Last week, we published the findings of the BrightLocal Local SEO Industry Survey 2013.
The objective of this survey is to gain greater understanding about the health and nature of the local SEO Industry. Through this survey, we aim to find out what life is like “on the ground” for those in the local SEO industry and share those findings publicly to help improve the knowledge and insight within our industry.
This is the 2nd wave of the survey. The 1st wave was conducted in 2011 and looked ahead to 2012. Wave 1 survey results can be viewed here.
About The BrightLocal Local SEO Industry Survey 2013
The survey was conducted between 20th January and 20th February, 2013. We contacted thousands of freelancers, agency SEOs and Web designers.
1,409 respondents completed the survey (up from 1,150 in 2011). The majority of respondents are freelance SEOs or small SEO agencies.
The survey consists of 17 questions covering 5 areas of SEO/agency business:
- Future Outlook
- Size & Turnover
- Clients & Industries
- Marketing & Sales
- Services & Tasks
The following five charts show the key findings of the survey. Full survey results are available on BrightLocal.com.
Chart 1: 93% of Local SEOs Expect To Grow Their Business In 2013
Confidence is running high in the SEO industry. Our data show that 93% of SEOs say they expect their business to grow in the next year — up from 82% in our 2012 survey.
Additionally, 82% of respondents said that they will recruit more staff in the next 12 months – to help drive and fulfill their expected growth.
There can’t be many industries in the current economy that can boast such a positive outlook!
Chart 2: 34% Of SEOs Made Less Than $30,000 In The Last 12 Months
The range of turnover for local SEOs is very broad. Some SEOs earn a worryingly low amount, while others are ticking along at a good rate. The size of the agency and the number of clients under management obviously play a big role in turnover level.
The most telling figure is that 34% of SEOs are turning over less than $30,000/year (3% more than those that earned at this level in the 2012 survey). For a modern and skilled profession which is in great demand, this figure is both surprising and a concern. It begs a number of questions:
- Are SEOs pricing their services too low?
- Do SMBs not value or understand the value provided by their SEO/agency?
- Is excessive competition in the industry forcing SEOs to price themselves low to win clients?
- Can SEOs really provide a good quality service while earning $30,000 or less?
- How many SEOs will still be in business next year if they can’t raise this level?
Chart 3: Average Monthly Income Per Customer Is $500-$1,000
The amount which SEOs earn per customer can vary greatly. Some, apparently, earn less than $100/month per customer, while some earn $5,000 or more.
Of course, the nature and depth of the service provided is reflected in the price, as is the scale of customers. The budget and requirements of a single location mom & pop business, for example, are much smaller than those of a multi-location franchise business.
Chart 4: 91% Of SEOs Say “Word Of Mouth’ Is The Best Route To New Customers
This speaks volumes about the nature of the work SEOs do and how much reputation and relationships matter when selling SEO services. Local business owners are far more likely to commit their precious (even scarce) marketing budget to someone they know, like and trust; and, a big portion of this trust comes through recommendation by others.
Chart 5: 42% Is The Average Success Rate For Converting New Leads To Customers
With an average lead:sale conversion of 42%, it appears that SEOs are very effective at selling their services. However, 17% say they convert less than 10% of their pitches.
The data here only paint part of the picture. Conversion figures are a product of a number of factors, including method of approach, quantity of leads contacted, sales structure and ability, business reputation, local market competition, etc. I would expect agencies that take a more considered and tailored approach to pitching would convert more than those with a high-volume, sales-focused model.
Full survey results and charts can be viewed and downloaded on BrightLocal.com.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.