SEO services — why so expensive?

“Price for SEO services in your agency is too high”, “Other agencies ask less”, “Why such discrepancy in pricing?” — being a Head of SMB Sales at Netpeak, I often encounter a misunderstanding of the SEO value and specifics. Therefore, I decided to write this article.

I will try to explain:

  • what the pricing principles are;
  • what the result is and how to achieve it;
  • why the service is profitable only in case of long-term cooperation;
  • why SEO can’t be cheap.

The main idea of the article: SEO is expensive because it requires highly qualified staff and a lot of automation tools. However, great project results can be achieved only by the joint efforts of a client and an agency. Take into account the search engine as well —  just signing a contract and paying for SEO services won’t cover expenses instantly.

1. How SEO pricing depends on the client’s project

SEO is a set of constant actions for the development of a site in three main lines:

  • on-page search engine optimization;
  • content component to interact with the target audience;
  • work with behavioral factors to optimize key business performance indicators.
SEO is first of all an investment for clients who have already adjusted business processes and learned how to monetize traffic to their website.

Price for SEO services can’t be the same for all sites: businesses have different goals and teams, market conditions, development points and features of business processes.

1.1. Promotion goals

One of the fundamental aspects before starting work is setting goals and objectives the client wants to achieve. Otherwise, any cooperation will be somewhat risky.

No matter how competent the agency is, it won’t be able to set promotion goals without a client. Nobody knows the peculiarities of his business better.

The more precisely the client sets the goal together with an agency expert, the more accurate strategy for promoting and developing the project will be built. For example, not just “I want to increase sales”, but “I want N applications from the SEO channel”.

The goals and tasks directly determine how many hours our specialists (and what specialists — the composition and skill level of the agency team) should allocate to achieve them.

Our managers and a client agree on a list of key performance indicators (KPI) for a specific project. Based on the KPI of the client’s business, our internet marketers develop a promotion strategy, break it up into semantic blocks and create a list of tasks for each block to promote the project.

Each business has its own KPIs. Here are the indicators we focus on when producing SEO services:

Synthetic KPIs — indirectly affect the revenue

Business KPIs — directly affect the revenue

Percent of site target pages in the search engine indexing

Number of registrations / subscriptions / requests

Site visibility on search engines

Number of conversions from visitors to customers

Site traffic

Average check

Number of new and repeat visits

Number of repeat orders

ROMI — return on marketing investment

1.2. Project status and team

At the beginning of cooperation, we analyze the current state of the project and create a list of technical recommendations for site improvements. In other words, our initial task is to adapt the site to the search engines requirements.

There is another essential factor: the client should allocate budget not only to pay for SEO but to pay for developers services for at least one year.

Why at least one year? SEO implies constant site improvement — both for users and search engines. The clearer content for Google algorithm is, the more likely it will show the site to users in response to their search queries. This requires regular and comprehensive work on the on-page optimization.

On-page optimization means that pages meet the requirements of search engines. You can’t just buy links or cheat behavioral factors — search engines impose sanctions on such sites.

Therefore, it will take at least 6 months to obtain the first tangible results. On average, our clients see a regular positive dynamics a year after the implementation of the audit and the subsequent recommendations of internet marketers.

We strive to prepare an audit and a technical requirement on website optimization within 15 days. And it usually takes 1.5 months for client developers to implement it.

Why client developers? As I mentioned above, SEO is more about consulting than creating a product. Since a client knows his business better than anyone in the world, he will be able to find the most appropriate specialists for his type of project (think of engaging developers who have created the site — they know the CMS features and the programming language in which the site has been written. As a result, they will implement improvements faster and better, and thereby accelerate the promotion effect).

2. Netpeak agency SEO pricing principles

Price for our services is based on:

  • paying for the time our specialists spend on your project;

  • using dozens of paid tools (task planner, tools for search queries processing, keywords databases, tools for checking positions, visualization and web analytics tools). Some of them we developed ourselves — this is how the Serpstat, Ringostat and Netpeak Software services appeared;
  • using our developments on reporting and increasing sales — Client Dashboard and Netpeak Cloud. 

If the promotion of a client’s project requires significant time expenses for SEO (for example, engagement of more than two full-time specialists), we will set up powerful web analytics and even create a separate team, which will devote 100% of the working time to a specific project. This is how we cooperate with OLX.

Most of the revenue we spend on automating processes, testing new tools, improving the skills of our specialists, as well as creating new services and departments for the convenience of clients and effective solutions to their business problems.

This approach has helped us to grow from a small agency to an international group of companies with 450+ employees in 12 years. We believe that the main thing in work is clarity, speed, and transparency. Therefore, we have more than 1,500 stories of project promotion. And the best confirmation of it is our case studies.

2.1. SEO services we render

We offer the following strategic solutions to our clients:

Start Growth Enterprise
On-page optimization (developing technical requirements and monitoring their implementation) On-page optimization (developing technical requirements and monitoring their implementation) On-page optimization (developing technical requirements and monitoring their implementation)
External optimization, link building External optimization, link building External optimization, link building
Copywriting Copywriting Copywriting
Mobile site version optimization Mobile site version optimization Mobile site version optimization
Promotion of new sites (created no more than 12 months ago) Promotion of new sites (created no more than 12 months ago) Promotion of new sites (created no more than 12 months ago)
Strategy and forecasting (Standard promotion strategy. Results forecast) Website Single Page Application (SPA) optimization  Website Single Page Application (SPA) optimization 
Analytics and reporting (Reports in the Client Dashboard. Standard KPIs (visibility, traffic)) Strategy and forecasting (Results forecast. Developing an individual promotion strategy) Strategy and forecasting (Results forecast. Developing an individual promotion strategy)
Project management Analytics and reporting (Start + conducting research (analysis) of the market, competitors) Analytics and reporting (Growth + preparation of individual reports upon request. Development of individual dashboards. Individual KPIs)
Automation (Analytics automation (Measurement Protocol)) Automation (Growth + parsing necessary data, competitors. Developing the necessary automation for monitoring indicators, KPI, etc. (Google Spreadsheets + scripts))
Project management Project management

We also have individual SEO offers: hourly payment, SEO audit, SEO at the development stage.


SEO pricing is affected by:

  •  the amount of time which agency specialists devote to the project;
  •  the composition of the client's team and the speed of the agency’s technical requirement implementation
  •  objectives and status of the client’s project;
  •  composition and competence of the agency team.

Considerable SEO results may be obtained not earlier than 6 months after the audit implementation.

I hope I managed to clarify the main points of SEO pricing. If you still have questions about the cost of search engine promotion, ask them in the comments, I will explain the details.

We also recommend you reading why contextual advertising is so expensive.

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