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|Corporate SEO salaries?|
I think I'm getting screwed...
Seems to me that most SEO is done by private contractors / speciality firms. I work for one such speciality firm. I have gotten fed up recently with my boss giving just barely enough money to survive, so I started looking around. I saw that salaries for SEOs at companies was $65,000 - $80,000 (adjusted for Cost of Living in my area). I think I'm getting screwed.
The company makes enough money to pay me fairly. (Our boss makes more than all 5 of his employees combined, if that tells you anything about him) Oh, did I mention I'm the manager of all SEO accounts and an employee?
Anyone care to give income ranges that work for corporations? It's hard to establish an industry standard salary (like the designers and programmers here do for their pay) when you are in such a specialized niche.
[edited by: SEOMike at 2:35 pm (utc) on May 17, 2004]
Employees of small businesses shouldn't make less than 20% of the owner's/president's salary... So, SEOMike, if you make 50K and the owner makes 250K, that's right at 20%. Throw in benefits/insurance and you're really not getting "screwed".
Wow, where did that idea come from? It's completely baseless. A business owner takes salary for himself based on issues not linearly proportional to the profits... it's based on tax consequences, market levels, and lifestyle choices. Whatever he doesn't take in salary (which in most cases is the majority of the company profits) he spends on superior benefits and retirement investments, tax shelters, perks for family members and friends, or leaves in the company (which he owns, by the way -- He'll get that back when he sells).
To judge your earnings against the actual salary he draws for himself is foolish at best.
I can offer some additional help:
If you are going solo, plan on 168 days of work per year when you figure out your day rate. Figure on 30% to cover fringe benefits (like insurance and self employment taxes to cover social security and the like) . That means to earn a $75,000 salary equivalent while being self-employed you should estimate:
1.3 x $75k = $97,500 profits after expenses needed
and you will earn that over 168 days of working for hire, computing a day rate of $97.5k/168 = $580/day, plus expenses.
Expenses should be figured over the full 50 weeks of a year, since when you are NOT working for hire you are still incurring expenses (selling yourself, writing proposals, chasing down receivables, etc).
If you end up billing more than 168 days/year you are doing well, so put the extra profits into a fund so you can get at it in lean years or for retraining expenses when the next technology obsoletes this web thingy.
Next time you think a consultant earning $1000/day is robbing your company, consider that in a specialized niche area, that equates to a salary of about $110,000 (assuming minimal expenses). Not that much when you consider the risks he assumes.
I was once in your exact position, minus the wife and kids. Felt I was way underpaid. Eventually got laid off it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I have the wife and kids too.
Spend some time at nights developing your own sites, who knows, it may turn into income! If you are good at seo, it just takes that leap of faith. Then you will see your future maybe.....
|If you are good at seo, it just takes that leap of faith |
I am very good at SEO. This thred has inspired me to quit sulking and take life by the horns. I have started freelancing in SEO now. I already have a couple of requests for bids. Not ready to go solo yet, but definately aimed that way. I guess I'm just tired of making over $150k in recurring fees (no inluding new setups) for someone else.
|I guess I'm just tired of making over $150k in recurring fees (no inluding new setups) for someone else. |
If you can do it for your boss, surely you can do it for yourself! Who knows, maybe eventually you can hire your current co-workers and pay them decent wages! ;)
|If you can do it for your boss, surely you can do it for yourself! Who knows, maybe eventually you can hire your current co-workers and pay them decent wages! |
Haha, that's what my dad did and essentially gutted his former company's core managers. I saw a content smile on my dad's face when I commented on that fact. Haha... nothing like sticking it to the guy that stuck you!
An employee's "value" is determined by the EMPLOYER, not the employee. That employee's salary is determined by what the employer feels is adequate compensation for what that employee brings to the table.
There seems to be a misconception among employees in all industries that their salary should be directly proportionate to how much money they make for the company. This model works for commission-based sales personnel, but not for those who are on a salary. I mean, if your job DIDN'T make any money for the company should you be paid less? Where do customer service people fall in? They don't make the company any money, they support people who already PAID the company. And so on, and so forth.
So back to the original post ... if you think you're getting screwed, you have three options. Ask for a raise, go somewhere else, or do nothing. It's much more simple than you think. You SHOP that way - if Store A offers you a better deal than Store B aren't you going to go with store A? Of course you are ... and the same applies to your TIME. If someone else can give you a better deal, roll with them instead.
There are a few things you should keep in mind though. For one, many companies hiring SEO's have NO INTENTION of keeping the person on long term. They expect it will take 6 months or so to optimize their site, and plan on paying someone for 6 months then letting them go. So just because the posted salary appears higher than yours, don't assume it's a long-term gig. And yes I think all of *US* know that it really should be a full time job, but many companies would rather just hire someone who knows what they're doing to GET THEM there, and then hire someone cheaper to keep them there. It's a flawed logic - which is why you constantly see ads from the same companies looking for SEO's :) It's also fairly common for companies that are going out of business to try and hire an SEO as a last-ditch effort to bring in some sales. In most of those cases it's too late, and you'll be out of a job.
I have one full time SEO in my office - ethically I won't disclose their exact salary, but when I posted an ad for the job I offered between $30,000 and $39,000 and the person I hired is paid within that range. The sales that resulted from search engine traffic grossed more than $1 Million last year (my average sale is $2,500).
This in no way means that my SEO "deserves" a higher salary, and if she thinks she can do better somewhere else then by all means she should apply for a job there and I will hire a replacement at the salary I feel is adequate for the work.
Unless you know for a fact that any other option would be long term, you're really better off staying where you are. You've got stable employment - I don't know if you have a family to support or anything like that, but sometimes it's better to be happy that you've got a job than the "grass is greener" mentality.
Try to diversify your own skills - SEO-only seems like a risky, short-term game. PPC management along with building your own affiliate sites are possibilities. 55 hours a week isn't a lot by some estimates. Once the affiliate sites are paying enough to cover your bills, you're in a stronger position to give your boss an ultimatum.
not related to SEO, but I have someone who updates my website everyday (from her home). A few hours a day so I can concentrate on bigger things like SEO, links etc. I'm making a lot more money since she started doing it mainly from SE rankings. Does it mean I have to pay her a % of what I make? No way. I offered her $20 an hour cash to begin with, and I through her an extra hundred or so a month. Does Bill Gates' nany or pool boy make $5 milion a year?
You might laugh at $20 an hour (cash), but, you have to see from her point of view. How much can she get in the marketplace? When she finds a job that pays $30 an hour and that she likes better, she will come and ask for more. Then, I will judge whether is worth to me to pay her that much, when I can easily get someone to do the same job for $12 - $15 an hour.
She knows how much I make and instead of being jealous or wanting more she thanks me for the extra money. I do remind her of when things weren't this good (relatively speaking of course). Like when I had to split my hosting bill into two credit cards because I was broke, and the credit limit was being reached.
The moral of the story, don't be playa hatin' ;). You boss took a lot of chances, you didn't. Among other things, he'll be stuck with the mess and debts after you leave if the business goes down. You will leave and get another job. If you think you deserve more, ask for it. If he doesn't give it to you, go work for someone else, or start your own firm since you're so great and deserve all that money.
|This in no way means that my SEO "deserves" a higher salary, and if she thinks she can do better somewhere else then by all means she should apply for a job there and I will hire a replacement at the salary I feel is adequate for the work. |
This is where I have a difficult time with the employer standpoint. My boss has the exact same attitude. I don't agree. If I was the boss, and someone made me so much money compared to the cost that went in to it, I would definitely reward that person. (he's too cheap to even offer benefits for his 8 employees!) From an employee standpoint it would drive me to work harder and get better results and really care about the company beyond a 8-6 JOB. It would become more than that because I would have a definite interest in if the company excelled or not. Right now, he's only motivating to the status quo.
|Try to diversify your own skills - SEO-only seems like a risky, short-term game. PPC management along with building your own affiliate sites are possibilities. |
My skills are very diversified. Not only do I manage affiliate links, all SEO / SEM / SEOCopywriting, PPC, and new business generation, I also maintain / build our company's servers and troubleshoot all network and system related problems.
<sidenote> SEs will always want to present the most relevant results, therefore we will always have jobs. If it went all to PPC, that would be a tragedy, because no little guy would even get close to the top again. </sidenote>
|I through her an extra hundred or so a month. |
That's just what I'm saying. A periodical "thank you" of some sort goes a long way, and will make her countinue to do a good job. That's a great motivator, and says a lot about you. I would totally understand if the money wasn't there, but I know it is for us... he just wants to horde it all. You know, his company, his right, but it doesn't bode well with ANY of us in the company.
|instead of being jealous or wanting more... don't be playa hatin'... start your own firm since you're so great and deserve all that money |
I don't particularly like your tone of voice. I came here for advice... not to be heckled. If you would have read my post above, you would know that I AM making something happen for myself.
Bottom line, as I have said before, I have decided to go out on my own and start an SEO company that encompasses all of my skills. I will do this on the side until it pays enough for me to quit my current job.
In the mean time, I've just got to tolerate my boss and hone my skills as an optimizer, a manager, and a technician. My boss will never appreciate his employees because he views them as expendable. That's to his detriment. True experts are VERY hard to replace.
And when you have your own successful firm remember how you feel right now and treat your employees with dignity.
SEOMike - good luck - I went out on my own last year and it was worth it (although I got sucked back in by a company within a year - another story).
Just please be careful about doing work on the side and/or taking current clients with you. The last thing you would want is a lawsuit. Not sure how formal your current organization is, but most I've worked at have had me sign non-competes and have employee policies prohibiting freelance work.
|treat your employees with dignity. |
Thanks for the well wishing.
I have been burned bad enough in my mind (through factors that would be inappropriate to discuss here) by my employer that the scar will remain. I don't think I'll ever forget how much it sucks to feel over worked and underappreciated.
|had me sign non-competes and have employee policies prohibiting freelance work. |
Yeah, I had a non compete, which I reviewed recently. It's all about taking clients with me... not current freelance. No problem.
"I don't particularly like your tone of voice"
I wasn't answering to your post particulary. It was more towards the one who said that employees should make 20% or so of what the boss makes and the rest was in general.
My advice is to start looking for a new job, see how much you can get and if your boss doesn't match it or come close close enough, leave.
Warning: political manifesto follows. This is a sort of a hot-button topic for me since I'm in a position very similar to SEOMike.
Sorry for taking up so muche bandwidth, but after seeing digitalv's and SEOMike's latest comments, I had to jump in.
Being in academia (and currently trying to negotiate for a higher salary), I constantly hear people griping about salaries. I say you make your choices and if you want more money, go get another job; become an accountant. They say, "I don't want to be an accountant". I explain that neither do any of the several accountants I know, but they don't want to live on academic salaries. It's a choice.
People have to recognize how free they are, and most of what makes you free is what's between your ears....
Anyway, I've decided I don't want an academic salary for the rest of my life, so I'm applying for other jobs (no success yet) and doing some freelance translation and web stuff in the meantime. I'm in a free relationship with my employer and he has the option to pay more or risk losing me. I don't see any problem there and neither does my boss who I consider to be a close friend. He doesn't want to pay more, but he is fully supportive of me finding my bliss elsewhere and will defintely give me a fantastic recommendation. That's all I can and do ask. It's not his responsibility to pay me what I want and it's not my responsibility to work for him forever. We might split on the salary issue, but that doesn't change that I have great respect for him and think he is a truly good man; I hope to always stay in touch with him and be his friend. He just wants to pay less than I want to earn. That's our only disagreement.
An employee's "value" is determined by the EMPLOYER, not the employee.
No, the MARKET sets the value of an employee. The EMPLOYER sets the salary.
I suspect from other threads that digitalv and I are probably very far apart on the political spectrum, but the two extremes (not that I think either of us are extreme) share a common belief in the essential freedom of individuals to do what they want and, with that, the responsibility to live up to that freedom (the political middle seems to hate this idea).
My small correction here is an important distinction. If the employer misjudges the value of an employee, that employer can only be one of two things: stupid or generous. If he's generous, he just pays his employees above market wages and everyone smiles. If he's stupid, he pays above market value without knowing it and loses money that he could use in other ways or he pays below market value and loses employees who would be great assets to the company.
There are some employers who fix upper-management salaries to lower-level employees' pay (Costco is the only one I know of currently; Ben and Jerry's used to do it). Costco, as it turns out, also has the lowest employee theft rate in the industry and very high retention. I think there is some generosity there, but from what I understand, Costco sees a value to paying employees higher than Wal-Mart (and in the same domain, Costco crushes Wal-Mart).
My boss will never appreciate his employees because he views them as expendable. That's to his detriment.
That's too bad, but if that's true, you really need to be out on your own or find a boss that agrees. Who knows, though. My boss often tells me I'm irreplaceable and says he hopes that if I find something else, I will consult on his projects. But, he also says he just won't pay beyond a certain level. I respect that, but feel I have to move on. I think the main difference between SEOMike and I might not be the pay issue, but the respect issue. My boss says: "I have great respect for you, but limited funds. I'll be sorry to see you go, but perhaps you should." Your boss says: "I can replace you, so screw you." Salary doesn't change either way, but I think I'm much happier about the whole situation than you are.
If I was the boss, and someone made me so much money... I would definitely reward that person... From an employee standpoint it would drive me to work harder...
If I were God, it wouldn't rain on my days off, but thinking so doesn't change the weather.
In another life, I used to be a boss, hired many people. If you have a good employee and you don't make sure to keep them happy, they will leave, get annoyed, have bad moral, spread bad moral.
This is stupid, since it is extremely difficult to find a good employee, no matter what level of work you are talking about.
If you don't take care of good employees with the mistaken impression that employees are a dime a dozen, you are a stupid boss.
As a boss, even if you can't afford to pay more, at least be straighforward about it, give what you can give even if it's only a compliment or a thankyou.
SEOMike, if you have gotten to this point of annoyance with your current boss, and if you have the value you claim to have, he is clearly a member of the 'stupid' boss club. There is nothing you can do to make a stupid person smart, if they were smart they wouldn't be stupid.
Great reply ergophobe. I would just add to
|If he's stupid, he pays above market value without knowing it and loses money that he could use in other ways or he pays below market value and loses employees who would be great assets to the company. |
Statistics show that recruitment and training costs average aprox. 1 1/2 years of salary. Employee retention should be an issue for any wise business owner.
Paying below market value is often false economy. A 5-10% increase in salary or benefits that retains an employee for an additional 5 years can easily pay for itself when compared to the expenses and lost productivity of recruiting and training 3-5 new employees for that position in that same 5 year period.
Lost employees often is the same as lost income.
I like your statements about freedom and personal responsibility.
Just to mention on the "market" rate of salaries - try contacting your local (or national) chamber of commerce, gov. development or investment agency, etc. They normally have government figures on "average" wages in all different sectors. If you're very lucky, they might even let you have a peek into stats such as are compiled by people like PriceWaterhouseCoopers or others.
Hm, I've worked for many differnet companies in the last 4 years - too many.
Of the several I've worked for, I've left 3 of them becuase they didn't treat me well enough to justify staying there & taking the "abuse" as I saw it - aka, not making enough $$$.
If you make a company money, and you don't like the split - move on. The SEO / SEM field is a growing one, and to put my advice in perspective:
6 weeks ago, I was at another company. The one I'm with now, is paying me nearly 200% the other one, that's just salary.
Healthcare is better, vacation pay is better, and indirect / incentive pay could be on par with my salary, if things go right.
The reason employers have you sign agreements, is that they are trying to cover their a$$es. Freedom is what gives you the ability to find where 'the grass is greener' and guess what - sometimes, it is.
How long has this guy been running this shop?
It sounds like he has a short term view of things, (e.g. handling employees, handling his cash, .....)
I don't think I would want to hitch my wagon to his for very long.
Congrates on the decision to move on and up!
Great reply ergophobe. I would just add to
If he's stupid, he pays above market value without knowing it and loses money that he could use in other ways or he pays below market value and loses employees who would be great assets to the company.
Paying below market value is often false economy.
I wasn't being clear. That's basically what I meant. In other words, I meant to say, he's stupid either way. In other words:
- pay over market: generous or stupid
- pay enough below market that he loses employees who are not easy to replace: stupid.
- pay enough but not lots more than enough to keep the employees who are worth keeping: smart.
|How long has this guy been running this shop? |
It sounds like he has a short term view of things, (e.g. handling employees, handling his cash, .....)
Surprisingly 8 years. He was a one man shop for about half the time... maybe that's why he doesn't really know how to manage employees. He's already lost a great employee because of his stubborness in paying a fair wage. The employee that filled the hole... well, he's about to walk too. It's WAY to expensive to have a family and work for him.
I'm just going to do my time here, nothing extra for him in the evenings like I used to (in an attempt to build value and reap the rewards) and when I am self sufficient in my own SEO business, I'm outta here. I have no desire to move and uproot my family.
SEOMIKE, I can relate to you. Ok? Don't feel so bad. There's a lot of us going through what you are.
Now, I am getting better at SEO stuff, but currently, I am Director of Online Sales for a vacuum cleaner web site. I love my title, but my salary is like a pion. Listen to my story and maybe you won't feel that bad.
I took over for the last webmaster who was fired because he was slacking on the job, but I see another reason why he should have gotten fired: Because the web site sucked and my boss admitted it.
For starters, we had over 900 products on the web site when I took it over and every product page was coded in HTML using Frontpage. How can anybody code all HTML pages for any ecommerce web site over 50 products?
So, I improved the layout of the entire web site, put all products on a MySQL database and my boss is finally in love with the web site.
Only problem is that he paid the last guy more money and I talked him up 20 grand from what he wanted to pay. I am like you, have a wife and baby daughter.
My advice to you is keep looking for a new job if you cannot move and tell potential employers what your track record is. That's what I am doing. Your boss will igive you maybe a 2% if he feels like it. Did you ever stop to think that maybe he loses your salary in Las Vegas? LOL
I would think that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning your own business is knowing that you're able to provide your employees with means to support themselves and their family.
Yes, it's a big responsibilty! And on top of that, establishing/maintaining a positive working environment isn't an easy thing to do. However, it's is critical to the overall success of the company.
I would also like to address the "20% salary" comment I made above. That obviously isn't a law or a requirement. And for large companies it probably doesn't make sense. But when you're running a five person company, each of your employees is essentially a partner and should be treated as such.
"BUSINESS ETHICS" is not an oxymoron!
Note to self: Never hire submissionr, never turn your back on bcolflesh, and get off Jake's C Class. ;)
Note to self: jcoronella knows too much.
|No, the MARKET sets the value of an employee. The EMPLOYER sets the salary. |
I still have to disagree with this statement, the value is determined by the employer NOT the market. An employee's value to me as an employer may be much less or much greater than the average or the same person's value to another company. Often times SEO work can be left alone for weeks at a time without any further optimization being required. When that happens - and yes, it DOES happen - I'm now paying an employee to sit there and do nothing.
I know it's nice for the SEO to sit here and say he deserves more money because of the amount of money his work makes the company, but the fact is that just isn't the way it works in life. If I want to build an office complex, I'm going to hire construction workers at around $15.00 an hour. When the project is finished and I sell the building, I'll get a few million bucks for it and no one expects me to share that profit with the workers who built it.
So why do you think an SEO should be different? Without the construction workers I couldn't have created and sold that building. If a construction worker was unsatisfied with his wages he would quit and I would replace him. Same goes for SEO's ... just because you participated in or were directly responsible for turning a profit for the company doesn't mean you're entitled to a portion of it. When you were hired you were EXPECTED to do that, and your compensation was disclosed and agreed upon then. Like I said before, it's pretty black & white. Don't confuse WANTING more and DESERVING more. That doesn't mean you'll never get a raise, despite evidence to the contrary I'm actually pretty easy going and fun to work for :P
|Employees of small businesses shouldn't make less than 20% of the owner's/president's salary... So, SEOMike, if you make 50K and the owner makes 250K, that's right at 20%. Throw in benefits/insurance and you're really not getting "screwed". |
I didn't respond to this earlier because I thought it was a joke ... but apparently the poster was serious, so now of couse I have to ask ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR VULCAN MIND? Heh.
I started this company, not you. I got a loan from the bank, took out a mortgage on my house, borrowed money from friends and family, worked 18 hour days for months with no pay, used my mastercard to pay my VISA, leased a building, hired employees, paid for the advertising, bought furniture, phones, computers, etc. reviewed a ton of health insurance plans so I could select the best one, and all of the other little expenses that come with starting and running a business. And now after all of those risks and hard work have paid off, some little pipsqueak has the nerve to tell me that he deserves 20% of MY salary?
Seriously. If one of my employees ever suggested that to me, he would be looking for a new job that same day. I employ people who earn their living, not people who make up B.S. equations as to what they think they "deserve" just for getting up and coming in every morning.
Well, looks like digital V. is a surly tuff guy! No wonder your business is failing!
DigitalV... I understand that this has become a divisive topic, but easy man.
|just because you participated in or were directly responsible for turning a profit for the company doesn't mean you're entitled to a portion of it. |
I'm not playing the "entitlement" card here. I'm saying that based on the amount of work I do, the amount of revenue I bring in (that would NOT otherwise be there) and all the EXTRA efforts made, I am worth more than just a pee-on wage. We have a steady flow of SEO / IM so there is no time spent "doing nothing".
Sure, any jerk can do SEO and get by, but I'm going way beyond the scope of my job and really making a difference in my company's performance.
As a boss, if you don't recognize an employee who is performing like I do, pretty soon that person will be your competition and will SMOKE you. If I quit today, my company's SEO department would go down in flames. If someone advertises a low paying job, they're going to get a low performer (or a beginner) most of the time. You won't keep an ambitious employee without rewarding their efforts to build YOUR company. There's a definite difference between "doing your job" and adding value.
Besides, who would you want to build your building... someone who is paid just barely enough to come to work and doesn't care about how many nails they put in a floor joist, or a true craftsman with foresight and planning. I can have a house thrown together for $50k or I can have it done RIGHT for $100k. That's how your competition will view you. "Well, digitalV's company will do the SEO project for $100, but SEOMike's has a more experienced staff who are experts with proven forward thinking... I think they are worth the extra $200.00." And THAT is what happens ALL the time with my company. People choose us for ME and the department I have built.
That's why I'd like a fair shake... not the wage of a beginner.
I for one admire companies that cap a CEO's salary at 5X the lowest salary. Dunno, an old-fashioned egalitatian thing, perhaps...
In any case, my ideal for business is that I as an entrepreneur have to be adding value, not simply extracting it. If I ever have to pay people less than I would be happy to live with, I'll throw in the towel.
Mind you, digitalv, I empathize about having to go deeply in debt to start your own business- I'm going though that right now. We are not all blessed to start as millionaires (a la Bill Gates)...
Your boss sets up the company, takes the risk, gets customers and hires you. You work for a day, boss charges $1000, you get $200. Let's not talk about days when there's no work and you still get paid. Eventually that will happen, at least for a while. You say I deserve more because you billed $1000 for my job. Can he hire someone else to do the same or close enough job you did for less, or $200? A lot of times setting up the right business is the key. Open your own shop and you'll see that not all the money that comes in is profit. Also, the money is not guaranteed to come in. Most people try dozens of times and even end up bankrupt before succeeding. Where, were you when he was let's say broke and living in a car? If it was easy, everyone would open up their own shops. 95% of people are followers, the rest take chances and lead. It may sound bad but it's the truth.
If you can make $50K a month with a part time employee doing normal clerical work, how much does that person deserve? Please answer this, does she deserve $10K a month for answering phones and filing?
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