SEO Pricing in 2023: How to Know if Agency is Overcharging

By:  Dileep Thekkethil

Updated On: March 17, 2023

Quick Answer:

  1. On average, our professionally managed SEO service costs between $559 and $3,299 per month for websites with 15-60 pages. Check Out
  2. Blogger outreach and other backlink building services typically range from $98 to $499 per link, depending on various quality metrics. Check Out
  3. Local SEO Services are generally more affordable than other services. However, the pricing depends on the number of locations and the specific requirements of the business. Contact Us

The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with a comprehensive bird’s-eye view of the importance of choosing a reliable agency and how to evaluate their pricing to ensure you don’t overpay.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which pricing model best suits your business needs.

When it comes to SEO services, there are a variety of pricing models to choose from. In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of SEO pricing structures, including hourly, project-based, retainer-based, performance-based, and hybrid pricing.

We’ll also explore the pros and cons of each model, as well as the factors that can influence the cost of SEO services.

Hourly Pricing Model

This model charges clients based on the number of hours spent working on their SEO campaign. If you’re a small business with a limited number of specific SEO tasks to be completed, this might be a suitable option.

Hourly pricing usually works best for technical SEO fixes or addressing a few errors that you know won’t take much time to resolve. However, if you opt for hourly pricing for comprehensive SEO optimization, it could end up being quite costly.

Project-based Pricing Model

This model charges clients a flat fee for a specific project, such as an audit or website redesign.

If you have a clear understanding of your SEO needs, such as keyword research, on-page optimization, page speed optimization, the SEO agency will charge a flat fee based on a variety of factors.

Some of these factors include the number of pages, the number of keywords, or the number of backlinks to be built. In such cases, you know the exact amount to be paid, allowing you to manage your SEO budget effectively without worrying about unexpected expenses.

Retainer-based Pricing Model 

If you’ve identified a highly competent SEO agency that provides excellent customer service, you might consider opting for a monthly retainer SEO pricing model.

This model is often preferred by website owners who require regular activities, such as optimizing 50+ pages or building a set number of backlinks.

If you’ve signed up for a professionally managed SEO service, where the agency takes care of all aspects of your website’s SEO, a monthly retainer could be the best option. This allows you to effectively track your website’s progress and growth.

However, we recommend considering a retainer plan with a 6 or 12-month contract, as it can provide significant savings compared to a monthly retainer. Just ensure that you choose the right agency, as the amount is usually paid upfront, and you don’t want to risk entrusting your investment to an agency that fails to deliver.

Performance-based Pricing Model

This model charges clients based on the performance of their SEO campaign, usually measured by the number of leads or sales generated.

However, most SEO agencies don’t prefer this pricing model, as it might lead them to make guarantees and promises to clients. SEO is an industry with many variables influencing the results.

If an SEO company promises sales, leads, and revenue, it’s advisable to avoid them. However, if the agency has already proven its worth and demonstrated visible results, performance-based pricing could be a suitable option for businesses seeking a return on their investment and are willing to pay for results.

Hybrid Model

Hybrid pricing combines aspects of various pricing models, such as project-based and retainer-based pricing, to create a tailor-made approach for businesses. This is a suitable choice for companies that prefer a customized approach to their SEO.

Factors that Affect SEO Agency Pricing

There are several factors that can affect SEO pricing. You may have already come across agencies that have put up eye-popping pricing tables for their SEO services whereas a few show dead cheap pricing. Here are some of the factors that decide the SEO pricing:

Reputation of the Agency

 The truth is that based on the experience and the reputation of the agency, the pricing can drastically vary. If you decide to choose the service offered by an industry leader who is recognized in the industry, the pricing can once again tick up.  

In addition to that, the location of the agency also matters a lot when it comes to pricing. Places like India have a huge SEO talent pool that can get your job done at affordable rates. 

In fact, do you know that an overwhelming number of SEO agencies based out of the US, UK, and Australia get their SEO work done through their white label SEO partners in India?

There are companies like Stan Ventures that have offices in the US and India to make sure that you get quality SEO services at affordable rates

We have also observed that the SEO pricing of agencies located in the metros far exceeds the pricing of agencies in other cities. 

But apart from these external factors, there are a few common SEO-specific factors that can affect the pricing.

Type of Service

To make this clear, let me compare SEO to a moving car. 

The engine is the most important part of a car and any repairs to the engine can cost you a fortune. Similarly, backlinks and content are two major factors that help accelerate the website and they both come at a higher cost. 

On the other hand, wheels are a must-have but if it gets punctured, you need far less effort and money to fix them, right? The SEO counterparts for the wheels would be the on-page optimization and keyword research, as doing these costs less.

All that said, a car cannot be travel-ready if any of its wheels are punctured. That means irrespective of the cost involved, on-page and keyword research are critical factors that cannot be overlooked.

Complexity of the Project

Think of constructing a 700 sq/ft house vs a 4000 sq/ft one. Though the process of building a house remains the same, the effort, and the manpower required to build the 4000 sq/ft one is tremendous, right? 

The same principle applies to SEO. If you have a website with less than 10 pages, the cost can be less expensive. However, if you are working on a site with thousands of pages, the cost can shoot up as the same effort put to optimize the smaller website has to be calibrated to match the mammoth requirement. 

Another aspect that comes into play here is the time it takes to complete the project. The same example applies here as well. While a 700 sq/ft house might take 6 months to build, a 4000 sq/ft might take anywhere from a year to two to complete. This also means more people working and more money spent on materials to build it, agree?

The same goes for SEO services as well. When a big project comes in, SEO agencies usually divide them into phases so that they can assess the results and then make the progress. This means the project may take more time to complete. 

I hear you asking, “why can’t we finish everything soon if we pump in more people and money?”. Like in the construction field, SEO also requires the right mixture and adequate setting time. 

Building a thousand backlinks in a week is just like building a house without proper foundation. It’s bound to topple down because you are inviting Google’s penalty. 

Size of the Business

This is tricky because even smaller businesses tend to have large websites. 

When clients are on a restricted SEO budget, most SEO agencies chart a tailored approach where they identify the most critical pages and then work towards ranking those pages higher first.

This way, as the website grows its traffic, leads and sales more pages are added to the project to match the spending capacity of the client. 


The competition within your industry is another key factor that determines the pricing of SEO services. With more competition, the SEO efforts have to be aggressive and this means the agency has to come up with kickass SEO strategies and also pull in additional resources to get the work done. 

How to Choose the Right SEO Package for Your Business

Let me guess, you have already skimmed through the SEO packages and pricing table of multiple SEO agencies and got super confused because some of them charge too high, some too low. 

Of course, you don’t want to kiss away your hard-earned money to agencies that cannot offer you results. 

By the way, you better avoid agencies that guarantee first-page SEO results in a blink of an eye because of the time such agencies are just confident tricksters.

Coming back, does a higher SEO package pricing mean better quality SEO? If you ask me, my answer would be no. 

The same answer goes if you ask me whether a lower price means cheap service. As I told you in the above paragraphs, there are multiple factors that come into play when deciding the pricing. 

However, as a website owner, you have the string in your hands and can ask any SEO agency to give you a tailored solution. But to be on top of SEO agencies that try to oversell their packages, you must be aware of a few things that would ultimately help you to choose the right SEO package.

Do a complete website assessment: If you are SEO savvy, make sure to do a complete audit of your website before reaching out to an agency. This will help you understand what exactly is going on with your website and also steer your conversation with the prospective agency partner. 

Most of the time, website owners have little information about their website’s current performance. Due to this, they are easily scammed as some agencies try to capitalize on their ignorance and charge ridiculously more than what they are supposed to.

When you know what exactly is happening with your website, you have a clear idea of what kind of service is required.

If the audit revealed technical issues, you need technical SEO assistance. If it’s on-page and content issues, you need SEO services that can fix both. And finally, if your website lacks authority, you need backlink services that can help you build quality links.

Knowing your requirements help you ask the right questions to the agency you are planning to hire and also assess their capabilities in helping you achieve specific goals.

You Decide the Goals and Not The Agency: One thing that we hear persistently from our clients is that their previous agency was able to bring in traffic. 

In fact, getting traffic is not the primary goal of doing SEO (of course, if you are a publisher, it is). Most businesses that invest in SEO are looking for tangible results in the form of leads and conversions.

For example, a flyer distribution company doing SEO wants more leads to be generated so that their sales team can connect and convert them. Instead, if the agency doing SEO tries to rank for generic blog topics that have no call-to-actions, the result could be a horrible traffic-to-lead conversion ratio.

So, make sure that you set clear goals and ask the SEO agency to share a custom SEO package that can help you achieve them. 

Please note that templated solutions often fail to get results because each industry and website has a unique character and thus, the solutions have to be highly tailored.

Compare Different Packages:  Before zeroing down on your SEO agency, make sure to check the packages offered by different companies for the same services you are looking for. 

Give due attention to the features, benefits and add-ons provided by the agency and, most importantly, the pricing. If the package is going over your SEO budget, make sure to speak to the agency representative and ask them to create a custom plan. 

Check the nuances of each of their offerings, such as the number of pages and keywords optimized, the number of backlinks built and their authority, the on-page optimization activities that will be carried out etc. 

And, of course, ensure that they have a good support and reporting team that will provide insights on a weekly or monthly basis as you wish. 

Consider the size of your business: The size of your business will affect the type and scope of SEO services you need. A small business with a limited SEO budget may not need the same level of services as a large enterprise.

By following these steps, you can choose an SEO package that is right for your business and that will help you achieve your goals. It’s also important to remember that SEO is a long-term process and the results may not be seen in the short term.

Want to learn how to choose the best SEO company? Here is our complete guide that includes the top 10 questions you should ask before choosing your SEO agency.

As a website owner, it is important to understand the various SEO pricing models available to you in order to make an informed decision on which is the best fit for your business. 

Hourly pricing structure may work well for small technical SEO fixes, while project-based pricing can be a good option if you know exactly what needs to be done for your SEO campaign. 

Retainer-based pricing structure can be a great choice for website owners who want scheduled SEO activities to be done on a monthly basis, and performance-based pricing can be a good option for businesses that want to see tangible results from their SEO efforts. 

Regardless of which SEO pricing model you choose, it is essential to work with a reputable and experienced SEO agency like Stan Ventures that can provide the expertise and resources needed to improve your website’s visibility and ranking on search engines.

Book a call with our expert and start growing your website today!


Dileep Thekkethil

With over 12 years of expertise, Dileep has carved a name for himself as a trailblazer in the SEO industry. As an acclaimed author and relentless learner, he has transformed countless websites with tailored digital marketing strategies, thanks to his profound insights and innovative approach. Dileep's passion for staying ahead of the curve is evident in his contributions to Stan Ventures and the 100+ publications that feature his groundbreaking articles on SEO and digital marketing. His dedication to knowledge-sharing has earned him widespread recognition as a go-to expert in the field. For cutting-edge SEO solutions or to delve into the mind of a true digital marketing virtuoso, connect with Dileep through the links provided below. @Mail | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook or View all posts by Dileep


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