As the search marketing industry grows by importance and the qualified individuals that choose to make a career from search marketing (either SEO or PPC) gain experience and insight as search becomes more and more complex we start to ask ourselves are we really making what we are worth? As Richard Zwicky pointed out during his lunch and learn at the Search Insider Summit in Park City Utah this last December of 2008 a lot of us SEO's left contemplating our salaries.
Rand Fishkin posted a general guideline with job titles and descriptions back in 2006, and Payscale even reported their findings on January 20, 2009 based on individual's years of experience as well as broken down by city and state. Unfortunately Rand's salary ranges while pretty acurate are quite broad leaving most of us thinking "Yeah I fit somewhere in between, but where exactly?" and Payscale leaving some of us wondering how the heck does someone actually have over 10 years of experience as an SEO? Not to mention the salary difference of someone that has between 1-4 years and 5-9 years experience really not jumping that considerably.
Being the research junkie that I am I decided to run my own SEO salary survey. I posted the form on my blog back in July of 2008 and waited to recieve over 1,000 participants grabbing not only their SEO salaries, but the company size, agency or in-house, and so on. The results were pretty interesting, and I have to admit renewed my faith in the industry once again that us SEO people are valued more than we were 7 years ago (when I was making $35k a year as an SEO Lead).
As you can see most SEO people search anywhere between $30,000 to $89,000 per year salary with a larger number in the $50,000 to $89,000 per year salary range. Though it still looks like quite a lot of the agency SEO's are making under $29,000 per year salary. Rarely will you see an SEO making over $90,000 while working at an agency.
In-house SEO's however have a different (ut not by much) salary range than the agency SEO's with the majority making anywhere between $30,000 to $49,000 and $50,000 to $89,000 per year salary again with the majority bringing in $50,000 to $89,000 per year salary. But as you can see a much larger percentage earn over $90,000 per years salary as in-house SEO's than the agency SEO's.
As I pointed out in my last post comparing the roles of an in-house SEO vs someone that would work for an agency I suggested in the end that someone wanting to make SEO a career would benefit from starting out in an agency and moving to in-house full time as they gain more experience and knowledge. With more and more companies hiring in-house SEO's these companies are recognizing that the role these people play should be in the upper management positions requiring a higher salary range, and more and more are even beginning to develop entire teams rather than using agencies (or to supplement the agency).