Staff Writer: Nancy Mann
If you are a new Southern California SEO firm, you’ve probably already faced the challenge of developing a competitive fee structure. This is a particularly tricky task, as it’s a balancing act: you want to promote your value, and yet you need to generate clients. Plus, as a new industry presence, it’s important to get your name out there and prove what you can do.
The best way to come up with a CA SEO fee structure that reflects fair market value is to do your research. There are various industry resources that can help you define what your specific market can carry, and which range of numbers will keep you competitive. SEO costs differ from region to region, state to state and country to country, so you want to acquire the most dependable and recently documented data available.
Once you’ve gotten a handle on the kinds of prices your market will support, you’ll need to next decide the types of packages and contracts you want to offer. There are multiple options, but the most popular are still hourly rates, by-the-project fees and monthly retainers. Each of these options has its benefits, so it depends on the needs of the client as to how you proceed.
According to studies on SEO fees, hourly rates seem to be the option of choice for small or one-time-only projects. They are also attractive to the small business owner who may have less of a cash flow. From your side of the desk, it may not seem too profitable, but if you’re working on several small business projects at once, your profits will start adding up. Also, if you are consulting, hourly rates can sometimes convert into daily rates, bringing more money into your company. But generally speaking, they fit the bill for the short term customer.
By-the-project fees are popular for projects of a broader scope. Businesses of just about any size can opt for this kind of contract. Although there is always room for flexibility, they tend to be more structured and defined with regard to schedules and timelines. In other words, these kinds of agreements are more formal in nature.
Monthly retainers are useful for clients who want to maintain an ongoing relationship and consistently updated SEO initiatives. More often than not, monthly retainers evolve from one-time projects which have met with notable client satisfaction. With stellar results from a former project, a savvy SEO provider can make itself indispensible to a client. Retained services ensure that the provider is on board whenever the need arises.
Finally, many providers are finding themselves being asked for estimates. Companies need to know that estimates can only work if the provider is given an opportunity to examine their site. SEO is too strategic a skill to fall back on guesswork, so these requests are rarely accurate.
Like any business, SEO fees are often decided on a case by case basis. Still, stated fee structures are a great way to start the “compensation conversation.”