiently.
Custom built CMS platforms or old and antiquated website admin systems can lack features that SEOs may need to help remove old pages, improve critical elements of pages or help improve the overall potential of your website.
Your CMS is the gateway for your SEO specialist to perform content and technical optimisations, if the feature set is limited or development time is required to access content and make changes, you can expect to pay a lot more to your SEO and overall because of the additional resource required to implement recommendations.
Sector (category or niche)
High value sectors like Web3, financial websites or health and medical sites will require a large investment in SEO budgeting. As well as the potential to grow your traffic considerably, SEO performed with incorrect or outdated strategies can help sink your traffic very quickly.
So, if you’re operating in a high value SEO niche, choosing the cheapest SEO you can find has the potential to leave you in a worse place than before you began.
Similarly, sites that are more localised or more focused on entertainment and leisure may not require quite as much of a forensic examination as those that are highly technical, intricate or that exist within competitive and high value areas.
Y.M.Y.L. (your money, your life) websites are especially affected here. If you’re running a site within the financial services sector, health and medical, legal or news and governmental websites, there are likely to be bigger issues to tackle than content production or website retargeting.
Y.M.Y.L websites need to focus on E.A.T. factors to help ensure rankings stabilise and organic search traffic remains consistent. E.A.T. optimisations are slower, more resource intensive and more difficult to implement so will take more time and therefore increase the cost of your SEO package.
The Problems you are Trying to Solve
Like different businesses, all SEOs are not the same. If you’re a small, newly launched website, with ambitions to grow big then you’ll likely want to look for an SEO that has a stronger background in content strategy and content production or one that has worked with many brand new websites.
This is because you will want someone who understands how to quickly grow the ranking potential of your website so your business can scale. Rapid growth normally requires a large investment in content upfront.
A large site, with established content, that is experiencing a decline in traffic, may require a more technical approach to audit the website and uncover the causes of the problem.
Ultimately, many SEOs are skilled in both content and technical SEO and will be able to can offer detailed insights.
Equally, if you’ve had large traffic volumes in the past and you’ve seen a large drop, you’ll want to work with an SEO who can dig into the issues your website faces and explain them to you. The best SEOs will be able to map out the best route forward to help you recover the lost traffic and create additional growth.
These types of skills take time to learn and can add value to any business quickly, hence why they are valuable.
Multi site organisations
If you have multiple sites within an umbrella business, you’ll pay more.
Even if your websites sell similar products or services, multiple websites mean multiple different brands, audience types and distinct strategies to help you improve your organic search performance.
If you want SEO carried out on a suite of different sites within your business, expect to pay more than if you were requesting a quote on a single brand.
Some SEOs consider company turnover within their pricing structure.
Companies with larger turnovers and bigger profits should pay more because;
They have the ability and the resources to scale more quickly
Bigger businesses have more to lose. SEO is an exercise in risk management as well as an effective marketing strategy to grow business leads and profits. You need to consider that good SEO performed well can help you to stop losing traffic as well as unlock the potential to grow traffic.
Larger businesses also typically have a greater number of teams, personnel and marketing professionals involved in the overall steer of the business digital marketing, so this can also mean more meetings and processes for an SEO professional to follow.
You can also consult with an SEO business and see what options they have available for you to try on a trial basis so that you can see some results in a short time.
Goals and Ambitions
Getting to the first page of search engines like Google or Bing is not going to be simple for any SEO company, especially if you are nowhere near that position now. There is going to be a lot of work involved in this process, and SEO firms are going to have to charge you accordingly for each specific situation. No one company is going to be alike in this aspect, therefore you are going to have to take into account just how much campaigning you have done for your business already.
Another thing to take into account when setting your SEO budget is going to be what goals you have for your company in the future. Planning for a budget ahead of time is very important to a company’s success, especially for online businesses. You want to keep in mind that you are going to be investing in your business’s future, so the money you are working with will have to be used wisely. You don’t want to invest in a long-term project if you are demanding immediate results.
Age of domain
Older domains or those with history can be easier to rank for more competitive queries than a brand new domain.
A brand new business on a fresh domain will take some serious time and investment to gain traction in search engines and attract visitors from search engines.
If you are launching a brand new business, you may not need feel as though you need regular input from an SEO, however, we would recommend a consultation semi regularly to ensure your website takes shape in a search friendly way. The alternative is that you request an SEO professional to help you complete a bulk keyword research project or a keyword universe and use this to create the content you want for your website.
One of the best ways to grow traffic to a new domain is through a defined website growth strategy, that details the steps you need to take for organic search growth.
Your current level of market share (ranking performance now)
If you’re a site with a large amount of visibility in search engines already, then you may find SEO to be a little cheaper than if you were building the website from scratch. Sometimes, monetisation of high traffic content can be very quick and easy, especially when compared to working with low value or low traction websites.
However, if the site is generating high visit volumes but the traffic is low value, monetisation might be quite a simple process. So you may not need to pay so much, or invest so much time in the project to see returns.
If the site generates low visit volumes but a large portion of traffic is high volume, then pricing will be higher.
Gaining traffic is generally more difficult than making existing traffic more valuable, so employing an SEO to improve CRO can be cheaper than SEO.
Ultimately, the best performing websites are built with SEO in mind from the outset. So, in the long term, paying the money to an SEO to help you design a site initially can help you save money and insure against drops in the future.
SEO performance on a site with a high number of good quality backlinks can be easier to improve than the equivalent domain in the same sector that has no high quality links.
If all things are equal between two brands, SEO pricing would be lower for the site with the high quality backlinks, especially if they have been built recently, vs the site with little to no historic successful link building activity.
This is quite an unlikely metric to be used by many SEOs. However, if you know that your backlink portfolio is strong already and you have a strong strategy for continued link building that doesn’t require input from your SEO professional, then this is a big portion of the SEO project that your SEO specialist will not need to take an active steer in.
Staff and Resources Available
If you have an established marketing team, that produces content with processes in place to manage the website day to day, you can expect to pay less for your SEO.
If you’re looking for an SEO and plan to delegate all content writing, web management, CMS updates and outreach and link building activities then you’re going to end up paying more for SEO.
SEOs tend to work best when they can contribute knowledge, expertise and SEO best practices via content writers, developers and marketers that work on your website.
If you’re looking for an SEO specialist to take on all of your digital activity, you’ll pay a premium on your project.
Good quality SEO will take time, this is very difficult to accelerate.
Ultimately, larger SEO budgets can help ensure that your SEO is spending more time on your project, which in turn, should lead to results and performance improving faster.
If you want your SEO to be working 9 – 5 on your project or you want to be able to speak with your SEO every week or every day then you’ll pay considerably more than a client looking for light touch contact with an SEO.
Try to consider what your website needs before you commit to a project. If things are performing well, you might be better off with light touch SEO consultancy.
If you’ve lost a considerable amount of traffic or need a lot of content creating or have a large website to optimise, be prepared for higher value quotes.
Some SEOs will price everything on an hourly rate or day rate. This is quite common and can make it easy for business owners to understand how much time they’re getting in return for the cost.
How to Portion out your SEO Budget
If you’re running a business and looking to invest in SEO growth, you may also want to consider;
- Education of stakeholders; and teams within your business to help ensure your website updates are undertaken with SEO best practice in mind
- Development time; depending on the size, complexity, scope, topical focus and CMS and code base your website uses, you may need more or less development resource to implement SEO recommendations, fixes and features.
When planning your SEO budget, we recommend that you allocate your spend in approximately the following proportions to ensure that your investment in SEO is successful.
- Content; 30% – 40% of your budget, content will help your website build authority in your niche. High quality content can help you acquire leads and sales and can improve the rankings of your landing pages when topically relevant. Gaining links when you have high quality content already available is so much easier too.
- Link building; 30% – 40% of your spend should be allocated towards building links. Links are the fuel that drive websites and help propel them towards the top of search engine results.
- technical SEO; 10% – 20%; technical SEO is one of the core elements of SEO primarily because, if your website doesn’t offer solid technical SEO, your content and link building efforts could be hampered. Combining efficient crawling and indexing of your high quality content and effective link building your website will be on a powerful course.
We also recommend that you allocate a proportion of your investment budget for SEO towards;
- Education of stakeholders in your business; 5% – 10% of your total budget, if your work with your SEO consultant to educate critical front end and web teams in your business as you go, each £ you spend on SEO can be worth considerably more, because best practice execution of SEO strategies overtime will help your site compete for much longer. Choosing to spend some time helping content writers, designers, developers and product owners get a real understanding of SEO can only benefit your organisation in the long term.
- Development time; 5% – 10% of your budget, developers are always busy, whether it is fixing existing website tools and features, improving efficiency by optimising technical debt or working on the next set of releases. However, to ensure your SEO efforts are successful, you should allocate development time to your SEO projects to ensure they can be completed to the highest standards. Whether your SEO is advising technical fixes after an audit, additional features for content or a new tool or site speed optimisations, your SEO efforts will be smoother with dedicated SEO time set aside for developers.
These budget proportions are recommended based on a typical website with medium to low levels of SEO optimisation.
As suggested, how you portion out your SEO budget will differ depending on what your website does, it’s organic performance to date and how certain you are of the optimisation levels of it from each angle referenced above.
How much should your SEO budget be for your website?
If you are already established you may want to set your monthly budget around 3-5% of your total company revenue for SEO.
How to Get the Most Accurate Price for SEO for Your Site
To help get the most accurate estimate of how much you should pay for SEO you should prepare the following information in advance before you meet with SEO specialists to discuss your business;
- Get a baseline figure to see where your website currently ranks when it comes to popular search engines.
- Get an idea of your current website backlink portfolio.
- Consider how your current team works and the processes they follow before creating a webpage or updating content
- Create a document outlining the goals and ambitions for your website which is based on conversions, visitors, rankings or overall profit.
- Think about how much time you think you will want from your SEO.
SEO companies want to help your website increase in integrity with an online reputation that will allow it to grow as a business that search engines like Google and Bing will recognize as relevant and ideal when people search for your specific products or services you are selling.
To wrap up, you should budget a monthly figure for SEO alone and consider it a separate investment that can help ensure you maximise the potential returns on your investment in content and your website as a whole.
It will take time to see results, especially if you’re creating a brand or a website on a brand new domain, however, the best SEOs know where the value lies, what shortcuts and quick wins can be achieved and where you’ll need to put hours of hard work in to ensure long term success that propels your business to greater visibility.