SEO Revenue Statistics: How Much Do SEO Consultants Make?

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Average SEO Salary Insights:

  • SEO agencies and independent SEO consultants are usually more expensive than freelancers.
  • Median SEO specialist salary: $49,211.
  • Highest salary reported: $229,652.
  • Top earners are often technical SEO experts.
  • The majority learned SEO on the job (52.3%) or self-taught (42.3%).
  • Roles: 36.9% content specialists, 30.6% technical, 6.3% link-building.
  • Employment: 49.5% in agencies, 42.3% in-house, and 8.2% self-employed.
  • Average experience: 6.9 years.
  • Self-employed SEOs earn the most ($60,232), followed by in-house SEOs ($56,789), and agency SEOs ($44,169).

Hourly Rates vs Project Based vs Monthly Retainers

Consultants, companies, and agencies alike will package their services differently.

According to an Ahrefs study on SEO pricing, the following data stands out: (1)

  • Average Freelancer Hourly Rate: $75 – $100
  • Once-off SEO  project: $2,500 – $5,000
  • Average monthly retainer: $500 – $1,500
seo pricing overview in hours, monthly retainers and once-off projects
Graph indicating the average difference in SEO pricing models. Data courtesy of Ahrefs.

SEO Freelancers vs SEO Consultants vs SEO Agencies

What is an SEO Freelancer?

An SEO freelancer is a pro who works solo, using their know-how to impact SEO and boost websites’ visibility on search engines like Google.

Unlike in-house specialists, they work on a project or contract basis, which may involve a wide range of budgets depending on what your business objective is.

Freelancers will employ techniques such as keyword research, competitor analysis, and both on-page and off-page optimization to boost a site’s ranking.

Some clients like the fact that they have flexible skills that let them help with a variety of SEO tasks rather than being just specialists in one field.

Freelance SEO Fees:

  • Hourly Rate: Most charge $75
  • Monthly retainer: 32.2% of freelancers charge just above $1,000 per month. However, common retainers could range between $250 and $500 per month. In my opinion, this is too cheap.
  • Per-project Fee: The average cost per freelance SEO project averages $2,348.68 per project. (2)

Freelance SEOs need to continuously update their strategies in response to changing search engine algorithms,and also engage with a solid network of like minded SEO freelancers to stay ahead of the game.

Deep dive: Guide to Competitive Backlink Analysis

The Role of an SEO Consultant

Most of the time, SEO consultants have more knowledge and are more experienced. 

Due to working in results-driven companies, a consultant would have to have spent years learning, working, and honing their craft.

An SEO consultant polishes up websites, cranks their search engine rankings to the top notch.  Their know-how is like a magnet, pulling in more possible clients by making sure their website sits pretty at the top for searches that matter.

SEO Consultant Fees:

  • Hourly Rate: The common rate is $100–$150/hour, with an average of $171.18/hour.
  • Monthly Retainer: 70.6% of consultants charge upward of $1,000 per month. However, you may typically pay between $2,500 and $5,000.
  • Per-Project Fee: Again, this will depend on the nature and difficulty of the project; however,  common fees range between $5,000 and $10,000

What do SEO Agencies Do?

SEO agencies immerse themselves in the world of technical SEO, keyword discovery, content strategy and link acquisition, SEO agencies often handle all factors of search engine optimization.

Very often, they have a large staff count and a large number of clients.

On top of everything, they scrutinize SEO aspects thoroughly, focusing on your website’s pace and how users interact with it.

They make sure your business leaves a big impression in local markets through smart geo-targeting tricks, and their knack for creating compelling storylines keeps the audience engaged continually. 

Keeping their fingers on the pulse of performance indicators, these agencies adeptly fine-tune their tactical approaches. 

They stay in sync with the newest search engine formulas and make sure that the user experience is top-notch too.   Their ultimate aim is not just driving traffic but also converting visitors into customers by fulfilling their search needs effectively.

SEO Agency Fees:

  • Hourly Rate: commonly a rate of $75–$100/hour, with a minimum amount of hours that clients are bound to by contract.
  • Monthly Retainer: 57.4% command $1,001+/month, with common retainers at $500–$1,000/month.
  • Per-Project Fee: 73.3% command $1,001+ per project, with common fees at $2,501–$5,000.
Hourly SEO rates for seo consultants seo agencies and seo freelances

Earning Potential of an SEO Consultant

Delving into the realm of SEO transcends mere keyword optimization and link-building; it’s equally a pursuit for financial gain.

Yes, I’m talking dollars.

How much can you make as an SEO consultant at various stages in your career?

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.

Entry-Level Income

Starting out in the SEO game? Buckle up

As a newbie, your pockets won’t be overflowing overnight but there’s good news:

  • Gaining experience is key here.
  • Certifications and additional skills are gold mines waiting to be tapped.
  • Networking is essential; very often, it can be about who you know more than what you know.
  • Always be sure to hang around people who are better than you, this is the only way you will improve.

Mid-Level Earnings

Moving on up. Once you’ve ditched the “newbie” title and stepped into mid-level territory, $81,299 a year may you as of November 27, 2024. But remember, this range typically swings between $74k and $90k+.

The secret sauce?

  • Scooping more certifications.
  • Be willing to go the extra mile.
  • Be humble!
  • Be generous with your time and help others around you.
  • Digging deeper into specialized areas like technical or local SEO.
  • Hang around people who are wiser and more experienced with you.

Factors Influencing the Salary of an SEO Consultant

Diving into the world of SEO, you’ll find that not all paychecks are created equal. Why’s that?

It’s interesting to note that a number of important factors significantly affect an SEO consultant’s earnings. Let’s break it down.

Experience and Expertise

The more you know, the more you grow—your bank account, that is.

In the realm of SEO consultancy, experience isn’t just about time spent; it’s about how deep your knowledge goes.

  • Starting out? You’re looking at learning curves but also opportunities to boost those initial figures by skilling up.
  • Middle-of-the-road? Here’s where specialization starts paying off-think technical SEO or content marketing mastery.
  • Topping the charts with years under your belt? Expect leadership roles and strategy development gigs knocking on your door—with salaries to match.

While researching and planning for this resource, I came across a great interview by someone I have a lot of respect for in the industry and who I have had the pleasure of speaking with lately: Nick Leroy

Nick LeRoy is a freelance SEO consultant, author of the #SEOForLunch and owner of the boutique job board,

If you are at all serious about SEO and building a career in SEO, you should connect with Nick and sign up on his platforms for engaging content.


This tale of numbers has shown us that whether you’re a newbie stepping into this magic circle or a seasoned pro making leaps and bounds. 

Here’s the bottom line: how hard are you willing to work and how far are you willing to take it to truly make an impact in people’s lives?

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