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SEO Pricing: How Much Does SEO Cost in 2023? [Industry Research]

In November 2022, we surveyed members of the SEO industry to find out how much they charge for SEO services.

Here are the top 10 takeaways:

  1. 78.2% of SEOs charge monthly retainers for some or all of their services.
  2. 54.5% of SEOs only offer one pricing model (i.e., hourly, retainer, or per-project).
  3. $501–$1,000 is the most popular monthly retainer.
  4. $75–$100 is the most popular hourly rate. 
  5. $2,501–$5,000 is the most popular per-project rate. 
  6. Fewer than 1 in 10 SEOs (9.9%) charge more than $150/hour.
  7. Agencies and consultants charge significantly more than freelancers.
  8. There’s a clear positive correlation between experience and rates. (Surprising, right?)
  9. Local SEOs charge less than those with global clients.
  10. SEOs based in India, Central America, and South America charge the least.

Let’s take a look at each pricing model in more detail.

Sidenote.

We had 439 submissions in total. However, after reviewing them, we removed 89, as they were either duplicates or spam. For example, many respondents supplied a website they clearly didn’t own (e.g., google.com) or had nothing to do with SEO. If a respondent’s site didn’t clearly offer SEO services, we removed them from our sample.

Monthly retainer rates

78.2% of respondents charge a monthly retainer for some or all of their work.

We found that $501–$1,000 per month is the most popular monthly retainer rate for SEOs, with 20.4% of respondents charging this rate.

Survey results: SEO monthly retainer pricing

42.8% of respondents charge between $501 and $2,000 per month.

68.8% charge $2,000/month or less, meaning only 31.2% command retainers of $2,001+.

Here’s a breakdown of monthly retainer rates by region:

Survey results: SEO monthly retainer pricing (by region)

Once again, India is a clear outlier here.

76% of India-based SEOs charge $1,000 or less per month. The remaining 24% charge between $2,001 and $10,000.

Looking at U.S. and Canada data in isolation, 79.1% charge at least $1,001 per month—some command as much as $25,001–$50,000 per month!

Do SEO agencies charge more per month than freelancers?

Yes. 

Survey results: SEO monthly retainer pricing (by business type)

57.4% of SEO agencies command $1,001+/month, compared to only 32.2% of freelancers.

However, consultants earn the most, with 70.6% commanding $1,001+/month.

The most common monthly retainer range for SEO agencies is $500–$1,000/month. For consultants, it’s $2,501–$5,000.

For freelancers, it’s $251–$500/month and $101–$500/month.

If we assume all surveyed SEOs charge the upper end of their pricing tier (e.g., $1,500, from $1,001–$1,500), and then take the average monthly retainer rate for each subset (Agency, Freelance, Consultancy), here’s what we get:

  • Agencies: $3,209/month, on average.
  • Consultancies: $3,250/month, on average.
  • Freelancers: $1,348.63/month, on average.

By these stats, the monthly retainer range charged by SEO agencies and consultants is almost double that of SEO freelancers.

Do more experienced SEOs charge a lot more per month?

Yes, they do.

Survey results: SEO monthly retainer pricing (by time in business)

$1,540.52 is the average retainer rate for SEOs who have been in business for two years or less.

This jumps to $2,023.13 for those who’ve been in business for 2+ years. That’s around 33% more than those who’ve been in business for two years or less.

But the big jump comes after five years in business. The average retainer for those in business for 5–10 years is $3,648.28—more than double the rate of those in business for two years or less. 

After this, things level off somewhat. In fact, we saw a decline in earnings for those who’ve been in business for 10+ years. However, this is probably due to us not having a lot of data for this subset.

Do those offering services worldwide charge more per month than those serving local markets?

Yes.

Survey results: SEO monthly retainer pricing (local vs. worldwide)

Those offering their services locally charge $1,557.08/month, on average. Whereas those serving the worldwide market earn $3,473.74/month. 

That’s a significant difference of 123.1%. 

Per-project rates

48.9% of respondents charge a per-project fee for some or all of their work.

We found that $2,501–$5,000 is the most popular per-project fee, with 21.2% of respondents charging this rate.

Survey results: SEO per-project rates

60.6% of respondents charge $1,001 or more.

50.6% charge $2,000 or less, meaning that fewer than half of respondents command per-project fees of $2,001+.

Here’s a breakdown of per-project rates by region:

Survey results: SEO per-project rates (by region)

Yep, you guessed it—India is the outlier.

93.75% of India-based SEOs charge $1,500 or less. The remaining 6.25% charge between $2,001 and $2,500.

Looking at the U.S. and Canada in isolation, 83.3% charge at least $1,001. Some even charge as much as $50,001–$75,000 per project.

Do SEO agencies charge more per project than freelancers?

Yes. 

Survey results: SEO per-project rates (by business type)

73.3% of SEO agencies command $1,001+ per project, compared to only 64% of consultants and 40.68% of freelancers.

The most common per-project fee for freelancers is $101–$250. For SEO agencies, it’s $2,501–$5,000. And for consultants, it’s $5,001–$10,000.

If we assume all surveyed SEOs charge the upper end of their pricing tier (e.g., $1,500, from $1,001–1,500), and then take the average per-project rate for each subset (Agency, Freelance, Consultancy), here’s what we get:

  • Agencies: $9,507.84/month, on average.
  • Consultancies: $8,685.53/month, on average.
  • Freelancers: $2,348.63/month, on average.

By these stats, the per-project fee charged by SEO agencies is more than 4X that of SEO freelancers, on average.

Do more experienced SEOs charge a lot more per project?

Yes, they do.

Survey results: SEO per-project rates (by time in business)

$1,881.73 is the average per-project fee charged by those who’ve been in business for two years or less.

This jumps to $2,242.71 for those who’ve been in business for 2+ years and then to $9,087.31 for those who’ve been in business 5–10 years.

Do those offering services worldwide charge more per project than those serving local markets?

Yes—significantly more!

Survey results: SEO per-project rates (local vs. worldwide)

On average, those offering their services locally charge $5,723.53 per project, whereas those serving the worldwide market charge $8,056.56.

That’s a significant difference of 40.80%. 

Final thoughts

My hope is that this data will help SEOs to stop undercharging for their services. Yes, the economic outlook may look bleak right now, but know that SEO is a valuable skill. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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