Have you ever contacted an SEO service just to find out that they want you to sign a minimum 6-month contract? If you are lucky you may find an SEO company that offers 3-month contracts but that is usually as good as it gets.
What should you do? DebbySEO is here to help! We offer NO CONTRACT SEO services starting at only $9.95. But what is the deal? Why are all those companies so anxious about contracts? One would imagine that if they do a good job that the client returns anyway?
Contracts can be intimidating, but you should realize that they also offer security. An SEO contract is an agreement between two people that sets out the work to be done, and can as such bring security for both parties.
Since SEO is always changing due to new algorithm updates, and because proper SEO requires fresh content to be added constantly, setting up a solid agreement can sometimes be confusing. I will be pointing out the most important elements below that both clients and SEO companies should keep in mind.
Don’t be Vague and don’t Narrow it Down too Much
Always be clear and honest about everything you do, but don’t narrow things down too much in the contract. I am not saying this because I believe you shouldn’t specify what you are doing, but simply because the search engine industry is always changing, and the amount of work can consequently differ considerably from one week to another.
Whatever you do, don’t be too vague as this can make your contract look shady or it could create confusion in regards to the expectations. So be clear but don’t narrow your contract down to the extent that changes in workload cannot be justified in case you get hit with a major search engine update.
Have a Minimum Contract Time Duration
We all know that SEO results are not instant results, and we should clearly communicate with our clients what the realistic time span of promised results is. If you promised your client rankings on the first page of Google, then make sure that he/she knows that this this could easily take 3 months or more.
You will find SEO companies often require a 6 to 12 month initial contract, with no possibility of cancellation during this period. Since SEO is not generally cheap (although much less expensive compared to traffic from PPC) 6 to 12 months may seem too long. I personally prefer a 3 month minimum contract, this gives me enough time to demonstrate my skills and to obtain the type of result the client is looking for.
Consider Automatic Contract Renewal
When preparing an SEO contract you can either make it finite, or you can opt for auto-renewal, the latter being usually of my preference. This is an option that can easily be integrated by adding a clause to the contract.
A good reason for auto-renewal is that SEO is not really a project but rather an ongoing effort, so if you stop working on it your traffic will reduce over time. While it is true that the initial work is biggest and hardest, there is no doubt that proper maintenance is important.
And another good reason for auto-renewal SEO contracts is that you will have less to do creating new contracts. Obviously your time is much better spend on SEO itself.
For me the only downside with auto-renewal contracts is that service or pricing changes cannot be easily applied, but depending on the amount you might be able to offer legacy-pricing for long-term customers. If you are unable to offer such discounts than the only thing you can do is break the contract and setup a new one, and this can be a difficult conversation, even more-so because many businesses have a fixed marketing budget.
Be Transparent About Who You Work With
When someone hires your company for an SEO job than make sure to let the client know whether or not you are subcontracting. Since your client usually will not do background checks on the people you subcontract, they are in their right to be angry if they find out about such practices. In other words, if you are subcontracting or plan on doing so than you should always be transparent and let the client know in advance.
Consider Upping the Price Automatically
When running an SEO business you should keep in mind that you will be dealing with costs that increase annually such as rent, salary raises for employees, healthcare benefit costs, software licensing and perhaps your own salary just to name a few.
If you opted for the auto-renewal contract mentioned before, you can certainly choose to up the price 3-4% each year. You can do this by adding a clause for clients that will be using your services for years to come. While the extra amount will not weigh a lot for the client, it will help you to compensate for extra expenses.
Let The Client Know He/She Cannot Steal Your Employees
This is an important one! When you are hiring someone you are investing in that person, and it will come as a bitter surprise if the person in question one day gets hired directly by your client because they did such a good job over the years.
Let’s say your company has done an excellent job and later on your client decides to cut on costs by hiring an SEO marketer on staff and they consequently decide to approach your team members because they were so happy with their results. I bet you would be furious but lets face it, it happens all the time and there is nothing you can do, or is there?
Yes there is! Being in the services industry you have the right to protect your staff investments so ensure to add a clause in the contract and this will prevent your client from hiring your staff away. Better be safe than sorry!
Collect Payments in Advance
This is one of my biggest recommendations. You may have a big client or think you can trust someone because your friends recommended him or her, but the fact is, if you do not charge up front, you WILL get burned sooner or later. So take this piece of advice and save yourself the shameful experience of not getting paid at the end of the month.
Charge a Late Fee
Personally I hate late fees and I feel the world isn’t becoming a better place as long as we keep charging them, but on the other hand, if you are late on bank or credit card payments than this will cost you money! I recommend you mention the fees in your contract to encourage timely payments, but I wouldn’t recommend enforcing them if your client is only a day or two late
Be Clear About The Cancellation Requirements
When running an SEO firm there will be times that clients want to terminate their contract, even though you may have provided for a great service. And clients should have the ability to do so. Consequently it is very important that you indicate in advance what the termination requirements are.
The main points of concern here is how much notice the client needs to give to terminate, and how this must be done (in writing, per telephone, email etc.) You want to be very clear on this point in order to avoid or minimize surprises.
Will You Allow Service Interruptions
Do you allow your clients to put your services “on hold”? What happens if the client calls you with the request to “pause” the contract? As you already know SEO is an ongoing effort so most SEO firms that are serious about SEO will not allow their clients to put their work on hold. But even if you are flexible, what does a “hold” mean? A week, a month, forever?
There are some difficulties with pausing an account, for example, if the client has been gone for a month, does he have the right to claim the same account team? And how about the notice required in order to put the account on hold? Is it 30 days a reasonable time frame? Or 14 days? You will need this time in order to assign your team to another project and limit financial loss so this definitely deserves some thought.
Have a Counselor at Law Review Your Contract
Make sure to have a lawyer review and edit your contract before you start using it. While in 99.9% of the cases you will be able to settle any differences directly with the client, there will be this 0.1% that will disagree that services have been provided as promised, and the best way to protect your business is to have a solid SEO contract.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind
Like almost everything in life, contracts are negotiable, but it needs to be clear as of where you draw your limits. For example if I have a big client who wants a discount because they have a large amount of work to do than this is negotiable. However, if that same client wants to implement a longer service interruption period in the contract than this is not-negotiable.
As a business owner you should never be afraid to speak your mind, and it is important that you draw limits and defend your interests. While some SEO experts may be hesitant to stand their ground because of fear they may loose a client if they disagree, it is important to stand up for yourself and to defend the points that make your business run smoothly.
Remember, a contract that does not adequately defend your SEO firm only causes worries about potential troubles. So if you decide to use a contract make sure to speak your mind and dare to say “no” so you won’t set your company up for financial challenges.
Why Does DebbySEO Offer SEO With No Contract?
While most SEO companies will start monthly packages at $350, DebbySEO believes in affordable monthly fees for small business websites starting at only $99/month (one-time $250 setup fee applies). We are experts at what we do and we have the operational knowledge backed by years of experience fighting in the trenches to help our clients win.
What are the results? Based on the package of your choice you will provide us with a certain amount of keywords. We manage to get over 80% of the keywords on the first page in major search engines, and over 50% of keywords will reach #1 ranking.
While we recommend a three month period for starters, you can cancel at any time and without prior notice. Don’t wait any longer, kickstart your SEO campaign with DebbySEO! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Have some SEO ideas or questions to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
PS: If you are a webmaster, seo expert or in case you run a SEO agency, than you will know that your most affordable traffic will will come from search engine optimization. So stay up to date and review the best SEO software online in order to save valuable time and money.
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