Updated: Oct 5
In case you've been wondering why does SEO cost so much, you'll find answers in this article.
In a nutshell, an average SEO Services price in August 2020 ranges between $650-$3,000 CAD per month for an average SEO Retainer of 20 hours depending on the scope and the type of organization you hire. A one time SEO project would cost betweed $5,000 - $30,000 CAD, while SEO Consulting services price will range between $150-$300 for the time of an SEO Consultant.
SEO Pricing - How It's Calculated?
To understand what is a good price for SEO Services, let's first take a look at how prices are formed and what is included in a price.
Let's consider an average SEO engagement that includes 20 hours of work. According to Indeed.com, an average salary for a Sr. SEO Specialist in Toronto, Canada is $75,000 a year. Even though we keep our salaries higher in order to keep you employees happy. The average $75,000 annual amount comes down to $36/hour.
It would be great if the calculation ended there, however, there are more factors to consider.
According to Investopedia and Joe Hadzima, a Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management, salary plus benefits usually adds up "in the 1.25 to 1.4 times base salary range". This way, an initial $36/hour rate becomes $50 when adjusted for the cost of benefits, laptops, training etc.
Also, it's almost impossible to get to the 100% efficiency from any employee, so when planning a budget, you should account for 75% efficiency, while the remaining 25% of employee time would likely be spent on organizational tasks, lunch breaks etc. When adjusted for the 75% employee efficiency, we end up with $63/hour of an average Senior SEO Specialist. This is an absolute minimum price you should expect to pay for an hour of SEO work, no matter if it's an agency or an in-house employee.
However, when you do the math, it turns out that hiring an SEO Specialist is actually more expensive compared to an agency or even a consultant, because agencies and consultants are can be hired for a fixed amount of time while an in-house Specialist is hired full time.
In North America Digital Marketing Agencies charge on average 3x the amount of the base employee salary, which based on our calculation will turn an average $36/hour into $108 when working with an agency or $2,160 for an average 20 hours/month engagement.
SEO Consultants in Toronto charge x2-5 times the amount of the base salary resulting in $72-$180/hour fee and $3,600 for an average 20 hour SEO project.
While the cost of employing a Senior SEO Specialist in-house will cost you an average of $36-$63/hour, depending on the arrangement you have. However, employing an SEO Specialist full-time will cost you approximately $5,760-$8,000, depending on employment details. Provided that you can manage time of the employee effectively.
SEO Price - What's Included
Another reason why agencies and consultancies charge more for SEO Services compared to in-house cost is because there is more people involved on SEO projects than you think. While efforts and curiosity of Junior and Senior SEO Specialists is an important driver in SEO success, it would be negligent to trust a big chunk of your marketing strategy to a less experienced employee.
That's why agencies and consultants usually charge the so-called blended rates, which include a certain amount of hours of a Manager or Director as well as a Senior SEO Specialist and even a more junior person to lower the average rate. If you have three people working on your account with $150, $80 and $60 this will result in an average $100/hour of quality SEO work.
And this makes sense, considering that most companies needs an SEO Strategy/Approach, Execution and QA of the work done, blending efforts and rates get you the best results at a lower price.
SEO Pricing - Alternative Approach
In April 2020 we launched Boost Shop which offers packaged, bite-sized digital marketing services, ideal for small businesses that at the beginning stages need more of the actual SEO work with less strategy. While this approach won't get you all the bells and whistles of an SEO Retainer offered by growth360, it's a great offer to get up and running with SEO and in some markets & some client sizes will get you as far as 6-12 months to cover the basic SEO work for as little as $65/hour. See affordable SEO Packages Toronto here.
In this case, it's built mostly around the time that a Sr. SEO Specialist spends on your account with less strategy guidance from the Senior Management. Check it out here.
I hope this article helped to clarify how SEO Pricing is formed and why SEO agencies charge so much. Feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any other questions regarding Digital Marketing or SEO. Check out this listing of top digital marketing agencies, it has hourly prices listed. Also, it is worth noting that User Experience is a huge part of the SEO in 2020, this page has a list of the top Design firms and here you can find the best web design practices in 2020 & Digital Marketing agencies for Startups!
Hope this helps!