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Around 1 in 5 US agencies offering either SEO (19.7%) or PPC (21.7%) services have a minimum single project spend of more than $5,000, according to the latest Digital Marketing Industry Pricing Survey [download page] from Credo.

Search remains a critical channel for marketers, especially considering that Google is still the first port of call for shoppers looking online – and for B2B, search is the place buyers turn to first.

However, there may be signs of worry for those advertising on the search giant. Google’s investor release for Q1 2019 showed that the number of paid clicks fell by 9% in the past quarter, while CPC has risen by 5%.

So how much should you be paying for external support to make the most out of Google – and other search engines (Bing has cornered one-third of the market)? The data from Credo comes from 271 marketing agencies and consultants across a range of digital disciplines, including SEO and PPC. It’s worth noting these figures tend to be from small firms or solo practitioners, with only around 1 in 3 (35.8%) working at a firm with 5 staff or more – and that PPC spend doesn’t necessarily exclude the media costs due to the survey’s design.

Highlights below.

Hourly Rates

Some 40% of US SEO agencies charge between $101-$150 per hour, with a full 71% charging between $101-$200 per hour. Around 1 in 5 charge more than $200 per hour. Worldwide, SEO firms charge slightly less on average ($149 per hour).

For PPC, around a third (34.8%) of US respondents charge between $101-150 per hour, with about to 2 in 3 (67.4%) charging $100-$200 per hour. Around 1 in 6 (15.7%) charge more than $200 per hour. Worldwide, there appears to be a significant proportion (32.9%) charging less than $100 per hour for their work.

Retainer Minimums

For SEO, only 5.1% say they do not have a minimum monthly retainer. Close to half (46%) set their minimum levels at $2,000 or more per month.

For PPC, the picture is similar, with 43.9% setting their minimum retainer at $2,000 or more per month.

Single Project Minimums

While retainers are often the end goal for agencies, just 2.2% of US SEO agencies and 4.4% offering PPC do not accept one-time projects. However, these involve higher prices than the typical monthly retainer on average.

For SEO, the majority (51.8%) only take on projects greater than $2,000 in value, with a similar proportion (49.3%) answering the same for PPC.

Key findings along with a spreadsheet containing all the raw data can be accessed here.

About the Data: Credo’s 2019 survey had 271 qualified respondents, of which more than half (56%) were US based

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