Local Search Industry Survey

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Welcome to the latest Local Search Industry Survey – an annual look into the business practices, pricing, salary, and services offered by local marketers.

The survey looks at the attitudes and experiences of people managing marketing for local or multi-location businesses, as well as freelance and in-agency marketers. Throughout the report, we have segmented answers where useful to help readers understand how their peers are working, as well as giving insights for client-side marketers to help them excel in their business.

A huge thank you to the 475 local marketers who shared their insights to help create this report, and to everyone that shared the survey to help get the word out!


Demographics of the Local Search Industry Survey

So, what does a local marketer look like in 2020?

Respondents of this year’s survey are mainly situated in the USA (69%), UK (7%), Canada (6%), and Australia (4%), with a further 30 countries also seeing responses. For ease of conversion, we have only included responses from people from the above four countries for questions related to pay and pricing.

Business type20202019
Local/Regional agency40%38%
National/International agency20%21%
Freelancer/Marketing consultant11%6%
Local business10%16%
Multi-location business9%4%
Web design agency6%7%
Other5%7%

Audience segments remained similar to last year, with the majority of respondents working in agencies.

Annual revenues for agencies and freelancers

Local SEO agency and freelancer revenue

The average revenue of businesses in this study was $1.28 million – up a little from $1.2 million last year. We did not ask this question to people working in local or multi-location businesses.

As is likely to be the case across local marketing itself, there was an uneven gender split among respondents — 68% are male, and 30% female. This is the first year we’ve reviewed results by gender and, as such, we have included some interesting gender-related findings throughout.

This year, the majority of respondents class themselves as senior (60%) – ranging from sole practitioners to leaders of large businesses. 23% are mid-level (consisting of directors and account leads), and 17% junior (including account managers and junior executives). Female marketers were more likely to class themselves as junior (24%) or mid-level (26%), compared to male respondents (14% junior, 23% mid-level).

The average age of respondents is 42. 30% are aged 18-34, 52% 35-53, and 18% over 55. When looking by seniority, the average junior marketer is aged 36, mid-level marketers at 37, and senior employees aged 46.

The number of years spent in local search

Years spent working in local SEO

Most respondents have been working in local search for a while – with 50% working in the industry for longer than 10 years.

While all of the above demographics may be indicative of changing trends in the industry, we would not like to draw any major conclusions based solely on who responded to this year’s survey, compared to those who responded last year. In some cases, the slight changes to the demographics as outlined above may be reasons for changes compared to last year.


Jobs and hiring in local search

Number of employees working in local marketing businesses

For the first time this year, we included an option for people working alone. This means that there is a slightly higher proportion of respondents working alone or in small agencies with fewer than five staff than last year.

Few businesses have a great number of SEO professionals. 38% have just the one, with only 10% having more than 10. There are a great many small agencies and SEOs working alone out there, so it’s critical we all stay in touch and work together!

The hiring outlook

Local SEO jobs

52% of respondents say their business will likely hire more team members this year.

Local marketing is only growing in importance, and it seems like even more jobs will need to be created to meet the demand.

Marketers moving jobs

Local SEO new jobs

Yet, it seems like there aren’t many marketers that are looking to move right now. 78% are planning to stay in the same job – which could be bad news for those looking to grow their team.


Working with local business clients

Number of local SEO clients

When compared to 2019, there was a slight dip in marketers with more than 31 clients answering the survey. Small agencies will have a very different experience than their larger counterparts, with smaller budgets and more limited time resources available.

The average number of clients local marketers manage

Average number of local SEO clients

The average local marketer works on 16 clients, with junior and mid-level marketers both having 20+.

Freelancers and senior marketers have significantly fewer clients. A typical freelancer manages an impressive eight clients.


Hours worked by local marketers

Average hours worked43
Full-time employees only (those working 35+ hours)47
18-3442
35-5444
55+51
Female40
Male44
Junior39
Mid-level42
Senior44
Agency44
Freelancer40
In-business marketer42

SEO can be hard work, and getting the best results for a website often requires you to put the hours in. 46% of marketers work more than 40 hours, though this is down a little from 50% last year.

When looking at only those respondents that work full-time (35+) hours, the average weekly number of hours is 47.

Marketers in senior positions put in the most average hours, followed by people aged 35-54. Of course, these two groups will likely overlap significantly.

Perhaps surprisingly, freelancers have the lowest average hours (40). By no means does this mean that freelancing is the easy life, though this average could be affected by those freelancers that work part-time alongside other commitments.

Average hours spent by marketer type

Hours spent on SEO

When comparing the overall number of hours worked to the number spent focusing on SEO and local marketing activities, there is a clear difference looking at local businesses. The average local business respondent spends 14 hours a week on marketing their business.

Last year, the average local marketer spent 26 hours on local SEO and marketing efforts. This year, that number dropped to just 21.


Salaries for local SEO marketers

Respondents were able to opt-out of sharing salary details, with the following data based on the 34% that did choose to share this information.

Local SEO salaries in agency and freelance

Local marketing can be a lucrative vocation, with 65% of respondents earning more than $60,000 per year. This is up from 48% last year. In fact, on the whole, respondents were much more likely to earn $100,000 than in 2019 – possibly due to our limiting salary data to respondents from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia this year for ease of conversion and comparison.

Average salary for local marketers ($US)$88,532
Full-time employees only$94,960
18-34$81,029
35-54$90,918
55+$97,727
Female$77,913
Male$88,710
Junior$56,670
Mid-level$75,442
Senior$102,171
Agency$93,320
Freelancer$50,661
In-business marketer$84,691

Salary can be a private topic, and thus, it’s a little hard to know if your earnings are in line with your peers. The average salary among respondents has increased compared to last year to $88,532 – up from $81,103 in 2019 and $61,711 in 2017. When removing those who work less than 35 hours a week, this average is $94,960.

But, of course, what you earn differs hugely based on age, role, and location. Senior marketers earn an impressive average of $102,171, while those in junior positions can expect to earn $56,670.

Female marketers earn around 14% less than the males in this survey – though there were fewer women in this survey that defined themselves as “senior”. Are women in SEO getting the opportunities they need to grow into the highest-paying and most senior roles? Areej AbuAli’s Women in Tech SEO network is a great place to share knowledge and find support – check it out!

Freelancers tend to bring in a lower salary than those working in an agency, or in-house for a local or multi-location business. This may well be due to some freelance marketers working fewer hours alongside other commitments, but also due to lower prices.

Satisfaction with salaries

Local SEO salary satisfaction

For the most part, local marketers seem satisfied with their compensation. Freelance marketers are least likely to be happy, with 43% reporting dissatisfaction.

Marketers aged 55+ are also less likely to be satisfied with their salaries – with 32% reporting some level of unhappiness.

So, are local marketers being paid enough? They bring so much value, but there is some clear dissatisfaction among some. But, this could just be human nature, I’m sure we’d all always like a little more money!

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