The Future: True Costs of SEO

I think by now we all understand what SEO (search engine optimization) is and the importance of SEO. However, over the last few years, we have seen a shift away from cheap third-party blog articles and basic keyword-optimizing strategies to a better-organized structure and complementary approach to SEO & online marketing.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

This leaves us with a question. How much does it cost for good SEO work? Well, thanks to HubSpot’s interviews with 750 SEO agencies, we now have a better idea. Their findings show that the majority of agencies charge between $2,500 – $5,000 / month for retainer services. Quite a chunk of change.


Because Skillful Antics is a small business with headquarters in the small town of Clermont, FL, we are able to keep our costs and overhead low while passing that savings to you, the small business owner.

What Is Included With A SEO Retainer?

Because we typically charge lower than average, you may ask: what exactly would I expect to get with a monthly retainer? Fair question. Because we want to price fairly and not take shortcuts with your campaign, we offer an “umbrella” of services with each SEO plan that includes:

Additional things can be added like:

  • Video Content Creation
  • Adword or Facebook Ad Management
  • Press outreach & TV/Radio Placement

What Does An On & Off Page SEO Campaign Include?

Before we discuss, let’s consider that the hourly rate for a creative agency is between $120-$250/hour. And while spending $175/hour may sound fun, it’s not necessary considering the majority of firms outsource up to 20% of work spent on the tasks mentioned below. At Skillful Antics, we do not have to cushion the budget and charge exorbitant fees to cover third-party rates. Our designer, developer, and online marketer are in-house!


Here are some typical things we include in an SEO campaign:

  • Analytics Setup (Track Visitors On-Site)
  • Keyword Research & Implementation
  • On-Page SEO Walkthrough & Corrections
  • Site Speed Optimization
  • Content Creation (Blog Articles / Original Content)
  • Off-Page SEO Updates (Link Building)
  • Campaign Monitoring & Reporting
  • Email Marketing Campaigns
  • Social Media Marketing / Posts

If you now take a moment and consider an average firm charge between $125-$250/hour, how much time are you getting from your online marketing partner charging less than $400/month?


So Why Not Hire An In-House Person?

Another great question. Let’s say you do so and want to start small. So you find an inexperienced social media employee for $20/hour. Nobody part-time is going to work less than 15 hours/week (+/- $1300/month before employment taxes). Because they are inexperienced, they are going to have to learn – a process we both know will take a few months and lots of errors.

You’ll also want to consider: is this content writer going to be able to design in Photoshop or edit your website in Dreamweaver? If not, add another part-time employee for the accompanying website maintenance.

You can quickly see how that might add up. As an alternative, hiring the right agency could not just save you money but also increase your profit margin; a good agency eliminates waste or errors your company may incur by “figuring it all out” and goes full force on a cohesive streamlined plan.

The Breakdown Of An Online Marketing Retainer

For argument’s sake, let’s talk about a business plan. Here is how a plan like this is typically broken out.

  • Content Creation: One blog article of 300-500 keyword-optimized text. It will take about 30-60 minutes to review 3-5 relative articles around the topic and another hour or so to write the in-depth content.
  • Image Gathering: Allot for 1 hour or so to collect (and purchase – included with the retainer) stock images and tailor them towards your company and the specific content.
  • Email Marketing: We’ll take another hour of time to turn the article we created into an email with optimized images, specific links and calls to action, and other company-specific information.
  • On-Page SEO: We’ll spend 1 hour each month working through descriptions, titles, page content, and more, tweaking your keyword strategy for internal site pages. We will also work through site optimization techniques and user flow with analytic data, fix broken links, and hundreds of other things.
  • Off-Page SEO: 1 hour spent discovering off-site links, local directory submissions, optimization, adding symbols of trust, and hundreds of other things.
  • Social Media Marketing: 2 hours spent researching and creating social media content, compelling images, calls to action, sharable posts, etc., and posting to Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook around 30-40x per month.
  • Security & Monitoring: 1 hour spent tweaking the site for security vulnerabilities, plugin updates, database updates, monitoring, backups, etc.
  • Updates: We will spend your remaining hour on anything you would like, whether it be design resources, website updates, photography, etc.

Considering average agency costs for a basic retainer might be as high as $1,750/month, our rates are extremely budget-friendly. We charge only what we need… not what we can get.

Wake Up, Business Owners


Yes; there are plenty of cheap SEO options out there. Just run a Google search and you’ll find plenty. But it’s time to start asking yourself: what exactly do I think I’m getting by spending $60 or $150/month? I’ll tell you – not much. You are getting black hat link spamming techniques and falling victim to con artists and scammers.

Don’t fall into the tempting trap of wasting your money on cheap SEO services, or thinking just the opposite: “the more I spend, the better.” No need to sign up spending $3-5,000+ per month on a firm charging $175+/hour. We got you covered.


Ben Homan is the founder of Skillful Antics: an honest web design, online marketing, and multimedia company. Interested in having us by your side? Let’s work together: 407-545-4649

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