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A New Pricing Structure for SEO Companies . . . Paid Performance, Part 2

By Robin Nobles
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Pricing structures have always been the source of much discussion among professional SEO's. Read this article for a new pricing idea! (Part 2) Question:

Do you give the clients access to your Web stats?

Barry:

Absolutely -- they have full access to real time figures with the ability to check referrals.

Question:

If I'm understanding correctly, you own the domain and the site that you set up for the client. So if the client terminates the contract, he loses all the traffic coming from you.

Barry:

Correct. A contract period is entered into whereby we agree that this is for the sole use of the client for the defined period. We also undertake that if the contract is terminated, all references to the client will be removed, and they have the option to purchase the domain, though not the content. We are selling traffic. In essence, we are setting up an affiliate deal with the client.

Question:

Do you link to the client's original site at all, or this is really a totally separate issue? How do you get around with DMOZ?

Barry:

It depends on the type of site. Take travel, for example, we would probably call the agent's booking engine within the site. On other sites, it is a pure site but will have the client's phone details and e-mail will forward to the client. DMOZ has proved not to be a problem in most instances. Eight out of ten of our sites get into DMOZ, and 100% get into Yahoo!.

Question:

Will redirection to the client's original site occur only when there is a need, such as a "call to action" like ordering, subscription, etc.? Do you redesign the client's main sites for more effective click stream and conversions?

Barry:

Yes, a call to action is the only real interface with the client's site, and we do work with the client to increase their revenue stream through usability issues if we can. We need this to work for them for obvious reasons!

Question:

Getting back to the Web stats, do you do it in-house or use a service like (http://www.hitslink.com/) for the client to access?

Barry:

Generally we use an SSI script which we have in-house which gives very accurate data. Some clients prefer to run with 3rd part software like hitslink, and we don't have a problem with that either. We prefer our script in that it is easier to strip out repeat visits whereas we find hitslink is not quite as good at identifying unique visitors.

Question:

Two clients approached one of my students recently. They are just starting out, and their budget for any kind of promotion is very low. Could an SEO just start charging them a certain amount per visitor without setting up a budget with them?

Barry:

Yes, we have managed to bring on clients who are very nervous about SEO spending on a PPC basis who have increased their spending and spread as their confidence grew. I think we have been lucky, so far. You really have to assess each client. Some just aren't going to get a lot of traffic in their market niche. Some can't sell, so either way you lose.

Question:

What do you do with domain names? All the good ones seem to be taken already.

Barry:

We're in the UK. Lots of .co.uk domains around! Seriously, you have to be a little inventive without doing the spammy-spam-keywords-more-here.com. I'm still surprised at what is available. I managed to get hospitality-management-college.com for a hospitality management college (their main keyword) last week!

Question:

Let's say you have a client who desires to spend $5,000 per month, and you deliver more than enough to match that dollar value. How do you stop the traffic flow, if it's let's say paid inclusions, but not through PPC? Any pull the plug examples?

Barry:

It is easy enough on pay for inclusion -- you can suspend traffic. Google is the real problem! In reality, you can get a good indication of what is about to transpire, and I've not had anyone fail to increase his or her ceiling.

Question:

How do you suspend traffic for the pay for inclusion engines?

Barry:

Certainly on Position Technologies and Ineedhits (for Teoma), you have a suspend button for a URL.

Question:

Any complaints that the traffic doesn't convert to sales the way the client wants?

Barry:

We try and judge if that is likely to happen before we take on the contract. Sometimes we have to be brutal and tell them: we can get you the traffic, but you won't sell anything. We make it very clear that this is a partnership and we will do everything we can to advise the client, but we can't close the sale. That is their job. Generally, the message gets through and they look towards their own site/business to see where they are falling down - not us. You have to make this all clear at the outset though.

Question:

Are your services priced to compete with the trusted feed programs from the major engines that will index problem pages?

Barry:

Not really, though we do use trusted feed in certain areas. People tend to come to us for terms which are likely to be buried under directory listings or are pretty competitive.

Question:

So you really don't ever need to modify the client's site, do you?

Barry:

No, we rarely touch the client site. If we do, it is subject to a separate contract. Nor do we charge for any traffic the client gets to his or her own site through their own SEO activities.

Question:

What is the average cost per click that you can charge clients?

Barry:

It averages around 25 cents. The lowest is 15 cents, and highest is over $2.00.

In Conclusion

If you're a professional SEO and are considering various pricing structures, follow Barry's (http://www.makemetop.co.uk) example by starting out slowly and gradually working your way into a niche that works for both you and your clients. Search engine optimization is extremely time consuming and requires a considerable amount of knowledge to be successful. You deserve to be paid for your work. If you can show your clients that you'll only get paid after you bring them results, you may find that both you and the clients benefit from this type of pricing plan.

Robin Nobles, Partner and Trainer, Search Engine Workshops, (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com) teaches 2-day, 3-day, and 5-day hands-on search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. She also teaches online search engine marketing courses (http://www.onlinewebtraining.com) and has two books currently on the market at Amazon.

About the Author
Robin Nobles teaches "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe with Search Engine Workshops (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com), and she teaches online search engine marketing courses through (http://www.onlinewebtraining.com). She has written three books that can be ordered through Amazon and other bookstores.