SEO is like a cat-and-mouse game. Search engines like Google are constantly changing their algorithms to prevent website owners from optimizing their pages specifically for the search engine.

But what if you hire an
SEO agency
that focuses on search for your industry?

In this article we will look at what a good SEO agency costs and why it is worth investing in it.

  • How much does search engine optimization (SEO) cost and which billing models make sense?
  • Does performance-based compensation make sense?
  • How is the SEO daily or hourly rate calculated?

These and other questions are answered in this article.

How much does an SEO agency cost?

The reasons why companies hire anSEO agency for search engine optimization support are many. Too little time to take care of it yourself, often in combination with lack of SEO know how and of course the use of experience of the SEO agency.

As an SEO client you buy time and therefore hourly or daily rates are the common billing basis. Often are also flat rates for specific modules of an SEO optimization such as SEO strategy, SEO audits. Keyword research, etc. common.

The amount of SEO hourly rates are, of course, different. However, because all SEO agencies have to calculate with similar personnel costs, the hourly rates move in a fairly narrow band between 120 to 160 euros per hour.

Particularly favorable SEO hourly rates usually have two causes. His SEO agency wants to establish itself in the market and therefore does not offer cost-covering services. Or trainees are assigned to client projects at low hourly rates. Both are associated with a high risk for the client.

How is the daily or hourly rate for SEO created?

The prices for an SEO agency are logically in close relation to the hourly rates.

The amount of the hourly rates is calculated by the personnel costs of the consultants, the attributable direct and indirect costs, the margin of the agency and the planned degree of utilization of the SEO consultants.

Kalkulation Tagessatz

For effective search engine optimization, most different experts are needed. At least one expert for technical SEO, i.e. the technical optimization of the website, a content creator and/or copy writer is needed.

Depending on the scope of the project, an additional employee may be needed for backlink building, content marketing and project management.

Due to the very different requirements of the companies, the workload of the employees fluctuates strongly and can hardly be planned. Using the example of SEO content creation, it is easy to see the probematics. Many companies create their content in-house, other companies want your SEO agency to do just that.

Because content creation is one of the most time-consuming tasks in SEO, the copywriter’s workload can increase sharply with a single client or decrease sharply if the client is no longer available.

Many SEO agencies try to cushion these fluctuations, especially in the area of content creation, with freelancers. However, because freelancers are not responsible for projects, they tend to be motivated to work on a short-term basis. As a result, the quality of freelance content often fluctuates, and sometimes it is simply poor.

In sum, this means that having all the necessary trades on hand through permanently employed and long-term motivated SEO experts is the most important prerequisite for successful SEO projects, but it also drives up the daily rates.

How much does an SEO freelancer cost?

The cost of an SEO freelancer can vary greatly depending on various factors such as experience, expertise, scope of the project and the region in which the freelancer operates. In general, hourly rates for SEO freelancers in Germany range from 50€ to 150€ per hour. Some freelancers also offer flat rates for specific SEO projects.

It is important to note that these are only rough estimates and actual costs may vary depending on individual circumstances. It is recommended to obtain several quotes and carefully check the experience and references of freelancers to make the best choice.

What about performance-based billing for SEO?

Success-based models, as some marketing managers would like to see, are business nonsense due to the lack of predictability for both sides. For this reason, success-based SEO has not caught on in professional marketing.

The idea actually sounds quite good: the customer only pays if the search for his product or service has improved and he makes more sales as a result. The agency or freelancer, on the other hand, has to show what it can do and is also paid accordingly – ideally a little more every month, because the rankings are (theoretically) getting better.

But this model is in practice disadvantageous for both sides. On the one hand, it is impossible to say beforehand exactly whether and to what extent the search can be optimized. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to prove that the improvement in rankings is actually attributable to SEO and not due to natural fluctuations in the search engine market.

You only pay if a search term ranks at the top – or at least better than before. This way, you pay for the service provided and the risk lies with the service provider, who is then guaranteed to put in more effort. Sounds fair, right? However, because it is always more complicated in reality, this model has not prevailed to this day.

From which budget is SEO worthwhile?

The development of an SEO strategy, the keyword research, the technical optimization of the website and especially the creation of content take time.

For a website in an average highly competitive market, you should allow at least 20-30 business days before you start seeing results.

If you consider the daily rate of around €1,000, then it quickly becomes clear in what order of magnitude a reasonable SEO budget should lie.

Over what period, this SEO budget is distributed, is initially not decisive. But clearly, SEO with 8 hours per month makes little sense entrepreneurially, because success will be very long in coming. And if the competition comes at you with more ambition, you may not move forward at all.

3 man-days per month should be the minimum for an SEO project with good prospects of success.

How much does an SEO audit cost?

The cost of an SEO audit can vary depending on the scope and complexity of the audit as well as the agency hired. There are no set prices, as each audit is customized to meet the needs and goals of a website. As a rule, SEO audits are charged on an hourly basis or as a flat rate.

For smaller sites or basic audits, the cost can range from €500 to €2000. More comprehensive audits for larger websites with more complex structures and extensive SEO analyses can cost several thousand euros.

It is important to note that a quality SEO audit can be a worthwhile investment, as it will help you identify your website’s weak points and highlight optimization opportunities. This can help you improve your website’s visibility in search engine results and increase traffic in the long run.

Does SEO off-shoring make sense?

Given the quite substantial cost of good SEO, one or another entrepreneur gets the idea to outsource SEO to countries with much lower labor costs. India in particular, with low day rates and supposed tech expertise, seems a logical place to buy SEO services.

For one-time technical tasks, such as moving to a faster server, this is an option, with all the risks of IT off shoring. This alone, however, will not give any website a good ranking.

High-quality, relevant content can only be developed by a native speaker with a good feel for a brand’s target market and audience. That’s why content creation abroad, and in a different culture to boot, is almost always doomed to failure.


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