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As you may know, SEO is one of the primary opportunities to get repeatable and scale-able growth for a business.

To give clarity into what SEOs offer, we surveyed 242 agencies, freelancers, consultants, and contractors who provide these services.

Although we didn’t reach statistical significance, this doesn’t mean you can’t find valuable insights from the survey data. Additionally, I will compare our results to Credo’s 2015 survey, and Moz’s 2012 survey to help give more context.

Here's the highlights of our SEO pricing survey:

  1. 62% of respondents price their services between $76 and $150 an hour.75.6% charge less than $150 per hour. The majority of contractors may be underpricing themselves. Marie Haynes will share why she believes someone good at SEO should charge at least $150 per hour.
  2. 24.6% of respondents indicated that they charge between $1,000-2,000/month. About a third (30.6%) charge less than $1,000/month. But nearly a quarter (23%) surveyed charge $4,000/month or more.
  3. Pricing is challenging to master. 81% of respondents change their rates based on the service they offer.
  4. It may surprise you that of those we surveyed, 6% of respondents are traditional marketing agencies and 11% are web design or development firms.
  5. The top three most popular services offered are on-page SEO (82%), keyword research (81.2%), and content creation (76.8%), yet only 2% identify themselves as part of a content agency.
  6. Only 34.4% of SEO contractors and agencies offer infographic or visual design services. Perhaps infographics are a dying trend. Or maybe this is an untapped opportunity.

Here is the full research: SEO Pricing is Ugly. Here are the Prices to Expect for SEO Packages [New Research].

If you have questions about the data, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer it.

  • AC

    Andy Crestodina

    over 1 year ago #

    Useful! Well done, Jason.

    • JQ

      Jason Quey

      over 1 year ago #

      Thank you, Andy. I appreciate the inspiration and advice you shared to help me get this off the ground.

  • JQ

    Jason Quey

    over 1 year ago #

    What I found particularly insightful was that Marie Haynes believes good SEO experts should charge at least $150/hour, which 25% did not fit into this category.

    Some tips she gives on increasing prices:
    1. If demand is more than you can handle, raise your prices.
    2. Give an in-demand price. Offer to start two months later, or add anywhere from $1,000 to 3-4x the quote to start today.

    Also interesting is that agencies with retainers of $5,000 or more offer 11 different SEO services. 50% also have 26 or more employees.

    Yes, correlation may not be causation. But my view is that more businesses are willing to invest more for full-service offers.

    • TK

      TJ Kelly

      over 1 year ago #

      What do your data say about agencies with lower retainers? How many (and which) services do most of them offer?

      • HF

        Henry Foster

        over 1 year ago #

        I rehashed the data with all the respondents who indicated a monthly retainer of $1,000 or less:

        1. On average they offer just under 10 services.

        2. Top services include On-page SEO and Keyword Research tied at 58.5% of respondents. Furthermore, Content Strategy/Consulting, SEO Strategy/Consulting, and Website Audit are all floating around 54%.

      • JQ

        Jason Quey

        over 1 year ago #

        Keep in mind that the data is also merged and conflated with 3rd world countries (Pakistan, India, and other east Asian countries).

        Separating the data both by retainer and by country probably is a low sample size to really give meaningful info, so keep that in mind when looking at Henry's data.

  • SV

    Steven van Vessum

    over 1 year ago #

    Good stuff @jdquey & Henry!

    It's been a while since someone researched SEO pricing, so I think this is really useful!

    Were you able to find a relation between high prices and quality/ROI delivered?

    • HF

      Henry Foster

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Steven, great question. This is something we've been pondering too.

      Jason may be better equipped to answer this, but here's my take:

      From the SEO experts we chatted with, there's a belief that with higher prices, a client will generally receive greater value. Personally, I would agree.

      However, the idea that "You get what you pay for" isn't always agreed upon:

      -We noted that there are SEO providers that are able to offer quality services for lower prices, simply because they are based in a country with a lower cost of living

      -Customers may not understand the true value of SEO. This makes explaining the value and justifying the cost extremely important (Dan Shure covers this in his video). If a client fails to understand what they are paying for, they're going to feel shorted no matter how cheap or expensive.

      From someone that would seek out SEO services:

      "I think you'll have to be really careful when you're choosing an SEO service. From what I've heard and experienced the low price SEO services tend to be really low quality. So, you'll have to find the best value to price ratio you can get. Carefully vet the vendors before choosing one. Don't go with the cheapest ones. It's best if you ask someone you trust to recommend an SEO specialist.

      I think it's because it shows results after a significant time and it's a bit harder to measure success than for example conversion rate optimization and it's harder to master than let's say social media marketing. It's just my two cents."

      From an SEO provider:

      "The biggest issue is convincing those that are interested in SEO that $500/mo won't cover it and most of the time that those services use outdated/irrelevant tactics and won't produce long term results. So a bit of a sticker shock syndrome that some have to overcome. It's still a bit of a struggle with some and on top of that I've had trouble explaining that there is not a specific package/price for all. I think this unfortunately comes from a lot of the misinformation found online and clients not being properly educated."

    • JQ

      Jason Quey

      over 1 year ago #

      Keep in mind, we did not ask for a metric tied to quality or ROI.

      From personal experience in the field, from both hiring, doing the work, and observation as a general consumer, I'd say there is a correlation (and assumed causation).

      For example, those like Andy Crestodina, Joanna Wiebe, and Kyle Pursell have given me better advice that was free that what I've paid for on Clarity.fm (which is a side perk of learning influencer marketing ;)).

  • AT

    Alexandra Tachalova

    over 1 year ago #

    Jason, great study! Btw, what kind of countries were involved? Some rates don't really correlate much with what I've heard/seen so far.

    • HF

      Henry Foster

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Alexandra, glad you enjoyed the study!

      We included a lot of information on the survey respondents in the bottom half of the article for transparency purposes. Feel free to check it out, and as for your question:

      Business Location: 49.6% of survey respondents have US-based businesses, 19% are based in Europe, and 10% are from India.

      What other sources have you been reading on the topic?

    • JQ

      Jason Quey

      over 1 year ago #

      Looking at more of the data, 9% were from Canada and 12% Middle East.

  • TC

    Tad Chef

    over 1 year ago #

    Very useful insights here!

  • CB

    Chris Bradley

    about 1 year ago #

    Good stuff ! And nice to have prices backed up by some data.

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