Average SEO costs in the UK and how to decide what's right for you [2020 Update]
Published onJun 21, 2016byJon Payne
Bristol SEO agencies are fairly thick on the ground these days. The UK SEO market is, if anything, even more saturated. As the average punter you’re in danger of being paralysed by choice. While I'm not advocating choosing your agency purely based on price, it would help to understand what the average SEO costs in the UK are when you’re choosing your next SEO agency, right?
For these fees, you'll be getting very little of worth. Consider doing it yourself.
For smaller websites with little competition in Google and Bing, this might be OK. Ideally this will include some form of content marketing.
For big complicated retail websites sites or if your business has a lot of online competition, it might be cheaper to bring it in house in the long run.
As Bristol's loudest and proudest inbound marketing agency, we keep our sticky little fingers on the pulse. Recently, I've been looking at the state of SEO across the UK; both in terms of cash outlay, and what is promised in return. I’ve talked to clients, to Noisy Little Monkey's prospects and to the people who attend our events about how much they've paid for SEO services.
Average SEO costs in the UK will vary based on your chosen agency’s size and credentials, the scope of your project, proximity to London and - with some charlatans - how much glaze they can perceive in the whites of your eyes. Broadly speaking, you can expect to pay anything between £50 - £10,000 per month for SEO services. If you want a deeper dive on the Average SEO Costs in the UK, you'll find a description for cheap, mid-level and high-end SEO below.
Here's an average of how much SEO costs in the UK:
Unsurprisingly, the bigger agencies don't speak in pound signs, preferring marketing via monthly packages, designed for specific business types and needs. So-far-so-segmented. Low cost (sorry, lo-cost) suppliers are far more candid about their costs, with some coming in at £70 a month or less or even £345 a year.
Perusing some of the self-proclaimed low cost SEO agencies, I was heartened to note that their on-page keyword-planting skills extend to submitting (seemingly) their own five star reviews on obscure reviews sites,,, With doggedly repetitive brand mentions and echoic use of 'Search Engine Optimisation'. Nice.
Mid level SEO – starts at about £2,000-£4,000 per project, for up to 100 page website but depends on site size
Agencies at this price appear (from my research, at least) to be mainly about fixing any on-page problems your website may have. Expect to receive some sort of data around the search volumes for keywords you should be targeting and then a plan of how the SEO agency is going to optimise the architecture and content of each page to match the keywords you see as valuable.
SEO agencies at the lower end of this price range will expect you to tell them what you want to rank for. SEO agencies at the higher end of this range should be expected to start with your suggestions but to come back with some other terms where you can target low hanging fruit and make some quick wins.
Often mid price SEO agencies will have an ongoing content marketing offering that ensures your website grows into a unique, well referenced resource which is a useful place for your prospective clients to find answers. If your content marketing agency is offering to produce this unique and useful content in any volume for less than £800 per month, then you may want to question the quality of the content. Writing useful content is hard, requires research and often many years of expertise. The last two don’t come cheap!
High end SEO – Starts at around £7,000 for a project / £3,000 per month
Proper job SEO (as we say in Bristol) is a component of a cohesive digital marketing strategy – including search, social, PR, web site user experience and increasingly lead nurturing and marketing automation. An easy way to understand where it fits is in the first step in the Inbound Marketing Journey: attracting strangers.
Your high end SEO agency shouldn’t jump straight into optimising your website – they should work with you to understand your potential customer. To understand what prompts your customer to take small but vital actions at various stages of their journey:
From discovering they might have a problem (for example “my breath stinks”)
To understanding how that problem might be fixed (I could go to a dentist, clean my teeth or buy some mints / gum)
To making a decision on their course of action (I have a meeting in 10 mins. Chewing looks odd in meetings. I’ll buy some mints)
And finally choosing a supplier (Trebor Extra Strong Mints, it’s essential I kill the problem NOW).
High End SEO agencies should then put together a plan for you to show you what needs doing now and for the next 3 months (in some detail) and the following 12 months as a draft plan. This plan should really be about the content your potential customer needs at the various stages of their buying journey and how you (and your SEO agency) are going to produce and promote that content.
Expect to see some goals here – they might be conversion goals (leads/sales) or traffic goals (grow traffic by a solid 10% per month) and they should feel achievable. They should also include what other stuff (beyond on page SEO) you and your SEO agency, your ad agency, your PPC team, your mother’s neighbour’s dog will be doing in those 12 months to support your long term business growth efforts.
In the case of Noisy Little Monkey, we often facilitate workshops with our clients to ensure we’re all on the same page with this stuff and spot additional opportunities along the way – it’s not a unique approach, because it’s the correct approach.
The key is – if you don’t think it’s working, stop
Too many times I’ve had conversations like this:
Them: “We’re paying £3,000 per month for SEO but I always have to chase the agency to have a conversation about where we’re at and if we’re even winning, what should we do?”
Me: “Do you get a lot of traffic from Google / Bing?”
Them: “Uh, not really. It’s been static for about 6 months”
Me: “Then stop paying your SEO agency now. Go read this, do some SEO yourself and spend the money you save on Jetskis. You’re welcome”
If you’re in that situation – call your SEO and ask for some general advice on improving things. If their ideas sound old and hackneyed, then stop paying. And consider ditching SEO as something you pay for or at least find an agency you can trust.