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SEO Service Pricing: SEO Grows up slowly

The SEO Pricing report is in and it looks like this (as of July 25 1am PST):


Low End

Mid Range

High End

Site Review + Consulting $500 $2,500 $10,000
Hands-On Editing of Pages/Code $2,000 $10,000 $50,000
Manual Link Building Campaign $500 $5,000 $20,000
1-Day SEO Training Seminar $750 $4,000 $12,000
Keyword Research Package $100 $500 $2,000
Viral Content Development + Mktg $1,000 $7,500 $20,000
Web Design, Development + Mktg $5,000 $25,000 $100K+
Monthly Retainer for Ongoing SEO $2,500 $7,500 $20,000+

Those are the numbers promoted by SEOMoz, based on the experiences of the SEOMoz firm. You have to understand that the report is likely intended to promote good will in the SEO industry (get back links), support potential clients looking to better understand SEO as an industry (feel good factor), while still protecting SEOMoz from going out too far on a limb. Such a report also has to position SEOMoz properly, since they publish such high rates over there ($1000/hr for consulting.. does that make them high-end?). I don’t know anyone who has actually paid those rates, although I did witness one SEO firm pitch a client at $60k/month on contract. As with all business, I am sure the costs are backed by a business service proposal, so how can you critique based on cost? I’d certainly pay $60k/month to rank where I could boost my profits by $70k/month while managing risk within my established business model. Wouldn’t you?

Anyway notice the broad range of prices… a training seminar from $750 to $12,000 per day. That broadness pretty much guarantees no-one will be offended, but the reort still does a decent job of suggesting what can be expected when pricing SEO services. The only problem is… where is the SEO?

I do SEO training on a fee basis. I charge for my time, and my rates are reasonable. However, my requirements are also reasonable. If I travel, I am spending time on your project. Do you like to pay my hourly rate as I fly or wait in line for security? Of course not. But someone has to reimburse that time, right? So is there work to be done in flight? There certainly could be. So in advance, we can work out how much travel time is available for work, what work can be done that is of value to the client, and agree on pricing and deliverables. I don’t waste my time or your time while traveling, and I don’t have to inflate my seminar fees to cover the uncertainties associated with travel. See how business works? Now what is that daily seminar going to cost… $750? $12,000? How could any one know? Travel was one example.. how many people teach? What are their qualifications? Or perhap smost important of all, how many students will there be?

As SEO grows up it realizes it is not SEO but consulting. At the very least it is contracting, with a “general contractor” almost always needed, and of course taking a management fee. A “keyword research package” in the table above could be a scan of WordTracker and Keyword Discovery databases, or an investigation into the semantics of a competitive SERP. One costs $99 when outsourced, the other can’t be outsourced. Which are you getting for your $100 to $2000 price?

SEO as an industry is growing up. It’s really consulting, with an agency model available for those who want it. What happens to a pricing report in that case? Let me see, consultants charge between $10 and $4000 per hour, right?


  1. Richard Hearne wrote:

    Sorry John

    What’s the source of this? I cant see anything on SEOmoz blog related to this?


    Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 2:53 am | Permalink
  2. I believe this is the post Rand did about pricing:


    Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  3. Sante wrote:

    I think the industry is pretty much like many other ones. SEO is becoming more of a mature business, but there will always be someone bidding rock bottom and a price maker in every market, SEO in no different.

    I believe one of the key qualities of a Consultant is the capability/flexibility to enter into a working agreement that transforms into a long term partnership.

    A partnership works when both partners are ahead at the end of the day.

    I very much agree with your approach, the personal touch is what makes you a Consultant.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 12:45 am | Permalink
  4. Jill wrote:

    Pricing SEO services for me has always been about finding the price point where my company was just busy enough, but not overwhelmed. As soon as too many clients were signing the dotted line for the offered services and we couldn’t handle the volume, I would simply double the prices. Within a certain period of time, that would usually provide us with the right amount of work, making the right amount of profit.

    Using the chart posted above, it appears that most of our service offerings fit in the mid-range. Not to brag, but I believe that with my stature in the industry as well as the expertise offered through my company, we could probably get away with charging a lot more than we do. However, I’m not comfortable “gouging” clients, just because I could get away with it. I do try to remember that it’s the value to the client’s business that they’re paying for, and that definitely helps when I’m making pricing decisions. But I also know how much we need to charge in order to be profitable, and as long as I can do that, I’m happy with our pricing as well as the benefit it provides to our clients.

    Saturday, July 28, 2007 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  5. Wong Seoul wrote:

    Those prices can be applied to mid size or big companies, not small companies..


    Monday, July 30, 2007 at 9:08 am | Permalink

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  1. INVESP Consulting on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Should B2B service companies publish their prices on site?…

    Rand from SEOMOZ moved beyond the discussion around publishing or not publishing the rates. He regularly posts standard rates for SEO services in his blog. Update: John Andrews had a different and an interesting perspective on the rates Rand outlined f…