Can Small Businesses Afford SEO Services?

SEO has grown to be a very valuable business asset over the years. If you’re wondering whether small businesses can afford this strategy, then read on to find out more.

Afford SEO Services

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Consumers expect businesses, even small-scale ones, to have a website. A website lends credibility to your small business, allowing people to learn your story and get in touch with you. Designed and created well enough, your website can make you stand out and boost your competitive edge.


But your website must be optimized for search engines, so it ranks and gains the visibility that gets you traffic. The right kind of traffic converts to transactions, from sign ups and inquiries to consultations and purchases. All the work needed to turn your website into a marketing machine is done through search engine optimization.


Will a company with limited resources have the means to spend on SEO services?

SEO: Can Small Businesses Afford It?

SEO doesn’t have to be expensive, which means small businesses can afford to invest in this marketing strategy. It’s important to consider this cost as an investment instead of just a business cost; it’s a kind of mindset that will drive the kind of decisions that generate favorable results.


But how much does SEO service cost?


An Ahrefs survey places the average cost of SEO services from $2,500 to $5,000 for monthly retainer. SEO prices will differ with the pricing model the marketing agency offers; big businesses may opt for monthly retainers whereas entrepreneurs may go with hourly SEO or on a per project basis.


In general, small businesses could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a month, depending on how much work your business needs and what the competition in your industry looks like. Corporations that target a bigger audience can spend tens of thousands on their SEO campaign. 


What you spend will depend on your marketing needs and, naturally, what you can afford. 


Small businesses typically need to target people based on the location of their business. If you’re targeting a local area, you need local SEO services. Some tactics of local optimization are even free, like claiming your Google My Business account. You just need to register, verify your ownership of the business, and fill out all the pertinent information, from your business address and phone number to hours of operation and products or services.


Local SEO services are the same as the usual SEO services, but it focuses on working on a specific location. For example, if you have a dental clinic based in Atlanta Georgia, local SEO will help make sure that your website content is seen by locals who are conducting searches in that area. 


Services included in local SEO are Google Business optimization, optimizing your business for Google maps, content creation focused on local-based searches, local link building, and more.


What happens after you spend your budget on SEO?


As a business owner, traffic and conversion are two of the most important things when it comes to the results of your online marketing initiatives. 


SEO, like many marketing strategies, will give different results for different companies. For example, a small e-commerce business that spends less than $1,000 on SEO may see a 1.6% increase in conversion rate whereas those who spend more than that could see a 2.3% increase. 


Conversion type may vary depending on the industry as well. 


No SEO service is magic and you won’t see ROI happen overnight. It’s important to know that the effectiveness of your SEO strategy strengthens the longer you do it, so the results will get better as time goes on. 

Who Needs SEO Services?


SEO services exist for every business that needs highly optimized websites that can perform and compete well on Google. They require a website that’s modern, mobile-friendly, quick-loading and can constantly release curated content. But they don’t have the time, expertise or resources to do SEO work themselves.


All types of businesses can benefit from SEO. 


If you’re a small business owner who owns a physical store and caters only to your local area, get local SEO services because it focuses on attracting locals to your store. On the other hand, owning an e-commerce store means targeting an international market, which calls for an SEO package to optimize the hundreds of product pages you have.


What Small Businesses Should Focus on First

SEO covers a range of work to improve your website’s visibility, traffic, and conversion rate. You may be familiar with some of them, like keyword strategy, content creation, and link building. 


Optimization work also covers on-page (i.e., improving search ranking through measures within your site) and off-page (i.e., improving search ranking through measures outside your site) initiatives. Both will mean several tactics that may overwhelm you when the marketing firm asks you which service you’ll need. 


When you’re making the most of your financial resources, your choices must be efficient to deliver results without the big cost.


The following considerations will help guide you in the right direction:


1. Site Architecture

It’s important that search engines can easily crawl and access your website. This is one of the main goals of SEO. It needs to be optimized according to Google’s Guidelines.

Your site also needs to be fast and easy to navigate in all devices (mobile, desktop and tablet). 

2. People First Content

Your website should publish content that satisfies the readers above all. It should be unique, engaging, high quality and fresh.


3. Building Links

Backlinks are links that connect third-party websites to content on your site. This increases your credibility and authority if Google finds that these sites are high quality, trustworthy, relevant, and credible.


SEO has been effective for many businesses because it provides actionable data. Specialists are able to track the progress of your marketing efforts and measure their performance, gaining insights that allow them to further optimize tactics.


SEO Service Pricing Models

SEO companies offer different pricing models so people can have an easier time deciding on the plan they want. Not only do companies follow the same pricing model, but most of them also use the system below.

Hourly SEO Rate

SEO consultants and freelancers mostly use this pricing method. Although you can find that some companies also offer this choice for businesses that need very specific SEO work like website audits or link building.


You can find that rates can range from $50 to $300 per hour, depending on the coverage of the SEO work that needs to be done. More experienced SEO experts may charge more in this case.

Project-based Model

You can choose a project-based model if your SEO service plan includes multiple initiatives, but there’s no recurring work.


Prices for this can go from as low as $500 to as high as $15,000 or more depending on the project requirements.


Note that, more established companies may charge higher rates.


It’s important to do more research on this one since there can be agencies that might charge more, but their approaches may not differ that much from the usual process. 

Monthly Retainer Model

This is one of the most popular choices for businesses that plan to use their websites for a long time. 


SEO is an ongoing process that bears bigger rewards the longer a website does it. Not only do customers and users require fresh and updated information but search engines use algorithms that change with time. A page that can be found at the top of Google search today, could be on the 10th page next year.


It’s important to revamp your strategy as Google continues to change its ranking list and algorithm.


The monthly retainer model is an effective strategy for this unpredictable landscape.


This structure comes in different packages as well so different companies can choose according to their needs.


Businesses can subscribe to the package they need which will then get them all the services their website requires. With this pricing model, you automatically get monthly services while having total control over your budget.


SEO packages can range from $500 to $50,000.

A la Carte Pricing

The ala carte pricing model lets you choose only the services that you want or need. This is usually the case for people who already know how to do their own SEO, who already know what they need, but don’t have the time to execute the work.


For example, if you only need content creation because you want your update your blog, then go for this model. You can provide the SEO agency with the keywords, which you have chosen yourself, and they will take care of writing the content for you.


Some of the common SEO services you can buy on their own are:



Finding the Right SEO Company (and Price)

As with anything, it’s important to do your research first. 


Although SEO is a cost-effective strategy, it’s still one of those things where you get what you pay for.


Most business owners don’t know much about search marketing. They just don’t have time for it because they’re busy running their business. 


However, it’s important to know that SEO does not work the same way and while it’s already a cost-efficient strategy, many still look for ways to cut costs and go for the cheapest services they could find.


Cheap SEO could land your site in hot water and can do more damage than good. It can cost you a Google penalty and have Google completely stop your site from ranking. Fixing this can cost you more.


Here are some tips you can use to find the right SEO company for you. Similarly, you can use these tips to find the best price in the market.


Study the company website. These days, you can learn everything about a brand by looking at its website. The first order of business is to check their privacy policy. Read it thoroughly and trust your instincts. 


Next, check the Contact Us page. Look for the owner’s details. You want to make sure that it’s easy to get in touch and communicate with them.


Also, check for spelling and grammatical errors. This might seem basic but it’s often overlooked. An SEO agency simply can’t have poor grammar and spelling. If you spot a few, then you have a red flag.


Case Studies. Looking at case studies lets you review what the company did with its previous clients and give you an idea of what they can do for your business as well. They should have them on their website or they should be able to provide them upon request.


If they can’t provide case studies then the business might be new or doesn’t have much to show.


Check Reviews. Reviews and testimonials from previous clients will help you learn more about the company because these are purely from people who want to share their experience working with the brand. You can either find these from third party websites or from the agency’s own website.


Expect to see positive and negative feedback but remember to assess thoughtfully as what’s right for some might be not suitable for others.


Make Sure They Practice White Hat SEO. Search engines are now sophisticated enough to detect practices that violate their guidelines. 


There are companies or SEO service providers that use shortcuts to achieve a particular goal. The downside is that these solutions are short-term solutions or bandaids to the website’s problem. These solutions will always involve finding loopholes or breaking the rules set by search engines for webmasters.


Search engines like Google are always updating their algorithms, which means these loopholes will be found and fixed. When that happens, you’re sure that a website’s performance will be negatively affected.


Google also penalizes these black hat practices causing a campaign to fall apart which will then be pricier to fix.


Finding a company that offers white-hat SEO services will help ensure that you won’t encounter such avoidable problems. You’ll have the best SEO methodologies and practices at your disposal making sure that your site is performing at its best.


Interview the SEO Agency. Talking with the SEO agency or a consultant will tell you more about them, letting you know if they’re the right fit for you.


Ask as many questions as you need. Inquire about their strategies, their body of work, their processes and who will be working on your project if ever you decide to partner with them. 


The more companies you speak to the more insight you’ll gain, not only about the services offered but why SEO services are priced the way they are. Then, you’ll be able to determine which deal suits you best.



SEO is an affordable solution for small businesses. Not only do you get professionals to handle your website, but you also get more time to focus on other aspects of your business.


If you haven’t started with SEO yet, now is the best time to do so. 


You’re not just helping your business in the long run, but you’re also helping consumers find what they need.