Update: See our updated How Much Should You Spend on SEO in 2015? post with the latest facts and information.

We’re constantly being asked how much you should spend on white label SEO, what your pricing should be for clients and what the small business client who is coming to you for SEO services is able to pay. Hence, we wanted to concentrate on the common topic: selling clients SEO versus other products. In this Daily Brown Bag, you’ll learn what the retail price point that a small business wants to pay for SEO and how much white label SEO programs should really cost. We’ll also break down our Online Marketing Trends Survey (that we conducted in December), the top services that are most in-demand (including SEO), and our white label SEO program.

Also available on YouTube.


Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about how much you should spend on a white labeled SEO program. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. This is a common topic we get from members of our SEO reseller community. They’re wanting to know how much white label SEO should really cost, and it really leads into a whole strategy discussion, Chad, about what your pricing should be for your client and what that small business client who is coming to you for SEO services is really able to pay. It brings into focus the whole issue of selling them SEO vs. other products -- as well as their time horizon.

SEO Takes Time

  • I think the first point to be made here when you’re thinking about pricing, when you’re looking at white label SEO programs and you’re thinking about what that small business can really pay, is that SEO is absolutely a long-term investment. It should be something that’s ongoing. That you’re going to be nurturing and maintaining over time.

  • This is not one of those quick hit, quick fix-type products. I think that is probably a mistake that people first make when they’re getting into the white label SEO space. Maybe they haven’t sold SEO products before, or they’re working with a partner who doesn’t help them work on expectations. This is related to the cost issue, Chad, because you can’t really address cost and how much people will pay for SEO services without talking about the return on investment. Now this is not to say there won’t be short-term goals for your SEO project. Of course there will be. People will always be wanting to see the deliverables and what you’re doing and that you have a professional service. And they want to have some comfort that it’s working. We often talk about this, Chad, what do people want to see at that 90 day point?

  • You can never promise they’re going to have page one rankings, but you do want to show that there is some treatment and there is some response. Keywords are moving. We’re doing all of the work that we promised. It’s professional. It’s great content marketing. All of the things that we talk about for real SEO.

Our Online Marketing Trends Survey -- SEO: Still The Most In-Demand Product

The other thing I want to get into here, Chad, when we talk about how much should a white label SEO program really cost is the survey that we did in December. This was a great survey. I’m really pleased with the numbers that you guys pulled together.

In our online marketing trends survey, we revealed that the most in-demand product is still SEO, with 67% of respondents saying that SEO is the top service that is most in-demand. Followed by web development at 64%, and then social media. Yet, we also heard that they really want their services to be about $100/month or less. It really begs the question with people having a lot of demand and maybe understanding the time horizon (maybe not), but still being a little confused, Chad, about what that white label SEO service should cost.

Right. Adam, I think the main thing here is that, whenever we’re talking about a reseller program, a white label SEO program, there is the wholesale cost and then there is the retail cost that you’re going to pay.

How Much Should You Spend On SEO Services?

So this survey that we did was really getting to: What is the retail price point that a small business might want to pay?

As you said,it’s somewhere between $500 and $2,500 and definitely skewing on the lower end.

Basically what that means is that there’s not a lot of money out there. Small businesses can’t make huge investments like a large corporation can where they can hire a boutique, a PR firm, and spend thousands, tens of thousands of dollars on fantastic videos and all of the things that they’re able to do because their budgets are much larger. We’re working with very small budgets. That really kind of begs a question: What can you do to maximize their return on investment (even if it is a relatively small investment)?

There are a couple of different ways to approach it. There are definitely still some companies out there -- more often than not these aren’t a white label program, these are small boutique, one-man shop consulting firms -- where they come in and they’re very much focused on onsite SEO. I think, Adam, that’s one of those things where we’ve gone. We’ve been through this many, many times. We start with onsite SEO as well, and there are many people who say all you need to do is onsite SEO. But eight times out of 10, you’re going to make those changes, you will see some incremental improvements, but you’re going to want more because it hasn’t really done enough to build your domain authority. So you’re going to seek other ways to create content, to promote your website, and then earn backlinks, which builds domain authority and moves up.

In addition to that consulting model, there’s really the white labeled, ongoing retainer program that we’ve developed, which is all about identifying a standard set of activities that we know have the best chance of getting a website to move up in the rankings. There are no guarantees in the SEO industry, but, looking across a portfolio of hundreds of accounts, we’re able to see what things we can do to move that account up in the rankings -- earning more traffic, more leads.

The other sort of side benefit is the way we’ve taken the product with real SEO, we’re now able to take a white labeled program and much closer to what a boutique agency might be able to do because we can add in contact and we can go promote it to a real audience. These are things that are really important.

You know, Adam, when you’re looking at -- again, budgets are tight -- but when you’re looking at one great thing about a white label SEO program is that you’re able to accomplish and gain the economies of scale, get the leverage, the technology, that we can put in, and, of course, the expertise to get more to make your dollars go further than if you had to do this yourself and learn and invest in the infrastructure to be able to do white label SEO on an ongoing basis.

Takeaways & Tips: Return On Investment -- PPC, SEO & Social Media

Great. Those are excellent tips. The last point I’ll make, Chad, is that -- if you’re working with a client who is really confused about this and who has not done any digital marketing at all -- I always recommend starting with PPC. It’s the simplest product compared to SEO or social media. It has the most direct return on investment.

They’ll definitely say the leads are too expensive over time, but it will move them into the digital marketing space most gracefully. And then you can move them toward a white label SEO product -- something a little more sophisticated, with a higher return on investment, but a longer time horizon -- after they kind of understand how things work.

That’s our Brown Bag for this morning. We really appreciate you joining us, and we ask that you subscribe because we’d love to see you back here and share another video with you.