We all get that SEO is crucial for search engine visibility, digital presence, brand awareness and business growth – but what does SEO cost in the UK?
Business owners need to understand the parameters that make the most difference to pricing.
- Over half (54%) of small businesses budget ZERO for SEO. That’s a massive problem and a forecast of slow, painful growth – if any at all.
- Many companies, particularly older, long-standing organisations, don’t understand the relevance of SEO, either ignoring it or being oversold services that won’t touch their bottom line.
- There’s something like 3.5 billion Google searches every single day. Falling behind or missing out on the power of SEO means that those in the know leave everyone else for dust – when catching up really wouldn’t have been that difficult!
SEO pricing isn’t always straightforward, and that’s why it’s difficult to answer a straight question, what does SEO cost in the UK? Basically it’s difficult to put a tag on a service that could send a small start-up into the stratosphere – or crash and burn if it isn’t done right.
The Woya SEO team has put our heads together to show you some real-life averages to explain how much you should realistically budget for SEO.
Got questions? Get in touch, we’re here to help!
Table of Contents
- 1 The SEO Divide: Price vs Perception
- 2 Standard SEO Pricing Structures
- 3 What does SEO cost in the UK?
- 4 Calculating Investment Returns on Professional SEO Services
- 5 Is Low-Cost SEO Worth Paying For?
- 6 The Intrinsic Value of Outstanding High-End SEO
- 7 Finding the Balance – Creating an SEO Budget
The SEO Divide: Price vs Perception
Like most digital specialists, our talented SEO team will tell you that many clients don’t have a firm grasp of exactly what SEO is or what it’s there for – and that’s understandable!
There’s a huge difference between SEO and pay per click (PPC) ads.
Many companies assume that they’ve ticked SEO off of their to-do list by setting up a couple of Google campaigns, maybe a Facebook ad here and there, and sitting back with tightly crossed fingers.
However, real SEO – a carefully crafted digital marketing strategy chasing organic growth – is about that gold standard whereby customers find you all by themselves without being funnelled into an advertising loop they didn’t ask for.
Now we’ve clarified, let’s get down to the pounds and pennies.
Standard SEO Pricing Structures
There isn’t a right or wrong way to charge for SEO.
Woya goes for fixed-price PAYG packages with itemised services because, well, we’re all about transparency and inviting customers to select the support they need!
That said, there are three core ways to structure pricing, and none are bad, per se.
- Hourly SEO Costs: Charging per hour is simple, provided you have clear expectations about what your SEO contractor will achieve in that 60 minutes. Most SEO agencies won’t bother with hourly pricing, but it’s common with freelancers.
- Monthly Retainers: Monthly costs work if you want an ongoing service with a fixed price, as long as you know what you’re getting for that cost and which services are included.
- Project SEO Costs: Charging per project focuses on achieving a specific goal or producing a particular piece of work to contribute to a broader SEO strategy. The key here is to agree on the scope of the work in writing from day one and then make sure the project costs align with the anticipated returns.
What does SEO cost in the UK?
Ok, so when reviewing average SEO costs in the UK, we’ve got a basis of understanding, and we’ll explain more shortly about returns on investment, but let’s pause to take stock and talk about quality.
Like everything, you get what you pay for.
There’s a vast range out there:
- DIY SEO means, of course, doing it yourself. You can pay for various subscriptions that offer to deliver keywords or other basic tools to help you along the way.
- Low-cost SEO is at the introductory end; usually, the minimum required to make a dent.
- Mid-level SEO is more common, perhaps with an agency that offers specific services. This option is more reliable than anything cheap and not-so-cheerful but can have limitations and won’t generally be a comprehensive, long-term collaboration.
- High-end SEO is your shining SEO-shaped star and what you expect from established digital marketers who offer best in class performance and exceptional skilfulness.
Before we crack on, we’ll look at a couple of the pros and cons to watch out for, along with the average SEO costs.
DIY SEO Costs
Primarily used for: Small businesses, start-ups, or self-employed traders who want to do what they can without any expense.
- Pitfalls: SEO is a huge sector of proficiency, so it’s improbable that you’ll make any progress without investing some serious time into learning.
- Average cost: £0 (aside from any SEO tools you subscribe to).
Low-Cost SEO Prices
Primarily used for: SMEs perhaps getting started with a content marketing plan, needing suggestions and initial ideas about improving their websites.
- Pitfalls: Anything low-cost might not be worth paying for at all. It’s not unusual for online service providers to offer crazily low prices that often fail to achieve results.
- Is it really low-cost, with average cost: £20 – £110 per hour, based on freelancer rates. Buyers might be lucky, but without sustained and consistent work, it’s unlikely to yield significant results.
Mid-Level SEO Costs
Primarily used for: Established businesses with a content strategy that needs refining to build a stronger brand presence, or just starting SEO after over reliance on paid solutions such as Google Adwords.
- Pitfalls: Success depends heavily on the experience and abilities of the SEO agency – so it could be money well spent or a drain on your budget. Look for experience, case studies and reference clients to support success stories.
- Average cost: £750 – £2,500 a month.
High-End SEO Prices
Primarily used for high-volume online businesses, eCommerce retailers and companies needing dexterous support to identify and fix technical SEO challenges or get ahead in a competitive market.
- Pitfalls: There aren’t many SEO agencies with the right experience, technical proficiency and creativity to deliver.
- Average cost: £2,500 – £9,000 a month (plus costs) or more depending on the site size and team needed to deliver the project.
Psst, while we’re far from your average SEO agency, you can sneak a peek at our packages here if you’re so inclined!
Let’s dive into returns next, so you’ve got an idea of what you might expect to make, depending on what you’re spending.
Calculating Investment Returns on Professional SEO Services
Any business investment has an element of risk and a corresponding return – which is what we’re aiming for.
It can be complex to try and quantify what you’re getting out of your SEO spend, but let’s look at some of the options to try and pin down your returns.
Comparing Organic Traffic Volumes
Organic traffic is a big deal in SEO, and the better your content and strategy, the higher those web hits will climb. Checking out your metrics is relatively simple:
- Type in your most important keywords in the Google Keyword Planner.
- You’ll see some figures, such as the monthly average search volume.
- Compare the hits to your monthly traffic, and you’ve got an idea about how well you’re doing.
It’s also worth checking out where direct competitors are falling on the search engine rankings, compared to your site, to see who’s outperforming you (for now).
SEO Revenue Returns
Turning website visits and organic traffic into sales figures is equally vague, but if you’ve got access to your income metrics and your conversion rates, you’re off to a good start.
If you have a Google Analytics account, it’ll help, showing things like how many leads translate into an actual sale – this is usually somewhere around 2% for retail and 5% for lead-gen as a rough guide.
Compare monthly traffic, conversion rates and sales, and you should see a correlation where revenue rises as your organic search results improve.
The trick with SEO returns on investment is that you’re not going to get instant outcomes or see a sudden leap in profits in the first 24-hours, and probably not in the first 24 days, either. Honestly be prepared for it to take months and be alarmed if an seo agency is saying otherwise.
SEO needs to be embedded in your digital assets and pages to make cumulative gains.
You can’t get onto the fun bits without having a solid framework – things like fast web loading speeds, a good base of backlinks, effective information architecture, keywords and metadata on your web pages.
If you’re in doubt, we’d say it’s best to consult a real SEO agency (or get in touch with Woya).
Any great SEO agency will be happy to discuss realistic returns and expected timescales, so you’re better informed about what you should anticipate.
Is Low-Cost SEO Worth Paying For?
Let’s be clear that there is a toss-up between budgets and outcomes.
SEO isn’t something you can master by watching a few YouTube videos. After decades of experience, our capable team still focuses on keeping up with new trends, harnessing new technologies and adapting new techniques.
While there are plenty of individuals and companies claiming to offer effective SEO for minimal costs, it’s never, in our experience, worth spending anything on.
Worthwhile SEO requires:
- Research and diligent analysis.
- Expertise and exacting skills.
- Time and knowledge.
- Action and regular reporting.
Ultimately, cheap SEO could do more harm than good. Unethical methods of forcing algorithms to return unrealistic results could work short-term but result in penalties that mitigate your growth ability.
The Risks of Unsuitable SEO Practises
We’re here to talk about average costs and won’t get into white hat vs black hat SEO, but let’s clarify that Google algorithms remain crucial to SEO performance.
The data that matters includes:
- Anchor texts
- Content quality
- Keyword density
- Guest posting
- Core web vitals
- And everything else in between
Search engine algorithms themselves are fairly basic in principle, but the underlying mechanisms are anything but.
Sites that use underhanded SEO methods, such as buying spam backlinks, will more often than not be recognised by Google and punished accordingly.
A loss of organic traffic will have a severe impact on your ability to sell or gain brand reputation, no matter how much money you throw at paid ads.
Google also has a human review system, so even if the bots don’t pick up an SEO shortcut, it will come to their attention if you use random links, keyword stuffing or anything similar.
Our takeaway is that if you cannot pay for SEO, it’s probably better to invest your own time into learning some of the simpler techniques.
Although it might be a slow, gradual approach, it’s likely a better deal than wasting cash on cheap SEO that could be disastrous.
The Intrinsic Value of Outstanding High-End SEO
At the other end of the scale, premium SEO can be costly. However, that depends on the agency you work with.
We like to challenge market trends by offering PAYG packages without knuckling down behind retainers or minimum-term contracts, but that isn’t a proposal you’ll find everywhere!
The big difference is that an advanced SEO team can work wonders and make a remarkable difference to your online fortunes in multiple ways:
- Managing Google penalties (if you’ve fallen foul of the issues we mentioned just now). Careful analysis can uncover ways to potentially resolve those negative impacts.
- Fixing technical SEO issues on your site by adding new functionalities, optimising your analytics, or crafting new strategies to resolve the problem.
If you’re operating in high-volume or competitive sectors, rely on digital traffic to generate revenue, or want to boost your brand beyond all recognition, this is the only real way to go.
Outperforming the market is possible but relies on skill, expertise, and creative approaches to tackle the unique challenges you face while sometimes adopting aggressive strategies to get past the competition.
Finding the Balance – Creating an SEO Budget
By this stage, we’ve got a decent idea in response to what does SEO cost in the UK, the vast difference between cheap and high-quality, and why it’s well worth investing as much as you can in getting the best professionals on your team – within reason.
It’s important to determine the budget available and how much it is worth investing in a specific business or branch.
There isn’t a catch-all answer since the best approach depends on the site, the potential growth available, and how competitive your industry is.
The first step is always analysis – even if it isn’t the most exciting aspect of SEO organic growth! By understanding where you stand in the grand scheme of things and taking the time to compare that to your closest rivals, you generate a firm knowledge about the suitable techniques available to get the edge.
We’ll say it again – there are no shortcuts here worth taking.
If it’s worth doing, it must be done right, so never rush into SEO looking for a cheap deal or a quick fix since it won’t turn out well.
If you need more advice about SEO, for a transparent answer to what does SEO cost in the UK, guidance about how much it’s worth investing in your site, or to have a general chat about the opportunities out there, please get in touch with the friendly bunch at Woya, and we’ll steer you down the right path.