This is arguably the most common question our agency is asked by business owners. 

After all, it is the million-dollar question. 

Most business owners are well aware of the importance of investing in SEO service. However, spending too much money on SEO has a counter effect on the overall goal of increasing profitability. 

According to Moz, the average price SEO agencies charge in Australia is between $76 and $200 per hour. 

This is a significant price range, and that’s just an average! 

It is challenging for most people to distinguish how much is a reasonable amount of money to invest, which often creates frustration and distrust of the SEO industry. Before business owners start comparing each SEO service, they ought to know precisely what each service entails. 

Unfortunately, not all business owners understand the intricacies of SEO. Price is the only factor that is universally understood. With limited knowledge of SEO, many business owners tend to choose the cheapest option, often with unexpected negative consequences.  

SEO is an Investment NOT an Expense

SEO is an Investment NOT an Expense

It is important to first consider SEO as an investment, not an expense. 

An expense is a drain on your resources. In contrast, an astute investment will start paying you back and increase your business’s profitability. 

Using SEO should be viewed as a long-term marketing strategy that will serve your business well into the future. 

Good SEO can put your website onto the first page of Google. Statistically speaking, unless your website is found on the first page of Google, you are virtually invisible. 

Over 90% of clicks are for websites occupying the first page of a search. If your business is not found on the first page of Google, you are missing out on significant traffic, and this will definitely impact your bottom line not only now but in the years to come. 

How Much Should I Pay for an SEO Service?

In this article, we attempt to answer this common question. 

First, we need to explore the nuances which can determine an SEO budget. Many factors affect what is an adequate budget for SEO services. 


We want to be as transparent as possible, highlighting all factors in layman’s terms. 

We want you to really feel that you are not being taken advantage of because of technical jargon or elusiveness that, unfortunately, many digital agencies employ and plagues the SEO industry. 

Some of the main factors to consider include:

  • Has SEO work been done on your website in the past?
  • How large is your service area?
  • How intense is your competition? 
  • Specific goals. For example, how many search terms do you wish to rank for?

Obviously, every single SEO campaign should be relative to a business’s turnover. It stands to reason that a company with 10 million dollars in revenue should have a larger budget than a sole trader turning over 250k. 

Every SEO campaign will be different and justifiable; it is hard to give an accurate estimate for an SEO budget without in-depth analysis. Some campaigns may only require 10 hours per month, while others may need 100+ hours. 

Simply put, there is no one size fits all in SEO. Tailored campaigns are necessary to ensure optimal return on investment (ROI). 

Bearing all of this in mind, we still want to share an accurate figure of what is a fair and reasonable SEO budget for your business. 

The High Price of Cheap SEO

Business owners can become confused by the inconsistencies with pricing within the SEO industry. Some agencies command well over $1,000 per month, while others charge significantly less.

These pricing inconsistencies leave business owners wondering why they should pay more. Some business owners believe they are being overcharged for SEO services simply because they find another business charging less.  

But, what are you actually getting for your money?

Think about it, how much work do you think is actually getting done if you are only paying around $200-$300 per month for an SEO? To put that into perspective, professional SEO consultants charge upwards of $100 per hour. 

A professional SEO service generally plays by the rules and keeps abreast of what those rules are. They understand they need to invest the required time to keep up with the fluid industry’s best practices and standards.  

So, what can you expect to get for a few hundred bucks?

Suppose you are paying less than $300 a month, you can almost guarantee that you are not getting much work done to your site. Worse still, your budget may be used to hire cheap, unqualified freelancers from overseas. 

In this case, the best you can hope for is little-to-no results; and at worst, your rankings could be negatively impacted.   

Since the SEO industry started, there have been shortcuts and tricks to outwit the search engines into artificially inflating a site’s rankings.

Google and other search engines have gotten much better at stamping out malpractice within search engine optimisation (SEO) practices. 

However, black hat SEO still exists and will for the foreseeable future. 

There are countless black hat methods that dishonest SEO agencies resort to in a churn-and-burn style of operation.

Strategies include keyword stuffing, buying poor-quality links, building links on sites with zero relevance, poor writing, illiterate blogs for backlinks, and most commonly using automated tools and software to facilitate these listed strategies. 

It is never a good idea to skimp when it comes to search engine optimising for your company’s website. 

Black hat SEO strategies that are widely implemented by cheap and under-qualified SEO agencies will get your website demoted, penalised, even black-listed or deindexed; thus, these should be avoided at all costs. 

Once your site is blacklisted, deindexed or penalised, it is time-consuming and expensive to rectify. 

A cheap SEO service does not equate to inexpensive. The irony is that choosing a cheap SEO service will typically wind up costing you significantly more in the long run. 

Cheap SEO services can cost business owners time, significant revenue and opportunities that could have been acquired by employing a professional and ethical SEO service.  

How Can You Discern a Good or Bad SEO Agency?

Avoid agencies that make unrealistic promises. You can more accurately predict and budget for results with Google AdWords. 

However, with an organic SEO service, it is tough to predict and impossible to devise an SEO budget or plan based entirely on outcomes. 

Here is what Google says about this issue:

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

With an organic SEO, you are paying for time. The more time spent on an SEO campaign, the higher the likelihood of achieving better results. 

You should also avoid an agency that charges significantly less than what is considered the average within the industry. 

Proceed with extreme caution for anything less than $700-$800 per month. Cheap SEO is renowned for coming back to sting you, costing significantly more in time and value than any perceived initial savings.

A prominent online presence is extremely valuable. Being found in the top rankings of searches connects you with potential customers who are looking for your products or services. Investing in services that can adequately help your business achieve top rankings is a worthwhile investment, and you shouldn’t be looking for the lowest price.

  • Avoid agencies who cannot show you proven results. You want your SEO agency to show you strategies they’ve implemented for similar businesses, demonstrating how they were able to grow its online presence.  
  • Instigate open communication from the get-go. Ask questions about how the SEO agency you decide to work with will propose to implement your SEO campaign. 
  • Ensure that you are clear on precisely what steps the agency will take to improve your site’s rankings. Ask them to explain their plan for delivering optimal ROI in a way that you understand entirely. 

As an ethical SEO service Sydney business owners trust, it infuriates us to see so many SEO agencies in our industry taking advantage of customers.

For those unfamiliar with SEO, it can seem almost mystical. Adding to the mystery is Google’s top-secret algorithm, which leaves search engine optimisation somewhat open to interpretation.

Unfortunately, this environment has created the perfect breeding ground for unscrupulous SEO agencies in Sydney; and, there exists a perpetual battleground between the shady and honest, hard-working SEO services.   

Business owners must be extremely vigilant to find a professional and authentic service that can produce desirable results. 

Types of SEO Campaigns & Their Pricing 

Types of SEO Campaigns & Their Pricing

Here are a few types of SEO campaigns that we commonly provide. 

One-time SEO

This is ideal for smaller businesses without too much competition and not wanting to commit to an on-going contract. 

Typical Price: $1,500 – $10,000 + 

Local SEO (Monthly Retainer) 

This is ideal for local businesses who do not service customers outside their local area. 

Typical Price: $700 – $5,000 + per month

National & International SEO

This is ideal for larger businesses who serve Australia-wide and globally. 

Typical Price: $1500 – $10,000 + 

With such a wide variation in price, many business owners will be tempted to always choose the cheapest price. However, as previously discussed, there are many pitfalls around decisions based solely on the price of SEO. 

It is vital to ensure you know what you are getting for your money. Assess the value of each proposal based on the proposed strategies and not the price point.  

Measuring the Success of an SEO Service

The only metric that matters when measuring an SEO campaign’s success is ROI. It doesn’t matter if you rank for ten additional search terms, or you’ve improved rankings for your current search terms. 

You want to know that your investment is seeing significant increases in revenue, higher than alternative marketing channels such as pay-per-click or social media advertising.

Investment vs Expense  

It is a fundamental oversight for a business owner to view an SEO campaign through the same lens as rent, telecommunications, motor vehicle expenses or other operating costs.

It is then when pricing becomes the sole consideration and an allocated budget isn’t seen for what it is – an investment. 

Of course, pricing should always be a consideration, as you’d be ill-advised to ignore the potential of over-capitalising on SEO. Still, it is highly advisable to consider how much you need to spend to implement an effective SEO campaign suited for your business and marketplace. 

The cost of SEO should always be considered an investment and not an expense. 

If every dollar invested in SEO returned 3-5X, business owners would quickly realise the value of it, ceasing to be viewed as an expense. When SEO is viewed from this lens, it becomes a question of finding the sweet spot. 

The question becomes, how much do you need to spend to see optimal ROI?

Today, it is essential to have a presence online as most online transactions begin with a search on Google. Google is the first step of the vast majority of online purchases. Furthermore, it connects businesses with potential customers via relevant keywords, so whether you make a sale in the immediate future or not, Google can help bridge those connections which will initiate future sales. 

So, How Much Should I Spend?

In conclusion, there is no fast track to the top of Google rankings. Regardless of the industry, you will have competition. 

Effective SEO takes time. 

If you want to fast track your results, you will need to pay more upfront for more time immediately. If you want to rank for various keywords and keyword phrases, you will need more budget to implement an effective strategy. 

If you want to outrank your competition, more than likely, you will need to spend more than they are spending. 

It is impossible to give you a definitive answer to this question without further exploring your business, your industry, and your SEO goals. 

If you are ready to take your SEO to the next level, and you’re looking for an obligation free appraisal, call our friendly team today.