Despite the continual search algorithm changes by Google and Bing, 92% of search-engine-optimization professionals feel optimistic that 2018 will be a good year for SEO professionals. But 73% think delivering client results will become more difficult.
A study conducted by BrightLocal that benchmarks business practices, pricing, services, attitudes and growth expectations during the past year reveals the average search professional does 7.7 different SEO and business-related tasks weekly. For that, they earn on average $61,711 annually.
Overall, the local SEO industry has a positive outlook for 2018, with 92% admitting they feel optimistic about what’s to come for search next year. About 34% are very optimistic and 92% of SEO professionals think 2018 will be a positive year for the search industry. Just 9% said they feel pessimistic or very pessimistic.
New to the study this year, BrightLocal asked SEO professionals how much they billed clients per hour. Some 12% charge clients less than $50 per hour, 8% charge clients more than $200, and the average charge per hour is $110.
Agencies are less likely to charge lower hourly rates, while 22% of freelancers charge under $50 per hour.
Some 47% of SEO professionals work more than 41 hours weekly and 38% work between 31 and 40 hours weekly. Just 16% work less than 30 hours per week.
On average, freelance and agency SEOs bill their clients on average of $110 per hour, with a monthly retainer of $1,670. About 59% of in-house SEOs said their business spent more than $1,000 monthly on marketing.
Some 30% admit to spending more than $5,000 monthly on marketing across all channels. About 59% spent more than $1,000 per month.
Marketers for local businesses, 22%, reported spending more than $5,000 monthly, with 56% saying they spent more than $1,000.
When it came to companies with franchises and lots of brands, 67% of marketers said they spent more than $5,000 per month and 85% spent more than $1,000.
In-house marketers, specifically at large companies, reported an average spend of $19,278 each month on marketing. This was heavily influenced by some of the big franchises and brands participating in the study. Within this group, marketers spent an average of $61,358.
SEO professionals also said they managed more clients this year, with 43% managing more than 11. Some 33% worked on five or less, compared with 40% in 2016.
The most in-demand SEO services from clients were on-site SEO, web design and development and GMB optimization. Their favorite tasks include those heavily trenched in data, such as on-site optimization, SEO audits and analysis and GMB optimization, per the study.
Marketers will see many changes in 2018, wrapped in automation and data.