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SEO in 2016: What determines the price of your package?

The pricing for an SEO package varies according to a number of factors. Most SEO agencies today offer a tiered set of SEO packages which caters to the needs of most clients, with the option of customized services for the few clients whose needs fall outside the standard packages offered.

What makes it so hard is the fact that there isn’t an industry standard dictating how much SEO should cost. Therefore, you have to weigh for yourself whether a potential provider’s pricing plan makes sense for your business’s needs. Watch out for overly cheap service providers however; often times such providers hide behind a barrage of hidden fees and charges, or their SEO practices include black and grey-hat techniques which will get you in trouble with Google.

Where is the value of SEO?

The value of SEO packages does not solely depend on price; one plan may be inexpensive yet useful for one business and completely wrong for another. The first thing to do is to settle in advance what exactly your business needs from a potential service provider. There is no gain in paying for a plan that includes services your business won’t need, just because the plan seems cheap in light of all services promised.

Common pricing models for SEO

Your pricing model will be determined by the kind of services you need from your SEO provider as well as the size of your business. The following are the most common models on which SEO packages pricing are based:

  • Per-hour rates

These are most commonly applied for packages that are based on discrete tasks. Benefits of this plan are that discrete costing can be done for every task you need, so that you needn’t pay for services you don’t require. A downside though is that more experienced consultants will charge a higher rate. In addition, costs related to time management and per-hour billing will trickle down to you. Only use hourly rates where you can agree on a set number of hours after which you can review output.

  • Fixed-price packages

Many agencies have fixed prices for certain SEO-related services, which are usually components of a bigger SEO effort e.g. SEO audits, keyword research, onsite optimization etc. this is an ideal method that you can use to test out a new agency before transferring your entire campaign to them in a long-term commitment.

  • Project-based pricing

These SEO packages are usually bespoke, and are ideal for clients who have fixed periods to run projects, such as optimization of a new site. A custom proposal is drafted for each project outlining specific SEO services to be carried out for you per project. This is an ideal arrangement if you have already retained a creative/design agency handling your work, but need an SEO specialist to handle very specific tasks related to a single project.

  • Retainer-based pricing

This is the most common plan used for SEO package pricing, which makes sense because SEO is a long-term/on-going marketing strategy. An SEO campaign is made up of discrete activities that may be carried out in specific order ending with ongoing SEO tasks. Many agencies prefer this method since it allows for easier costing, budgeting and planning.

To benefit fully from retainer-based packages, partner with an agency for 6-12 months, clearly outlining everything to be done in each month. Ensure you have key deliverables through which you can measure the success of the campaign after each month or quarter, depending on the specific reporting period.