How Much Does Local SEO Cost?

/How Much Does Local SEO Cost?

There’s a common misconception that search engine traffic (aka SEO traffic) is free.  That’s primarily due to the logical comparison against search engine advertising, which is obviously not free.  With search engine advertising, you’ll pay for every click on your ad.  With organic SEO traffic there is no cost for clicks to your website.  Hence the conclusion that SEO traffic is free.

But is it really free?  Is it possible to invest zero time and money and still generate traffic from SEO?

Of course not.  Just because you built a beautiful website does not mean you’re going to rank high enough in Google to drive any meaningful traffic.  As I explained in this article, to rank high in Google, you’ll need a relevant webpage and an authoritative domain.

You may be wondering, how relevant and how authoritative does your website really need to be?  That question leads us to the #1 factor that will determine how much local SEO will cost.



#1 Factor That Determines the Cost of SEO

Ever hear the joke about outrunning a bear?  I’m no comedian so I’m sure I’ll butcher this, but it’s an important lesson so here we go… If you’re in the woods with your friends and an adult black bear starts chasing you, then how fast do you need to run?

Do you know the answer?  If you’ve never heard this before then you’re probably trying to figure out how fast an adult black bear can run.  Hint: It doesn’t matter how fast the black bear can run.  What matters is how fast your slowest friend can run, and whether you can outrun him! :)

OK, I know that’s not a great joke, but it’ll get your brain warmed up and you may have already guessed the #1 factor that determines the cost of SEO.

The #1 factor is your competition.

If you’re in a more competitive industry, then unfortunately, you’ll have to invest more in your SEO.  You’ll have to work harder to create a more relevant webpage (e.g. create better content) and to build up your domain authority (e.g. build more links) than a business in a less competitive industry.

In other words, to rank high you just need to outrun your “friends.”  The first step is to review the websites that are ranking high in Google for your target keywords.  An easy and fast tool to complete this analysis is Moz’s Link Explorer. (You’ll need to create a free account here, so you can get 10 queries per month).

Head over to Link Explorer and simply copy/paste your competitor domains into the tool.  You’ll instantly see their domain authority score and their total number of backlinks.  The higher the authority score and the more backlinks your competitors have, the more you’ll have to invest in SEO to outrank them.


Do You Have Multiple Office Locations?

With local SEO, the number of office locations will also play role in determining how much you need to invest.  This is pretty straight forward.  Ranking local listings for each location (Google My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local) requires more resources than ranking just one.

At a minimum, each additional location will require you to build additional citations.  Citations are mentions of your name, address, and phone number on another website.  Think of citations like reference checks for job candidates.  Search engines need to confirm your business information is accurate and up-to-date and they do this by reviewing all the citations on different websites. If all your information checks out, then you have a better shot at ranking on the first page.

Creating citations for one location can be tedious enough.  Each additional location multiplies the workload.


Do You Have Multiple Products or Services?

The third consideration is how many products or services you’re trying to promote via SEO.  Again, this is straight forward.  As you try to expand your reach by targeting more and more product or service keywords, then you’ll need to invest more in your SEO. At minimum, you’ll want to build separate webpages for each of the products or services you’re promoting.

Remember, each additional product or service comes with a new set of competitors already ranking high in Google.  So make sure you analyze the competition using Open Site Explorer before diving in too deep.


No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

I hope at this point it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for SEO.  That’s why if you’ve done your homework, then you’ve noticed the range in fees is quite wide.

For businesses in less competitive industries, with one location, targeting just one product or service, the investment could be $500 or $1,000 per month.  For businesses in more competitive industries, targeting multiple locations and multiple products and services, the investment could be $2,000 or more per month.  It just depends on your unique situation.


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By | February 7th, 2019|Categories: Search Engine Optimization, SEO|Tags: |


  1. Thomas Kane August 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Depends on the industry and competition.

    I have a giant list of 1000 industries and the cost per lead and monthly estimated realistic fee that each company should be able to afford easily (provided they want #1 rank within a year)

    Ask me

    $2000k/mo would be average. 60 hours of time.

  2. alex gilmore September 1, 2014 at 2:19 am - Reply

    In my career I have always participated in paid and non paid search. And I have been very successful at both. You are correct the principle of economics is “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. And that is certainly true with SEO. The cost for SEO is expended through salaries for your team and expenditure for SEO tools that are not free. In the more than 10 years experience I have found that SEO comes in at 1/10th of paid. However SEO is a no term solution for a short term problem and it takes time and investment to achieve that result.

    But lately I have a new strategy that works SEO and Paid in a strategy that reduces the cost of both and it works extremely well. For instance my average cost per click is $7.82 each and that is on a $20k a month budget. So at the rate of 1/10th the cost would make the SEO cost per visitor should be around 78.2 Cents each but I have it at 59.3 cents each or 1/13.3 or 3/40 or a 25% improvement.

    Now in considering the changes that Google has made then my primary focus of SEO is and has been for two years now on local optimization. Even national companies and ecommerce sites can benefit from local SEO.

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  4. Vince September 23, 2016 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Pricing varies depending on the project. There are so many variables involved. For instance, the strength of competition within a niche and geography. SEO is a very difficult task that business owners should understand. SEO firms can’t provide instant results, true there are SEO tactics which you can get “instant results” but it can hurt you in the long run because it is against webmaster guidelines. When Google trace this activity,they will penalize you website and lost your rankings. SEO takes time but if done properly, it will lead you to marketing success and all your efforts will be worth in the long run.

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