SEO Consultants Fees

What Prices do SEO Experts Charge?

Studies show SEO continues to create the lion’s share of web traffic for companies of all sizes.  What is the value of SEO and are SEO experts or marketing agencies worth what they charge?

SEO Consultant or Agency?  When a company hires an SEO consultant, they are normally more ambitious, with more intent to rank well.  Whereas, if hiring an SEO agency, they’re looking for more generic, standard services or additional IT or web design and development services.

Agencies get hired to “take care of tech things” whereas a search engine optimization expert is hired to focus on search engine optimization strategy. The SEOs expert offers a command of Google’s algorithm, content skill, and leveraging strategy to the max. Different purposes and different services.

Search is Still King in Lead and Revenue Generation

From experience, I can tell you that whether you’re in San Diego, London UK, Boston or San Francisco, the amount of traffic on Google is staggering and it’s the richest and best channel for revenue. Due to social media squeezes, excessive ppc prices, and other trends, it appears searches dominance is growing of late (+2% in last 5 years).

Traffic share by Channel. Graphic courtesy of Brightedge.com

Share of Revenue. Graphic courtesy of Brightedge.com

SEO Optimizes for Searcher Intent

Your Content is Your Conversion Funnel

B2B buyers and consumers search for education, answers and products.  Despite how many ads are plastered on the results page, people aren’t searching for ads. Their intent is to find informative organic search listings to grow their knowledge first so they can understand better what it is they’re after. A lot goes on before they push the buy button.

With high involvement purchases, the B2B buyer might require information, trust and certainty before they finally commit to buying. That means your company must be persistently present before you win the sale.

That creates a big demand for SEO Consultants which is why you see ads or posts from millions of so called search engine optimization services. SEO is powerful which is why every designer, programmer and blogger is in on it.

Those SEO consultants who bring more capability to a project would be paid much more than an SEO newbie.

SEO Study from Ahrefs

Ahrefs.com is a developer of an SEO software platform for search engine optimizers. I use Ahrefs platform myself to keep an eye on trends and competition. It’s a helpful SEO tool to use once in a while.

The company’s CEO Joshua Hardwick conducted a study of 350 of their customers – SEO consultants and SEO agencies across the world, but primarily in the US. I think you’ll find their findings useful to your marketing strategy.
Ahrefs study sought to discover SEO fees and their SEO pricing models. The pricing models were categorized via hourly rates, monthly retainer fees and per project fees.

Screen Capture courtesy of Ahrefs.com

Fees and Pricing Models for SEOs

According the Ahrefs report, most SEO consultants (74%) charge a monthly retainer for their services, which almost never exceeds $5000 a month. My note on this is your fees affect what level of service you can deliver. If the search engine pros fees get limited, it drags down the level of resources they can access. Many resources have a high cost (white hat link building, PR, professional content marketing design, visual content, video).

Most SEO providers charge per month, due to the need for a persistent effort to climb and dominate the rankings. Per project pricing is rarer (25%), but from experience I can tell you that per project services transition to monthly retainers.

Some will charge hourly rates which usually vary between $75 to $150 per hour. Only 6% charge more than $200 per hour. US SEOs charge between $US 75 and $US 150 per hour (about $4000 to $10,000 per month). Most agencies, according to the report charge $100 to $150 per hour.

I can speak from experience that charging per request or per hour can be very expensive and frustrating, as the provider doesn’t respond quickly. I’ve tried developer/technical experts take 3 days to respond in the past, and that doesn’t work for serious clients.

The issue with per hour pricing, is it denigrates the pro to being a low wage employee. Charging per hour is never good. You get branded according to the number you charge. Clients tend to disrespect someone if they’re paying cash per hour. It is something to be avoided. Per hour pricing is often charged for assisting with Google penalties, technical problems, and SEO audits.

What Do SEO Agencies/Marketing Agencies Charge?

The study found that SEO agencies charge twice as much as freelance SEO consultants, and up to 4 times as much per project. Of course, agencies often have more resources at their disposal and with 4 times the revenue, they can achieve quite a bit more (and get you in spam trouble).

Experienced, specialized SEOs charge much more because their value proposition is good. Their experience means better results, better process, and less risk for the client. Add in new AI SEO software and the future looks brighter for the skilled.

It was found that local SEOs charge much less, and considering small local businesses have limited budgets, it only makes sense.

Most SEOs in third world countries charge $60 a hour or less.

Industry Dedication, Content Excellence, and Outreach

If you want to dominate Google rankings to get best performance, you need a dedicated and responsive SEO consultant who knows your industry. Those who know real estate, manufacturing, software development, sport marketing, travel markets, finance and stock markets, and professional services add immense value to your effort.

In any area of business or commerce, you get what you pay for. Today’s SEOs offer more value and services, but the competition bar is set much higher. That of course will raise the price to create the assets, do outreach, and apply search engine optimization well.

You can hire an SEO consultant or a marketing agency. The issues with both is whether they have experience in your industry. Most SEO work involves creating effective content. This is content that actually creates high rankings and a lot of traffic.

SEOs are usually not connected to the sales conversion funnel however we could be. We are paid to create and deliver free, targeted, organic traffic, and increasing via Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Managing the Competition

SEO can be very stressful and frustrating. My advertising agency coworker many years ago once said to me “Gord, I don’t know how you can take it.” You really do have to be very competitive and quietly persistent while at the same time patient, composed and optimistic. Companies change up SEOs sometimes because they burn out.

High rankings don’t happen fast. Anyone pretending to be a fast results SEO is likely a scammer who will get your site penalized or waste your time. A pro will help you up your SEO game and push the envelope, but deliver true, lasting value in the form of leads and revenue. If you’re in a competitive sector, you’ll need more effort.

Ultimately, visibility and revenue are the deliverable. Hire an SEO who can add value in many areas including marketing knowledge, content quality, social media reach, and in-depth expertise in your industry.

Your intuition will tell you whether you’ve got the best SEO expert to guide you. If you can dominate your sector, they should prove to be the most valuable asset you’ve acquired.

Learn more about SEO strategy, copywriting, and AI marketing here on the AI marketing blog.

 

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