We surveyed 1,200 business owners to better understand the current state of the industry SEO-services.
In this new report, you will learn:
- How much people spend on SEO.
- Where do people find SEO services.
- Why do people prefer one agency to another.
- Why do people decide to leave their current SEO provider.
- Much more.
Without further ado, let's get down to our findings.
SEO highlights and key statistics:
1. American small businesses spend on average $497.16 per month for SEO services.
2. We found a strong correlation between higher costs and higher levels of customer satisfaction. In fact, customers who spent more than $ 500 a month had 53.3% more likely to be "extremely satisfied" compared to those who spent less than $ 500 a month.
3. Most small business owners find SEO providers by referrals, search in Google and online reviews. A small fraction of SEO clients (8%) found their current internet ad provider.
4. When it comes to choosing a supplier, 74% business owners consider the reputation of an SEO provider to be "very" or "extremely" important. Monthly cost and own rating and reputation Google's provider has also been highlighted as important factors.
5. On the other hand, the agency's presence on social media and through client examples was seen as relatively insignificant in deciding who to work with.
6. Most small business owners expect SEO agencies to help them ensure immediate growth in their client base and profits. In particular, 83% of our respondents stated that SEO providers should be able to help them “get access to new customers”.
7. However, most small business owners do not seem to appreciate the provider's ability to expand their reach. social networks... Actually, only 26% respondents cited “gaining followers on social networking sites” as extremely important.
8. Overall SEO customer satisfaction is definitely low. Only 30% would recommend their current SEO provider to a friend or colleague. However, we found that customer satisfaction among marketing agencies was higher than that of freelancers.
9. Unsurprisingly, customers are very happy with SEO providers that help them get more traffic and customers. Analysis market showed that 61% business owners believe they value “increasing brand awareness”.
10. The location of the SEO provider also plays a key role in whether a client decides to work with an SEO agency or not. 78% small business owners in the United States consider the location of their provider to be "very" or "extremely" important.
11. 44% small business owners are leaving their current SEO provider mainly due to "dissatisfaction with the results of the business." 34% cites “customer service / responsiveness” as the main reason they left. Only the 21% quit because they were beaten by a competitor.
12. The turnover of the SEO provider is high. Our group's 65% stated that they have worked with several different SEO providers. 25% worked with 3 or more providers.
We have more detailed and expanded results of our results below.
Average monthly SEO costs are <$ 500 per month.
On average, small businesses spend $ 497.16 per month on SEO services.
However, we found a wide range of SEO costs. Half of our respondents reported spending less than $ 1,000 a year on SEO. 14% spend $ 5k + per year. Only 2% spend over $ 25k a year.
We also found that agencies tend to get paid significantly more than freelance SEO providers.
In particular, agencies were twice as likely to receive $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 a month than freelancers, who are generally paid in the $ 500 to $ 1,000 a month range.
Agencies also tend to dominate the high-end price range (clients spend $ 10K to $ 25K per year on SEO).
As you can see, the 24% of small businesses that do business with agencies spend between $ 10K to $ 25k per year compared to the 2% that does freelance SEO.
Key takeaways: the average small business owner spends $ 497.16 per month on SEO services. Plus, small business owners spend significantly more with SEO agencies than freelance SEO providers.
Monthly costs related to customer satisfaction.
When it comes to SEO, do you “get what you pay for”?
According to our information, yes.
Specifically, we found that customers who spend more than $ 500 a month on 53.3% are more likely to consider themselves "extremely satisfied" compared to people who spend less than $ 500 a month.
We also found a clear connection between the level dissatisfaction and cost.
Specifically, business owners who spent less than $ 500 a month were more likely to be unhappy with the 75% than those who invested at least $ 500 a month in SEO.
This relationship played out whether the client was working with a freelancer, agency, or both.
Important takeaway: small business owners who spend more than $ 500 a month are significantly happier with their SEO provider than those who spend less than $ 500 a month.
Referrals and searches in google Are the best ways companies find SEO.
When someone wants to hire an SEO agency, where do they look?
According to our panel, most people find potential SEO service providers through word of mouth, Google searches, and online review platforms (like Yelp).
On the other hand, relatively few find SEO providers through online or offline advertisements or referrals from other providers (such as web designers or writers).
If you are an agency owner or freelancer, this is a key takeaway. If you know where small business owners are looking for SEO service providers, you can invest resources to get your business present in those places.
Main conclusions: Small business owners' 28% find SEO services by word of mouth, 26% use Google, and 18% use online review platforms like Yelp. Only 11% find SEO providers through online or offline advertising.
The reputation and cost of SEO services are key factors in choosing a provider.
When someone finds a list of potential suppliers, how do they decide who to go with?
We found that reputation, cost, and a provider's own Google rankings had the biggest impact on their decision.
Small owners business cited customer research and the provider's social media presence as significantly less important.
However, even these relatively minor factors played a role in whether someone chose to work with a particular SEO provider. For example, our group's 55% listed “referrals” as an important consideration.
While the importance of referrals pales in comparison to the provider's reputation (55% versus 74%), it still affected more than half of the people we spoke to.
Interestingly, we found that the provider's location mattered a lot.
Only 51% knew exactly where their SEO provider was.
However, 78% small businesses in the United States stated that knowledge of their supplier's location was “extremely” or “very” important (46% said the known location was “extremely important”).
If you provide various SEO services such as UX and Usability, then a clear and concise description of your location can help you attract more customers.
Here's a great example from Siege Media, which posts a picture of her office on her About page:
Key takeaway: small business owners mostly choose an SEO provider based on their online reputation. Location also seems to play a role. Our team's 78% noted that location was a factor that helped them decide whether to work with an agency or freelance.
The vast majority of business owners expect SEO services to increase customer base and traffic.
We asked our group about their expectations. Specifically, we asked them what were the most important benefits of working with an SEO provider.
They stated that “accessing new customers,” “increasing traffic,” “building brand awareness,” and “building trust” were the most important.
“Getting more followers on social media,” “increasing the number of email subscribers,” and “helping to attract new talent” were cited as relatively minor.
In fact, while this is a general goal set by marketing agencies, only 26% respondents said “getting followers on social networking sites” was extremely important.
This finding is especially important for SEO providers who are accepting new clients.
For example, a newly hired SEO provider who says, “Our first step is to get more likes on your Facebook page,” does not speak their client's language.
On the other hand, abandoning the customer-provider relationship, “I'm looking forward to helping you get more targeted traffic and customers,” is likely to lead to a more satisfied customer.
Needless to say, in order for a relationship to last, you need to deliver on those promises (more on that later). But it does help you understand what clients are hoping to get from SEO so that you can shape your services and reports around that.
Key takeaways: SEO clients appreciate the SEO provider's ability to attract new customers, drive traffic, and build brand awareness. However, only 26% SEO clients want their ISPs to help them grow their social media following.
Overall satisfaction with SEO services is low.
We asked panelists to rate their current SEO provider (or the last SEO provider they worked with) using the Net Promoter Score.
The results were noticeably low.
First, we found that only 30% small business owners would recommend their current SEO provider.
It is important to note that our respondents' 30% consider themselves "detractors". This means they would leave negative feedback for their latest or current SEO provider.
In fact, the SEO services industry as a whole has an NPS score of 0, which is considered “unlikely”.
When we broke down the NPS scores for agencies, freelancers, and the freelance / agency combination, we found that agencies have a higher average NPS score than freelancers.
However, all three types of services had rather low NPS scores.
Key takeaway: only 30% customers will recommend their SEO service provider.
Clients cite lack of education and resources as the main reason for low levels of satisfaction
NPS is a useful test. However, NPS can only tell you so much. In other words, it is difficult to understand why SEO services have such low satisfaction rates.
That is why we decided to delve deeper into this find.
And as we dug a little deeper to better understand what was going on, we discovered some amazing ideas.
First, many unfortunate SEO clients, in whole or in part, blame themselves the fact that their site does not bring the desired income or traffic.
Specifically, 50% stated that "I feel like I need more training to fully benefit from what SEO has to offer," and 28% told us that "they don't have the human resources to properly benefit from SEO." ...
This means that low levels of satisfaction are not only due to poor performance. In fact, many clients are simply unable to benefit from SEO due to lack of resources.
Plus, even clients with resources can't prioritize SEO because they don't have the training to fully understand how SEO benefits them.
For example, let's say an SEO provider wants to change the title tag on a customer's site. But that doesn't happen because their developer is overwhelmed with redesigns. site... Also, this customer might not realize that this simple change could increase their Google traffic due to lack of training. So they don't and progress stops.
Which brings us to our second interesting finding - the importance of accountability and transparency.
The 27% clients we spoke with agreed with the statement, "I find SEO to be misleading and unclear what services they offer," 25% responded that "I'm not sure what I'm really paying for SEO."
In other words, many customers do not understand what their provider is doing for them or that they are leaving the agreement.
These are two things that can be corrected by improving accountability and increasing transparency.
I have to point out that a significant number of clients stated that "I feel like SEO companies are very unreliable" and "I don't think SEO is worth the money for my business."
This means that a simple lack of results and ROI is often the cause of poor customer satisfaction.
However, as you just saw, there are also factors that are not based on performance in the game.
Main conclusions: Low satisfaction with SEO services is largely due to three main factors: 1. Lack of customer training, 2. Lack of available resources, and 3. Poor understanding of how SEO helps them.
The turnover in the SEO services industry is extremely high.
Probably due to the low level of satisfaction in the world, we found a high turnover rate in the SEO services industry.
Specifically, we found that 65% small business owners have worked with at least one SEO provider before:
We also found that 1/4 of our panel worked with 3 or more providers:
However, our data suggests that most customers don't switch between SEO providers without careful consideration.
In fact, our panel's clients have been working with their current SEO service for an average of 3 years. And expired customers give their service provider an average of 2 years for delivery before moving on.
However, we found a small subset of clients that quickly switch between different providers.
These "quick switches" tend to hiring and firing SEO companies to the limit.
For example, we classified our panelists' 10% as “fast switches” (worked with 3 or more providers in the last year).
Key takeaway: 65% customers have used two or more services in the past. 25% worked with 3+ providers.
Most clients quit due to lack of results and cost.
We wanted to know why people decide to leave their current SEO provider or move to another company.
We called people who worked with multiple SEO providers "lost clients." And we asked this subset of late users what went into their solution.
Here are the results:
Unsurprisingly, our respondents' 82% cited “dissatisfaction with business results” as a factor in their decision. 81% reported that cost also played a big role.
This suggests that clients don't look at results in a vacuum. They also pay attention to SEO ROI. In other words, delivering results for clients is one thing. But it's also important to demonstrate the ROI that SEO has in their business. Otherwise, they may leave.
While lack of results and cost were the two main factors, they weren't the only reasons clients decided to stop working with an SEO provider.
In fact, 80% lost customers stated that they found the best option on their own, which suggests that customers are happy to choose an alternative to their current SEO provider.
And 34% named poor customer service / responsiveness as a factor in their decision.
However, relatively few clients cited “overwhelmed by a competitor” as their reason for leaving. In other words, as long as you can keep your customers happy, they are unlikely to leave. This remains true even if a competitor tries to lure your customer with a better offer.
We also asked our Lost Customers panelists to tell us why they decided to stop using SEO. Here's a sample of these answers:
We also asked a group of users who were happy with their SEO service (“existing customers”) what they liked about it. Here's what they told us:
Key takeaways: most clients stop using SEO service due to lack of results, cost and finding an alternative on their own.
Existing clients are twice as likely to be web savvy clients as legacy clients
We asked our group to self-report their level of "web dexterity".
Here are the results:
As you can see, 37% SEO clients consider their web dexterity "somewhat" or "not so".
As a result, many clients simply do not have Internet experience to understand key digital marketing terms such as "heading tags," "CSS," and "backlinks." This suggests that SEOs should avoid this kind of jargon in favor of terms like "leads," "sales," and "first page Google rankings."
In fact, this is confirmed by another finding from our dashboard: expired customers are significantly more likely to consider themselves not versed in the Internet.
Specifically, we found that existing customers were twice as likely to consider themselves "extremely network savvy" than legacy customers.
This suggests that advanced netizens have a better understanding of how their SEO service is helping them. So they decided to stay. On the other hand, clients who are not internet savvy may not fully understand what they are getting from their SEO provider. So they decided to leave.
Important takeaway: customers who stick with their current SEO provider are 2x more likely to be “extremely web savvy” compared to those who leave or switch.
I hope this survey helped you better understand the SEO services industry in 2019.
I would like to thank Northstar Research Partners for helping to design and conduct this survey.
✓ What is SEO?
Optimization of the site for search engines in order to get visitors at the request of users.
✓ How to choose SEO services?
Determine the amount you are willing to spend per month to attract customers. Ask the SEO company for guarantees on the number of visitors to the site.
✓ Should you change your SEO company?
Often, such a decision has a negative impact. You have to seriously weigh the pros and cons.
✓ What is the turnover in the field of SEO services?
65% all site owners ordered SEO services.
✓ Is SEO a dying industry?
SEO isn't dead, it's just changing. Of course, the CTR is going down and Google continues to tweak its algorithm, but that's to be expected. Google has made it easy for you to target your ideal customer with SEO or paid advertising. Instead, start adjusting or your traffic and business will die.
✓ Will SEO be around in 5 years?
SEO will not be eliminated for the next five years because social media and search engines are likely to merge. Facebook has already started doing this. On average, they search over 1.5 billion searches per day.
✓ Is SEO difficult to learn?
SEO isn't that hard to learn. All you need to do is be willing to take the time you need to learn different SEO concepts. There are many online resources you can use to get started learning SEO.