“How much do you charge?”
As an SEO content writer that works primarily with SEO agencies, I am used to getting this question. And no matter my answer, the responses always remind me a bit of the Goldilocks story…
“That price is too cheap.”
“That price is too high.”
“That price is just right.”
It’s typically a toss up – which often makes me question whether we all know the true value of great SEO content, or whether I’m simply charging too much.
To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to propose the question, “How much do you pay for great SEO content?’ to a 40,000+ member SEO Facebook group.
The answers, as I had expected, were all across the board.
Mixed Opinions: What Is ‘Great’ SEO Content?
The first thing I noticed is that the responders were in disagreement about what was considered “great” SEO content.
While some highlighted the need for “a fully optimized kick-ass piece of content”, others hailed the simplicity of “spun” content that was then optimized by the SEO people themselves.
Some SEO folks expected the content to be publish-ready while others were OK with content that required editing and optimization.
These mixed opinions spurred a rather heated debate over whether SEO pros were overpaying or underpaying for content.
Some were less forgiving about the idea of, say, a $10 blog post…
But, ultimately, most responders were in agreement that the end product was what matters.
Great SEO content is content that is written with the user in mind and is thoroughly optimized for search engines. Where someone sources that content, however, depends on a few factors.
Where to Find Great SEO Content Writers
Many SEO pros get to a point where they realize that, from an ROI perspective, writing SEO content themselves is not the best use of their time.
At that point, they are faced with the decision of whether to outsource content or hire a writer in-house.
When one goes the outsourcing route, it can be difficult to know where to look.
Is Fiverr a good option? Facebook groups? College students? Retirees?
The options are nearly endless.
Many Options, Different Prices
Unfortunately, not all writers are created equal.
Many responders complained about the issues of hiring writers from platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, sourcing content from non-English-speaking countries or hiring industry experts who don’t have a writing background.
Some of the top sources listed for finding great SEO writers included:
- Niche Facebook groups
- College job boards
- Referrals (within your network)
- Content agencies
Even so, all of these sources post widely different rates depending on the:
- Amount of content.
- Type of content.
- Experience of the writer.
- Level of optimization required.
And a variety of other factors.
Some responders mentioned rates as low as $.02 per word and some as high as $2 per word.
Does the Market Set the Rate?
So, why the wide range in pricing?
Well, it could be said that the market sets the rate.
As the demand for great SEO content goes up, writers who know their value are inclined to charge more – rates that many agencies and companies are willing to pay.
At the same time, writers with the ability to churn out a high volume of content can create a lucrative business for themselves providing low-cost content to agencies.
Quality vs. Quantity – Is It Either/Or?
The variety, therefore, stems from the contrast between quality and quantity.
Some writers are competing on quality, so they charge what agencies are willing to pay. Others are competitive on price, and see the value in turning out more content at a lower rate than their competitors.
While many responders mentioned finding that sweet spot of a low-cost, high-quality writer, some warned that these writers tend not to stay cheap for long.
Once they realize what their competitors are charging (and see how much of an ROI they generate for their clients), they up their prices.
The Cost of Great SEO Content – Depends on the Goal
Therefore, many SEO pros came to the conclusion that what they (and others) are willing to pay should come down to the results they are hoping to generate from that content.
They were willing to invest less money on content that served a primary purpose of either attracting links or gaining the attention of search engines because it was more difficult to assign a monetary value to those gains.
Basically, why invest $$$ in content if you don’t intend to make money off of it.
Content for a Clear ROI
Others, however, reminded people that traffic or links are rarely the end goal of SEO content. Most websites hope to generate leads and sales.
Therefore, if even 1 conversion through a piece of content was enough to offset the cost of the content, what was worth it in their eyes? $2,000 in sales for a $150 blog post?A no-brainer.
All that being said, some SEO professionals are willing to settle with OK content knowing that they will need to edit and optimize it themselves. If not a huge inconvenience, perhaps this is worth it.
My question is, though:
Is the cost of one’s own labor more or less than how much it would cost to hire a skilled writer to begin with?
No one was able to answer this question.
SEO Pros Answer: ‘How Much Do You Pay for SEO Content?’
- $100-$125 for 600-750 words.
- $40 for 500 words.
- $5-$10 per article.
- $.10-$.20 per word.
- $35 per article.
- $.02 per word.
- $4 per 100 words.
These were just some of the many responses I received to my question, “How much do you pay for great SEO content?” The answers ranged from $.02 per word to $2 per word.
Unfortunately, there was no clear majority answer to this question.
Some SEO pros insisted that there was no use in paying top dollar for SEO content, while others insisted that a high-quality SEO writer was worth their weight in gold.
Even some writers chimed in to share how much they charge – or how much they think other writers should charge.
Now, one could draw the conclusion that the real answer to this question (like most questions in the SEO space) is, “It depends.”
This may be true, to some extent. But, it’s always helpful to consider the numbers when it comes to making any informed decisions regarding your SEO strategy.
How to Budget for SEO Content
When sourcing content for your clients, you need a proper estimate so that you don’t go over budget. Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to rely on a value-based pricing structure. You need to know how much a writer charges right out the gate.
That makes investing in SEO content a bit of a risk, especially if it comes at a high price tag.
You’ll likely charge your own fee on top of that, and you don’t want to waste your client’s money on content that doesn’t generate results.
For these reasons, it’s worth doing your research to see the going rate for different types of SEO content.
In my experience (supported by many responders in the poll), the average rate for “great” SEO content tends to be between $.08-$.20 per word.
However, it’s not uncommon for writers to charge per page or per post – with the main reason being that a piece of content should be as long as it needs to be in order to be effective.
Great SEO Content Is an Investment
When I first started out in SEO content writing, I charged $.10 per word. This was because I had experience in the field, knew how much I wanted to be compensated for my time, and knew how much other SEO writers were charging.
I knew that I didn’t want to compete on the basis of price. I wanted my value to be apparent. I wanted to generate tangible results for my clients. I knew that my results needed to justify the cost.
As I built my portfolio, the value that I provided became even more apparent.
“We made it to page 1 for a 90,000 volume keyword”.
“Because of your article, someone reached out to feature us on TV”.
“This landing page brought us two leads this week” (a $2,000 value).
These results were gathered via conversion tracking, client testimonials, and self-reported leads generated through content.
Great SEO Writers *Typically* Charge More
Soon it became apparent that I should be charging more. The leads I generated for my clients were often valued at $1,000 or more. I was charging about $100 per post.
My experience also taught me how to evaluate who would be a good fit for my services. If their only goal was “more traffic”, it was a pass. If they wanted more – links, leads, sales, brand exposure, opportunities – then I was on board.
Do the Results Justify the Costs?
All of this is to say that no matter what you spend on SEO content, you should consider things in terms of ROI. If you envision generating thousands of dollars per lead from a blog post, a $300 investment doesn’t seem so unreasonable.
While it’s possible to find that “sweet spot” – high-quality and cheap – these writers are not the norm.
By opting for cheap content, you often run the risk of getting spun content, content that isn’t written with your target audience in mind, or content that it’s correctly optimized.
At the same time, high-quality writers are likely to charge more because they know how much their value is worth.
How to Decide How Much to Invest in SEO Content
With “expensive” writers, there can appear to be higher stakes – but the return could also be far greater than you imagined.
The key, then, is to assess the risk and work with writers that have a good reputation for generating clients a clear ROI.
How much you decided to invest in SEO content should depend primarily on what you want to achieve with your content.
Then, it’s a matter of finding a writer that can generate those results for you, and assessing whether the potential payoff is worth the investment.
11 Tips for How to Find Great Writers
Here are some tips for how to find SEO writers that will generate results that justify your investment.
- Reach Out to Your Network: I highly recommend reaching out to your existing network to find writers that have a track record of proven results. A referral from someone within your industry is even better, ask what their experience was like working with the writer and what results they were able to generate.
- Speak to the Writer Directly: Many businesses order content online without having a direct conversation with the writer – and by “direct” I mean a phone call or video chat. A lot can be lost in translation via email or messenger. As much as you are looking for a writer with the right skills, you want to be sure they are a good character fit. Communication is important
- Ask to See Examples: Always ask to see examples of their work – particularly work that relates to your niche. Just note that stealing content examples is common practice online, so you don’t always know what you are getting. If they can send you an example with their name in the byline, that’s a safe bet.
- Look for Case Studies and Reviews: Search their site (if they have one) for case studies or reviews. These will make it evident what kind of results they have been able to generate for their clients.
- Assess Their SEO Knowledge: You may not expect your writer to be an SEO pro, but if you are looking to source SEO-friendly content, they should at least know the basics. It’s appropriate to ask them a few questions about their expertise or to ask to see example work related to SEO.
- Ask How They Measure Success: Many writers will not know how to answer this question, or will answer with something like “more traffic”. Really, success can be measured in a variety of ways and it should depend on what you, the client, wants to achieve. A great SEO writer should be able to communicate this, and hopefully, speak in terms of ROI.
- Understand Their Pricing Structure: Not every writer charges per word. In fact, this is becoming less of the norm because aiming for an arbitrary word count often doesn’t do a topic justice. Whether they charge per word, per page, or per project, make sure you thoroughly understand their pricing structure before you invest.
- Know What’s Provided in Their Services: Some SEO writers only include the content and the H1 and H2 tags. Others include all on-page SEO. Even further, some provide keyword research or content planning. Ask what their services include and what needs to be provided by you.
- Are Edits Included?: You should also know whether edits and/or rewrites are included. Complete rewrites are rare, as writers are essentially writing an entirely new piece without compensation. It’s common for writers to offer one round of edits and/or a refund if they miss the mark.
- Know Their Refund Policy: Some writers offer refunds, others do not. Know this from the beginning (and get it in writing) before you find yourself in a pickle.
- Set Expectations: Hiring a writer is like any other professional relationship in the sense that there are typically expectations from the beginning. Know what’s expected of you, make sure they know what’s expected of them, and outline a clear process when it comes to creating content together.
Clearly, there are mixed opinions on what constitutes “great” content, and how much great content costs.
Ultimately, it comes down to how much you are willing to invest in order to achieve the results you want.
I recommend researching your options, outlining clear expectations with your writer from the beginning, and building a relationship of clear communication and mutual benefit.
- SEO Cost Calculator: How Much Should You Budget for SEO Services?
- The Case for the Full Stack Digital Writer
- 17 Non-Negotiable Skills for Blog Writers in Any Business
All screenshots taken by author, June 2019