"How much does SEO cost in Australia?"
This is possibly the most commonly asked question that business owners and marketing managers ask about SEO services. And for good reason.
With so many SEO services out there ranging from $8.58 link building services on Fiverr to $5,000+ per month retainers offered by large digital agencies, finding out exactly what your business should be investing in SEO can be a difficult task.
As much as I would love to give you an exact dollar figure, the truth is that SEO costs are dependent on a range of variables including:
- Freelance SEO professionals vs SEO Agencies: Larger agencies tend to charge higher rates than sole SEO practitioners to cover their overheads and usually include account management fees.
- Track record and experience: Agencies or SEO professionals with a proven track record of growing Google rankings and delivering results will command a higher hourly rate and for good reason – they have proof they can deliver.
- Location: Local SEO professionals based in Australia will charge more than agencies or freelancers in markets with cheaper labour due to the local market conditions. Working with a local SEO professional has many advantages including knowledge of the local market, ability for face-to-face meetings and workshops and experience working with brands in your city.
- Project scope: No two SEO campaigns are of the same size. Newer websites with weak backlink profiles, lack of content and technical SEO issues will require far more hours per month than older, established websites with strong domain authority and regular, fresh content.
While there is no one-size-fits-all price for SEO in Australia, there are some standard price ranges to look for.
SEO Costs in Australia Explained
The short answer
Expect to pay between $500 - $3,000 for one-time SEO projects such as technical audits and strategies and anywhere between $1,000 - $10,000+ per month for high-quality search engine optimisation campaigns performed by seasoned professionals who can deliver the results you're looking for.
The detailed answer
When it comes to SEO pricing strategies, prices are calculated based on the amount of effort required to help you achieve your goals. Essentially, you are paying for an x amount of hours to be used on your business’s SEO campaign.
There are three main ways that SEO agencies and freelancers price their services:
- Hourly rates (most common)
- Monthly SEO retainers
- Pay for performance SEO (less common)
Even if you are quoted on a per-project basis, it’s important to keep in mind that total hours will still form the core of the pricing estimates.
Hourly rates for SEO services in Australia range from anywhere between $45 – $200 per hour. Less experienced SEO professionals will be at the lower end of the spectrum, while experienced practitioners with proven track records of success will be at the higher end.
To help you get a better indicator of what kind of costs you could expect, I’ve included some price ranges based on the type of SEO work performed:
|Task||Cost (low-end)||Cost (high-end)|
|One-time SEO implementation:||$1,000||$10,000+|
|SEO strategy and planning||$1,000||$3,000|
|Technical website audit||$500||$3,000|
|Local SEO (monthly)||$500||$5,000|
|State-wide/national SEO (monthly)||$2,000||$5,000|
|International SEO (monthly)||$5,000||$10,000+|
It’s important to keep in mind that the prices above will vary greatly based on the scope of your project, business objectives and the experience of the freelancer or agency.
Note: Freelancers don’t have the same overhead costs (rent, account managers) or strict sales targets of larger agencies, so they can usually offer a lower hourly rate. However, this is not always the case – especially if they are extremely experienced.
What about offshore SEO?
I’m guessing you’ve probably played with the idea of offshore SEO before. I don’t blame you. It can be tempting to see agencies overseas in India or the Philippines charging $25 per hour or less. But be careful. Outsourcing SEO can end up causing you and your team a bunch of headaches such as:
- Language barriers: Lower-priced SEO agencies and professionals are usually located in cheaper markets in which English is a second language. This can result in a number of communication issues.
- Lack of knowledge or poor SEO practice: Cheaper SEO professionals may lack the knowledge needed to rank your website or resort to using black hat SEO strategies that result in your website being penalised.
- Time zone differences: Depending on where you are offshoring, they may be on a completely different time zone making video calls difficult to set up. Not to mention that if a critical issue arises, they may not be available to rectify it.
- Overworked: Many cheaper SEO companies may manage hundreds of accounts, leaving their staff spread thin.
I can't tell you the number of clients I've worked with who have been burned by offshore SEO services. Try to avoid this if you can.
SEO is an investment
It’s important to keep in mind that SEO is an investment – not an expense (I know, typical marketer talk right?).
As SEO is an intangible service (you can’t get your hands on it and touch it) and you can only really see it’s true value once it has made an impact on your business – whether that be through sales growth, leads or quality web traffic.
Unfortunately, most business owners only look at price when selecting SEO services. This is a big mistake.
I invite you to approach SEO from this angle. If you were guaranteed that for every $1 you invested into SEO you would receive $8 in return – the value of the service instantly becomes higher. The question would become less about the cost and more about how much you could afford to invest.
Unfortunately, as SEO professionals we can not guarantee a return on investment. This is because search engine optimisation success is determined by not just technical optimisations, content and building links, but by the quality of your brand, your offerings, market conditions, and Google’s ever-changing ranking signals.
While you shouldn’t look for a guarantee, you should focus on selecting an experienced SEO agency or freelancer that is focused on a customer-focused, strategy-first SEO approach to improve your likelihood of achieving a positive outcome for your organisation.
Any reputable agency or freelancer with extensive experience and a history of results will charge you based on the amount of effort required to help you achieve your goals.
Why cheap SEO is expensive
Search engine optimisation is time-intensive and requires a specific skill set. As such you should always be wary of anyone offering cheap SEO services. If it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
I would categorise ”cheap” as anything less than $500 per month.
Let’s use an example of that $500 SEO package. Let’s see what you could expect to get for your money:
- An agency charges $100 per hour (this is a standard rate for a reputable agency or SEO professional), giving you 5 hours of time per month
- An hour of that time likely goes to account management
- This leaves you with 4 hours (at best) each month
At this point, you should be asking “What SEO work can an agency complete in just 4 hours?!”. Well, the truth is, not that much. Maybe just enough time to review your website, perform very top-level keyword research and perhaps update a few directory listings.
Worth $500? Not really.
Any SEO agency or Freelancer charging $500 per month or below is probably:
- Outsourcing overseas
- Implementing black hat SEO strategies which could result in penalties from Google
- Using less experienced freelancers with little to no experience
Cheap SEO services usually mean that you’re getting a very small amount of hours allocated to your brand. When there is less time available, agencies and freelancers will start to look for shortcuts to keep clients happy.
SEO Agencies and Freelancers offering unbelievably low, too-good-to-be-true rates usually have a high churn rate of clients as they are not able to deliver results.
- Focus on sales rather than your business’s success
- Use short term or black hat strategies that can result in long term penalties
- Outsource overseas reducing their hourly rates but also the quality of their service
- Use old school black hat strategies (pbns, poor linking strategies, duplicate content)
- Slack off and do absolutely no SEO work at all. Month after month.
The real cost of cheap SEO
If you end up on the receiving end of one of these cheap SEO packages, you will see pretty quickly how expensive things can get. Poor SEO practices can result in you:
- Receiving a penalty from Google that results in you losing all search visibility or even worse – Lose your domain completely
- Losing all of your site revenue overnight, immediately impacting your bottom line
- Wasting thousands of dollars of marketing budget with little to no returns to show for it
If your website receives penalties from Google, you will likely have to spend even more time and money to try and rectify the damage. I have seen some businesses who have had to get rid of their domain and start over from scratch due to penalties from dodgy SEO practices. That is not something you want – especially if your website has a strong domain authority and backlink profile.
How long does SEO really take?
As much as we would like to, SEO professionals can’t just hit the “SEO button” on our keyboard and get you to the top of Google search results overnight.
Quality SEO takes time
The time frame, and therefore the price you pay, is going to depend on your vertical, objectives, level of competition, size of your website and more. Another factor is how fast you want results. Local businesses looking to rank for a handful of keywords or appear in the local map pack on Google will not need the same SEO investment as a national brand with multiple websites.
Sometimes clients find that their SEO goals don’t match with the budget they originally had in mind.
It’s a simple equation:
- Looking for results faster? You’ll need to pay for more time.
- Want to rank for more keywords in a competitive market? You’ll need a bigger budget.
- Want to outrank your competitors? You need to invest more than they are.
If you continue to view SEO as an expense and don’t invest in quality services or a competitive budget, then you will struggle to see results and likely waste valuable budget on sub-par SEO services.
How much should I invest in SEO?
Unfortunately, SEO professionals have been undervalued for many years with business owners thinking that they can rank #1 on Google for competitive terms for less than $500 per month.
Looking at a monthly budget of $500, that’s just $6000 per year investment in one of your business’s biggest sales and branding channels – organic search. This is an incredibly small budget when it comes to marketing.
And with the total investment in SEO expected to reach $80 billion by 2020, you don’t want to be left behind while your competitors reap the rewards of ranking in Google.
If you want to grow your business and appear on page one of Google for keywords your customers are searching for, you’ll need to be prepared to invest the right amount.
According to Smart Company, here’s what you could expect for the following monthly expenses:
- $1,000: Suitable for businesses who sell to one geographic area, or who are starting out. Think local retailers and service providers like plumbers, electricians or restaurants.
- $1,000 – $4,000: This investment is suitable for businesses with an established online presence that targets a national or international audience or operates in more competitive niches. Here we’re talking about your large online retailers, wholesalers, and large brands.
- $5,000 and above: Budgets beyond $5000 are typically for enterprise businesses targeting national or international audiences in very competitive markets. Think car insurance, real estate agencies, home builders, financial institutions, life insurance, travel brands, and education providers.
When it comes to SEO you really do get what you pay for
I think I’ve made my point clear at this point. You don’t get to simply choose what you pay for SEO, rather you need to invest an amount that is necessary to achieve your business, revenue and digital marketing goals.
If you are looking to maximise your return on investment it’s crucial that you employ a seasoned SEO agency or professional with proven experience and referrals. Expect to pay $80 – $200 per hour for their services
I hope you found this article valuable!
Until next time,