Search engine optimization is a whole different kind of beast. Between keeping track of Google’s ranking factors and the frequent algorithm changes, it’s a complex strategy to implement.
If you don’t have a dedicated SEO specialist on your marketing team, you’ll definitely want to consider outsourcing it to a digital marketing agency. As SEO is an ongoing process, it will make sense to make a monthly commitment and sign up for an SEO package. This approach will help you to navigate these challenges.
Here’s what you need to know about SEO packages. From components to costing, find out what you need to consider before making any investments.
SEO Packages Unpacked: How to Choose the Perfect Package:
Understanding SEO Packages
SEO packages offer a hands-off approach to SEO. It bundles related services that can improve your website’s organic search engine ranking.
You can think of them as retainer-like arrangements. For a more affordable price, you can get the most important SEO services each month. It’s typically set up as a recurring monthly subscription.
Basic Components of an SEO Package
From local SEO to eCommerce SEO, there are various types of packages. While these packages can focus on different industries, there are key components that are commonly included such as:
- Keyword research to identify target keywords
- Target pages
- Website audits
- Website speed optimization
- On-page SEO
- Link building
- Content creation
Most Important Components
When searching for possible packages, check that they include the following components. These are the foundation of a good strategy.
1. Target keywords
While there’s more to SEO than simply adding a bunch of keywords to your blog posts and website pages, target keywords remain foundational. Basically, they tell search engines what your website is about and help your target audience to find your website. They’re important, but should never be used at the expense of providing relevant, valuable content.
Target keywords can also have an impact on specific search engine results page (SERP) features like local packs or featured snippets, one more reason why you should look for a package that includes advanced keyword strategies like integrating LSI keywords (words and phrases related to the target keyword) and SERP analysis.
Local packs display local business listings in response to search queries for local services or products. While backlinks and online reviews will impact if you get included, keyword research (specifically keyword research for local SEO) can also help.
Featured snippets appear in a separate box at the top of the organic results and show content from websites in various formats like a list, table, or short paragraph. It typically generates a high click rate, making it very attractive to businesses to get featured in this coveted spot. To stand a chance, the featured page needs to rank on the first page. According to research, long-tail keywords specifically play a key role.
Another key step in keyword research is to track and analyze how these words perform. SEO agencies will typically use popular tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to help with this crucial task. For example, when using Semrush, you can use its Keyword Overview tool to ensure that you also cover all four main keyword intent types: navigational, informational, commercial, and transactional.
When shopping for an SEO package, it’s important to note that the choice of target keywords will influence the cost and scope of the package. Target keywords with a high level of competitiveness will bump up the price. This is because it’s more difficult to rank for popular keywords. If you’re operating in a competitive industry, you’ll also require more work before you can see results, which will impact the scope of the project.
The target keywords will also impact other efforts like content creation, optimization, and link building. Businesses that want to rank for very competitive target keywords will need to prioritize high-quality content creation, optimize current web pages, and focus on link building.
2. Target pages
Target pages basically refer to the primary pages of your website like your homepage, “About Us'' section, and contact information page. These pages generally generate the most website visitors.
As such, it’s key that you put in extra effort to ensure they’re optimized. This will include identifying and optimizing keywords, among other things.
SEO packages typically limit the number of pages and keywords optimized. For example, both Comrade Digital Marketing and WebFX limit the number of website pages optimized in their entry-level packages to between 20 and 30.
3. Website audits
Website audits are crucial. It’s the only way to figure out how well your website is currently optimized for search engines.
Without taking the time first to audit your website, the agency won’t really know where to start. Aside from helping to improve your SEO, website audits can also be useful for improving conversion rates, outperforming competitors, and boosting the overall performance of your website.
Website audits typically identify issues (and opportunities for improvement) by checking for:
- Indexing issues and duplicate website versions
- Mobile-friendly/responsive design
- Site speed
- Internal linking
- Technical errors
- Meta descriptions
- Image alt text
- User experience (UX)
- Website content quality
Double-check that a website audit is included in the package. For example, WebFX refers to it as a Technical Website Analysis and Opportunity Report. Basically, it’s important that the package includes some level of auditing or analysis and not just services focusing on optimization.
4. On-page SEO
Also called on-site SEO, on-page SEO can have an immediate impact. In short, it refers to the optimization of web pages so that both your target audience and search engines will find it more useful.
Perhaps it’s better understood by knowing what off-page SEO involves. Off-page SEO refers to elements that you optimize that aren’t part of your web pages. It includes marketing activities like guest posting, influencer marketing, and external backlinks (more about this one in the next section).
So, basically everything else will fall under the realm of on-page SEO.
Some of the most common on-page SEO factors include:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Website content
- Internal links
- Featured snippets
- Site architecture
- Website speed
- Responsive design
- E-A-T signals
While on-page SEO is an ongoing process, it can generate fast results. Your agency should know which on-page SEO factors to target that will have the most impact.
For example, using structured data (which is a type of code), Google can display rich snippets in the search results to include additional info like prices, delivery cost, and ratings.
Using structured data will also help you to optimize your website for semantic search. Basically, semantic search refers to Google’s ability to use other factors like related phrases and location to understand search queries better. To do this, you’ll, for example, optimize a page for various keywords that fall under the same cluster.
For example, WebFX recommends that you only start with social media implementation (an example of off-page SEO) in month five. First, you should start with the website audit (as explained earlier) and then move on to jobs like keyword planning, website changes, content creation, and other technical fixes.
5. Link building
Link building is another vital component. There are two types of link building that you’ll need to focus on: internal links and external links.
Clicking on an internal link will redirect a website visitor to another web page on your website, improving navigation. In addition to user-friendliness, these types of links also make it easier for search engines to understand the structure of your website.
An effective internal linking strategy goes beyond placing in-text links in blog posts. It involves identifying your strongest web pages, ensuring all your pages have relevant links so that they can be indexed, and selecting suitable anchor text, among other things.
Then, there’s the issue of broken links. Those also need to be identified and fixed.
Equally important are external links. External links (or outbound links) are hyperlinks that redirect to another website.
If they point to you (in other words the external links are on another website), the obvious benefit is that you can get more traffic. Plus, if it’s an authoritative website that links to your site, it can also improve your website’s reputation, helping you to rank higher.
Including external links on your website is also beneficial for your own SEO efforts. Once again, this is if you link to a reputable site. In this case, search engines will view your content more positively and useful. Plus, it also makes it easier for Google to determine what your site is about.
As mentioned, when it comes to link building it’s a case of quality over quantity. Evaluating the quality of the links should also be a step.
An example of a bad linking practice is posting a spam link as part of your message in a forum or Facebook comment. Agencies that follow this approach should rather be avoided.
Paid links are also contentious. If you want to go this route, it’s better to declare that the link is sponsored.
Using a link building checklist to ensure quality is recommended. This makes it much easier to identify opportunities.
In addition to a checklist, there are tools like Ahrefs and Semrush that can come in useful. Ahrefs, for instance, has a backlink checker that you can use to check domain rating of websites to identify valuable opportunities. To monitor the health of your own backlink profile, you can use Semrush’s backlink audit.
Can SEO Packages Be Customized?
Quality SEO agencies will be able to tailor packages to match your specific needs. At the end of the day, you should only pay for what you require.
Aside from cost savings, you’ll also want the ability to adapt it so that it meets your business. You’ll want your package to consider your specific sector and target market. For example, if you’re a cleaning company and your target audience is local Airbnb rentals, you’ll care less about building brand awareness.
Depending on the state of your website, you might also not need all the services included in a package. In this case, a generic package that offers a specific set of services won’t give your business the best impact. Why pay for page speed optimization, for example, if you have no problem in this department?
Benefits of SEO Packages
Investing in SEO is a must. According to yours truly’s Digital Marketing Benchmark Report 2024, SEO is still touted as the most effective channel for reaching your overall marketing goals. What’s more, it’s also rated as the most cost-effective channel.
Choosing a pre-built package over individual SEO services can work out even more cost-effective. Ahrefs, one of the top SEO tools, completed a pricing survey in 2023 and found that the average hourly rate for SEO services is between $75 and $100.
That said, it’s not uncommon for agencies to charge more than $100. About 20% charge between $100 and $200.
The monthly pricing of SEO packages differs just as tremendously as the hourly rates. However, you can pick up a monthly retainer for as little as $500 per month, according to the same Ahrefs survey.
In addition to cost-effectiveness (the big benefit), you can also benefit from ease of management and predictability.
As you would’ve picked up by now, there’s a lot more to SEO than adding a few keywords and calling it a day. With an SEO package, someone else will essentially be executing and tracking all the tasks involved.
And, as you’ll receive the same services each month, you know what you can expect.
For example, OuterBox includes monthly strategy development and discussions in all their plans. So, you know that each month they’ll review the strategy.
How to Select the Right SEO Package
To help you avoid potential issues down the line which could set you back months, here are four key steps when choosing the right SEO package:
1. Identifying your needs
The current state of your website and your industry will determine how much attention you need to pay to SEO.
Start with your website. While any decent package will include its own website audit, there’s nothing stopping you from completing your own one.
There are a number of tools that offer this service. Once again Ahrefs and Semrush feature in this category, but you can also try Site Analyzer, Moz Pro, and Influencer Marketing Hub’s Website Grader.
Other telltale signs are not appearing high in the SERPs and unimpressive organic website traffic. You can use these numbers to determine how much you’ll need to pay attention to SEO and set a realistic goal and time frame.
Also, if you operate in a very competitive field, it will take more effort for you to rank higher than similar companies. According to Brandlume, one of the leading SEO agencies, the industries that need SEO the most include:
- Beauty services
- eCommerce businesses
- Real estate
- Home service and repair companies
- Food and beverage brands
- Legal services
- Travel and hospitality
2. Matching packages to your needs
Once you have a better understanding of how much you’ll need to invest in SEO, you can decide whether you’re looking at a basic or more advanced package.
Your own audit would also have revealed which areas you need to look at. Are all the services that you need (e.g. link building, website speed optimization, etc.) included in the package?
Also, let your industry (and business size) once again guide you. If you target mainly locals, there’s no sense in opting for a package that includes national SEO. The same applies to eCommerce. If you’re a B2B business, signing up for an eCommerce SEO package won’t match your needs.
On average, companies spend between 5% and 10% of their marketing budgets on SEO. Aside from this rough guideline, also let your goals guide you. If your needs reveal that a more serious SEO investment is needed, you might have to spend more on an SEO package.
Considering that other strategies like PPC ads, email marketing and content marketing will be more effective if you have an optimized website, you can dedicate some of these strategies’ budgets to SEO.
Also, keep in mind that for the best results, you’ll need to think long term. It can take months before you see real results. So, while packages are available for a monthly fee, you can’t just budget for one month’s work.
Basically, don’t blow all your marketing budget on SEO and ensure that you’ll be able to afford the package for multiple months.
4. Reviewing testimonials
Testimonials and online reviews will tell you if the agency can deliver. Ensure to read between the lines too. Sure, you want to see past clients praising them for increasing organic traffic by so much percent, but you also want to find out what the working experience is like.
Remember that you’ll most likely be working with their team on a long-term basis. Poor communication and slow turnover times can negatively impact your results.
Investing in SEO is a must. On-page changes like creating relevant internal links, improving the loading speed of your pages, and inserting keywords can deliver fast results.
Also, many other strategies like email marketing rely on an optimized website. So, by paying attention to SEO, you’ll see returns in other areas too.
It’s clear that SEO is essential, but knowing what to change and what to leave are harder to discern. A wrong decision can set you back months.
As such, it’s better to entrust more technical marketing strategies like SEO to trained and experienced professionals. Packages are (more) affordable, easier to manage, and offer that continuity needed for a strategy like SEO to work, making it one of the best ways to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are SEO packages?
Digital marketing agencies bundle SEO-related services together to create an SEO package. The pre-built package is typically offered as a monthly subscription and can include different tiers depending on your needs. Examples of the services that are usually bundled together to create an SEO package include:
- A website audit
- Keyword research
- Page optimization
- Website loading speed optimization
- Link-building strategy
- Content creation
- Image optimization
How do I choose an SEO package?
To help you find a suitable SEO package for your business, you can follow these guidelines:
- Choose a marketing agency that uses a clear strategy that doesn’t rely on dubious methods like buying backlinks
- Decide which type of SEO you want to focus on like local SEO, eCommerce, national SEO, etc.
- Look at the results that clients have achieved with the agency’s services
- Read reviews about the marketing agency offering the SEO package
- Decide on which percentage of your marketing package you can afford to spend on SEO
What are some good ways to pick the right SEO company?
One of the best ways to pick the right SEO agency for your business is to compare a few agencies’ portfolios. You’re searching for an SEO company that has completed a variety of projects in your industry. In addition to evaluating the work they’ve done for their clients, also look at their own website. If the agency doesn’t rank highly for their keywords, it doesn’t bode well for their expertise.
How much is a basic SEO package?
You can expect to pay around $2,500 per month for a basic SEO package (but you might even be able to get one for half of that). For more advanced packages, it can cost up to $8,000 per month.