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SEO Contracts: Client wants a performance clause
What realistic performance benchmarks can you use?
martinibuster




msg:780306
 8:29 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

What stumps me is when they ask for a performance clause in the contract. No matter how good you are, it's almost lying to give a guarantee of top rankings. How do you handle this part of the contract/negotiation?

 

Macguru




msg:780307
 8:39 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here is my basics. Turn it inside out.

You are a consultant, they make decisions. You cannot take any responsability on the decisions they make even after consulting you.

Get payed for EVERY hour you work with them. Yes, meeting with them is work. (exept for maybe the first 2 hours..)

From this point of view, you get the performace clause advantage. You ask for a performance bonus.

Getting payed or not on performance is only applicable on bonus, not basic salary. And that is what a performance clause is all about.

From the other end it ressembles scam to me.

martinibuster




msg:780308
 8:45 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hey,
That's a great angle, I hadn't thought of that. I think anyone who guarantees a performance target is being less than forthright. But framing a guarantee around a performance bonus that I receive or don't receive is a great solution.

Still, the original question remains: They want me to give them some tangible and quantifiable measurement of success. Is the one of the answers perhaps Keyword Density?

Hunter




msg:780309
 9:11 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>They want me to give them some tangible and quantifiable measurement of success

Increase in traffic for the agreed upon search term(s).

Torben Lundsgaard




msg:780310
 9:35 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Have you considered PPC or PPA as a measure of performance? This way the client only pay for the traffic they actually get. A recommend a 12 month contract a budget which matches your risk.

ken_b




msg:780311
 10:45 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>>> Get payed for EVERY hour you work with them. Yes, meeting with them is work. (exept for maybe the first 2 hours..)

From this point of view, you get the performace clause advantage. You ask for a performance bonus.

Getting payed or not on performance is only applicable on bonus, not basic salary. And that is what a performance clause is all about. <<<<

If performance is a bonus issue, what does the base salary cover?

lawman




msg:780312
 11:31 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

For those of you that don't know, I do criminal defense. I have some clients that want me to guarantee a win. The State Bar doesn't allow us to guarantee such results. I always tell my clients that if I COULD guarantee results, my fees would be much higher.

Fortunately I have a record to run on. I win more than I lose. Likewise, many of my clients are referrals from satisfied clients. You might want to play up your experience angle - letters from satisfied clients or even get permission from a couple of very satisfied ones allowing limited contact from prospective clients.

My fee agreement includes language about not guaranteeing results but using my best efforts. Seems like I posted that around here somewhere.

lawman

JayC




msg:780313
 11:41 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

My fee agreement includes language about not guaranteeing results but using my best efforts.

Yep, same here. In fact, our basic contract essentially states that the particulars of ranking are out of our hands and at the whim of the search engines themselves, subject to their policy changes, technical glitches, etc.

If it were necessary because a client required it, any statements about performance would be added... but still I'd hesitate to guarantee rankings and would instead focus on traffic increases (as Hunter said).

pageoneresults




msg:780314
 11:58 pm on Sep 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm with lawman on this one. More wins than losses and history to prove it. I've scrutinized so many guarantees in the past few months that it all comes down to PPC or CPC. I can guarantee you top positions, but, does your budget permit the type of expenditures required to stay there?

One of the questions we suggest the client ask the SEO is...

Are there any guarantees for top search engine positions? The answer to this question will depend on whether or not you choose a PPC - Pay Per Click program from Overture, or similar bid management campaign like Google's CPC - Cost Per Click program. Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, guaranteed #1 search engine positions may be difficult and expensive to maintain.

I believe they refer to it as Pay For Performance or PFP. ;)

martinibuster




msg:780315
 12:22 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

PPC is out of the question. They basically desire a long term solution to get out of the PPC merry go round they're already in.

They're arguably in a not too crowded field. Nevertheless, I hesitate to guarantee, or even set a target on something that is almost as variable as the weather.

They're are some really good suggestions here. Perhaps I can slide by with an non-specified increase in traffic. If anyone else has more suggestions, I'm all ears.

Macguru




msg:780316
 12:38 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>If performance is a bonus issue, what does the base salary cover?

Very good question.

Here is my work context. It may not be the same as many of us, but can be adapted.

I do SEO consulting mostly for local Web agencies. They have clients, and I am working on the agencies's behalf with the clients. The agency is the one writing the cheques to me, but their clients makes the final decisions. This is done mostly for buiding new sites or for sites to be rebuilted for search engine promotion.

The basic salary covers whatever hours I spend with the client or at the agency to develop the original site and get the external factors ( directory listings and link pop ) a little better than the competion. I adjust the 'who does what' to every situation.

Lets say my evaluation is at 100 hours for the basics, but for some reason we developped the site in only 80 hours. Here kicks in the first fold of the performance clause. I saved the agency 20 hours off the budget. So I am allowed a performance bonus for each of those hours. If for some unfortunate reason, I do it in 120 hours instead, I get penalised for those 20 extra hours.

That is an example of how performance clauses can be fairly applied in my opinion.

After that, I ask for a performance bonus based on results. I my evaluation stated we needed to spend 10 000 $ to get "keyprase Z" in top 5 on a given market share. I will ask a small bonus if we get there and get penalised if we dont.

The client is told that the evaluation was based ouside the impredictable reactions of competition. This is why the competion must also be monitored. If competion adds a 1000 pages and get 100 links a week, and the client just can't keep up with the pace, that's his decision to pull out, but not with my marbles...

This is why you just cannot give any garantees. Whe you dont have the bigger end of the stick, make performance clause work for you.

ken_b




msg:780317
 1:33 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Macguru; Thanks. I think I understand most of that. This part still escapes me a bit tho.

>>> needed to spend 10 000 $ to get "keyprase Z" in top 5 on a given market share. <<<

What is the realationship of "top 5" and "marketshare"?

Top 5 I get, it's the marketshare I'm confused on.

Macguru




msg:780318
 2:05 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Basically market share is a search service. Every search engine has a given market share. Some portals use the same results of a given search engine and represent another share of market. Visitors use to stick with a single search service. It is more expensive and nearly impossible (I never did it) to score top 5 across the board.

I focus on most important keywords for directories such as Yahoo or DMOZ. Real search engines like Google or Fast let you work on a broader range of keywords.

On the other hand, MSN is not a search engine, but this portal has an important market share. To gain top 5 on it will almost certainly require PPC or PFS for good keywords.

I try to adapt my services to the client's reality. This often means giving up on more expensive market shares such as MSN, and focusing on other search services. Key phrases can be dropped to certain market shares too, or any combination.

Hunter wrote :

>>Increase in traffic for the agreed upon search term(s).

I had bad experiences with that. The clients reputation played tricks on me. As soon vistors saw the name of the company, they avoided to click. Other factors can also weight in. This is why I set goals on search engine positions exclusively.

ken_b




msg:780319
 3:11 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks Macguru. That makes it clear. I really appreciate your taking time to explain.

martinibuster




msg:780320
 3:17 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is why I set goals on search engine positions exclusively.

That is an excellent point.

Macguru




msg:780321
 3:47 am on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>I really appreciate your taking time to explain.

You are very welcomed ken_b and martinibuster.

Here is how I structure objectives. Numbers dont add up since the complexity of placement and can vary according to target market. The objective is always top 5.

Primary keyprase on free inclusion market = 45 % of market for XXXX.XX $. (maintenance not included, no garantees on free directories)
Primary keyprase on paying directories = 30 % of market for XXX.XX $. (revisions not included)
Primary keyprase on pay for sipering X = 12 % of market for XX.XX $. (updates not included)
Primary keyprase on pay for sipering Y = 3 % of market for XX.XX $. (updates not included)
Primary keyprase on pay for sipering Z = 2 % of market for XX.XX $. (updates not included)
Primary keyprase on PPC = 45 % of market for X.XX $ a click for now. (tell me if your interested and if so, where to stop)

The same patern can be applied for secondary keyphrases but not too much for directories.

Since the client have a list in front of him, he can choose la carte and I just act like the waiter ansering to his questions. What he picks becomes the open contract. There is no time table, and the client decides on next moves when I present a report.

Long term contracts (if you must deal with it) should be assorted with a clause stating your not responsible for market fluctuations. You never know who will buy the other and when it will happend. If you can predict such things, I suggest you leave SEO business and focus on predicting loto. ;)

Here is an off topic thread, but dots could be connected...

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