Survey: 56% of Local SEOs Say Ranking Harder in 2019 but Most Still Upbeat

Last month, BrightLocal released its annual Local Search Industry survey, which focuses on the services, pricing and salaries of local SEO practitioners. This year’s installment featured responses from 650 local marketers of agencies, local businesses, franchises and freelancers as follows:

  1. Agencies and Freelancers: made up of Local, Regional, National & International Marketing Agencies, Web Design Agencies, and Freelance SEOs
  2. In-house Marketers: Local Businesses and Franchises / Brand

When it comes to what kind of work the job consists of, the most common tasks performed by these local SEOs included reporting and analytics, on-site optimization, competitor research, GMB optimization and SEO audits and analysis. Their favorite tasks looked very similar and included GMB optimization, on-site optimization, SEO audits and analysis, competitor research and content creation.

The data also showed what SEO services are the most in demand from clients. Website design took the top spot, moving up from second last year. The remaining top 5 included on-site optimization (last year’s number one), SEO audits and analysis, PPC and GMB optimization.

In terms of revenue, nearly half (49%) received average monthly fees of less than $1,000, a significant 57% drop from last year. On average, agencies reported earning $1,799 from each of their clients per month, up $109 from 2017.


The more services an agency offers, the higher the likelihood of increasing their monthly earnings, as many local businesses are eager for agencies that offer multiple services. According to the survey, the marketing channels that proved most effective for SEOs, in attracting new customers, included word of mouth, SEO itself, content marketing, local business groups and PPC. Content marketing and Facebook swapped places from 2017, with Facebook falling to 7th on this year’s list.

As far as how 2019 will play out, over half (56%) believe it will be harder to deliver results for clients this year. There is good news, however, as that number is down 17% from last year, and an overwhelming 93% reported being “very” or “fairly” optimistic about the search industry in 2019.

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