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What should be done 2 hours per month maintenance on optimized site
Client offers 2 hours work per month to do SEO maintenance.

 10:46 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

An agency has offered me 2 hours work per month to continue to keep a site optimized for search engines before hand the client will have paid a lump sum for the site being optimized in the following ways for a one off payment:

A fairly basic 5 page html site will be rehashed. Making it look better and more usable. Also 10 pages of content will be made and optimized around some carefully selected keywords.

The client is already running himself a Pay per Click campaign.

The site will be submitted to the Yahoo directory and the Open directory.

A link popularity campaign get lots of sites to link to that site to try to improve the PR rating of the site. Put in some quality outbound links to relevant pages.

Resubmit his site for free.

My question is what should be included in this 2 hours work per month?

Keep track of the logs on the webalizer or report magic logs. See where most of the site's traffic is coming from in terms of what keywords from which search engine.

I think it would be a good idea to add a page of content every month and link it up properly with the rest of the site. This content should be containing key phrase picked from the site logs that show that the site is being found for particular phrases aren't as well covered in the already existing 15 pages.

Continue link popularity campaign analyzing competitor's sites see where their quality links are coming from.

Produce reports for the client on how he is being found for particular phrases in which search engine.

Are there other things I could do as well.



 3:25 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

How about regularly checking for broken links.


 3:51 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think you covered the most important maintenance tasks, but 2 hours a month doesnt seem long enough to me to accomplish all that you mentioned.


 4:10 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

that would be at least 8 hours work a month for us. be careful about over-promising.


 5:53 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

you said "See where most of the site's traffic is coming from in terms of what keywords from which search engine." - that will tell you what?
surely you want to somehow find out the number of searches and keywords that users are using that are looking for that site but "dont" find it, ie. keywords thay have been left out? - presumably done by looking at competitors sites?


 3:59 am on May 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

On a similar subject, is it appropriate to discuss ongoing maintenance rates here? I am really struggling with how much to charge my clients to maintain their rankings and continue link work, as well everything else geoffhodbod mentioned.

I'm sure it depends a lot on the number of url's, but can anyone give me some parameters?


 6:13 am on May 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> is it appropriate to discuss ongoing maintenance rates here?

Technically my guess is no, but I know there have been many great threads on the topic. Try a site search [webmasterworld.com] and you should find a lot.


 7:07 am on May 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

An ongoing maintenance rate has to correlate with your regular rates and how much work has to be done, how often, and the amount of time monthly or quarterly. Also, it can in part depend on the revenue expectancy level of the site and how competitive.

This is a very key point, something to be careful about:

I think it would be a good idea to add a page of content every month and link it up properly with the rest of the site. This content should be containing key phrase picked from the site logs that show that the site is being found for particular phrases aren't as well covered in the already existing 15 pages.

Should adding additional pages and increasing the number of keywords the site is optimized for be considered part of maintaining the existing optimization of site pages, or is it actually doing optimization work that should be compensated for on top of maintenance?

Then, also, if the site increases in size with more pages and keywords to monitor, the amount of work that needs to be done on a monthly basis increases and the amount of time that needs to be put in starts to grow.

This is something I'm restructuring right now, and I can cite an illustration for it.

Last year I optimized a new site for a set of keywords - 4 primary phrases, one of them being the biggest money-maker. I maintain the site for a monthly retainer, and since that time it's also ranking for many peripheral phrases.

Since then there has been an entire additional product line added - even more competitive, with many pages having been added, increasing the size of the site to more than 5 times its original size.

I continue to make adjustments to the new pages that are closely related to the original 4, since there's an inter-dependency among them for Google rankings, but as far as that large new group of keywords is concerned, that isn't included. I wasn't asked and didn't optimize those pages, so I don't maintain them beyond checking the rankings for the primary phrases just to see how they're doing. It's like a whole other site on top of the original.

The new pages for the other product line were set up without asking an opinion first for the navigation or the pages themselves, and at this point in time going through the whole site again is being treated as an initial work-up consultation to tell what needs to be done. It just isn't the same site that it was at the beginning.

The actual optimization of pages and creation of several that need to be added will have to be billed for as separate work, in this case either by the page or on an hourly basis, depending on the findings.

You can see where I'm coming from, why this needs to be looked at. There is no way all that extra work that's needed now can be done for only the original monthly maintenance retainer fee in this case. As a site grows so should the revenue. And then so does the amount of work required to maintain it on a regular basis as it grows.

It might depend on whether the fee structure is adequate to cover the time involved with the growth of the site. If it's enough, fine - then it covers additional optimization in addition to simple maintenance - which isn't necessarily hourly, but better have a time cap on it if we know what's good for us. If it isn't enough to cover, then in my opinion work that's well beyond maintaining a site for a specific number of keywords should be compensated for as "new" optimization work.


 7:55 am on May 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

wow, good point Marcia: the scope of the maintenance work will likely grow with the site. So if you're in for a fixed rate that could be trouble.

when I bid a fixed rate I always try to define the scope and limitations as much as possible, then put a cap on everything - up to X hours, or X whatevers.

But you got me thinking that a good pricing structure for maintenance should be variable. Or at least a base service plus some variable component. A rate based on hours is obvious, but what other variables make sense? #of pages, traffic, frequency (of your reporting, submissions, etc),?


 2:45 am on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Marcia, thank you, you've made excellent points. I agree there should definitely be a distinction between existing work and new work. I usually allow for up to X number of keywords at x rate. Optimizing new pages would be an additional cost, but I set the flat monthly rate based upon "up to x keywords." And, I indicate it's 1 primary keyword phrase per page.

The pricing is so hard though. One month I might only have to run a ranking report and email it, the next I might have to spend hours boosting rank. I sometimes get the feeling that other firms are charging thousands per month to just maintain rank.


 3:46 am on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)


If it were me, I would leave this one alone on the terms you seem to be backing into.

For two hours a month, all I would do is monitor, and present a monthly report of the situation, along with a professionally reliable architecture for any necessary work to be performed in order to (attempt to) bring specified results.

The owner could shop your specs to the market, and/or invite you to quote also.

That's the way to do it, in my badly burned opinion ;)



 3:52 am on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Are you suggesting I should just bill for the two hours and then if there are changes to be made to boost rank, then bill hourly after that?

If that's what you mean, I think I like it. It takes away a lot of the guess work and I won't have to worry about the months where it takes me longer.


 5:06 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)


Yes .. sorry I didn't notice this earlier .. what I'm saying is that to me the task here breaks down into two things, the knowable and the unknowable.

I would, and do, offer people a fixed degree of maintenance, with se stuff all you can do that's fixed is monitor and report and recommend, however you want to shape that, and I guess you can do a little tweaking also along the way.

But that tweaking gets out of hand real fast and then you don't have a way to bill for it because it's not structured up front.

You just can't do anything in two hours. I watch a guy's site on the basis of, this is my hourly, it'll never go over three hours a month. Anything bigger means I'll have put the proposal in concrete written form as a specific project - but for me even to spend my time watching your site, you have to pay me something, and I'll bill whatever I do - and I tweak, but if the tweaking's not enough then it's time to put a bigger proposal together.

your two hours a month means there's a driver at the wheel watching the road, and a serious owner ought to be able to swallow that cost as a wise precaution, because it takes so much more to pull a site up when it's slipped for months without being caught.

A non-serious owner of course is someone you can only lose money on.

I'm rambling, off to bed soon.

sticky me for prices if you want



 5:13 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

little more on reflection

somewhere back in the thread there's a sense of building traffic and such isn't there?

if so then this is beyond my concept of the two hour watchman thing. You could just say, I'll give you two hours and you won't get much for it, but at least I can keep you out of trouble, and over a few months I can make some recommendations.

Alternately start pitching now for a bigger project, but I think you'll be more comfortable not getting into a bigger proj right now, and also softee softee, get him used to paying you monthly and trusting you, get you used to the site and the neighborhood, and then slip in a bigger project, maybe by then you'll even have a little testing where you can pitch targets and results.


 5:15 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Presumably the goal of the site is to generate sales, leads, inquiries, registrations. The time might be well spend looking at more than where the traffic is coming from.

Where are the sales, leads, or whatever coming from? Where are people dropping out of the site. Once that is monitored and known it provides a direction for new content development, keyword buys, site tweaks, etc..

IMO, that's the most valuable way to spend a couple hours a month and give them a reason to allocate more funds to make changes and bring about improvements in the site.

Sometimes, however, it can take weeks to convince someone that conversion tracking and analysis is worthwhile.


 8:46 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Apart from the cost factor, part of the monthly maintenance should include monitoring ranking performance of each page. Leave alone the good performers untouched but work on tweaking the code of the poor pages until they get to the desired level.

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