<< by on September 27th, 2010
How an agency prices an SEO package is typically a hot debate within the industry. Does an SEO agency charge its clients on a retainer basis, one set fee per month for the real deal SEO package? Or does the agency charge its clients on an á la carte basis, allowing the client to pick and choose different tactics to create their own custom SEO package?
While I know this post won’t put an end to the debate, I figure I need to add my two cents to the conversation.
Here at Search Mojo we charge our clients on a retainer basis. Why? Well when a potential client comes to us for SEO help, 99.9% of the time it’s because they don’t know how to do it themselves and/or they don’t have the resources to do it well. So, when you give the potential client the option to order their SEO package á la carte the client typically skimps on important SEO efforts in order to reduce costs simply because they don’t know any better.
For example, if a potential client sees an SEO menu (this is purely hypothetical pricing) that says:
- Keyword Research – $2,000
- Content Edits – $500 per page
- Link Building – $10 per link
- Redesign Consulting – $6,000
They may say to themselves:
“Keyword research? Well, we already know what our keywords are based on traditional advertising efforts so we’ll skip the keyword research and simply give the agency the keywords that we already use.”
This is the first mistake and it’s a big one. As any SEO agency would, excuse me, should tell you, keywords are the foundation of an effective SEO campaign. Just because the company uses certain catch phrases to describe the product or service does not mean that customers are using these phrases when searching online. Unless keyword research has been done to determine the keywords that customers are actually searching for, the success of an SEO campaign is really a shot in the dark.
They may also say to themselves:
“Content edits? Hm, now that we’ve decided on the keywords we can put them into the site content ourselves.”
I won’t deny that this may be possible for some clients to do themselves, however, like I mentioned before most clients seek out our services because they don’t have the resources to do it themselves. Therefore, if a client says they’ll do it themselves the task will likely go to someone who already has their plate full and the edits will be sitting on the backburner waiting to be done.
As far as link building goes, let’s hypothetically say that they do sign up for this SEO effort because they’ve heard how important it is and really don’t know how to go about it. I’m using this as a hypothetical because 9 out of 10 times that a potential client asks if we provide our services á la carte, they’re asking because they only want link building. Unfortunately if a client has decided to forgo the keyword research, links will likely be built with anchor text that includes untargeted keyword phrases.
Finally, when it comes to redesigning a website, most individuals (including marketers, IT, etc.) don’t realize that a site redesign can have major impacts on the company’s organic search engine rankings. Whether it be that the site is moving to a new server, new technology is being used to develop the site, or file names are changing, these changes may cause the company to lose some if not all of its organic rankings if the changes are not done properly. Therefore, if redesign consulting is given as an á la carte option, it’s probable that the client won’t see this as a necessary part of an overall SEO campaign.
By charging on a retainer basis, however, we here at Search Mojo don’t give clients the opportunity to do a half-way job on SEO. Search Mojo’s retainer not only ensures that the client will receive the necessary month to month SEO efforts such as:
- Extensive Keyword Research
- Content Edits
- Inbound Link Building
- Digital Asset Optimization and
- Social Media Monitoring
It also covers the SEO efforts that are not necessarily needed month to month, yet have a huge impact on a client’s organic rankings including, but not limited to:
- Website Redesigns Consulting
- Providing guidance on technology that is used to create the new site to ensure that it is search bot friendly.
- Suggesting new file names that include the keyword phrases.
- Creating 301 permanent redirects.
- Helping to transition the site to a new server.
- Etc. (For more tips on redesigns check out our Micro-webinar on 10 Tips for SEO Friendly Redesigns)
My point is this, by charging on a retainer basis for SEO, Search Mojo and other agencies that do so are more likely to provide clients with an SEO service that has been proven to help clients reach their online goals.
If you are a company searching for an SEO agency, you are seeking out an expert’s knowledge and expertise in SEO. You may either pay on an á la carte basis and do your best to choose the SEO efforts wisely or you may pay on a retainer basis to receive an SEO service that the expert knows is proven to work. Without a doubt, I’m sure you as a client will find that the return on a retainer based SEO campaign will greatly outweigh the cost, while an á la carte style SEO campaign will likely leave you scrambling to find a new SEO agency.