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Charging SEO work. How to?

     
12:39 am on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
Once again I face the situation where I get a freelancer SEO project, but don't know how to charge it. There are mainly 2 issues for me:
1-
- Charge by the hour?
or
- Charge for the project?

2- How to touch the subject and how to charge when you can't actually give any guarantees? How to get a customer to pay you if their site pages didn't get updated on google yet?

Last time, I told the customer I couldn't guarantee if it would take a week or a year, but once I finished my work, I would like to get the second half of money. Once I was done, they gave me a hard time and said I hadn't finish the job, since the page was not on google. So I decided to wait, and like 4 months later I was finally paid.

How do you guys handle those situations?

Thanks a lot for the input.

6:49 pm on Nov 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I believe there are a lot of SEO professionals here that could give me some advice. Not?
Should I have posted this message on the search engine optimization forum? This one says it's business issues.

Thanks for helping.

6:00 pm on Nov 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hello!

Charge for an hour is suitable if you a hired as a fulltime optimizator.

In your case I suppose it`s better to charge for a project. You need define price for a package of keywords chosen by your customer (if keywords are competetive you should define price for each). Define terms just estimated (2-3 monthes for example). Charge 50% as prepayment and other part after completion of project.

good luck!

6:33 am on Nov 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>how to charge when you can't actually give any guarantees?

Would you expect to pay for something based upon "We may deliver in the future?"

If the answer is no, then why do you expect your clients to pay on this basis?

Charge based upon what you achieve, not based upon what you promise to achieve.

Do you have to wait a while for payment.........YES!

If payment guaranteed?........NO!

Should you be paid for doing something that has not been of benefit to the client, even though you thought it would....."Fill in the Blank!"

The SEO industry is full of crooks. Those that can, don't want clients......those that can't seek them out at every possible opportunitity.

Best answer you can give to a potential SEO client is.......go somewhere else!

5:07 pm on Nov 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Should you be paid for doing something that has not been of benefit to the client, even though you thought it would....."Fill in the Blank!"

Yes...Let's say it's the case of a URL rewrite. The client's site is all dynamic, and by doing a URL rewrite I will make the site have the POTENTIAL to have every single page listed on google. I can't guarantee that google will list every page, or WHEN. But with my work, the URL rewrite, now at least the site has a POTENTIAL that didn't have before. I deserve to get paid anyway. Don't you agree?

9:29 pm on Nov 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well whatever you do the most important thing is to comunicate it trough with your costumer before the actual work.

Comunicate really is the key word in this.
The above also had a point. A costumer is not ready to pay for something he doesn't notice.
While a webmaster will have no problem paying for what you just mentioned. Some small company leader will have a hard time understanding what your are saying.

The problem how you told me can't really be solved.
But you can work around it a bit.

You need to combine the unoticible with something people will notice. For example. With your above service also combine a prweb release and paid inclusion in some search engines. Charge them some more money but they will notice the effects.

I don't know much about SEO
but i hope this helps.

Greetz,
Thiery

11:15 pm on Nov 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Apologies in advance for overuse of cliches, mixed metaphors, etc. Marketing has a strange affect on my vocabulary.

Widen your approach. If you sell "SEO" then it sounds to the uninitiated masses like instant gratification - the "flick a switch and poof there is light/high ranking" spam that is pushed by so many fly-by-nighters in the business.

Try SEM - Search Engine Marketing - as a different mindset. Marketing is an understood longterm business concept. It also opens the door to the sale of more services!

Optimisation requires many tweaks (at the least!) to every page - keywords and their use in content and links, page titles and descriptions, content optimised for web browsing in place of print reading, etc. ad nauseum. It also involves server side settings, as you mention, among a host of other things.

Each item takes time: in thought and in action. Very billable time.

My approach is that I am marketing their site to each SE. Like each of their customers every SE likes/dislikes/ignores different things. I estimate the time to do what I believe necessary to optimise the existing site. I put a marketing proposal together that splits client costs in two.

First, I cover my time. As in normal site design I want some up front, some at set points as work progresses. Second, I want bonuses for site performance. This requires knowing site and page ranking in each targeted SE and logging changes. Normally I get bonuses each month (to a max of one year), after uploading optimised page(s), that ranking improves. The bonus/ranking guideline is always the touchiest negotiation!

I do not break down each optimisation tweak with a price. I say I will do all these things (a general list) for this amount of money and this amount of bonus per ranking increment per SE.

I sell marketing, not optimisation. Ad agencies get paid for campaign costs regardless of how bad.

With new clients that I want badly enough (not lately, fortunately) I will optimise one template or several pages - a very small sample - for a set modest fee providing that the contract for the entire site is in force as soon as specified targets are met by the optimised sample.

I then follow up (the marketing approach) with an SEM maintenance proposal that keeps paying for the continual tweaks that are necessary. It generally works out well. Existing sites that I optimise often have me do or oversee later site re-design and design/content maintenance as well.

SEO/SEM is an integral part of a site right in there with the design and layout and content. The interconnectivity is such that to do "only" design or "only" SEO is to leave the client open to going elsewhere.

12:06 am on Nov 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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First, I cover my time. As in normal site design I want some up front, some at set points as work progresses. Second, I want bonuses for site performance. This requires knowing site and page ranking in each targeted SE and logging changes. Normally I get bonuses each month (to a max of one year), after uploading optimised page(s), that ranking improves. The bonus/ranking guideline is always the touchiest negotiation!

This is very difficult to negotiate and to monitor.

Anyway, I already closed a deal with the Client. I set a list of actions and told him how many hour it would take. I gave him a range, and requested the payment up front of half of the hours I calculated as minimum.
I specified that this first step of the work is just to give the site the potential of getting indexed (URL rewrite) and ranked higher for specific keywords. I will review and make changes to code ans content. This is just phase1. This client wants to work in that way. He just started the business and wants to do one thing at a time.

I thought about doing something based on performance. Like getting paid more for each extra # of users coming from google. Example, let's aay he is getting 10 users from google a day. I could get paid a certain amount $ for each other 10 users I get to the site. But this complicates things a lot.