Why You Can Not Charge a Monthly Fee for On Page SEO

Aug 29, 2004 • 11:35 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEM / SEO Companies

I've been waiting for a thread to pop up on this topic in the past few weeks, and finally one sprung up that caught my attention over at HighRankings. The thread is about a small SEO firm who needs to provides his client with an answer to "Why Should Customer Renew?"

Pretty much all of the on-page search engine optimization (seo) efforts are done or should be done right up front. So let's say you have a client with a five page site. You optimize each page for the client and then sit back. If your not providing any link building services, then in reality your work is done. Of course, you might want to see if the keywords are a good fit for the site. You might need to make some tweaks here and there. But after, lets say, three months, what else is there? Reports. :)

Many of the SEO professionals in the thread agree, that they should only charge for actual work performed. To tell a client that they would drop in the rankings if they don't renew a contract is wrong. Again, this only applies to the on-page seo efforts. I do understand that keeping links up to a site, will require additional money and time.

I prefer to take this one step further. As many of you know, I am big-time into building dynamically driven Web sites. That means, empowering the customer to manage the site themselves. By building a search engine friendly site that can be easily maintained by the customer, he/she can add/edit/delete pages as they see fit. Can all clients write well for search engines? Maybe not, but I want them to try. If I can properly educate the client on the basics of SEO copy-writing, then we have a winner. So there is no reason to even pay a monthly fee or hourly fee to have an SEO review your copy.

Let's say Google makes a major change to its ranking algorithm, they now put a ton of weight on the meta keywords tag (not true). Then, a programmer can make a single change to a template file in a matter of minutes. The site will automatically pull data from a data-source in the database and build keywords for the meta-keywords field. There you go, you can charge for 6 minutes of work. :)

I personally believe that most on-page seo firms should not charge a monthly fee. They should base prices on work performed and not to base prices on reading forums or go to conferences. Man hours = billable.

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12/13/2007 12:34 am

I understand your argument here, and it does envoke some powerful thoughts on the issue. My question is this; Why even preform SEO services and consulting? Profit. Profit is not and should not be a dirty word. A lot of smaller companies cannot afford the larger "single fee" optimizations. Providing a monthly billing allows them to stretch it out over a longer period of time, and ensure that any new content they create is optmized as well. There is another benefit for the end customer in that (in theory) they will be provided with on-going support. Whereas most providers I know (be it web designers or optimizers) Will unfortunatly be "unavailable" to their previous customers after the changes are "live". Unless there is another charge or fee made. A month to month system will also ensure an improved relationship, lend itself to increased referrals and better word of mouth. I think too many people (not the writer persay), but many in this business are still treating it too much like a Hobby, than a real business with real business goals.


06/28/2008 09:17 pm

I couldn't agree with you any more. It seems to be that any SEO/SEM with an ounce of intelligence knows that you cannot charge a month to month fee. I enjoyed reading up the toss up at the High Rankings forum about this as well. I just got into it back and forth with a guy on my blog as well who seems to think its ok to perform SEO on a month to month basis... His website explains it all. It seems to me that the junior SEOs or "Textbook Seos" have this kind of thought process.

No Name

06/09/2009 12:30 am

I have to agree with Tony on this one. SEO is a "continued service", unlike web development where you build, bill, and then bail. It is your responsibility, or at least it should be, to be your client's online promotions strategist that can make recommendations as to how and where to promote their next marketing campaign. And your continued service to your client should obviously provide more than just reports. What about A/B testing? What about cross promotional campaigns? What about guerrilla marketing tactics and ghost writer style techniques that go right to the heart of where their customers get their information? Now, I understand, that a smaller 5 page web site is probably going to be a much smaller client who will have limited budget, but that just makes your job as a professional that much more challenging... finding cost effective ways to promote the business. Maybe I see projects less as SEO jobs, and more as total marketing solutions. But then again, I AM a web developer ;) rp

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