We interviewed 1,200 business owners to better understand the current state of the SEO service industry.
In this new report, you will learn:
- How many people spend on SEO.
- Where people find SEO services.
- Why do people choose an agency?
- Why do people decide to leave their current SEO provider?
- Much more.
Without further ado, let us come to our conclusions.
Highlights and Key Statistics:
1. The small American companies spend on average 497,16 dollars per month in services of referencing.
2. We found a strong correlation between increased spending and customer satisfaction. In fact, clients who spent more than $ 500 a month had more likely to be "extremely satisfied" compared to those who spent less than $ 500 a month.
3. Most small business owners find SEO providers through referrals, Google searches, and online reviews. A small fraction of SEO customers (8%) found their current provider through online advertising.
4. When it comes to choosing a supplier, 74% of business owners consider the reputation of an SEO service provider to be "very" or "extremely" important. Monthly costs and Google supplier ranking were also mentioned as important factors.
5. In addition, the presence of an agency on social networks and client case studies were considered relatively minor factors in deciding who to work with.
6. Most small business owners expect SEO agencies that they help them generate immediate growth in their customer base and their bottom line. More specifically, 83% of our respondents said that SEO providers should be able to help them "access new customers".
7. However, most small business owners do not seem to appreciate the ability of a provider to develop a social media network. In fact, only 26% of respondents said that it was extremely important to "recruit followers on social media sites."
8. The overall satisfaction of the SEO client is decidedly low. Only 30% 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 satisfied with SEO providers who help them generate more traffic and more customers. In addition, 61% of business owners said it was important to "build brand awareness" .
10. The location of a SEO provider also seems to play a key role in whether or not the client chooses to work or stay with an SEO agency. 78% of small business owners based in the United States consider the location of their supplier as a "very" or "extremely" important consideration.
11. 44% of small business owners leave their current SEO provider largely because of their "dissatisfaction with business results". 34% cite "customer service / responsiveness" as their main reason for leaving. Only 21% left because they had been started by a competitor.
12. The SEO provider's business figure is high. 65% of our panel members reported working with different SEO providers. 25% worked with three or more suppliers
Below are more detailed and detailed conclusions about our results.
The average monthly expense on referral is <$ 500 per month
On average, small businesses spend $ 497.16 per month Referral Services
. However, we have discovered a wide range of SEO expenses. Half of our respondents reported spending less than $ 1,000 a year on SEO. 14% spend more than $ 5,000 a year. Only 2% spend more than $ 25,000 a year.
We also found that agencies tended to be paid much more than independent SEO providers.
Specifically, agencies were twice as likely to get paid between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 a month as freelancers, who are typically paid between $ 500 and $ 1,000 a month.
Agencies also tend to dominate premium rates. range (customers who spend between $ 10,000 and $ 25,000 a year on SEO).
As you can see, 24% of small businesses working with agencies spend between $ 10,000 and $ 25,000 / year, versus 2% working with independent SEO.
Remember: The average small business owner spends $ 497.16 per month on SEO services. In addition, small business owners spend a lot more with SEO agencies than independent SEO providers.
Monthly expenses are related to customer satisfaction
When it comes to SEO, do you get what you pay for it?
our data, yes.
More specifically, we found that clients spending more than $ 500 a month were 53.3% more likely to consider themselves "extremely satisfied" than those who spent less than $ 500 a month. with greater customer satisfaction ” style=”max-width: 708px !important”/>
We also found a clear relationship between levels of dissatisfaction and cost
More specifically, business owners spending less than $ 500 a month were 75% more likely to be dissatisfied than those who invested at least $ 500 a month on SEO.
This relationship occurred if a client worked with a freelancer, an agency, or a combination of both.
Tak eaway: Small business owners spending more than $ 500 a month are significantly more satisfied with their SEO provider than those who spend less than $ 500 a month.
Google is the best way for companies to find referrers
According to our panel, most people find potential SEO providers through word of mouth , Google searches and online evaluation platforms (like Yelp).
However, relatively few people find SEO providers via online or offline advertising, or via sites third-party providers (such as designers or web editors).
an agency owner or a freelancer, this is a key finding. If you know where small business owners are looking for SEO service providers, you can invest resources to make sure your business is present in those places.
Remember: 28% of small business owners find natural referencing services by word of mouth, 26% use Google and 18% use online evaluation platforms such as Yelp. Only 11% of respondents find SEO providers through online or offline advertising.
Reputation and cost are essential factors in choosing a supplier
Once someone has found a list of potential suppliers, how does he decide with which one to choose? ] We found that the reputation, cost, and Google ranking of the provider were the most important to his decision.
Small business owners cited customer case studies and the presence of vendors on the provider's social networks. much less important.
However, even these relatively minor factors played a role in someone's decision to decide to work with a particular SEO provider. For example, 55% of our focus group members mentioned "references" as an important consideration.
Although the importance of references is nothing compared to the reputation of the supplier (55% against 74%). %), it's always something that has influenced more than half of the people we've talked to.
It is interesting to note that we found that the location of a supplier was very important.
Only 51% knew exactly where their SEO provider was. 19659063] Half of SEO Clients Do not Know Where Their SEO Provider Is ” style=”max-width: 708px !important”/>
However, 78% of US-based small businesses said it was "extremely" or "very" important to know the location of their supplier (46% stating that a known location was "extremely important").
If you provide SEO services, the fact of defining it clearly and obviously can help you to find more SEO customers.
Here's a gre Example: Siege Media which includes a photo of their office on the following page:
. To remember: Small business owners largely decide on a natural SEO provider based on their online reputation. The location also seems to play a role. 78% of our panel noted that location was a factor that helped them decide whether or not to work with an agency or freelancer.
The vast majority of business owners expect SEO services to increase customer and traffic
We asked our panel about their expectations. In particular, we asked them what benefits of working with an SEO provider were the most important for them.
They stated that "access to new customers", "increased traffic", "increased brand awareness" and "building trust" were the most important.
The words "win followers of social networks", "an increasing number of e-mail subscribers" and "help attract new talent" were cited as relatively unimportant.
In fact, even though it is a common goal set by marketing agencies, only 26% of those surveyed said that it was extremely important to do so. get followers on social networking sites.
. Research is especially important for SEO providers who are taking on new clients.
For example, a newly hired SEO provider who states, "Our first step will be to get more likes on your Facebook page": do not speak the language of their client.
On the other hand, launching the customer-supplier relationship with: "I'm looking forward to helping you get more targeted traffic and customers" will likely result in a more satisfied customer.  Needless to say, for the relationship to last, you must keep those promises (more on this later). But it's helpful to understand what customers are hoping to gain from SEO so that you can model your services and reports on that basis.
Remainder: SEO customers evaluate the ability of an SEO provider to provide them with new customers, increase traffic and build brand awareness. However, only 26% of SEO customers want their suppliers to help them increase the number of their social networks.
Overall satisfaction with SEO services is low
We asked panelists to rate their current SEO provider (or the latest SEO provider worked with) using Net Promoter Score .
The results were clearly weak.
First, we found that only 30% of small business owners recommended their current SEO provider.
It is important to note that 30% of our respondents considered themselves "detractors". Which means that they would leave a negative opinion to their last or current SEO provider.
In fact, the SEO services sector as a whole has an NPS score of 0, considered "unlikely to recommend".
When we broke down NPS scores among agencies, freelancers and a combination of freelancers and agencies, we discovered that agencies had a higher average NPS score than freelancers.
However, all three service types had relatively low NPS scores.
Remember: Only 30% of customers would recommend their SEO provider.
Clients Cite Lack of Education and Resources Among Key Reasons for Low Level of Satisfaction
NPS is a useful landmark. However, NPS can tell you only a lot . In other words, it's hard to understand why SEO services have such low levels of satisfaction.
That is why we decided to deepen this discovery.
And when we dug a little deeper to understand To find out more about what is happening, we discovered some surprising ideas.
First, many unhappy SEO clients have totally or partially blamed themselves.
Specifically, 50% said, "I feel as if I needed more training. to take full advantage of what SEO offers "and 28% told us that they" do not have the necessary staff resources to take full advantage of SEO. "
This means that low levels of satisfaction are not only due to poor workmanship. simply not able to profit from SEO because of a lack of resources.
Moreover, even customers with resources do not make SEO their priority, as they do not do not have training to fully understand the benefits of SEO.
For example, a SEO provider wants to change a title tag on a customer's site But that does not happen because their developer is overwhelmed by a redesign of the website. In addition, this customer may not understand that this simple change can increase his traffic on Google due to lack of training. So they do not make this change a priority. And progress stagnates.
Which brings us to our second interesting finding, the importance of reporting and transparency.
27% of the clients we met agreed with the statement: "I find that SEO is confusing and fuzzy about what services they offer" 25% said "I'm not sure to know what I really pay with SEO.
In other words, many customers do not know what their provider provides. made for them or what they withdraw from the arrangement.
These are two issues that could be addressed through greater accountability and transparency.
It should be noted that a good number of customers said I have the impression that SEO companies are very unreliable "and" I do not think SEO is worth it for my company.
which means that a mere lack of results and return on investment are ten to the weak customer satisfaction.
However, as you have just seen, non-performance factors are also involved.
Idea to remember: The level of satisfaction of the SEO service is low. due to three main factors: 1. Lack of customer education, 2. Lack of available resources and 3. Poor understanding of how SEO is helping them.
The business figure in the SEO services sector is extremely high
Probably because of the low We found that 65% of small business owners had already worked with at least one SEO provider before :
We also found that a quarter of our panel had worked with 3 or more suppliers:
However, our data suggests that most customers do not change SEO provider without careful consideration.
In fact, the customers of our panel work with their current SEO service for 3 years on average. And expired customers give their service provider an average of 2 years before leaving.
That said, we discovered a small subset of
These "fast switches" have tendency to hire and fire SEO companies at a high level
For example, we ranked 10% of our panellists in the category "fast switches" (with
To remember: 65% of SEO customers have used two or more SEO services in the past 25% worked with more than 3 providers
Most SEO clients leave their posts for lack of results and money
We wanted to find out why internet users decide to leave their current SEO provider or to change company.
to people who have worked with several SEO providers as "expired customers". And we asked this subset of expired users what was in their decision.
Here are the results:
It is not surprising that 82% of our respondents said: "Dissatisfaction with business results. "As a factor in their decision. 81% said costs had also played a significant role
This suggests that clients are not looking at results in a vacuum. They are also attentive to the return on investment generated by SEO. In other words, getting results for customers is one thing. But it's also important to demonstrate the return on investment of SEO in their businesses. Otherwise, they may leave.
Although lack of results and cost are the two most important factors, they are not the only reasons why customers decide to stop working with a natural SEO provider.
In fact, 80% of unused customers reported finding a better option for themselves, suggesting that customers are happy to look for an alternative to their current SEO provider.
And 34% cited "poor customer service / responsiveness" as a factor in their decision.
However, relatively few clients cited the motive "proposed by a competitor" to justify their departure. In other words, as long as your customers are satisfied, they are not likely to leave. This remains true even if a competitor tries to poach your client with a better offer.
We also asked our panellists "out-of-date clients" to explain to us why they had decided not to use an SEO service. Here is an example of these responses:
We also asked a group of satisfied users of their SEO service ("Existing Customers") what they liked about it. Here's what they told us:
To Remember: Most customers stop using an SEO service in because of the lack of results, the cost and the search for an alternative.
Existing customers are twice as likely to be Web savers than stranded customers
We asked our panel to self-declare their level of "Web protection".
Here are the results:
As you can see, 37% of SEO customers consider their web intelligence to be "a bit" or "not very".
In summary, many clients simply do not have the web mind to understand the key terms of digital marketing, such as "title tags," "CSS," and "backlinks." Which suggests that SEO companies should largely avoid this kind of jargon in favor of terms such as "prospects", "sales" and "Google ranking on the front page".
In fact, this is confirmed by another conclusion from our panel: Unused customers are much more likely to consider themselves than as savvy users of the Web.
Specifically, we found that existing clients were twice as likely to consider themselves "extremely internet savvy" than unused clients
This suggests that savvy users of the Web are better able to understand how their SEO service helps them. So they decide to stay. On the other hand, customers who do not know the Internet may not fully understand what they are getting from their SEO provider. They decide to leave.
Remainder: Customers who stay with their current SEO provider are twice as likely to be "extremely web-savvy" compared to those who leave or change offices.
Conclusion  I hope this survey has helped you better understand the SEO services industry in 2019.
I would like to thank Northstar research partners to have helped to design and conduct this survey.
And if you wish to know more about how this survey was conducted, here is a PDF of our methods of study .
And now, I would like to hear from you:
What is your main theme? Lesson to remember from the survey of today?
Or maybe you have a question about something you read.
Whatever it is, go ahead, leave a comment with your thoughts below.