Digital Marketing Agency Pricing Survey from Credo (updated 2019): SEO pricing

SEO pricing


We are asked quite often about SEO pricing, what SEO firms and consultants charge, and how pricing is most often structured.

This page covers the takeaways from our survey as well as how pricing is most often structured.

The SEO pricing overview includes:

  • Worldwide, SEO firms charge an average of ~$149 per hour;
  • 71% of US SEO agencies charge between $101-$200 per hour;
  • Only 41% of UK SEO agencies charge between $101-$200. UK agencies are more likely to charge between $51-$150 per hour.
  • The average SEO consultant hourly rate worldwide as of January 2019 is $148 per hour.
  • 55.32% of US SEO consultants charge $101-$200 per hour, and 25.53% charge less than $100 per hour!

Let’s get into the numbers.

Average SEO firm hourly rates

Worldwide, SEO firms charge on average $149 per hour.

Here is how it breaks down:

As you can see, on average:

  • 30.98% of SEO firms charge $101-$150 per hour;
  • ~$17% charge over $200 per hour, which means
  • ~83% charge under $200 per hour;
  • 8.68% of our respondents charge under $50 per hour and ~29% charge under $100 per hour.

Now let’s look at some deeper cuts to see how the numbers change.

Link building is a common activity in SEO and is absolutely important for ranking sites. We were interested in whether firms that build links charge more or less than firms that do not.

Here are the findings:

Takeaways:

  • A higher percentage of link building firms charge $101-$200 per hour than non link building firms.
  • A slightly higher percentage of non-links firms charge more than $201 per hour;
  • A higher percentage of non-links firms charge $51-$100 per hour than firms offering link building;
  • 4x more non-links firms charge $501+ per hour than links firms.

Overall, this data surprises me a little bit, though then I remember that this is worldwide and the data skews lower than I usually think it will.

The figures I expected are that a higher percentage of links-offering firms bill between $101-$200 than non-links firms and that non-links firms charge more as a percentage in the higher hourly rates.

The other way we wanted to look at the data was by company size. Here are the results:

And here’s the data:

Hourly Rate Solo 2 to 5 5 to 10 10 to 20 20 to 50 51+
Under $50 8.05% 12.90% 9.52% 10.53% 3.57% 4.00%
$51-$100 28.74% 19.35% 9.52% 0.00% 14.29% 24.00%
$101-$150 24.14% 41.94% 23.81% 47.37% 35.71% 16.00%
$151-$200 21.84% 12.90% 33.33% 31.58% 28.57% 28.00%
$201-$300 10.34% 11.29% 9.52% 10.53% 14.29% 20.00%
$301-$500 2.30% 0.00% 9.52% 0.00% 3.57% 4.00%
$501+ 3.45% 1.61% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 4.00%
N/A 1.15% 4.76%

Average SEO firm minimum monthly Projects

Here are the SEO firm minimum monthly one-time projects as reported by our 242 respondents:

The raw data:

Project minimum Count of Single project minimum Worldwide SEO firm single project minimum
Under $1,000 55 22.73%
$1,000-$1,999 65 26.86%
$2,000-$2,999 45 18.60%
$3,000-$3,999 15 6.20%
$4,000-$4,999 7 2.89%
$5,000+ 40 16.53%
Do not accept one-time projects 7 2.89%
No minimum 8 3.31%

The important takeaways:

  • We are¬†extremely¬†heartened to see that 16.53% of the SEO firm respondents do not take minimum projects for less than $5,000!
  • 49.59% (almost half) of the respondents report doing single projects for less than $2,000.

Average SEO firm minimum monthly retainers

Here are the SEO firm minimum monthly retainers worldwide as reported by our 242 respondents:

The raw data:

Worldwide SEO firm minimum monthly retainer
Monthly retainer Count of Monthly minimum budget Worldwide SEO firm minimum monthly retainer
Under $1,000 62 25.62%
$1000-1,999 66 27.27%
$2000-2,999 42 17.36%
$3000-3,999 25 10.33%
$4000-4,999 5 2.07%
$5,000+ 23 9.50%
I do not accept ongoing engagements 4 1.65%
No minimum 15 6.20%

Average SEO firm rates (US)

Now that we’ve established the worldwide SEO agency/firm rates, let’s look at the US numbers.

Average SEO firm hourly rates (US)

Here’s the raw data:

Hourly Rate SEO agencies
Under $50 2.22%
$51-$100 5.56%
$101-$150 40.00%
$151-$200 31.11%
$201-$300 15.56%
$301-$500 3.33%
$501+ 1.11%

The interesting callouts are:

  • 40% of US SEO agencies charge between $101-$150 per hour;
  • A full 71% charge between $101-$200 per hour;
  • ~20% charge $200+ per hour with ~4.4% charging over $300 per hour;
  • ~8% charge less than $100 per hour.

Average SEO firm minimum projects (US)

Here are the US SEO firm minimum projects according to our 137 respondents:

The raw data:

Project minimum Count of Single project minimum US SEO firm single project minimum
Under $1,000 22 16.06%
$1,000-$1,999 37 27.01%
$2,000-$2,999 32 23.36%
$3,000-$3,999 9 6.57%
$4,000-$4,999 3 2.19%
$5,000+ 27 19.71%
Do not accept one-time projects 3 2.19%
No minimum 4 2.92%

Average SEO firm minimum monthly retainer (US)

Here are the US SEO firm minimum monthly retainers according to our 137 respondents:

The raw data:

US SEO firm minimum monthly retainer
Monthly retainer Count of Monthly minimum budget US SEO firm minimum monthly retainer
Under $1,000 25 18.25%
$1000-1,999 41 29.93%
$2000-2,999 28 20.44%
$3000-3,999 17 12.41%
$4000-4,999 4 2.92%
$5,000+ 14 10.22%
I do not accept ongoing engagements 1 0.73%
No minimum 7 5.11%

How SEO projects are priced

Now that we’ve covered pricing numbers, let’s talk briefly about how SEO firms and consultants structure their projects.

According to our survey, across 445 respondents, here is how they are willing to bill:

Below are the statistics for how an SEO firm/consultant will bill. Note that each respondent could select multiple, and NBED have multiple ways they might structure a project’s billing:

  • 31% bill on a project basis
  • 5.8% bill on a daily basis
  • 20.45% bill on an hourly basis
  • 41.57% bill on a monthly basis
  • 1.12% bill on a weekly basis

According to our data:

  • 79% of firms surveyed do not charge an onboarding fee;
  • 77.5% of US firms do not charge an onboarding fee;
  • 79% of SEO firms do not charge an onboarding fee;
  • 75% of agencies (2+ people) do not charge an onboarding fee;
  • 86.5% of solo consultants do not charge an onboarding fee.

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