Do you know what tasks your competitors spend time on for their SEO clients?
You probably have some well-educated guesses, but actually knowing where others are spending their time helps you avoid unanswered opportunities.
Knowing the budgets that other agencies charge their SEO clients can also be a useful benchmark for knowing whether to charge more (or less).
In this second report from the Search Engine Journal’s industry analysis report, The State of SEO 2021: Insights, Opportunities & Threats, we share insights from 1,241 of the SEO professionals we surveyed who worked directly with clients through an agency (875) or as a freelancer (366).
In our customer-based cohort, 51% worked in B2B, 41% were B2C, and 8% fell into a non-specific ‘other’ category.
Keep reading to find out:
The most common SEO budget area. The difference between freelance and agency budgets. How SEO practitioners spend their time on assignments.
What is the most common monthly SEO budget?
Setting a client budget usually consists of specifying the necessary tasks and breaking down the number of hours required to get results.
Aside from the meticulous goal of how long a task will take, there is always some guidance to cover unforeseen situations and to set your level as an agency.
Getting the prices right is something that is constantly in swing. Being reactive to the market and our competitors is the key.
In the state of SEO survey, we learned that the most commonly reported monthly SEO client average budget range is between $ 1,000- $ 5,000, according to 27% of respondents.
Q. What is the average / usual monthly budget paid per Customer for SEO Services (USD)? Limited to those who answered “I work for an agency” or “I am a freelancer / entrepreneur.” 1,219 answered. 9.5% selected “do not prefer to say.” 0.9% selected “No budget – profit share”, 4.0% selected “No budget – per project”, 0.7% selected “No budget – other.”)
Twice as many agencies (33%) for freelancers (14%) fell in the $ 1,000-5,000 group.
Close by was a budget of $ 500-1,000 for 23% of respondents.
Budgets for agency compared to freelance
Q. What is the average / usual monthly budget paid per Customer for SEO Services (USD)? Limited to those who answered “I work for an agency” (826) or “I am a freelancer / entrepreneur” ( 333).)
Comparison of data between freelancers and agencies shows that freelancers tend to charge less than agencies. Freelancer respondents are more likely to charge a budget below $ 500 than an agency.
Of those who charge $ 500 per. Month or less, 28% are freelancers.
Surprisingly, a reasonable number of agencies – 32% – indicated that they charge a monthly budget below $ 1,000. Clearly, there are plenty of agencies that serve a collection of smaller clients.
It is worth considering that 14% of our respondents from the survey were from India and that may explain the lower budgets. Digital employees in India have a share of 20% of the global market and have significantly lower cost of living and average earnings.
How do SEO professionals spend their time on assignments?
Focusing on where agencies and freelancers spend their time on SEO tasks shows that link building interestingly has the least amount of time.
This is probably because link building is such a specialized niche that is difficult to scale and usually there is external support.
Our state of SEO research reveals interesting insights into how GPs spend their time:
11.7% of SEO professionals report that the amount of time spent on audience research is “None.” 8.67% of SEO professionals do not spend time on mobile SEO at all, while 7% spend all their time here. Only 7% of respondents spend all their time on technical SEO. 19.2% of SEO professionals spend only a little of their total SEO time on page optimization. 7.3% of SEO professionals reportedly spend “all” of their productive time on keyword research. Just 5.7% of SEO professionals do not spend time on technical SEO at all, which makes it an essential skill for most people.
(Q. How much time do you spend on each of the following activities when working with SEO? Choice of matrix, one per row. Limited to those who answered “I work for an agency” or “I am a freelancer / entrepreneur. ”1,087 responded.)
If we consider the results in the table above, they really echo the process of SEO and what we would expect:
Keyword research is a basic process to find the right opportunities and to increase traffic. On-page factors are an important contribution to page visibility. Analyzes are constantly reviewed to measure progress once a strategy is implemented. Local SEO is a growing market as more local businesses turned online last year.
You might think that technical SEO would get higher on the list.
However, technical SEO tends to require a larger investment at the start of a new client relationship, and once the initial work is done, it takes less time to maintain.
Overall, SEO is a balance between technical optimization and strategy.
SEO can be seen as divided into two parts, according to Eric Enge by Pilot Holding:
“Getting technical SEO right. In the absence of doing this you have no chance of success. But in the end, it’s a bit like buying a ticket to enter a contest. If you do not buy the ticket, you can not win, ”he said.
Enge added that the second part is, “Executing the Right SEO Strategy. How to Map All the Pages and Content Plans with the Goal of Offering a Website Better Than Your Competitor’s. the right SEO SEO), that’s how you win. ”
How have budgets changed in the last 12 months?
The State of SEO survey reveals that 50.5% of customer budgets increased either slightly or much over the last 12 months, while only 3.8% of budgets were cut completely.
Close to sixteen percent of customers reduced their SEO budget to some degree, and 23.8% kept the course by maintaining the same budget over the past year.
Q. How has your client’s budget for SEO changed from the previous year? In the last 12 months? Limited to those who answered “I work for an agency” or “I am a freelancer / entrepreneur.” 1,219 answered. 6 , 1% selected “Do not know.”)
Last year, when the pandemic started, there was an initial panic over work that was put on hold and budgets were cut. Then came the real uncertainty.
After the first panic, it became clear that the digital infrastructure was vital and online marketing work was turned on again. Work then quickly began to flow again and demand increased.
From our study, the results showed that budgets increased slightly or remained the same.
Based on the importance of digital marketing for the company’s survival after the pandemic, it is likely that more budget will be allocated to SEO as we move forward.
This means that there will also be greater demand for highly trained SEO professionals to drive the increase in competition.
Jason Barnard of Kalicube explains: “Initially, I got customers to cancel contracts or cut back drastically — an understandable knee-jerk reaction, as no one had a real idea of what was happening or how the situation might come out.
“When the switch to online became apparent after a few months, budgets rose again and customers began to turn to me for help adapting to the ‘new normal’.”
How has traffic changed for clients in the last year?
The overall trend last year was an increase in traffic as more people were at home and the internet became their portal to the outside world. Everything happened online.
Worldwide, internet traffic levels rose by 40% and most SEO professionals saw a boost in traffic for customers as a bonus to the rising tide.
According to our respondents in the survey, most SEO clients (41%) experienced a slight increase in traffic, while 23% experienced that their traffic increased significantly; overall, client site traffic increased for 64.2% of respondents.
Only 5% of SEO professionals experienced that traffic dropped a lot for their clients.
Question: Have you experienced changes in placements or traffic for clients in the last 12 months? Limited to those who answered “I work for an agency” or “I am a freelancer / entrepreneur.” 1,219 answered. 4.1% selected ” Do not know.”)
If we compare the budget level with the traffic level, we begin to see the impact that investing time in SEO has on the results that can be achieved:
Q. How has your client’s budget for SEO changed compared to the previous year? In the last 12 months, have you experienced changes in rankings or traffic for clients in the last 12 months? Limited to those who answered “I work for a agency ”or“ I am a freelancer / entrepreneur. ”1,219 answered.)
The data show a clear connection between traffic and budget increase / decrease:
Where budgets increased slightly, 54% of them saw a slight increase in traffic. Where budgets increased a lot, 59% of them saw a lot of traffic. In return for a budget reduced by a lot, so 20% of them traffic drops a lot.
It is not a myth that many clients believe that once they have invested in SEO as a “one-time measure”, then they can ride out the results for a long time. Finished work.
Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide shared, “Unfortunately, yes – budgets correlate with changes in traffic levels and success. Of course, it’s a bit self-serving to say, but the customers who tend to do the best are the ones who continually invest in SEO and double down on winning strategies. ”
To some extent, really solid technical SEO work can have an advantage for some time.
But the constant changes Google is making in the algorithm, link decay and increasing competition will gradually destroy rankings and traffic over time.
“On sites where technical SEO is already sound and budgets are being invested in adding content / improving content across the site, we see a very strong correlation between increased budgets and increasing traffic,” said Eric Enge.
He added: “Doing it the right way is like printing money. In other types of investments, the results are not so predictable, but in general they still have a positive effect.”
Learn more about what’s important now in SEO and where to focus next in this report that shares new trends and ranking factors from the State of SEO 2021 survey.
You may also be interested in reading our SEO Salary Report 2021. Find the average SEO salaries by job title and many years of experience with survey results from 2,300+ respondents.
All data for this article is taken from Search Engine Journal State of SEO Survey 2021.
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Featured image: Sviatlana Zyhmantovic / Shutterstock
All images in the article created by the author, August 2021