Digital Marketing Agency Pricing Survey from Credo (updated 2021): SEO Pricing

SEO Pricing

Worldwide SEO providers charge $112.22 on average per hour. 50% of SEO providers worldwide have a monthly retainer minimum under $3,000 per month.


SEO is an interesting channel when talking about pricing.

The reality is that many SEO providers tend to undercharge for the amount of value that they bring to a business. When you look across types of businesses and industries, organic traffic often drives at least half if not more of digital revenue.

So why does SEO get such a small slice of the overall marketing budget pie? It is not uncommon to see that out of a $100,000 per month marketing budget at least $80,000 goes to PPC and other advertising (like Facebook ads) while $20,000 or less goes to the rest of the channels including SEO.

Before we get into that, here is SEO pricing according to our 383 respondents who do SEO for clients:

  • Worldwide marketing providers charge $112.22 on average per hour.
  • SEO companies worldwide charge on average $134.99. SEO agencies in the United States charge on average $147.93 per hour.
  • Only 2% of SEO respondents do not take non-retainer projects. 
  • 50% of SEO providers worldwide have a monthly retainer minimum under $3,000 per month. 15% have a retainer minimum of $5,000 per month or more.
  • 48% offer hourly billing
  • 61.1% offer monthly billing
  • Only 5% offer daily billing and only 2% offer weekly billing
  • Only 16.7% charge an onboarding fee. 47.52% explicitly do not have an onboarding fee.
  • There are 103 (27%) agencies that offer SEO but do not offer PPC
  • 62.66% of SEO agencies surveyed do not offer link building
  • Only 22% of surveyed SEO agencies do not offer content marketing. Said another way, ~78% of SEO agencies offer some form of content marketing
  • Concurrently, 91% of surveyed agencies who offer PPC also offer SEO!
  • 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

How SEO pricing works

To answer my thinking above, let’s outline what you’re paying for when you hire an outside provider to do SEO for you. I am specifically going to talk about hiring an SEO agency here, as a consultant is usually hired for their strategic expertise, and freelancers are usually hired to do things.

SEO pricing is usually based on a combination of the number of hours needed from the agency (as calculated by their “blended hourly rate” so you’re not paying for W hours of one person’s time at X hourly rate and Y number of hours at Z hourly rate) as well as the cost (plus the agency’s time to manage it through) of things like content or research for content. 

It is important to remember that when paying for SEO, you are paying for inputs and actions that they have told you will get you the rankings and traffic and therefore revenue that you ultimately need to see to make the investment worthwhile and to allow you to continue to grow your business.

It is up to you to do your due diligence, ask for case studies, and understand how SEO works enough to ask good questions. You also need a solid understanding of your business metrics and have the ability to forecast, and then measure against that, to see if your agency is on track to hit those metrics you established beforehand.

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