Budgeting for Small Business SEO Services

Every small business must be prudent when making decisions about an SEO budget. In doing so, a larger question is raised: how should you approach small business SEO in general? Small business marketing is all about managing limited budgetary resources. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely.

Three Factors That Affect the Cost of Small Business SEO

  1. How experienced is the SEO company? The truth is that it’s impossible to get away from that phrase, “You get what you pay for.” An agency with a better reputation and a fatter portfolio is probably going to charge more. Remember that you are paying more to get that expertise working on your behalf.
  2. How many services do you want (or need)? You may want to do more branding exercises. Perhaps you want to see reports on call tracking. There are many additional services, like call tracking software, available to your small business. A reputable digital marketing firm, however, won’t push you into any services you don’t need. 
  3. What’s the Pricing Model? Small business SEO services depend on what type of payment model is used.

Pricing Models for Small Business SEO Services

As you evaluate how to allocate money for a small business SEO strategy, keep in mind exactly how you plan to market.


Typically $100–$150 per hour: This is a low commitment approach, and it’s easy to keep track of spending. However, most effective SEO strategies are long-term and involve many moving parts. Doing SEO hourly may not be the best option.


The average cost can vary significantly: This is basically the idea that if there are no results, there’s no payment to the SEO. With this arrangement, however, it’s difficult or impossible to plan a budget. In addition, many agencies won’t wish to enter into such an agreement.

Monthly Retainer

Anywhere from $500–$5,000 per month: Many small and large businesses will enter into this arrangement. However, many small businesses spend far less than they should on monthly retainer fees. As any marketer will tell you: if you do nothing, you should expect nothing as a result.

Small businesses like monthly retainers because it’s easier to budget for them. In addition, a long-term partnership with a digital marketing firm means they can revise and adjust strategies as necessary over time. For success in small business SEO, a monthly retainer is often the right choice.

One-Time Campaign/Project

About $500–$1,000 per project or campaign: A one-off project has some significant disadvantages. For one thing, the project might actually cost less if it’s part of a larger SEO plan involving other components.

What is Too High or Too Low For Small Business SEO Services?

Many small businesses believe that there’s no such thing as SEO that’s too low in price. Dreamscape Marketing has observed that these companies generally get involved with either amateur or unethical SEOs and live to regret it.

Other small businesses drastically overspend on SEO, which often means little to no return on investment. There’s definitely a spot between these extremes where small businesses should be. Let’s take a closer look.

Too Low of An Investment: $500 Per Month 

Granted, small businesses must watch their budgets very carefully. The temptation to invest in SEO at a minimal cost is huge. However, spending for SEO at this rate won’t produce meaningful results. In fact, you’re often just throwing money away when the investment is this low. Small business SEO can’t be done effectively on the cheap.

When you find SEOs willing to work at this pay scale, you’re probably going to encounter the black-hat marketers. The results will be low-quality SEO that disappears quickly. Or even worse, your site gets penalized by Google because your SEO is using unethical practices that violate their guidelines.

Too High of an Investment: $5,000 Per Month Or More

The SEO that charges the most isn’t necessarily the best. Sometimes, they really are the best, but price is no guarantee of that.

Regardless of whether they’re the best, the real question is, can you afford SEO at this price tag? For most small businesses, it is not.

The Best Investment for Small Business SEO: $2,500–$3,000 Per Month

At this level, you’re spending enough to get talented SEOs but you aren’t breaking the bank doing it. Unlike companies spending $500 a month on SEO, you can get real results at this price point.

At this price range, you can compete effectively for Google ranking. Eventually, however, as the size of your website grows, you may have to increase your spending accordingly.

Small Business Marketing Depends On Smart Spending Decisions

SEO is an expense. There’s no getting around that. However, it’s a very necessary one.

Dreamscape Marketing is a nationally recognized SEO firm that can help small businesses improve their website ranking. Contact us today at 888.307.7304 and let’s discuss how our small business marketing agency services can take your website ranking to the next level of success.