SEO Pricing – The Complete Guide

SEO Pricing

Written by Emma Marais

March 12, 2024

Understanding SEO pricing can be very confusing and with 100s of digital marketing agencies offering SEO services, it may seem overwhelming. Comparing SEO pricing can also be complicated as some quotes may be for hourly rates whereas others are a once-off price for a specific project or a monthly retainer price. With three main types of SEO providers all of which offer various pricing and packages choosing an SEO provider can be a difficult decision for any business.

But don’t worry we will cover it all for you. We will simplify SEO pricing, give you some tips and answer important questions regarding the pricing of SEO.

In the article, we will cover the following:

1. SEO Pricing Structures.
2. Types of SEO Providers And Their Pricing.
3. What Determines The Price of SEO?
4. Is SEO worth spending money on?
5. What SEO services do you get?
6. How to create an SEO budget?
7. Things To Look Out For When Choosing An SEO Provider.
8. What The SEO Company has to offer your business?

Best SEO Companies in south africa

1. SEO Pricing Structures

SEO providers mostly use these three common pricing structures when charging for their SEO services: 

Hourly rates

Hourly rates are the most common pricing structure for SEO services. This structure allows for greater flexibility, especially for small businesses. The standard hourly rate for SEO in South Africa is between R500 to R1 500. 

This structure is ideal for businesses:

– with a small SEO budget but still wants the benefits of SEO. 

– who have a niche business and want to focus on local SEO.

– with a small website that requires basic on-page SEO and link-building.

– who wants advice from an SEO consultant.

– who wants a professional team to maintain their already established brand.


Monthly Retainer

A monthly retainer is also a common pricing structure, especially for digital marketing agencies. With this structure, a business pays a fixed rate per month for its SEO over an agreed contract length. Most agencies using this pricing structure will also provide you with a monthly report on your SEO campaign. This structure also means that providers are paying attention to all the issues and not only specified issues.

Most contracts require a minimum of 6 months as setting up SEO projects requires a lot of work and results are normally only seen 3 to 6 months into the projects. The standard monthly retainer in South Africa is between R5 000- R20 000 depending on various factors. 

This structure is ideal for businesses:

-who want consistency and sustainability in their SEO campaigns to grow their online presence. 

-who are competing in a highly competitive industry.

-who want to grow their blog and content to attract the target audience.


Per project

Paying per project is another common pricing structure for SEO providers. The provider will define the exact project scope before starting and will charge a fixed cost for the project. This is ideal for businesses with very specific short-term goals or one-time optimisation needs. This structure offers a focused approach and addresses specific SEO requirements. Pricing for a specific project can vary quite a lot but the standard pricing per project in South Africa is between R5 000 – R50 000 depending on the specific project and the SEO requirements for that project. 


Although these are the main three types of pricing structures you may come across other structures such as :

Pay per product – A provider will charge you a different price for each service provided to you. For example, they will have a set price for a certain amount of words when creating content for you, they will have a certain set rate for website maintenance, a set rate for buying backlinks etc. 

Performance-based SEO- This is also not a common pricing structure but some providers offer the customers an option to pay them according to the performance of the website. For example, for every lead, the provider will be paid a set rate. This structure is based on commission. 

2. Types of SEO providers and their pricing

Freelancers – Freelancers are individual professionals who normally work on a few small projects at once, doing all the work on their own. They aim to provide their clients with a full service. Freelancers can be beneficial for small local businesses looking to become visible in local search results. They are also more budget-friendly and offer lower SEO rates compared to other providers. This is a good option for small businesses who are just starting their SEO journey. Freelancers normally charge between R500 to R1 500 per hour. 

Agencies – Although the size of an agency does influence its services and specialities. Most agencies offer the same type of benefits. Agencies have a team of professionals all working on your SEO campaign to make it successful. Most businesses do their SEO campaigns through an agency. SEO agencies handle all aspects and offer many services like Technical SEO, on-page SEO, Off-page SEO, keyword research and building backlinks.

SEO agencies normally also offer other digital marketing services which can be highly beneficial for any business. Agencies mostly use a monthly retainer pricing structure and charge between R5 000- R20 000 per month. Some agencies charge hourly rates between R500 to R1 500 per hour. 

In-house teams – This is normally used by very big businesses that can afford to hire staff to create their own dedicated SEO team. This provider is less common and is the more expensive option when looking for SEO services. These large businesses spend money training their staff to provide them with SEO services instead of outsourcing them. The average salary for an SEO specialist in South Africa is between R20 000 – R90 000 depending on their skill set and experience. 

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3. What determines the pricing of SEO?

The big question many businesses ask is how SEO providers come up with their pricing proposals. The SEO industry can become very confusing and complex as there are many different factors involved in the process. 

Here are a few factors that play a part in determining the pricing of SEO:

The Budget

Your business’s available SEO budget plays a big role in determining the scope and scale of the SEO strategy. Creating a realistic budget that is in line with your goals and potential ROI is important as overspending can cause financial strain. Communication with your SEO provider regarding your budget is important as it allows them to create cost-effective strategies that will work for you while still getting the outcomes you want. 

The Needs and Goals

Every business has different needs and goals that they want to achieve with their SEO campaigns. Using these specific needs and goals SEO providers can create bespoke, tailor-made SEO strategies just for you and what you want to achieve. Different goals may require various levels of investment and resources in order to achieve them. 

The Timeline

How urgently you need the project or work to be completed can also influence the SEO pricing. Most agencies have a lot of work on their hands so if a business needs urgent help it will cost more as they will have to stop the other work to assist you. 

The size of the business

Your business size will also influence your Seo pricing. Most big businesses have large websites and need more comprehensive SEO strategies to keep ahead of their competition as they have a more competitive landscape they are competing in. Small businesses normally need a simple SEO approach as they have smaller, more basic websites as well as only need to target local SEO. Big businesses also normally have bigger budgets for SEO which allows them to invest a lot more into their SEO than small businesses.  

The size of the SEO project

The size as well as the complexity of the SEO project will also be a factor in SEO pricing. A website with many pages, a lot of various content types, and intricate structure will need more in-depth SEO services and implementations. 

The provider’s experience 

A provider’s experience is a big factor in SEO pricing. Providers with a lot of experience and specialised skill sets can often mean higher fees are charged as you are paying for their expertise and reputation. It is important to have a balance between cost-effectiveness and the ability of an agency to give you the results you need. 

The providers’ chosen SEO pricing structure

The various pricing models can also affect the SEO pricing and can impact the cost of SEO for you. Each pricing structure has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Understanding each structure and finding the one that works best for your budget is important.

The current SEO performance

Where an SEO specialist needs to start with your website also influences the pricing. If your business is just starting the SEO journey or has very little website optimisation then you may need services like website audits, keyword research, and content optimisation to create a good foundation for SEO, these services may require additional funds. Businesses with an already well-established and optimised site won’t require these services and may just need services that refine and maintain their sites. These various services play a part in SEO pricing. 

4. Is SEO worth spending money on?

The straightforward simple answer is YES! It’s not just worth it, it is necessary. In the digital landscape we live in, paying for digital marketing like SEO is beneficial for any business and necessary if you want to beat your competition and gain customers. The world uses search engines as their first port of call to find any information and you want to be sure that when they search for results relevant to your business you come up first. SEO does just this as it increases your visibility on search engines. 

To determine if it’s worth it for your business you can calculate your ROI. You would compare the progress you have made towards your goals since starting your SEO campaign and compare that to your costs. Looking at metrics like leads, conversions or sales from organic searches would be useful. Just remember that SEO is a long-term process and it could take a few months before you start to actually see results. 

5. What SEO services do you get?

So now that you understand the SEO pricing structure, what SEO services do you get from providers?

Most SEO providers offer the following services:

-A website and SEO audit 

-Keyword research and implementation

-Analysis of the competition

-Content creation and optimisation

-On-page SEO which includes title tags, URL, and meta description optimisation

-Off-page SEO which includes setting up your backlinks

-Technical SEO which includes page speed optimisation and a well-designed website

-Reports and analysis of your SEO campaign and its performance

-Strategy optimisation and improvements 

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6. How to create an SEO budget?

Setting out a clear budget for your SEO is important for it to be successful. On average most businesses spend between 5%- 10% of their marketing budget on SEO services. 

To create your budget you need to decide on the goals you want to achieve through the SEO strategy, look at your overall budget for marketing, and decide what you want to focus on to achieve your goals. Once you have a clear understanding of this then you can look and compare SEO providers to decide which one will best fit your needs. 

Not only is creating an SEO budget important financially but it’s also important for achieving lasting online growth. 


7. Things to look out for when choosing an SEO provider

There are a few red flags that you should look out for when you are deciding on an SEO provider. 

Things like: 

  • SEO providers that promote and advertise cheap SEO services. This is almost always too good to be true. Cheap does not equal good SEO and having to fix bad or cheap SEO can be time-consuming and end up costing you even more money.
  • SEO providers promoting guaranteed results. As SEO is a very complex process with many variables there are no guarantees when it comes to your rankings on search engines or quick results. As mentioned before SEO is a long-term strategy and in most cases, you only see results after 3 months.
  • Avoid SEO providers that are unable to give you monthly reports and analytics. 
  • SEO provider with no previous work displayed or testimonials
  • SEO providers who offer vague details about the services they will provide you. 

Take a look at this article, 5 Best SEO Companies in South Africa which will give you more guidance on how to choose the best SEO provider for you and your business.

8. What The SEO Company has to offer your business

At The SEO Company, we understand that every business is unique and has its own goals and needs, that is why we create bespoke SEO strategies for each business so they can get the most out of their SEO campaigns. We take time to fully understand your industry, business, customers and products so that we can deliver tailor-made SEO strategies that meet your specific needs. 

Our team of experienced specialists understand how important client relationships are and take you along the SEO journey with them. We take your feedback and opinions to heart and involve you throughout the process as we believe this allows the SEO campaign to be a success as we understand that if you are successful then so are we. We value honesty, hard work and transparency and offer our clients top-level SEO services. 


To get the most out of your SEO campaign understanding the pricing structures, providers and SEO services is extremely important. To make your SEO campaign a success you need to pick a pricing structure that works best for you and your budget, choose a provider that will benefit your business the most, and understand that SEO results take time but are extremely beneficial in the current digital world we live in. 


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