Saturday, April 21, 2012

Top Agencies & SEO Pricing Is Shared Costs of Services & Working Models

Near the end of March 2012,we ran a survey on this blog asking consultants and agencies of all sizes and geographies to contribute their pricing models and cost structures.I'm pleased to share the results of that survey in the hopes that it will give everyone in the search industry a better idea of the range of fees and the services provided.Obviously,this data is imperfect - SEOmoz is not a professional data surveying firm and our only tool was a basic list of questions on SurveyMonkey.That said,I'd be surprised if a professional surveyor found dramatically different data,there was enough participation to receive a trustworthy sample size and firms provided their personal/contact information (many of which I recognized while digging through the responses,but obviously will not be sharing identities publicly),which means we likely did not receive intentionally manipulative/misleading information. The data is provided below in three formats - first, some personal,high level takeaways from the survey,next an infographic from the great folks at AYTM Market Research and finally,a dump of the responses in CSV and Excel formats (without any personally identifiable info).

(via AYTM's infographic)
Do note that while 600+ responses were received,we've elected to share data only from those regions with 10+ responses (490 total), which include:
United States - 287 respondents
United Kingdom - 76 respondents
Canada - 34 respondents
Australia/New Zealand - 28 respondents
Germany/France/Italy/Netherlands - 34 respondents
India - 31 respondents
Many countries had 1-3 respondents and while we certainly appreciate those contributions, it's our feeling that sharing this data could actually be misleading/non-productive as a single firm/consultant could dramatically skew the results.All the information in this blog post,the infographic and the Excel data dump are split into those 6 regions.
Top 9 Takeaways
These are my personal takeaways from the data:
1.Hourly SEO Costs Vary Across Countries, but $76-$200/hour is Most Common
With the exception of India (the only developing region that was well-represented in our survey),hourly costs of $76-$200 (representing three responses) covered 50%+ of all firms.It was highest in Australia/New Zealand at 62%,followed by 58.1% in the US and 56% in Canada.Granted,this is a wide range,but it provides the answer to a frequently-asked question from those seeking SEO services for the first time.
2.By-the-Project Pricing is Popular and Most Commonly $1,000-$7,500
70.1% of respondents said they offer project-based pricing (the most common pricing system selected in the survey). 43% of consultancies were represented by the four price ranges: $1,001-$1,500, $1,501-$2,500, $2501-$5,000 and $5,001-$7,500. Obviously, there's a wide variety of prices here,not surprising given that the types of projects offered may be quite diverse.
3.Monthly Retainer Pricing Has the Widest Distribution
While both hourly and by-the-project rates do have a wide range of pricing, monthly retainers are certainly the most distributed of the price questions asked in our survey.The two most common were $251-$500/month (13.8%) and $2,501-$5,000/month (11.3%).
4.The Death of Hands-On SEO Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
There's been plenty of hand-wringing over the past few years from both bloggers and SEO clients complaining that consulting firms don't provide enough"hands-on" help.Yet,in the survey,88.5% of respondents said they offer "hands-on SEO changes to sites" and 79.1% provide"hands-on link building."Clearly,hands-on help is still very popular.
5.Inbound/Organic > Pure SEO
Pure"SEO"consultants/agencies may be fading as broader"inbound marketing"services firms (offeringSEO,social,content,conversion, analytics,etc) rise.The data showed 150 respondents (25%) saying they were primarily focused on SEO while a slightly greater number, 160 (26.7%),offered a broader range.
6.Web Design/Development Agencies do a Lot of SEO
The third most popular type of respondent was a web design/development agency offering SEO services.In the UK,these types of firms were better represented than either SEO-focused providers or broader inbound/organic firms.
7.Employees:Clients/Month Ratio is Between 1-2
The screenshot below takes advantage of SurveyMonkey's crosstab feature,which enabled me to look at the number of monthly active clients broken down by the quantity of employees a consulting firm has (you can only choose 5 responses at once,but the data's still revealing).

8.Vast Majority of Consultants Service Small-Medium Businesses
This may seem mathematically obvious,but it's not always top of mind at many of the marketing conferences I've attended,nor the blogosphere in general.A disproportionate amount of attention is often focused on top brands,but in the world of consulting,most firms service relatively small businesses.Even those who do serve larger businesses(perhaps aspirationally) often offer services to small and medium businesses.41% of respondents offer consulting to small,hyperlocal businesses,e.g.the restaurant around the corner.
9.Though Project-Based Pricing is Most Popular, the Majority of Consultancies Also Offer Monthly Retainers and Hourly Rates
Early in my SEO career,project-based pricing seemed relatively rare (though quantifying this is hard since no formal surveys I'm aware of collected this info).Today,it was the top response, offered by 70% of the participating firms. Monthly retainer pricing was next, offered by 60%,followed closely by hourly rates (55%).
I'm certain others perusing the data will find other interesting takeaways (hope to read some of those in the comments).
Infographic from AYTM .Many thanks to the team at AYTM for putting together the following graphic representing the data in the survey across the 6 regions with more than 10 respondents. The image below shows a sample of their work and links to a larger version here on Moz:

Guest Post Author:-Rand Fishkin is SEOmoz's CEO,and co-founder.He blogs,travels,speaks and loves the worlds of SEO & technology startups .You can learn much more about him on his SEOmoz profile page

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Personal Attributes of Professional Bloggers To Become Successful In Blogging Profession

Have you ever thought about what it actually takes to become a successful blogger? Well, there are certainly a lot of successes out there and we can all learn from the best of the best.

 So I got to thinking about what it actually takes to run a successful blog and here is a list that I came up with.Personal Attributes of Professional Bloggers To Become Successful In Blogging Profession.
1. Loves to write:-
You must admit that in order to blog successfully then loving to write must be #1. You really shouldn’t be blogging if writing to you is a chore.Your own writing style is what endears you to your readers.

2. Knows his grammar:-
Maybe you didn’t expect to see this one on the list but it is very difficult for me to read anyone’s blog who isn’t very particular about proper grammar.A case in point is Daniel Scocco,the owner of this extremely successful blog. If you didn’t know,he also runs a blog called is my guess that Daniel also feels that writing properly is very important to a successful blogger.

3. Hard Worker:-
If you’ve run a blog for a while,as I have,you certainly know that you must work hard.If you don’t,then it will show in your writing and your blog will not be well read.You can’t fool people and put your blog on auto-pilot.If you do then you will lose readership.

4. Entrepreneurial:-
After a while you will want to make some money from the online presence and brand that you have established with your blog.A lot of people get into blogging for this sole reason. Whatever your situation entails,chances are you want to supplement your income.I plead guilty to this as well.It’s hard to be in the blogging world and hear about how others are making money online and not want to have a piece of the pie.

5. Creative:-
You can make a blog anything you want it to be. You have the choice of a myriad of themes and plugins that you can tweak to make your blog site unique.This is what makes the world of blogging great. No blog is the same and it’s simply up to the creativity of the blogger to make it that way.

6. Life Lover:-
This is one of the most positive aspects of the blogging world.Have you run across a blogger who doesn’t love life? This is why I added this attribute to my list.And since I started my blog I have come across the most engaging, pleasant,and helpful people I have ever met.

7. Personal Developer:-
Personal Development is a huge niche when it comes to the blogging world. Well, I’m here to say that all bloggers want to develop personally.We all have this in common.Without this trait would we really be doing what we are doing? I don’t think so. I try to learn and grow as a person every day but I don’t think I’m unique.

8. Communicator:-
This one is no big surprise is it? A blog is basically a means by which we can communicate with our readers. Communication is not only good for the blogger but also hopefully for the reader. A successful blogger wants to connect the audience. Replying to comments is very important and that is why I respond to every comment on my blog.

9. Helps Others:
This was one attribute that blew me away. When I started blogging I emailed some fairly high profile blog owners and they actually responded to my email.I wanted an opinion on the design of my blog and I also asked to interview them for my blog. They helped me out and it got me off on a very positive note when it came to blogging. It showed me how compassionate and helpful even high profile bloggers can be.
We all have a certain amount of time in our lives. And unless you are blogging full-time, you are trying to squeeze in the time to create new blog posts or to guest post on other blogs. Successful bloggers are very efficient with their time because they know that their time is limited.A successful blogger will work in high quality guest posts at certain times which allow them to maintain content but not at the expense of publishing super posts.

I think that this is a pretty comprehensive list of the top attributes of a successful blogger.Please feel free to share any more traits or characteristics that you think I left out.
Guest Post Author:-
Bob Bessette writes a blog called TotallyUniqueLife which is geared toward practical solutions,tips,and advice for human life.