Why Are There So Many Different Types of SEO Services?

4 Minutes Read

Most websites could use a little help when it comes to getting found online. Unfortunately, figuring out what kind of help your company needs can quickly become really confusing. With so many different types of specialists in this field, we went searching for a simple way of figuring out which option was best for different needs.

We didn't find anything that seemed to cover everything we wanted to know, so instead we did the research and put together this article for you! Below, you'll find pricing, advantages, and drawbacks, for SEO freelancers, consultants, and agencies. No 'fluff', just the quick answers to the questions you have about SEO services (ok, maybe a little fluff).

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comparing Average Hourly, Retainer, & Project Costs

When comparing costs between different SEO service providers, you'll quickly notice that there's no standard way to pay for the services. You'll see options such as hourly, retainer, project-based, and more, so here's an idea of what to expect from each.

Provider Type

Avg. Hourly Rate

Avg. Monthly Retainer

Project-Based Pricing


$50 - $200

$500 - $5,000

$1,000 - $7,500


$100 - $300

$1,000 - $10,000

$2,500 - $30,000


$80 - $200

$1,000 - $5,000

$1,000 - $25,000

hourly vs. retainer vs. project-basedOur recommendations:

  • Look for hourly options if you value flexibility and want to be able to start/stop the service when needed.
  • Go with retainer-based options if you want long-term support.
  • Project-based is the best option if you already have specific SEO goals and just need help achieving them.

cost comparisonFactors that influence prices

  • Experience
    • SEO professionals with more experience tend to charge more.
    • For example, those with 10+ years of experience have an average hourly rate of $118.35.
  • Market
    • Global SEO services charge an average of $106.69 per hour.
    • This is 13.6% more than services that stick to a single continent ($93.89 per hour).
  • Region
    • SEO costs can also vary by region. For example:
      • 76% of SEO services in India cost less than $1,000 per month, but
      • 79% of services in North America cost more than $1,000 per month.
  • Project Complexity
    • The complexity and scope of the SEO project can also affect the cost.
    • More complex projects that require more time and resources will generally cost more.

No matter what, just focus on clear communication so you feel confident you're getting the best fit for your company.


Overview: What's the difference between Freelancers, Agencies, and Consultants?

If you are looking for help with your website's SEO, you'll come across different types of professionals - freelancers, agencies, and consultants. But what do these terms really mean and how do they differ from each other?


SEO freelancers are individuals who offer specialized SEO services. They have an in-depth understanding of SEO practices and are usually great for small businesses or those starting with SEO.

With freelancers, you can avoid the overhead costs associated with hiring an entire in-house team. Plus, the flexibility of freelancers allows for more personalized attention and tailored solutions to meet your specific business goals.


These are companies that offer a wide range of SEO services. Agencies will have a team of experts in different areas of SEO, which allows them to provide a comprehensive service.

Agencies are usually a good option for larger businesses or those with complex SEO needs.


These are experts who provide advice and guidance on SEO strategy. They may not do the actual SEO work but can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

SEO consultants are a good option for businesses that have an in-house SEO team but need expert advice.


Pros and Cons of Working with a Freelancer for SEO

seo freelancer

SEO freelancers are often a great choice for small businesses, especially if you haven't really gotten into SEO yet.

Two of the main reasons people choose to work with freelancers are their lower costs and more personalized attention. Since freelancers tend to have lower overhead costs, that often means their services cost you less too. Freelancers also tend to have a fairly small book of business, meaning you're more likely to get a highly-personalized experience.

SEO freelancers

On the other hand, freelancers may lack expertise in some of the more technical aspects of SEO. Additionally, link-building and content marketing may not be part of their service offerings.

Another consideration is managing freelancers; as the number of freelancers you're working with increases, so does your time investment.

At a certain point, it might make financial sense to look at hiring full-time employees or finding an agency.


Pros and Cons of Working with an Agency for SEO

seo agencyWhen your business starts to require more SEO help than a freelancer can provide, it's time to look at SEO agencies.

Thanks to larger teams and available talent, agencies tend to offer more expertise, resources, and insights. Their solutions go beyond single-page SEO and are often very comprehensive. Their size makes them an excellent choice for running a variety of SEO campaigns, too.

There are two common trade-offs you'll encounter when working with agencies. For one, all of the talent and tools they offer come with a higher price tag (sometimes much higher).

Additionally, agencies are more likely to have their own processes and strategies for managing your SEO. Many companies are OK with this, but if you like to have input on strategies, it's an important consideration.


Pros and Cons of Working with a Consultant for SEO

seo consultantSEO consultants are often the most experienced type of professional you'll encounter for this type of work. However, since they're best for companies that already have in-house SEO help, their pros and cons are a little different.

For example, consultants are likely to be very experienced in the highly-technical aspects of SEO. This can be especially helpful if your in-house team has struggled with link-building campaigns.

Like freelancers, consultants will also provide a highly-personalized, one-on-one kind of service. This is a necessity since their experience is only valuable if it's targeting the right things.

SEO consultants-1A consultant is rarely the right choice for large-scale projects alone, like optimizing SEO across a website with thousands of pages. However, if you have an in-house SEO team, they can provide comprehensive strategies for the team to be successful.

The biggest potential downside to working with an SEO consultant is the cost. Investing in a consultant should be in addition to the money you're also paying to an in-house team or an agency. This can mean a significant investment, but if you're struggling to maximize SEO, a consultant might be the answer.



In the end, finding the right kind of SEO help will usually come down to your budget and your needs.

Freelancers offer budget-friendly options but lack the capacity to support large projects. 

Agencies can cost significantly more, but they have the capacity to take on large, complex campaigns.

Consultants are like pinch hitters in the bottom of the 9th. As long as you have another team to support your SEO, a consultant will help you hit a home run.

It goes without saying, but take time to consider all of the options you have before making a decision. When it comes to SEO service options, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to finding success.

The most important factor is often how comfortable you are working with the individual or agency. If they understand you and your business, and their expertise matches your goals, that's what matters.