Because SEO has become so popular with businesses and because it is a necessity for nearly every small business, the number of internet marketing and SEO company has exploded since we started doing SEO in 2006. Unfortunately, many SEO companies are not true SEO companies. Instead, they are what we like to call “sales machines.” These businesses churn and burn through clients with no regard for actual results or the prosperity of the businesses they market.

Nearly every phone call we have with potential clients begins with a horror story of their last SEO company. If you are considering spending money on internet marketing and SEO, you need to be able to distinguish a trustworthy SEO company from a sales machine SEO company.

So many marketing companies take advantage of clients that don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. SEO is not quick, fast, easy, or cheap. We put together this extensive list of signals to look for when you are searching for a trustworthy SEO company.

Characteristics of a Trustworthy SEO Company

  • Reasonable rates
  • Realistic promises
  • Monthly reporting & regular contact
  • Simple & transparent contract
  • In-house experts & access to the SEO experts
  • You buy it – you own it (for life)
  • White-hat SEO techniques
  • Not working for the competition
  • Content-focused marketing strategy

Reasonable Rates for SEO


What is a reasonable rate for SEO and internet marketing services? That’s a difficult question to answer without knowing the details of your business or organization, but you should at least have a starting point. The best way to get a starting point for costs associated with internet marketing is to simply consider what an internet marketer would charge you by the hour and multiply that by how many hours a month the agency might be working for you.

The average internet expert charges $75/hr. Does that seem expensive? Consider that a base-level computer guru who removes viruses and works on your computer will usually charge between $40-80/hr. SEO and internet marketing is far from base-level work. In fact, it is extremely tedious and difficult work that is constantly changing. It’s very easy to justify $75/hour for SEO work, but (an SEO think-tank) suggests that the average hourly wage for an SEO expert is upwards of $200/hr.! Therefore, $75/hr. is a reasonable rate for this type of work.

Now that you know what you should be paying, it is easy to estimate the average monthly expense for a full team of SEO experts. Most legitimate SEO campaigns start somewhere around $750/month and can reach upwards of $75,000/month depending on the size of the company.

So, when it comes time to identify a trustworthy SEO company, you should not be hiring an SEO company for $250/month. That won’t get you very far and it is a clear sign of a “sales machine” SEO company. In most cases, a small local business should not be looking to spend less than $750/month (10 hours) and no more than $2500/month.