Is SEO Expensive? It Doesn’t Have to Be

The common question people ask is whether or not SEO is expensive. Well, it really doesn’t have to be, but the first thing we’re gonna do in today’s article is we’re gonna dig into what are some typical costs for getting an SEO specialist to work on your website. And then we’re gonna talk about some DIY ways that you can also start working on some of your SEO efforts by yourself.

By the end of this article, you’re gonna have a better understanding of exactly how much SEO costs, as well as how you can get started in doing a little bit of it yourself.

How much an SEO cost

All right, so first, let’s look at how much an SEO costs. To do this, we’re going to rely on two different data sources. The first one we’ll look at is just some typical Upwork profiles that talk about search engine optimization. And the second one we’re gonna look at is and look at the directory there to see what’s some SEOs charge for their services. This will give us a mix of people that are freelancers as well as general agencies that charge for SEO services.

Digging into how much SEO costs on Upwork

As we jump in here on Upwork, what you can see is I’m just gonna go ahead and search for SEO, and from here what we can see are just some of the folks that you can find on Upwork if you are looking for an SEO.

In order to see exactly how much they’re typically charging, you can look at the hourly rate section on the left-hand side. And this can give you a better understanding of just how much it might cost for an SEO based off the different countries that they might be based out of. So if I want to go ahead and start from the bottom and work my way up, I can see that if I’m looking for an SEO specialist that’s less than $10 or so, I’ll probably be sourcing my talent from India.

And you can see that because the first two profiles right off the bat are coming in from India. The first three are as well. However, if we were to take a look at the 10 to $30, you’re gonna see how this starts to change in terms of the geographical breakdown. So here we’re starting to get to some neighboring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as some other areas around the world like Ukraine.

So something that you’re gonna note is that you can typically always find an SEO specialist regardless of what budget you’re looking at. But as you start getting to the higher end of things, you’re likely going to be paying for folks from different countries that might be stronger English speakers and or just specialists in particular.

Taking a look at how much SEO experts cost

So now that we have a sense of just what the low end looks like let’s start to take a look at some of the higher ends. So, 30 to $60 is really when we’re gonna get our entry-level to intermediate-level SEOs that probably have had some experience working at a company. The reason why this is the case is because if you work backwards on a $30 an hour rate, or a $60 an hour rate, that works out to about 60 grand or 120 grand a year in their annual salary, which is the typical salary of an SEO Specialist.

But looking here, what you can see is as I start to move up in terms of the budget, the geographical breakdown changes a bit. And what you’ll also notice is that if I were to just go ahead and look at a profile of this Serbian SEO specialist, you’re gonna see a wide array of skills of what this person feels comfortable doing from an SEO standpoint. So some common skills and tools that people use are things like Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, Google Analytics, Google Search Console Tag Manager, as well as tools like SEMRush or SpyFu.

So what you can see here is that this person likely has a little bit deeper experience than the person that we were looking at or the people we were looking at earlier at the lower budgets. If I go back into that $10 or less budget, if I want to go ahead and click into here, you’re gonna notice how the sort of things that they’re referencing that they have skills in are a little bit lower in that it’s not really as clearly listing some of the specific skill sets or tools that they are using.

It’s a lot of overall SEO tactics, but not necessarily expertise or familiarity with tools. And then the last thing we can look at on Upwork is we can take a look at what $60 and above gets us. This is really when we’re gonna get really specialized in the SEO world. So if I go ahead and look at that, you can see how this is where we’re starting to get into the space of technical SEO audits, which are typically gonna be more pricey than just standard specialists.

And you’re also gonna see folks that are coming in from the United States, Germany, some predominantly English speaking countries, or just countries that have higher cost of living, which reflect the rates of these people.

So if I wanna go ahead and take a look here, you’ll notice how the higher rates typically reflects a specialization in which in this case, you can see Yvonne specializes in Etsy SEO, which is a very specific type of SEO as opposed to just generalized SEO that might be related to Google search or some other search engine.

How much does SEO cost in terms of Clutch

Now we have a sense of how much it costs us in terms of Upwork, let’s now jump and take a look at Clutch and see what some of the agencies are charging for SEO work.

This is a massive directory of different agencies that provide different services for businesses. And the first thing we can do is we can really just search for SEO or search engine optimization here and select that. And then from here I can just go ahead and click find provider.

From here, what you can see is if I were to take a look here typically speaking their hourly rates the breakdown is again, a very similar sort of rate in terms of the mid-range, where we’re talking about 30 to $60 an hour. But on the higher end of things, we really start to see things like 150 to $200 an hour, as well as 200 to $300 an hour, and in some cases even more than that, so, let’s try to take a look at what some of these $300 plus folks are potentially doing that might warrant why they’re able to charge so much.

If I go ahead and filter by the $300 plus, you can see one of the top ones is directive, and here you can see a similar story to what we just saw on Upwork. As you start to go up in the echelon in terms of SEO costs, this is where you’re gonna get specialized sorts of SEOs. In this case, the directive is all about performance marketing for software companies. The next one, we can look at dominant your market with a team of SEO experts. And so what you can see here is that folks are really starting to get into certain types of clientele.

This one is focused SaaS SEO. And then when I look at the next one, I can see that this one might be a little bit more focused on, let’s see here, searching in optimization so local rankings and reputation. So notice how they’re specializing in some sort of subcategory of SEO.

All right, so at a high level, what you can expect if you are looking to hire an SEO is that it is probably gonna cost you roughly 30 to $60 per hour in order to get a quality SEO specialist. This is gonna be your typical one that might have a couple years of experience, but if you’re really trying to go specialized, that’s where you’re gonna probably spend anywhere from more than $60 to upwards of $300 plus for an SEO Specialist.

How can you potentially work around that

Well, the best way to work around that is to do some of this yourself. There are tons of free tutorials on Google, as well as on YouTube that you can watch to learn the fundamentals of SEO. The reason why I always recommend doing this when you are starting to learn about search engine optimization is because if you don’t know the basics, then you’re going to get skin alive by one of these specialists or agency.

If they know that you do not know a thing about SEO, it means that they can pretty much do whatever they want, and they can just tell you that, and then you won’t know the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong in terms of SEO fundamentals. So what I recommend you do if you don’t wanna spend too much on your SEO budget, is do as much as you can yourself.

The best way to do that is to learn some basics, such as on page fundamentals, as well as how to conduct keyword research and write SEO friendly content. I have free videos on my channel that you can check out in order to learn all of this yourself. You don’t need to pay a dime in order to do that, and then you can play around with things and write content yourself or hire a writer and start working through that process as well.

But if you do that, what I recommend you do is that you write at least three to five content pieces yourself, just so you can get the flow of what it takes in order to build up the SEO reputation of your site, or just go through the creative process of creating SEO friendly content. From there, if you want, you can definitely hire one of those 30 to $60 an hour SEO specialists just to get their feedback or input on what you’ve done.

That can be a great starting ground because it’s gonna make for a much more productive hour with that person, as opposed to just coming to them and being like, “Hey, what should I do about my SEO?”

So there you have it, and if you’re wondering whether or not SEO is expensive, it doesn’t have to be, but at the same time, it is somewhat reasonable to expect that you can spend anywhere from 30 to $60 an hour and on the upper end more than $300 an hour.

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