Digital Marketing Agency Pricing Survey from Credo (updated 2021): Average SEO agency and consultant rates

Average SEO agency and consultant rates


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SEO companies worldwide charge on average $134.99. SEO agencies in the United States charge on average $147.93 per hour. SEO consultants worldwide charge on average $139.29 and SEO consultants in the United States charge on average $144.68 per hour.

 

Search engine optimization (or SEO as it is usually called) is the practice of improving a site’s rankings and therefore its traffic and revenue. It is important to never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of hiring an outside SEO agency or SEO consultant is to grow your business’ revenue through organic traffic. So just tracking rankings or looking at traffic trends is not enough to determine whether or not the channel is working for you.

I will cover more on this below the graphs and takeaways.

Here are the highlights of the SEO pricing results, with graphs below.

SEO agency and consultant pricing

  • Marketing providers worldwide from our dataset charge on average $112.22 per hour.
  • SEO providers charge on average $134.99.
  • SEO agencies worldwide charge on average $134.14 per hour (out of 320 survey respondents).
  • SEO agencies in the United States charge on average $147.93 per hour.
  • SEO consultants worldwide charge on average $139.29 according to our data.
  • SEO consultants in the United States charge on average $144.68 per hour according to our data.
  • 85.49% charge between $50-$200 per hour. Finding an agency that charges more or less than that is rare. In fact, you are more likely to find an agency that charges more than $200/hr (8.71% of respondents) than under $50/hr (5.8%). The most common range is $100-$200/hr, which accounts for 57.26% of all respondents.
  • Only 60.95% of SEO respondents have a single project minimum of greater than $1,000 per month.
  • 8.44% worldwide (5.83% of US respondents) do not have a single project minimum.
  • 30.03% have a monthly retainer minimum of $1,000 or under. Said another way, 60.84% of respondents have a monthly retainer minimum of greater than $1,000 per month. 7.05% do not have a monthly retainer minimum.
  • About 1/3 (30.29%) do not have a minimum engagement length (their contracts are month to month even from the start, I assume). 
  • Almost another 1/3 (29.77%) have a minimum retainer of 6-12 months.
  • This leaves 39.95% with a minimum retainer of less than 6 months, with 16.19% reporting a minimum retainer of 1-3 months and 23.76% reporting a minimum retainer of 3-6 months.
  • Only 16% of respondents offering SEO have an onboarding fee in the first month. A further 35.77% “sometimes” have an onboarding fee, which means that a full 47.52% (almost half) do not charge an onboarding fee at all.
  • There are 103 (27%) agencies that offer SEO but do not offer PPC
  • Concurrently, 91% of surveyed agencies who offer PPC also offer SEO!
  • Only 22% of surveyed SEO agencies do not offer content marketing. Said another way, ~78% of SEO agencies offer some form of content marketing
  • 62.66% of SEO agencies surveyed do not offer link building
  • 15% of surveyed PPC agencies do not offer social ads. Said another way, more PPC agencies offer SEO than offer Facebook ads.
  • 42.53% of agencies that offer PPC also offer link-building services. A likely explanation is that full-service firms are more likely to offer link building than smaller firms

Tracking SEO properly means paying properly

Knowing how to track SEO properly also helps you determine how much you should pay to reach your goals. While it’s easy to buy from someone offering cheap backlinks, it is also easy to get your website banned from Google for doing this (this is literally why I started Credo – because I had a couple of friends who almost lost their businesses because they hired bad overseas “SEO agencies” who got them banned from Google and cost them 70% of their business while out of Google’s index).

Hourly and monthly rates are not the most important thing

Instead of just looking at their hourly rate or monthly minimum (those things are good to know, but they are not the most important), when hiring an agency you should ask what it is that you will get for paying their fees. Maybe it’s a certain number of hours. Maybe it’s a certain number of calls and times looking at your account per week or month. Maybe it’s additional reporting and strategy calls. Maybe it’s an audit followed by a six-month action plan that you then hire them to implement.

Understand how pricing works in the SEO industry and what’s within bounds of the normal spread, but then really look at what they are going to give you for what they charge and determine if that is, A) within your budget, and B) if you think those actions will get you to your goals (which of course presupposes that you have goals already set).

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