Understanding SEO Costs and Pricing in the UK

SEO is an invaluable investment for businesses. Once visible at the top of Google search results for your business’s main services, the potential for an ROI on the money invested into SEO is astronomical.

Despite this, for businesses that have never invested in SEO before, understanding SEO pricing and the right type of pricing for you can be confusing. 

We’re here to explain how SEO costs and pricing work and the different models you may come across so you can make an educated decision when budgeting and investing in SEO. We’ll cover:

How much does SEO cost in the UK?

We hate to say it but, ‘it depends’.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO pricing and there are multiple, interlinked factors that go into providing an accurate quote for SEO services. Every agency, freelancer, or consultant will charge their own rates and have their own methods for their SEO pricing and quotes. 

Ultimately, the cost of SEO is heavily linked to the quality of the service your company wants to receive and the budget you have available. If you have the budget to invest in your online marketing, for those that don’t understand the value, it can be tempting to dedicate as small an amount as possible to SEO.

However, lower budgets generally lead to lower quality and more basic services, which won’t get you the results you are looking for. 

What factors affect SEO costs?

  • Level of experience. Generally, the more experience and level of expertise a sole trader or agency has, the higher they will charge, as those skills will benefit your business. For example, professional SEO consultants charge higher rates on average than freelancers and agencies.
  • Reputation, credibility and accolades. One of the first places people go when researching service providers is their reviews. Generally, if a company has a vast number of glowing reviews, is highly credible in the industry and has won many industry awards, this can generally mean they will be sought after and can charge higher prices. 
  • Company size. Generally speaking, the larger and more established a company or provider, the more it can charge for its services. For example, SEO agencies charge higher rates on average than those working independently, such as freelancers. 
  • Location-based in. The location that an SEO provider is based in can affect the prices they charge, due to differences in the average SEO pricing across the UK. For example, agencies or sole traders based in the centre of London or large cities will generally charge more to match the average pricing in that area and their competition, whereas SEOs based in smaller cities or towns may charge less. 
  • Locations served. Similar to the size of the company, the locations a provider offers its services in can affect pricing. For example, large agencies that serve nationally or internationally, charge more on average than local agencies or sole traders that may serve smaller businesses in specific areas. 
  • Scope and goals of your SEO project. Generally, before you are provided with a quote, the agency or provider will consider the scope of your project, the size and type of website, and the goals you want to achieve with SEO, which will all feed into their costs.

What are you paying for with SEO services?

SEO costs aren’t as simple as just paying for a company or individual’s time; costs take into account a whole host of other elements:

  • Time
  • Experience, expertise and knowledge
  • Trust and reputation
  • Access to industry-leading SEO tools and insights
  • Access to unique ways of working
  • Volume of people working on the project and variety of specialisms
  • Volume of keywords tracked
  • Strategy and set-up of your campaign
  • Auditing of your site
  • Long term ROI

SEO pricing models

There are three main SEO pricing models to be aware of in the industry, including:

  • Hourly rates, where the provider will charge you per hour of SEO work. This pricing model is more often used by freelancers or consultants who work individually, rather than by SEO agencies. 
  • Monthly retainers, where the provider will charge you a monthly (usually recurring) fee for SEO work. This is the most commonly used pricing model in the UK among agencies, where you will pay a set amount each month and the provider will implement their strategy on an ongoing basis. Contract lengths and conditions will vary so it’s important to do your research. 
  • Project rates, where the provider will charge you per specific SEO project or campaign. This SEO pricing model involves an agency or individual professional quoting you for a full project or campaign upfront, rather than this being broken down into a monthly or hourly fee.

In addition to the above three main pricing models for SEO, an agency or individual’s costs can also be affected by other factors such as the volume of keywords you want to target and monitor and one-off fees for the amount of time required to get your campaign setup or moved over from a previous provider.

Which SEO pricing model is right for your business?

There is no right or wrong SEO pricing model. The best option for your business will depend on various factors including your business’s size, budget, and the KPIs and goals you want to achieve. 

Budgeting for SEO

Many businesses may be reluctant to budget enough for SEO services, however in the SEO industry, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is undeniably true. If an SEO professional or agency quotes you a low price that seems too good to be true, it likely will be.

High quality, experienced and skilled SEOs will charge more due to the refined skills and knowledge they have to offer you and benefit your business’ visibility. 

Factors to consider when budgeting

Before you ask for quotes from SEO agencies, freelancers or consultants, it can be valuable to have your goals in mind and an idea of your website’s current positioning among competitors.

Some key factors to consider are:

  • Goals. What do you want to achieve with SEO? Is your main goal increased visibility, conversions, or general brand awareness? Are there specific areas of your business that are a priority? When working with an SEO agency, consultant or freelancer, you will need to identify your KPIs and main goals for SEO, which will help you to measure your ROI. Having an understanding of your business goals prior to working with an agency will help.
  • Competition. Who are your industry competitors and who ranks above you for some of your main target keywords? Where is your business positioned in comparison? An experienced SEO provider will analyse your competition closely looking at various aspects like content quality and volume, backlinks from any well-known industry or relevant publications, and more. However, it is beneficial to have an overall understanding of where your business currently stands. Not only will this help potential providers provide you with a quote, but it can feed into your budget, as the more competitive the industry, the more you will likely need to invest into SEO to see results.
  • Timeframe. It is unethical and dishonest for SEOs to claim that you are certain to see results within a specific amount of time. However, generally speaking, the lower your budget to invest in SEO, the longer the timeframe will be for a provider to be able to effectively implement work and the longer it will take to see results. If your business is looking for work to be carried out on a large scale and in a shorter period of time, you should budget more for SEO to account for this. 
  • Current website situation. If you can try to gather an understanding of how compliant your website is currently and how much authority it carries, you can use this to pinpoint how much budget you may need to put aside for SEO. For example, brand-new websites may need to invest more initially to get their website’s visibility off the ground and in a similar vein, older websites that may have suffered penalties may also need to invest more to recover.
  • Business size and status. Generally, large established businesses with vast or powerful websites will need to budget more for SEO to ensure you can work with a skilled and experienced provider who will provide the scope and quality of services your business needs.
  • Complexity of your business model and offering. Consider the scope of the campaign that would be required for your business’s website. For example, a large eCommerce website with over 10,000 products will need a campaign which a much larger scope than a niche services provider.

An experienced SEO provider will always carry out their own market research prior to providing you with a quote. However, you are the experts in your industry and niche, so information about your business can help guide SEOs as to where you are aiming to see improvements in visibility and who your competitors are. 

Interested in more than just budgeting? Download our free whitepaper ‘The Smart Buyer’s Guide to SEO’, and get help finding your perfect agency!

Consequences of cheap SEO services

It’s tempting for businesses, particularly those with tight budgets, to opt for cheap SEO services. Remember that the cheapest is unlikely to be the best. If it was easy, fast, and cheap then everyone would rank number 1 for the terms they want.

Opting for a cheap SEO service can do far more harm than good to your website’s compliance and visibility in the long term. With a cheap SEO provider you may encounter:

  • Blackhat SEO tactics. There are various black hat SEO strategies used in the industry such as paid link schemes, cloaking, and more that can lead to your website being put under a penalty and losing visibility. While spammier SEO techniques may on the off-chance achieve quick results initially, Google is smart enough to recognise these and will penalise you. 
  • Outdated strategies. Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving, meaning your provider needs to be on the pulse of any Core Updates and industry news to ensure your strategies are adaptive to these changes. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing content and placing a large number of spammy links and expecting to rank well in Google. If your provider isn’t up to date with Google’s guidelines and current effective strategies, your website can fall victim to penalties and suffer detrimental effects in the long term. 
  • Lack of strategy or goals measured. All strategies should be measured using relevant metrics and KPIs to your business so you can determine the ROI throughout working together. A standard export from Google Search Console means nothing to your business. Measuring an SEO strategy isn’t just about the volume of keywords you rank for; a quality SEO provider will identify suitable goals to track and measure your SEO success against, whether your conversions are sign-ups to a newsletter, website purchases, or submission of enquiry forms, and provide the insights on how to get there.
  • False or harmful promises. Cheaper SEOs may promise results in a certain amount of time and while this may seem appealing, it is actually deceiving. Google themselves states that most SEOs need four months to a year to see improvements and potential benefits of SEO strategies. If an agency or freelancer is promising you rankings in weeks, it is more likely that they will be carrying out potentially harmful activity.

The SEO Works pricing

When you request a quote with our team, we will do in-depth industry and competitor research, as well as an initial audit of your website.

From there, we put together a bespoke SEO proposal that will present you with our recommendations for strategy and the budget we think would be best suited to your business to reap the benefits and see results.

Our budget and monthly retainer recommendations are based on your website’s current positioning among competitors, the level of competition in your industry and any current issues or opportunities with your website. 

All our SEO campaigns run for a standard period of twelve months. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, which is why we believe all campaigns need to run for at least one year to ensure success.

We provide all prospective clients with a choice of budgets, so you can weigh up your options and decide the best route for your business at that time. All our SEO campaigns include the same key aspects such as content optimisation and creation, competitor analysis, technical compliance, and detailed monthly reporting, however the higher your budget, the larger scale your campaign will be. 

The SEO Works can adapt your budget and strategy to suit your business too. There is always the option to increase your budget as required should your business experience a period of growth or increased success which means you are able to invest more into your marketing.

Get a free quote for SEO from our award-winning team

Hopefully, now you have an understanding of the different types of SEO pricing models, the factors that go into costs, and key considerations when budgeting for SEO. 

The SEO Works have over 15 years of experience in the industry and have won a huge array of accolades and awards to show for this. We aim to make SEO pricing easy to understand and will always explain our quotes to you should you have any queries. 

Get in touch with The SEO Works team today, to see how we can help boost your online presence and sales, or request a free website audit.