What Does SEO Cost for My North Carolina Based Service Area Businesses?

What Does SEO Cost for My North Carolina Based Service Area Businesses?

May 23, 2022
(Reading time: 6 - 11 minutes)

One of the questions we are often asked by small service area businesses in North Carolina is how much should I budget for digital marketing and SEO. The problem is that it isn't a black and white answer. As much as you may not want to hear what I am about to say, it depends.

Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Duck Duck go continue to evolve, often using artificial intelligence in their algorithms. Therefore so do the approaches that an agency such as Cube Creative Design uses. There isn't a one size fits all approach for every small business. Your small business is unique, and so should your SEO and digital marketing. 

With that said, there are some commonalities between small businesses that allows us to have basic package level pricing as a starting point. But like I said, that is a starting point as determining your objectives, an evaluation of your current website (if you have one), and your short-term and long-term goals will ultimately determine the price.

Just as your small business is different, differing industries will also have different needs. Here are some examples of the niches we cater to and how their needs differ.

What is a Service Area Business

Service Area Businesses are often classified as any business that comes to your home or business and does work. These typically include plumbers, cleaners, roofers, electricians, general contractors, flooring installers, pressure washing, etc.

These businesses rely much more on local or regional businesses; therefore, you must focus on the competition and how Google is displaying search results. Ranking for a local mechanic is different from ranking for a local residential cleaning service or plumber. Organic rankings now have Google Guaranteed, Google Ads, and a Local Pack or 3-pack before seeing the first ranking organic result.

Service area businesses have to figure out the best way to rank in the 3-pack and optimize for searches in and on the directory sites that tend to dominate the SERPs for local services.

How Much Does SEO Cost for Service Area Businesses

As I mentioned before, the cost of SEO can differ dramatically depending on the SEO services you need or want. Pricing varies based on the amount of content needed, expectations, projections for business growth, and the range of services required. To receive an accurate estimate of SEO pricing from an agency, you will first need to provide some information about your business:

  • What is the current state of your search presence?
  • What is your close rate of leads to sales?
  • How quickly do you want to see results?
  • What is the average revenue per sale?
  • What are your campaign goals?
  • How is your current marketing budget allocated (such as percent of gross sales)?

Beyond the typical differentiation between agency rates, SEO pricing plans and packages can be impacted by various factors such as:


Some industries are more likely to invest in digital marketing than others. Therefore, they are much more competitive.

HubSpot has a list of some of the most expensive keywords on Google. Lawyers, locksmiths, mechanics, medical offices, and finance companies are among the top of that list. Other industries with highly competitive and thus expensive keywords include real estate, home improvement businesses, software companies, and marketing services, just to name a few.

The cost per click (CPC) for these highly competitive keywords might exceed $1,000! Niche small businesses typically have an advantage in this area since they may use longer keyword phrases or different keywords with reduced competition and pricing.

Geographic Location

Everything from the area you are targeting or the city's population can impact SEO and PPC pricing. Even individual factors can have an impact. For instance, plumbers would be much more competitive in Asheville than in Taylorsville, NC, or Elkin, NC.

Of course, more densely populated areas such as major metropolitan areas and cities will face more competition. Costs for localized SEO and PPC plans in places like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro will be far higher than for many businesses that only want to target clients living in those areas or the small nearby towns.

What Type of Services Do You Need

SEO plans and pricing options will often determine whether you want to optimize your site for organic search, produce lots of content, build up a review profile, or focus on paid search ads. For example, if all you need help with is setting up Google Business Profile and doing a bit of technical SEO, this could be a one-off project. To grow your business, you might need to build up lots of content, utilizing a blog and local landing pages to rank better on the SERPs. Therefore if that is your goal, a monthly retainer would be a much better choice.

Current Brand Awareness and Visibility

SEO plans and pricing can also shift depending on where your North Carolina business and brand currently stands in terms of visibility, awareness, and credibility. If you are a brand-new small business and just starting, there is inherently more leg work that needs to be done. However, suppose you have been running your business in Black Mountain, NC for several years, and you already have an established search presence. In that case, you may only need to focus on optimization and maintenance.

Service Area Businesses SEO Costs

Depending on your website's SEO needs, you can pay anywhere from $25 per hour to $20,000 per month. Whereas the most popular monthly retainer is between $1,001 and $2,500 in the U.S.


This survey also found that most firms charge between$500 and $5,000 per month. With the peak rates being $1,000-$2,500 per month.

(Source: Sparktoro)

What is a “Good” Price for Local SEO Services for Service Area Businesses?

Often a lower price can mean low quality of service, or in some cases, it just means an agency has significantly lower overhead.

However, I would be leery of a business offering services for anything less than $250-$400 a month. Most businesses like this will offer you bare minimum options, using shady methods like link schemes or taking your hard-earned money and providing minimal results.

In 2018 Ahrefs reported that:

  • More experienced SEOs charge significantly more than less experienced SEOs (surprising, right!?). Those who’ve been in business for 2+ years charge 39.4% more per hour, 102.41% more for monthly retainers, and a staggering 275% more for one-off projects than those who’ve been in business for fewer than 2 years, on average.
  • SEOs who only serve their local market charge significantly less than those serving the worldwide market. On average, those serving the worldwide market charge 130.74% more than those serving the local market when it comes to monthly retainer pricing. Our findings were similar for hourly and per-project pricing, too—albeit not quite as extreme.

Source: Ahrefs: SEO Pricing: How Much Does SEO Cost? [Industry Research] 

What Types of Local SEO Packages Are There?

The cost of local SEO for service-area businesses will depend on the pricing models you are interested in and the digital marketing or search engine optimization package your local North Carolina service area business needs. Local SEO can be categorized into four categories:

1. Automated Local SEO for Service Area Businesses ($200-$400 per month)

This is often the cheapest option for ensuring that a small business's information is submitted to directories. This will often include verifying that your NAP or contact information, such as name, address, phone number(s), and email connections, are correct across the web. Unfortunately, while this is needed and should be part of any local SEO strategy, it doesn't improve your search position. The reason being is this is merely the necessary information that Google and Bing use for geographical search results. However, this can be enough to gain limited visibility if you only operate in one location, such as Asheville, Hendersonville, or Black Mountain, and want to target clients within a few miles.

These automated type services entail updating all business accounts on location-based sites and including required links and information that clients frequently look for, such as hours or services. It may include limited posting on your Google Business profile, but it will not have any form of content marketing or social media management, which is where you see the most gains.

2. Basic Local SEO for Service Area Businesses ($400-$1,000 per month)

A basic Local SEO plan for service area businesses will often involve creating highly targeted geographical or local landing pages. These pages are designed to let the search engines know who you are, what service you offer, and what location. Often these pages may be combined with pay-per-click ads or social media campaigns that are highly localized to reach a geographic audience. Basic Local SEO is designed for solopreneurs and those businesses that are just starting with a limited geographic area and limited budgets. Packages in this price range are suitable for the budding entrepreneur as they can help them keep costs low while reaching a highly relevant and target audience. 

The goal is to know how to optimize content for local searcher intent and find creative ways to reach buyers who meet the necessary criteria. While this is more complex than an "automated SEO approach," basic local SEO marketers can help you and your North Carolina service area business cover the essentials without delving into the weeds. While this is an excellent place to start, it does not guarantee rapid growth and will usually take longer to see traction (6-18 months depending on the competition).

3. Local SEO for Small Service Area Businesses (starting at $800 per month)

A local SEO and content marketing plan focusing on small service area businesses should combine the automated and basic Local SEO plans. But unlike the basics, you will have much more content being produced in the form of blogs and geographical landing pages. It may also include PPC, social media, and reputation management offerings.

Other primary performance metrics covered in plans may include monitoring your search engine ranking, analytics, competition, website health, reviews, citations, and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) more daily. It may also include backlink audits, backlink building, and social media engagement.

It should be no surprise that local digital marketing and SEO plan pricing will increase as they become more comprehensive and more services are added. However, the more intensive and specialized the marketing plans are for your North Carolina based service area business, the more value and better ROI you will see.

What’s the ROI of SEO for Service Area Businesses?

There is no guaranteed ROI for SEO services. If an SEO agency guarantees you any sort of results (other than doing everything they can to help you succeed), you should run!

There is some good news, though, most North Carolina businesses that stick with SEO and content marketing see positive results, if not dramatic, results. 

First Page Sage provides the following information on the different types of marketing efforts and the returns and break-even times.

SEO Service Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) ROI Time to Break-Even

Technical SEO

(Technical fixes, keyword research, title tag rewrites)



6 months

Standard Content Marketing

(Average quality keyword research & blog articles ~4x / month)



15 months

Thought Leadership Marketing

(Transactional quality keyword research & blog articles ~8x / month)



9 months

(Source: First Page Sage: SEO ROI Statistics 2022 )

However, it should be noted that the average return rates will depend significantly on the business industry and the types of services.

SEO relies on a wide range of factors, many of which are outside the control of both you and the SEO agency. In addition, it takes time for SEO efforts to pay off. When you reorganize your material, you generally won't see an immediate increase in traffic.

The key to SEO is to be patient and persistent, even if a specific return on investment cannot be predicted. Most small companies begin to see returns within six months to a year of launching their SEO and content marketing campaign.


I hope this has given you a good overview of SEO content marketing pricing structures and the variables that influence how much you will need to invest in these services. North Carolina service area businesses such as plumbers, residential and commercial cleaners, roofers, electricians, general contractors, flooring installers, pressure washing, etc., need SEO and digital marketing services often don’t have a one-size-fits-all budget. However, the more you are willing to invest in high-quality content, the better your outcomes and ROI will be.

At Cube Creative Design, we provide scalable, professional SEO services and solutions to suit your North Carolina service area business’s budget. With our help, you'll be able to outrank your competition on Google and Bing without breaking the bank. Get in touch with us today, and we can start putting together the perfect package for you.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  May 23, 2022

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway