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I have been reading these forums for a few months and I am trying to figure out how do you professionals come up with your fees.
Is it because there are few and far between?
You have super high expenses in research and development?
No disrespect, simply some pains to be able to efford a professional.
>Is it because there are few and far between?
Those with proven results in competitive fields that are willing to sell their knowledge at hourly rate, yes.
>You have super high expenses in research and development?
There's definitely a lot of time spent keeping up with the 'trade' requirements. You don't get paid for the hours and hours spent here, for instance. (Well, not if you're doing contracts... some savvy companies pay their SEO staff to hang out here.)
It's better to look at it as you're not so much paying for our time but paying for our knowledge (well, maybe not my knowledge but the knowledge of someone worth paying for :)).
I charge according to value. I never put in a quote where the client will not make back ten times my fee in bottom line profit within 6 months, as a direct result of my work.
No client has yet had to think twice about that kind of ROI, once assured of it's credibility.
I still average 5 hours per day (7 days per week) of pure research. Not just what the SEs are doing, but of course, watching the deals, the big players, the markets, and developments that may affect my clients or business six months down the line.
Now, I charge a little more than $100 per hour right now. When that hour is spent simply consulting on a project, yes, its general info that you could probably research all by yourself. But if you really think its better to spend 30+ hours trawling the net, rather than $120 for an hour with my on the phone or at an office or bar, then you are not in business - you're trying to fund a hobby.
If an SEO is in a position to help an online retailer increase their revenue by a significant amount, the retailer will be willing to pay a fee that is relative to the amount of that increase.
rcjordan, I think SEO Pros come and go like economists. If you are #1 today, you will be #10 tomorrow. "There can be only one", to use a favorite line from a movie.
A medical researcher who spends their time researching drugs in various settings, gets $50/hour. A librarian, gets less then that and they are experts in research in their medium.
oilman, SEO Pros do not do "preventetive" work as lawyers. If I never optimize my web site it will be where it is now. If I do not get a lawyer when I am sued, I will most likely loose big money, and potentially go to jail (depending on the lawsuit). Of course the site will never have any more visitors, which in turn can be the downturn of it, but that is a step removed.
msr986, your note suggests that if I drop a $1,000 an hour I should always be #1. Ergo all SEO position is about is money. Which kills the notion that SEO Pros are knowledgable about a complex area, or that SEO is really more then a good sales pitch/relationship to the SEs. Comission would be more appropriate then.
Ammon, what do you consider "make back 10 times your fee"? I have a site that charges $60/annum. If I hired you for say a 10 hours at $120, or $1,200 would you be able to guarantee me 200 new members [ (1,200 div 60) x 10] or money back? I am not trying to put you on the spot, but I just came up with an other interesting questions to SEO Pros.
If my web site is not really suited for SEs, will SEO Pros tell me before they charge me all the expenses?
I also challange that if I am not willing to spend $120/hour then I am trying to fund a hobby. Most successful dot coms did start on shoe string budget.
I think comparisons between occupations are not useful to determine justifiable charge rates, it's all about how bad you want it vs. who has it.
>A medical researcher who spends their time researching drugs in various settings, gets $50/hour. A librarian, gets less then that and they are experts in research in their medium.
Let's just say that they need to consider a career change to SEO.
I'm sure there are SEO's that will work on commission, but I may remind you that SEO is to generate top listings, not necessarily top sales. Converting clicks to sales is another matter.
>your note suggests that if I drop a $1,000 an hour I should always be #1
If you find someone who can give you #1 results for $10 an hour, contact me, I'll hire them. On the other hand, if someone is the BEST at what they do, they will probably charge more than the rest. If you are looking for quality work, you may have to spend some money. If you don't want quality work, spend as little as you choose.
Ok, what all of you are saying is supply and demand (as WebGuerrilla stated it). So there are not enough qualified SEO Pros.
Ten top engines, with say top 50 positions - that would put it at the maximum of 500 SEO Pros available (and that would be unrealistic since you would want all engines listing you in the top 50, not just one).
So has anyone done a study on who are these top 500 people? Or is there some sort of a sub-specialization within SEO Professionals, increasing this number? If it's 500, then you SHOULD charge $1,000 an hour...
Truthfully, I know of someone who will make that from at least one of his clients this year (and another is in the wings). Even if the other 11 installment checks don't materialize, he's already made his $100/hr and the work is done. And he's not doing SEO on the client's site, but just referring traffic from sites he owns. Think annuity.
Unfortunately, he could only book 12 hours at that rate. Needs 5 or 6 more clients like that to support himself in the style to which he's grown accustomed.
Tapolyai, I take pride in my work, and in the ethics with which I do my work. Before I bid for a contract at all, I make absolutely certain of my ROI expectations.
What that means in practice, is that I will have to guarantee to bring you at least 10 times the cost of my time before I would even bid for the job. I'm not at all afraid to pass up work if I am not certain of my ability to make that kind of difference.
Now, if I were to estimate that 10 billable hours of my time were needed, then that may mean I am setting a target of 200 new members at $60, or it may be that I believe I can further monetize each of your customers, perhaps by adding value to your service that will attract 150 new members paying $90 each...
However, I am an Internet Marketing Consultant, and SEO is merely one of the services I bring with me to a project. I cover a lot of different angles, from product development, to marketing to advertising.
My current employer has had a good year, considering the current market. I have assisted them to develop several new services, and a lot of content and ecommerce deals. Oh and I also got them pretty well listed in the search engines.
I hope that answers your questions.
In home cottage industries there's a formula for figuring prices - roughly figured, the cost of materials, plus paying yourself an hourly amount for the labor put into the work. Then, there's adding overhead and equipment, supplies, expenses, etc.. All that is added together in figuring the cost, and the selling price is calculated based on that with a percentage for profit added on.
So thirty hours of research time can be considered cost of labor, or "plant maintenance," which it is. If it's not done, the "equipment" is not operational. It's then figured how many billable hours there will be in a week, and the hourly is based on that.
It's expensive because of the amount of time that has to be put into it. And not everyone's time is worth the same, nor will every "niche" have the same pricing capability.
I beg to differ here, with both statements.
Unless you are in an incredibly non-competitive industry, the chances that you will stay where you are now are small indeed. Search engines change their alogrithms, new sites appear on the web, companies with old sites revamp them or hire SEOs themselves, all of which can cause your site to drop -- or other sites to rise above yours, which has the same effect.
SEOs prevent that from happening, or fix it when it does.
In 1997, before SEO was a named profession, I was feeling guilty about charging $50.00 an hour (!) and my business partner and I were arguing about raising our fees.
He told me a story about a ship's engineer who was on a vacation cruise. In the middle of the night, about halfway through the cruise, the ship began to take on water. The crew couldn't figure out why it was happening or how to fix it, and the ship slowly began to sink.
The captain, who knew what the engineer did for a living, woke him up, explained the problem, and the engineer followed him to the machine room, where he stood for a moment, hand rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
After a couple of minutes, he told the captain to get him a 3/8" wrench. The captain returned with the wrench, the engineer turned a bolt on the port side wall one-quarter turn, and handed the wrench back to the captain.
Immediately, the water stopped, and the ship stopped sinking.
The engineer scribbled out a pseudo-invoice on a piece of paper and handed it to the captain. Upon reading the paper, the captain's jaw dropped, and he said, "$1,502.00? For simply turning a bolt?!"
"No," said the engineer. "I charged you $2.00 to turn the bolt. The $1,000.00 was for knowing which bolt to turn."
We raised our prices. :)
Sorry, I missed that bit last night/this morning, and so failed to correct a misconception.
I didn't say that if companies are not willing to pay $120 per hour they are trying to fund a hobby.
I said that if they are not willing to spend 120 (for an hour of my time) to save them 30+ hours of trawling for the same info (even assuming they know where to start looking for it and how to sort the accurate from the innaccurate) then they are basing this on 30+ hours of their time being less valuable than the $120.
Sorry for any lack of clarity the first time around.
I don't know how I missed this statement, but I have to say I don't get the logic. Those numbers make no sense to me at all. Could you elucidate, please?
Laisha, what I was trying to figure out how tight is the market for SEO Pros.
The assumption in the calculation is that if a SEO Pro is not really good, they never get anything above the 50th position on any SEs. (This is out the door because of Black_Knight's explanation though...)
So, there are about 10 SEs worthwhile, each with 50 positions.
If each position is achieved by a unique SEO Pro, thats 10 x 50 or 500 SEO Pros. This is crude, but it does give the maximum number of "good" SEO Pros.
This would be true, if they were all optimizing for the same keyword or keyword phrase. But since there are millions of search phrase possibilities, 500 SEO's couldn't possibly cover them all for all for every business interested in those search terms.
Add to that, that for some categories of keywords the techniques and approaches are very different to get in the top ten, and you have thousands of potenially good SEO's.
Alot of people don't realize all that goes into search engine optimization, website promotion, search engine marketing.....whatever you want to call it.
Why can a programmer command $200 an hour? Because they know the programming language and posess the skills that allows them to do so.
It is the same thing with search engine optimization, but alot of people are not aware of how much goes into the process. There are different stages to a full SEO campaign and different skills that are needed to be able to cater to the different types of clients and different types of websites.
This being said, not all SEO's ask for $100 an hour. Some SEO's ask for $50 an hour, and some ask for $200 an hour.....it all depends on the level of skill, experience, and expertise.
I do web design and SEO, for the most part SEO is more expensive because it requires the education of the engines and it is for short term/long term. You want to give your client full attention.
I'd personally never pay anyone else to do SEO on any of my sites because id rather keep the profits, but if you CANT get your site to the top then you can make the potential profits and its worth investing the few hundred/thousand dollars in a SEO.