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Creating SEO Pricing That’s Right For Your Business

May 20th, 2009 | | Pricing Models for SEO, SEO Management

We’ve talked about pay-for-performance, hourly consulting pricing, project pricing, profit-sharing and retainer agreements. Now it’s time to wrap up our pricing series with the final, and most common pricing model that combines all these very different pricing models into one, highly functional hybrid. It’s what I like to call The Combo Platter. This is what you’ll see with almost every professional SEO agreement and offers the most flexibility and tailoring for your budget and your SEO needs.

What is The Combo Platter in SEO pricing?

The Combo Platter is really just a combination of two or more different pricing models in one SEO contract or agreement. For instance, a professional SEO is contracted to do SEO for a client with a new website and to design and create content for a new blog. This contract may have a flat, project price for the SEO package, an hourly consulting price for blog design and content work, and a retainer agreement for upkeep and ongoing maintenance of SEO work on the website as well. Sure, this is just one possible combination but the point is, most SEO agreements utilize more than one of the most common SEO pricing models.

What does Combo Platter pricing mean to SEOs?

SEOs, this means you can match each individual project or element of a project to the pricing model that best suits it—no need to pick just one. What you want to do is make sure that each item in an SEO agreement is priced in a way that is equitable to both you and your client. An hourly price may be the best way to price new site copy, and profit-sharing might be how both you and your client want to price your basic SEO package—so use both.

Be flexible, choose pricing models that are appropriate for a particular project or task and be consistent—use what works. Clients will come to understand and rely on your pricing systems and constant changing from project to project can erode confidence in you and your work.

What does Combo Platter pricing mean to SEO clients?

Clients, it means you will rarely, if ever, see an SEO agreement that gives one blanket pricing model for all of the varied services that fall under the “SEO” umbrella. Don’t go searching for a pay-for-performance SEO, or limit yourself to SEOs that strictly work on retainer—your unlikely to find these people. Why? Because different elements of SEO require different amounts of time, effort, and research and have different metrics to measure success. For that reason, your SEO agreements are likely to require multiple pricing models so that you get an appropriate and measurable ROI and so that the SEO is compensated equitably as well.

Understand how each pricing model works, know what works for you and your budget, and remember that a professional SEO will know which pricing models serve best for their different services. Feel free to ask why they use the SEO pricing models they do and why they avoid certain pricing methods. Explain your budget and pricing preferences and remember that using a combination of pricing models will allow you a greater benefit and a more tailored SEO price—and, it’s likely to save you a lot of money over a strict single-pricing model SEO agreement.

Do you want to pay an hourly for monthly SEO maintenance? It would vary by month and who can predict how long it will take until work is well underway. Or, how would you calculate a pay-for-performance pricing method when it comes to writing new website copy? Not all pricing models work for all SEO projects and trying to fit all SEO work under one umbrella pricing structure could lead to client overpayment, inadequate compensation for the SEO professional or confused and imprecise calculations of pricing.

For clients, planning budget and payment with multiple pricing models for your SEO can get a little complicated. You’re measure hourly work for one thing, a standard monthly retainer, and possibly a profit-sharing payment for other elements of your SEO agreement. Be precise, keep thorough records of your payments and ask questions when you have them. The extra work is well worth the payoff—clear cut, equitable pricing.

SEOs, for you’re the downside is the same—a little more paperwork to keep track of. But, with each project priced appropriately, you’ll see that your compensation will equate to the time and effort put into a particular task—no more discouraging unpaid late nights and long hours that erode relationships with clients and produce less-that-stellar work.

What to remember if you use The Combo Platter

  • Both SEO and client need to remember to use the appropriate pricing models for a project or element of a project. Pricing models like pay-for-performance and profit-sharing, for instance, work well where there are good metrics and methods of measuring success, and tasks such as copy writing may be better suited for an hourly rate or project price.
  • Openly discuss pricing with your SEO, ask why they have chosen to use certain pricing models and not others. It can be helpful in coming up with the best pricing arrangement for you and may help you find options that are better suited for your budget.
  • Finally, keep doing your pricing research. Pricing models and terminology are constantly changing in SEO and you’ll benefit from keeping up-to-date on what options are available and the benefits and detriments of each.

And, that’s it for our series on pricing—but it’s by no means all there is on SEO pricing. Whether you’re an SEO professional, client or prospective client, keep reading and researching SEO pricing so that when the time comes, you get the most for your money with SEO.

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