It might not surprise you to hear that a monthly SEO package often costs thousands of dollars (Search Engine Journal). At the same time, you might wonder if that isn’t too much. Will your local business clients pay that much? Or will high prices encourage them to jump ship and take their business elsewhere?
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Pricing is never easy to nail down, and that seems to be especially true for SEO service providers. In fact, some experts feel most SEO teams undercharge for their skills. Exactly how much should you charge your clients for the services they want and need?
If you want to find a “sweet spot” for monthly SEO package pricing, ask the following questions.
1. What is the demand for your SEO services?
The first question you might want to ask is about demand. There are many SEO service providers. Some offer specialized services, while others operate in niche industries.
This can be both boon and bane for a service provider. If you're one of a few providers offering a particular service in your industry, you may be able to capitalize on demand. Alternately, there might not be much demand for this service, which is why there are only a few providers in the game.
A case in point is link removal services. The demand for link removal is much lower than the demand for link-building SEO services. You might be an expert at removing links, but business owners aren’t buying this service.
What about infographics? Some research suggests most SEO providers don’t offer infographic or design services. That might mean there’s an opportunity here to offer design services (ManyPixels). It could also mean that infographics are no longer as popular as they once were.
How much SEO work does the team have?
Another way to measure demand is to see how much work your team is already doing. Are your clients interested in your SEO packages? If they’re not buying, it could be that your pricing isn’t a good fit for their budgets. Alternatively, it might also mean that your monthly SEO packages don’t include the services they need.
Your team’s workload can also be an indicator of demand. If the team is overwhelmed and clients keep asking for more, it could be time to raise prices. Rush fees and premiums aren’t uncommon in the marketing world.
2. Which industries do you serve?
Your next consideration should be about your clients themselves. Which industries do you serve? It might be tempting to say “all of them,” but chances are you have more experience in one industry or another.
Some industries are incredibly niche. Local businesses within them would be happy to team up with a provider who knows the industry inside out.
Most of them will pay for that expertise, too. Going back and forth with agencies that don’t know much about the industry can be frustrating. Manufacturing, for example, often has its own specialized lingo. If someone is writing blog posts, you want to be sure they’re speaking the same “language” as the client’s customers.
Some industries are also more competitive. For example, you’ll likely need to put more resources into the monthly SEO package offered to a personal injury lawyer in a big city. A small-town plumber isn't going to need the same level of support to get great results. Pricing for these two clients might look very different—and so might the services on tap!
Think about client temperament
The other question you’ll want to ask yourself is about individual clients. Some clients are easy going. They’ll be happy to receive that SEO report whenever you have it ready.
Other clients are much more demanding. They’ll email you Sunday evening and expect a report on their desk Monday morning.
While you’ll likely charge a base rate for monthly packages, you may want to consider “premiums.” This can help clients get the services they want sooner. Premiums and add-ons also help your team manage their workload, while ensuring your profit margins.
In short, you’ll want to think about pricing tiers and add-ons. This is especially true if you know you have clients who will need a higher level of support from the team.
3. What services are you offering?
We talked about how some services are niche, like infographic design or link removal. You’ll want to compare the services you offer to those provided by your competitors.
What services do they also offer? Are there services your clients can’t get from anyone but you? If so, you might want to consider charging a premium for these specialized services. You could consider them “add-ons” to basic packages. Alternately, you could offer them in higher-tier packages.
Keep premium services, like having a dedicated SEO manager, in mind as well. The more intensive the service, the more you should be charging for it.
4. How much do your competitors charge for monthly SEO packages?
We already hinted that you should be looking at your competitors’ monthly SEO packages. Not only do you want to know what they offer, though—you also want to know how much they’re charging.
Knowing what your competitors charge lets you know whether you’re in the right ballpark. If competitors are charging much less than you, then there’s a chance you’ve overvalued your services in your space.
The reality, though, is that most SEO service providers undervalue themselves. That means there’s a good chance your competitors are charging more than you are.
5. Are low-priced monthly SEO packages holding you back?
Charging less than your competitors could be strategic positioning. Ir could help you get more clients in the short term. However, it could also be holding your business back from growth.
You might be offering too much for too little. In turn, your team is overloaded and it’s difficult to turn a profit on your monthly SEO packages.
You might think every client is budget-conscious. They will always choose the lowest-cost package. The truth is that some clients will choose the lowest price point, but they aren’t the majority.
Many other factors go into making a buying decision for SEO services. Many customers don’t understand SEO, so they’re looking for a digital expert they can trust They’ll look for good customer reviews, expertise, and a proven track record of success.
Your low prices might mean you need to cut corners to turn a profit. In turn, you won’t be supporting your customers the way you could. There’s a high chance they won’t stick around if they feel they’re receiving poor service. They’ll go somewhere else, even if the price is higher.
The market for monthly SEO packages is less price-sensitive than most people think.
6. Can you prove ROI for your services?
The most important question you can ask about your monthly SEO packages is: Can you prove return on investment (ROI)? If you can justify a higher price, you can charge it with ease.
For many business owners, the idea of value is more important than price. If you can prove that your SEO services are a cut above, then they’ll be willing to pay a higher price.
How do you prove your services are better than what your competitors have on offer? You need to prove ROI. Use SEO reporting to showcase lead generation, increased traffic, and higher sales and profit. Use case studies that show off what you’ve done for your existing clients.
7. How much experience do you have?
Another consideration is how much experience you and your team have. If you’ve never offered SEO services before, then it might make sense to set a lower price.
By contrast, if your team has plenty of experience, or you’re working with experts who provide white-label SEO services, it could be time to raise your prices. An agency that’s been doing nothing but SEO for over a decade now can command a higher price.
8. How long has it been since you’ve raised prices?
How long has it been since you’ve increased the pricing on your monthly SEO packages?
If it’s been years, then it’s definitely time to revisit the pricing. Are you offering new services or different combinations of services? You might also have more experience and expertise in particular areas now, which could justify a higher price.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but raising your prices will often help you grow a service.
9. What’s the going rate for monthly SEO packages?
The good news is there is a lot of variability in what to charge for SEO packages. The most popular structure is the retainer, although some SEO experts charge per hour or by project.
Some companies charge as little as $500 a month for the retainer. Others charge $10,000 or more, depending on a wide range of factors. The most common pricing is around $2,000 a month (Entrepreneur).
By asking yourself the questions above, you’ll be in a better position to determine what is actually a fair price for your monthly SEO packages, depending on the services you offer, your clients, your experience, your industry, and your competition.