SEO agency and consultant prices vary based on location, number of services needed, whether you need strategy or services or both, and more.
In February 2017 Credo published the digital marketing pricing survey results. In that we surveyed 184 marketing agencies and consultants worldwide.
Agencies and consultants vary in their pricing anywhere from $1,000 per month as a minimum to over $5,000 per month minimum, with many budgets going higher. 30% of agencies will not work on projects smaller than $3,000 per month.
While hourly rates are a bad metric on which to hire someone (remember, if you think an expert is expensive then wait until you have to hire them to fix an amateur’s work), the spread is interesting:
Most cluster in the $150-$300 an hour range.
Strategy vs Services vs Blended
In our survey, we found that strategy is priced 62% higher than services and 17% higher than a combination of strategy and services. This is because strategy:
- Requires more experience and thus someone who costs more per hour;
- Is outsized valuable to the right type of company than execution on the strategy.
SEO services and strategy are not cheap, and if someone is offering you cheap services then remember that you get what you pay for. Cheap services get you cheap results.
Of course, price will depend on how much you need to rely on the agency to do. If you are a small business without developers inhouse or a development agency on retainer, you may need the SEO consultant/agency to do implementation for you as well which will end up costing more than simply having them do the strategy.
Before you hire an SEO consultant or agency, you need to determine what other resources and people you are committed to having on the project alongside the person/agency you engage.
A good SEO consultant/agency will help you determine what else is needed beyond their expertise as well.
How Long Should An SEO Engagement Be?
Another question we are frequently asked is “how long should I hire an SEO consultant or agency for?”
According to ex-Googler Maile Ohye’s video:
You should expect an SEO’s work to take anywhere from four to twelve months to meaningfully start working.
This holds true to our findings. In How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working, Credo founder John Doherty says to expect 12-16 months of solid SEO work before you really start seeing an uplift:
So, in answer to the question “how long should an SEO engagement be?”, we recommend:
- Minimum 3 months with 6+ months being ideal;
- You will not usually see meaningful results, especially on a brand new website, for 6-12 months;
- SEO will really begin to take off 12-18 months into prioritizing it.
There are a few ways that SEOs tend to structure engagements, and all of them can be successful depending on the business needing services, the person or agency providing services, and the goals of the project.
In no particular order:
- Initial in-depth audit followed by retained strategy consulting and implementation guidance;
- Initial in-depth audit then retained consulting while also providing content production and outreach/link development services;
- Straight consulting (usually at a higher hourly rate) to work alongside inhouse teams (often product or inhouse SEO) to help sell SEO deeper into the organization.