Are SEO's Worth $350 Per Hour?

Jan 31, 2008 • 6:39 am | comments (9) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEM / SEO Companies

A Sphinn thread has discussion on if an SEO is worth $350 per hour. The Sphinn thread is an off branch of a blog post that portrays an SEO who seems to not be such a great SEO but is yet able to charge $350 per hour for a minimum of 2000 hours per year. Yes, that turns out to be $700,000 per year, before taxes.

In this case, it appears that the SEO consultant is getting away without providing that much value to his client. It is hard to tell for sure, because we only see a small snap shot of one specific meeting but it just seems that way from the blog post.

In any event, are any SEOs out there worth $350 per hour? I believe so. But at what point. I am not sure I know many SEOs who charge $350 per hour with a 2000 hour commitment. Normally, an SEO with such a huge commitment will come down on price - i.e. more hours, less per hour. An SEO can drive an incredible amount of relevant and converting traffic to a site. Yes, it can be worth much more than $700,000 per year for a client.

So how much are SEOs worth? Is it industry dependent? Is it skill dependent?

Here is a poll. How much would you pay a top top SEO, if you couldn't do it yourself?

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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01/31/2008 01:15 pm

It depends on the definition of SEO. If one is the ultimate EPromoter - one has design and development skills to modify the Website to make it more successful - this along with the online promotion skills makes on more valuable. Also one has to be able to engage in PPCs and be a lobbyists for changing the Search Engines policies if injustices exists that harm clients. Here is a recent example... <b> </b> They should also be savy about Web 2.o promotion. Including Digg, YouTube, Stumbleupon, Blogs etc... So the ultimate ePromotion expert IS in fact worth hundreds of dollars per hour if the ROI they are delivering are much greater than what they are getting


01/31/2008 02:45 pm

Good SEO's are pretty confident we can get a 30% lift in traffic/conversions after 6 months with the majority of the websites out there. I look at pricing from a "value" standpoint from the client's eyes - what would a 30% lift mean to their bottom line? It's typical for our clients to see $1MM+ Rev/month, so an extra lift of $300k/mo x 12 = $3.6MM annually. It's not outrageous to pay 20% ($700k) of that new money for the efforts that got you there. The big assumptions are having the expertise to gain the lift and working on a big enough client to support the $700k.


01/31/2008 03:58 pm

I'm pretty sure that I could get a 30% lift for most websites out there. I am not a SEO - it's just that there are a lot of obvious optimization errors on most websites. Add a link-building strategy, and that shouldn't be a particularly hard target. You want to charge me $300/hour or more? Fine. That's like hiring a $1,000/hour lawyer to write a contract. But after the specialty work is done, you had best hand off my account to your team of associates, as I am not going to pay $300/hour or more for grunt work.


01/31/2008 05:48 pm

I think it depends on the potential ROI. Usually when your talking about hourly rates that high, you are talking about an agency. So in that situation, presumably you are paying for the collective expertise of the company in question. In the case of major brands, it is worth more to them to if you have a proven track record of success with other large brands because it mitigates risk. In other words, if your a marketing executive thats pulling the trigger on a huge SEO deal, you want to make sure you are going to get results. So you want a firm that has that track record and that knows how to function at the enterprise level. So for that level of expertise, it's not uncommon to pay that kind of hourly rate. Especially if your potential gain is in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. The hardest part in charging that kind of money is convincing someone that you know enough about the subject to deliver what you say you will.


02/01/2008 12:38 pm

SEO isn't all that special. The vast majority of SEO techniques can be found online for free if one is prepared to do the research. It's the link collection that is worth paying for and they don't come cheap.


02/07/2008 08:26 am

NOBODY is worth 350$, no matter how traffic they can attract or how techy they are.


07/22/2008 06:06 pm

I disagree with adelgazar in a most rigorous fashion ;) Its All about the numbers. If their expertise earns me more money then I'm paying them...then you better believe I will pay them. The trick is - how do you know what they can do until you've already given them money.


04/15/2009 02:34 pm

I concur $350 is more then reasonable because it is an ongoing results that may carry over for years. It really depends how much results the SEO professional can actually deliver... but you are right not $350/hr for soem keywords and meta tags....


04/04/2010 11:46 pm

I agree with Jeff, it is all about the numbers and research from Gartner Group, eMarketer and Marketingsherpa have shown ROI of about 67% for SEO on average. So if you invest $350.00 an hour but get back a RETURN of $584.50, then it is worth it. Likewise if you can show a lift of 30% in sales from $1M/month, you can see in pure numbers what the SEO was worth - that year. Keeping in mind that SEO stays for a long time and is a cumulative marketing strategy that will keep on making money from one year to another... You can also compare the cost per conversion with what it cost to get a conversion/sale with e.g. PPC to get a fair comparison of what SEO is worth for your site. Look at your analytics data and see how much conversion came from organic before the SEO project and after, deduct what you had before and compare with the cost per conversion of PPC. That gives a pretty true value of SEO...for that period anyway.

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