Q and A: What is the estimated hourly rate for SEO/SEM services?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I’m a student of yours. What would be an estimated hourly rate for SEO/SEM services?

I have read an article that reckons anything from $50 – $800 (American) per hour. According to your knowledge, what would you recommend the lowest to the highest rate is currently?


Dear Armand

Thanks for your question and I hope you’re enjoying your course at Search Engine College.

The hourly rates of Search Engine Optimizers and Search Engine Marketers range considerably, depending on whether they are self-employed, freelance or work for an agency, what city/country they are located in, what client they are billing and what type of project they are working on.

My own rates range between USD 150 and 350 per hour, depending on the complexity of the project and whether my client has purchased a block of hours from me, whether they are on monthly retainer or are paying on an ad-hoc basis.

There really is no set hourly rate and the range from highest to lowest seems to change as often as Jeremy Schoemaker changes his t-shirt.

In terms of SEO/SEM salaries, the following posts should give you an idea of range:

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Q and A: What Search Engine Marketing Techniques Will Increase My Traffic?


Dear Kalena (and Jacqueline in this case),

What are the Search Engine Marketing techniques that i can use to increase the number of visitors on my website?

Shailendra Sial

Dear Shailendra,

There are any number of SEM techniques that can help to increase the number of visitors to your website, ranging from blogging, participating in social media, and both paid and organic link building.  Without knowing your website’s topic or purpose, it is difficult to gauge what techniques would be the best options for you.  However, starting a blog (if you don’t have one already) and updating it regularly, guest posting on popular blogs, submitting articles that mention your site to directories, and participating on social media websites (especially niche-specific ones, like Sphinn for the search marketing industry or Kirtsy for fashion and beauty) are all good ways to grow your traffic.  If you have an ecommerce site, make sure your products appear in all the relevant product search engine listings.

Running a pay-per-click campaign could also result in an increase in traffic, but I typically recommend organic search engine marketing methods as a way to boost your traffic long term since it tends to result in more repeat visitors and a lower bounce rate.

Best of luck!


SEOGroup.com and Ocean19.com

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Q and A: What salary should I be earning as a search engine marketing specialist?

QuestionDear Kalena

I work for an ad adgency that provides both traditional and interactive marketing. However, I was hired as an SEM and Online Media Specialist within the Media Planning dept. The problem is I’m managing everything and anything that has to do with SEM.

Currently, I’m fully managing SEM campaigns for 12 clients each within 2-3 different search engines. Within a 200+ person ad agency, I’m the only person who knows SEM and SEO. My current salary is $43,000 with 3 years of experience. Can you tell me a salary range that I sould be paid at?


Dear Brittany

It’s difficult to speculate about SEM and SEO salaries because they vary widely. However, judging by your experience and current portfolio of clients, your salary does seem quite low.

In my opinion, SEM specialists are experts in a niche industry and should be paid for this expert knowledge. Put it this way, in 2001, I was in a very similar position to yours, in a similar sized agency and I was receiving a salary of USD 80K. Granted, the industry was even more niche then, but according to Indeed.com, the average salary for SEM staff currently ranges from $68-85K.

If I was you, I’d be asking for a payrise! Have a read of this post about SEM/SEO salaries and some of the salaries quoted in these SEO/SEM job postings before you knock on the bosses door so you come prepared with ammunition.

Good luck!

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The ultimate collection of SEO tools

Ann Smarty over at Search Engine Journal has been a busy girl.

She’s put together her ultimate collection of SEO tools and guess what? They’re all free.  And if those aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you might want to check out the 20 Must Have SEM Tools and the 20 MORE Must Have SEM Tools that I reviewed for SiteProNews last year.

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Q and A: Should SEOs take on jobs involving a mix of SEO and design?

QuestionHi Kalena…

You give all kinds of great SEO advice on your site. This question is more about the business of SEO.

When you are applying or looking for SEO jobs you see a lot of postings for SEO and Design in one job. Most SEO’s I know aren’t designers. Since I don’t classify myself as a designer but, like any advance SEO consultant, can do some design/webmaster work, my question is when you see job postings like this one, what do you think? I spoke with them and in order to be completely effective the direction they want to go will need some design work. What do you think about these types of jobs for an SEO?


Dear Chris

It all depends on whether you know you can do what they are expecting and also on whether they are a good *fit* for your business. I find that when taking on new clients, half the battle is in educating them about what they want vs. what they need. Many prospects come to me with a specific idea of what they think they want, whether that’s top 5 rankings in Google, more sales, more traffic than their competitors or simply more exposure on the web.

Nine times out of ten I need to re-educate them about what’s achievable with SEO (or PPC) and help them shift their goals to ones that would actually benefit their business. If they aren’t willing to take my advice and trust me to take all steps required to achieve their goals, I would rather walk away from the business.

Example: I had a potential client come to me insistent on wanting to be number #1 on Google within two months for a particular (very competitive) search query. Researching his competition and the top rankings on Google alerted me to the fact that it would be almost impossible to achieve that goal for him without resorting to aggressive short-term, risky, link building / buying. I wasn’t prepared to do this when there were so many other search queries he could target using SEO that would have brought him just as much, or even more, traffic combined. But he couldn’t let his obsession with this particular search query go. So I refunded his deposit and told him to look elsewhere, despite having invested a considerable amount of time and effort.

So my point is – make sure the communication between you and your potential client is crystal clear about what you can or can’t do for them as well as what you are or you aren’t willing to do for them. If their site will require a complete re-design, don’t sugar-coat the news, tell it straight and explain that they will recoup the additional cost once their site is search engine compatible. If you can’t do the re-design yourself, outsource it and pass that cost onto the client in the fairest possible way.

But you’re right, many SEO projects these days do require some design work. If you can’t do that side of things, or just prefer not to, my advice is to partner with a few trusted web designers in your region to whom you can farm out the design aspects of any SEO projects you take on. Good luck!

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