For over a decade, I have been a one-man SEO firm, working out of a home office in Southeast Iowa. A Madison Avenue SEO company might be better suited to handle American Airlines' account, but my services are ideal and much more affordable for small to medium-sized companies. In fact, some of my clients have transferred from larger SEO companies, preferring my personal approach and lower costs.
SEO companies have used a variety of pricing methods over the years:
All these approaches are somewhat complicated and can be deceptive. Many are designed to pad in enough profit to cover the substantial overhead that larger SEO companies have to cover. I find it simpler, more fair, and more economical for my clients to charge an hourly fee ($60). I'm confident of my ability, I work efficiently, and I can thus assure you that you're getting your money's worth. (I charge $85/hour if I'm just dispensing advice so that you may do the work yourself, but most of my clients opt to have me do it.)
I request $360 up front to cover the first six hours of my time. For some clients on tight budgets, that may be all they end up spending, and for that amount, I can usually provide keyword research, basic optimization of their site, and set up pay-per-click accounts in Google and Microsoft. Most clients invest more the first month, then scale it back for subsequent months. In every case, I work with you to arrive at a figure that works for you, and if necessary, we can adjust it each month.
Pay-per-click fees, and fees for submitting to paid directories such as Yahoo! are charged directly to my clients' credit cards - I don't pad in any profit. Pay-per-click fees are controllable - you can set a cap on cost per click and total expenditure per day. There are a few paid directory submissions that can improve your rankings in the free listings. They include