If you’re considering hiring experts who provide local SEO services to increase your company’s rankings on Google, price is understandably a prime concern. You don’t want to go with an inexperienced budget agency that will take your money without delivering great results, but you also don’t want to invest any more money than you have to.
Ultimately, the cost will be determined by the amount of work required to deliver results for your business. Defining factors include your industry, where you’re located, how strong competition is, and how much work is involved. Understanding these cost factors will help you evaluate whether local SEO is a good option and if the vendor is legitimate.
When determining the price for local SEO, competition is the #1 variable. For example, if your market is highly saturated, the SEO professionals will need to spend a lot more time to deliver results amid the heavy competition.
It’s not just the number of competitors that must be considered, though. It’s also the savviness of these competitors. If the top-ranked local businesses in your niche have invested heavily in SEO services or are especially well-optimized for search engines, that’s going to increase the amount of effort required for your own business.
For example, it may be much easier to compete for “Miami art restoration” than “Miami web design.” That’s because web design services are already internet-focused and often managed by people with an intermediate knowledge of SEO and online marketing. They may even have in-house marketing teams in many cases. This creates a more competitive marketplace.
The price of local SEO varies by industry. It’s all about average customer value. The more money a potential lead brings to a client, the more the client is willing to pay per lead. As a result, SEO and PPC services are much more competitive and costly.
To illustrate, a local car wash may only earn a few dollars from each new sale. A major personal injury law firm, on the other hand, may earn thousands or even millions of dollars from a single high-quality lead. That’s why industries like law, medicine, and finance tend to be on the higher end of the cost scale for SEO.
Everything costs more in the big city: food, real estate, and professional services. It ultimately depends on the size of the market. A larger population means more competition, more complex SEO, and more value for a high-ranking website.
Even when we’re talking about big cities, there exists a lot of variation. For instance, a densely populated city like Los Angeles (population 4 million) is likely to bring a higher cost than a smaller metropolis like Minneapolis (population 422,000).
In addition, cities with a large tech industry—like San Francisco and Seattle—will yield a higher cost due to the larger concentration of tech-savvy businesses and professionals.
Agency fees can vary by a wide margin, easily spanning between $50 and $150 per hour. In general, a good local SEO campaign from an established white-hat agency should run you no less than $1,500 per month. The more hours you pay for, the more work you receive monthly.
If you’re quoted a lower rate, you may be dealing with outsourced or black-hat SEO. Not only will these types of services limit your results, but they may even lead to Google penalties or de-indexing. It’s worth paying more for reliable services that yield lasting benefits.
Keep in mind that SEO agencies have different business models. Some charge by the hour, others charge a flat fee, and others take a cut of your profits. Each model has pros and cons, as you may not want to share your profits, or you might not want to pay hourly for someone to create local listings for you. It’s up to you to decide what best suits your needs.
Number of Business Locations
If you need to optimize multiple locations for your business, this will increase your cost. The SEO agency will need to optimize all of the Google My Business profiles, build out directory profiles and citations, create location-specific content, and build unique links for each location. Each business location will require its own campaign.
This can get especially complicated if you have locations in different regions or with different product/service offerings. In some cases, the initial search engine profiles and directory listings can be created as part of an initial campaign; then the agency can focus the bulk of their work on the main company website. However, in other cases, there are distinct websites or pages that require ongoing optimization.
Consider a clothing business with two locations: one location sells menswear while the other focuses on women’s apparel. These two locations will have very different optimization requirements and will each require its own campaign. In some cases, the agency will charge you a lower rate and optimize one location at a time. While this can save you money up front, it increases the amount of time required to generate results while also requiring you to spend more in the long run.
While the above factors represent the most significant pricing variables, there are several other elements that play a role as well. For example:
- Is your website up to date and visually appealing? You need a site that’s easy for search engines to crawl and interpret, and one that can be modified to an advanced degree with minimal effort. Ideally, it should be built on a highly customizable and SEO-friendly platform like WordPress. If your site was created using a generic point-and-click website builder like Wix or Weebly, your SEO campaign will require a lot more prep work and maintenance. Remember, the SEO’s job isn’t just to rank the site in Google Local Pack. The site needs to rank in general Google SERPs too.
- Does your business already have a strong social media presence? A strong social media following can be leveraged as part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. Your SEO team can use your existing follower base to drive traffic, generate inbound links, and promote user engagement. These factors are critical for SEO success, as Google’s metrics are behavior-driven.
- Does your website already have considerable organic value? In other words, search engines favor sites that have been around for a while and that have a strong domain authority. If some optimization work has already been completed and your social media profiles are established and active, the SEO process is much easier. A new website requires much more work than a business that already has some momentum.
How Much Should You Spend on Local SEO?
Before deciding on an SEO agency or service, there are a few necessary steps to take. First, decide on your goals. Are you looking to rank on page 1 of Google? Increase web traffic by x percent? Increase leads by x percent? Know what you want to achieve ahead of time.
Next, take a good look at the competition. Consider how saturated the market is, and look at the strength of your competitors. Also consider the value of your leads. Using this information, you can decide on your maximum budget. You’ll need to consider your business finances and determine how much you can comfortably invest in SEO services over a minimum 6- to 12-month period.
Local SEO pricing can seem excessive, but if you invest in quality services, the return can be enormous. Always do your homework before deciding on an agency. Don’t be afraid to ask for case studies and inquire about the agency’s results with other businesses in your niche. The more you know ahead of time, the more confidently you can proceed with your own campaign