SEO is an artform and if you want it done right, you hire an artist.

In a world where you can purchase an SEO “package” for five bucks, it’s a legitimate question to ask how much a proper SEO consultant really is worth on an hourly basis. After all, can’t you simply do the job yourself and not waste money on hiring a professional to do the job for you? The answer it turns out is much more complicated than you may first imagine.

Let’s Look at Those “Packages”

Let’s start with a look at some of these so called packages that you can buy on the cheap. None of them are really worth a whole heck of a lot. The problem is that these kinds of packages are not done in a way that makes much difference for your particular company.
Sure you can get a package of cheap blog comments. However, those comments will be the generic junk which will never get approved on quality websites. The cheap, junky websites are the only ones that will approve such links. The problem of course is that when such links get approved, you run the risk of getting hit by the Penguin.
In addition to this, these packages will never result in direct traffic for the simple reason that people can tell these are spam comments which are there just for the purpose of getting links. Thus even if you buy such packages, you’ll find that it’s an utter waste of your time and money.

It’s a Different SEO worldsocial media

As I wrote a while back, the world of SEO is rapidly changing and it’s not as simple as building a bunch of backlinks without worrying about much else. Anchor text, where the links appear, how often they appear, whether they appear staggered (i.e. one day 3 come out, another day 5 come out, another day 2 come out, etc.) or all at one time, all kinds of different factors need to be taken into account when you do your SEO work.
In essence, SEO is a bit like performing brain surgery. Sure you could get someone inexperienced to do the job, but the fact is that you don’t want to hire someone who is inexperienced. You want the top guy if you’re going to be having brain surgery done because it is a delicate business. SEO is basically the same kind of thing – you need a pro to do the job correctly.

But I Bought XYZ Program…

There are thousands upon thousands of programs out there that  can help you with doing your SEO work. I’ve reviewed many of them on these pages and in fact I have used many of them myself, including things SENUke X and Rank Builder. You can check my reviews at those links to learn more about these products.
Those products are great and yes, they really do work and they really can provide you with a lot of great backlinks. However, you need to know how to use them in order to do the job correctly. Think about buying a grand piano. It’s capable of providing you with some beautiful music. However, if someone inexperienced in trying to play the thing, it will create something utterly cringe worthy just as the efforts of someone who is inexperienced at SEO will not be worth as much as a professional SEO expert.

So Do I Need to Hire the Most Expensive Expert?

Okay, so now that I’ve got you a bit nervous about your SEO efforts and you realize that you can’t necessarily do the job all on your own, let me make this clear: you don’t have to hire the absolute top people in the industry in order to make sure that your SEO efforts are going to be successful.
How does this work out? Let’s talk about Microsoft and Geico for a moment. Both companies have professional SEO experts working for them and they also hire professional advertising agencies. Geico especially is known for their catchy ads with the Gecko and the obvious questions ads (I’m not a real big fan of the new “how happy are they” ads by the way).
Now ask yourself, if you are running a small business, do you really want or need to hire the same people who do Geico’s advertising or SEO? Remember that there can be too much of a good thing. Even if you had the unbelievable amount of money required to actually hire one of these people to do the job for you, it would be a waste because your small business doesn’t need that kind of exposure.
You need exposure which is specifically measured to the needs of your company and which will actually provide you with some real backlinks and some real traffic to your website. That means that no, you don’t need to hire a super expensive SEO expert but you do need to use someone who knows what they’re doing when they do your SEO work.

Can I Do Anything On My Own?

Monkey slips on banana peel

If you’re not quite this inept, you can do some things yourself.

Look, I’m not going to tell you that there is nothing you can do on your own to improve your SEO efforts. In point of fact, a quality SEO expert will not just insist on doing everything themselves but will actually advise you on how to do many of the things yourself so that you don’t need to spend the money to hire a pro.
For example, a good SEO expert will tell you how to improve your writing on your website so that it appears to be more SEO friendly. They can also advise you which experts to hire for various services that you may need and will help you to ensure that you don’t waste money on things that you simply don’t need to have.
You can also purchase plugins for your website which a good SEO expert can recommend to you which will help you to add in the features that you need on your website in order to make sure that you have what you need. One of my favorites for example is Platinum SEO Pack (which by the way is available for free).

Picking the Right SEO Expert

So how does one go about picking the right SEO expert for their own needs (and I am getting to the question above by the way – I will talk about how much an SEO expert is worth per hour in just a bit)?
Basically, what you need to do is to interview different people and explain what your business is about and what you feel you want to accomplish.
If an SEO expert can’t be bothered to talk with you, then run the opposite direction; that’s not someone who you want to work with. On the other hand, if you happen to find someone who is willing to talk to you but doesn’t sound like they actually know anything about what it is that you need to do in order to make your SEO efforts more effective, that person is not the right SEO expert for you either.
The bottom line when picking someone to work with is that you need to hunt for an SEO expert whom you “click” with and whom you feel as if you can have a relationship with. Remember that as I said above, SEO is primarily an art form and as such, you need to hire someone whom you feel comfortable with rather than just someone who says “trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

So How Much is an SEO Expert Worth per Hour Anyway?

Okay, let’s get to the $64,000 question. Just how much is an SEO expert actually worth on an hourly basis? The answer is, it depends. It depends on how much you have to spend and it depends on how much you personally think the SEO expert is worth. As a general rule though, you should not expect to spend very little because SEO does require someone who knows what they’re doing and expertise never comes cheap.
In other words, it’s not at all unreasonable to spend $100, $200 or even $300 per hour for a good SEO expert. However, at the same time, a good SEO expert is also someone that will not waste those hours and simply bill you for the time they spend eating lunch while thinking for a moment about your website.

Bottom Line

Look, SEO requires someone who knows what they’re doing. Sure, you could try doing it yourself and you might even succeed at doing it all on your own. However, in most cases, especially in a post Penguin world, you will find that you simply are not going to be happy with the results of your SEO efforts and you will find that you need to hire a proper expert to do the job for you.