Typical costs you pay for SEO are £1650 – £5500 per month depending on factors including the size of the client business, how long they have been doing SEO and the expertise of the company doing the work. A more in-depth analysis is shown below to help you work out your ideal spend.
The cost of SEO for your UK business should be judged like any other marketing work.
All of your marketing is designed for only one purpose:
Marketing is the profitable purchase of lifetime customers
Be very clear that SEO cost, like any marketing you do has no other purpose and should be judged in line with this simple concept.
Action: It is therefore worth starting this article by calculating how much a customer is worth to you over their lifetime.
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a term which, in reality, means ‘making sure our target audience finds us through Google’
Yes, there are other search engines and it would be great if there was more competition but today Google is the dominant search engine. So this is where we focus. (Sorry Bing)
Does your business need SEO?
If you drive an ice cream van then your business doesn’t need SEO. Equally, if you are a defence contractor hoping to sell a new ship to the government for £876 million then it is unlikely that your buyer will use Google to find you.
For many of the rest of us being found on Google is going to be pretty useful. And by being found, I mean being on page 1 of the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Get your SEO cost right and you could profitably see your site visitor numbers go from a few hundred a month to 800,000 or more, of course.
Providing you convert a good percentage of those to actual business then your business life will change beyond your imagination.
Can SEO alone make you rich?
Nope. SEO just means you will get found on Google. If a million people find you and none of them buy anything then clearly you’ve wasted your time. Whatever you paid, your SEO cost was wasted.
To see profit, good SEO should be combined with the following elements:
A product or service that is desired, useful and profitable to deliver and market.
Often we see a business where everything works until the cost of marketing the product is considered. A significant product margin is required for any successful business.
A website that is technically correct and that converts visitors effectively
Your website must pass Google’s Core Web Vitals or your SEO cost will to a large extent be wasted: Google won’t show your site to people if it fails, on the whole.
Your website must also be well designed, probably written with StoryBrand fundamentals in mind and definitely with content in line with ‘They Ask You Answer’.
A final important note before we look at cost of SEO
SEO is not a one-off event. This never works because your competitors will change strategy, Google’s rules of the game will change and because your web content should be being updated all the time. All of these factors mean that SEO only works if it is done consistently by an experienced person or team day in, day out – forever.
OK. Now we have the basics in place we can start to look at the factors that affect the £/$ cost of your SEO.
Factor number one: How much is it worth to you?
If you can work out a simple cost/benefit analysis then do it…
Let’s go back to a lifetime value figure and from there work out what is worth spending. If a customer is worth £10,000 then it is likely that you will spend at least £3,000 to get them giving you 3 x ROI.
If you want to get ten a month then budget for SEO cost of £30,000 a month.
…although for many of us this is very difficult.
Serious problem: To arrive at such certain numbers as I have used above, we have to know our SEO cost per acquisition (People call this the CPA) and we have to know our customers’ lifetime value. Most of us don’t know either.
A good SEO agency will be able to tell you what others in your exact business are paying per click. It’s not your CPA but it is helpful information.
So be open to a period of investment to discover your cost of SEO.
There is simply no escaping the fact that for many businesses, the cost of SEO has to be viewed as an investment without a specified return in its early days. This period allows you to gain that vital knowledge: what is our SEO cost to obtain a new customer.
(You may, in certain cases, find an agency that is willing to work for getting paid per lead. This is unusual and they will want to know that you have a very powerful conversion process.)
Factor number two: Who will carry out your SEO?
It should be said that we’d never recommend you have anyone who is not Google Certified in the current year carrying out your SEO optimisation. Note that Google Partners are accredited for their paid Search Engine Marketing not their SEO skills but it is the key benchmark nonetheless.
Each year Google will make people seeking certification pass a series of tough examinations. With the speed at which Google changes, this should be your bare minimum requirement.
You’ll end up with an SEO cost of between £50 and £400 per hour depending on who does it.
Here’s the breakdown:
Independent Freelancer £50 – £100
You can find freelancers on websites such as Fiverr and Upwork. Avoid the tempting ‘£44.56’ one-off projects and instead look for a monthly service. Expect to pay between £200 ($238) to £1000 ($1190) per month.
This probably translates to you getting one hour’s work for around £55 ($65) but these are generally sold as a package so it is difficult to tell.
Such freelancers can provide a valuable service for a small business or start-up. The most important thing is that you find someone who communicates back to you clearly and with information that is useful and actionable. This means the cost of your SEO will be an investment in your whole business future.
Small Agency (Google Partner) £1000 to £5000 Per month.
Prices here are likely to be more explicitly charged per hour and £100 ($119) to £160 ($190) is the typical range for fees here.
Asking for less than 10 hours per month really does risk your project not getting great attention – results will be slow and the team will lose some of the excitement that a rapidly growing account generates inside the agency.
A small agency will probably offer much better communications with the client and the team effect will likely mean that the work is more powerful when a group of people gather to solve a problem, things generally move more quickly.
They should be feeding back information regularly on how to improve your website and other online touchpoints as well as letting you know what your competition is up to.
The key point here is that agencies of this size do not require your company to have a high level of expertise in-house before hiring them.
It is this size of agency that can take an established business in the UK from zero to being a serious online player with a stream of incoming leads or sales. This is the focus area for your search if your business is established and successful but is looking to take a huge step up.
Large Agency (Premier Partner) £10,000 per month minimum spend
A large agency may well be a Google Platinum Partner. This means they have achieved success on a large scale consistently. Google awards this status depending on various factors including ad spend and client retention – see more here
Agencies here will typically not look at an account where the fees are less than £10,000 (£1200) per month.
These agencies will typically have multiple people working on your account, each with a narrow but deep knowledge of a specific area of SEO.
Great for really well established companies who are well used to hiring and working with external agencies and have the required in-house expertise to manage the process.
Global Agency (Premier Partner) £100,000 per month minimum spend
As the name suggests these global networks offer equally global clients the chance to centralise their business into one partner who manages them across many countries. Hundred of people will be involved.
The world’s largest spender on Paid Search ( note: this is not SEO but we don’t have figures for SEO) is …Google ! Weird but true. They spent £775 million on paid search in the year to October 2021.
In the Uk Moneysupermarket.com spends £42 million a year online and is known to be the biggest spender in the UK.
Want to see the amazing power of SEO at work in your business?
Get started today with a digital Audit from the expert team here at The Ambitions Agency. A digital audit will look at your entire online position:
How does your website rank?
What are your competitors doing online and what are they spending ?
What is the opportunity for your business – how many potential customers are out there?
Get in touch today to get started!