How to Charge SEO Service Accordingly Without Failing
First Of All- Don’t Ever Make Price One Of Your Selling Points
As soon as you do that- you will no longer be seen as a marketing partner, but instead as somebody selling a commodity. Everybody has a fairly good idea of what cable TV costs. Or the average heating bill. Or gas.
These are commodity industries, and by in large they are driven by price. Customer loyalty basically doesn’t exist. It mainly depends on how much money can be saved by going with one vendor compared to the others.
A big mistake that so many marketing agencies make when putting prices on their marketing services is to assume that the market is actually a commodity.
Philosophically, this is false. It is also a myth that can be disproved rather easily as soon as you begin looking at the vast disparities in prices that can be seen in other professional industries.
For example, there are management consultants who won’t even consider a contract unless it is $100,000 or more, while others are charging just $100 an hour. The same thing can be found with power brokers, engineers, software developers, copywriters, accountant, lawyers, etc.
You will soon discover- quite ironically- that the professionals charging the big buck are either far busier or just as busy as those trying to compete on price.
Why is this?
It all comes down to how specialized expertise is perceived. That’s a very important concept to be aware of- and in the marketing industry, it plays out in the same exact way.
Being known for being affordable isn’t what you want. What you want to be known for is being the expert at something.
What you want to be is the best there is in a specific segment (whether that be a strategy, in a niche, etc.), and you need to make that very clear so you are only working with clients who are serious about their marketing.
As an example, you could work on establishing yourself as the leading expert on eCommerce sites. Or for realtors. Or for the travel sector.
Become the specialist for a certain segment- then charge accordingly.
Your Service Prices Should Be Based On The ROI Of Your Clients, Not On Your Effort Or Supply Costs
Keep in mind that even a small trickle of qualified traffic for the search engines for many clients of yours will be the equivalent of a massive increase in new revenue.
A huge gap will exist between your actual costs for providing the services and the ROI of your client.
The key is pricing your services so that both the client and you will reap the benefits of what the industry can bear for those specific keywords verticals, with your client still coming out a winner.
Using SEMRush is one of the best ways of doing this. Your client can be clearly shown the amount of money it costs for purchasing traffic from a broad range of industry keywords.
A range of estimates can then be run on what competitors are spending currently based on the available data.
You should be able to definitely generate solid exposure in the SERPs and organic traffic for a company compared to how much it would cost to generate this through PPC advertising.
When you can re-frame what your service’s value is by showing the client directly how much the traffic is worth- down to the per click cost and down to the penny, then all of a sudden SEO seems like a real bargain.
For example, if “Phoenix property management” is your main keyword, and the vertical you are in has an average CPC of around $8 per click. That means that 100 visitors driven by the SERPs are worth a verifiable amount of $800 at least.
Since, according to SEMRush, there are 5 good keywords that are closely related getting between 450 to 1000 queries per month, it shouldn’t be hard for you to generate 500 to 1000 unique visitors a month from organic search.
The true value of the traffic in this example would be $4,000 to $8,000 in PPC advertising all day long.
So when your client can generate that amount of traffic at least by investing just $2,000 per month with you, he’ll be able to clearly see what a huge ROI he is getting along with great value.
You will also most likely be enjoying 300% margins, given those keywords and ad spend.
This is the way to frame what your service’s value is, and how you can show your client very clearly the real worth of SEO.
When you combine this with “expert status,” that's how SEO’s big boys are raking in millions of dollars.
“Yeah, But The Other Guys Are Only Charging X.”
This is something you will commonly hear and run into.
The key to effectively handling this specific objection is to educate your client in terms of how SEO is much more complicated these days compared to the past.
So anybody charging “X” currently must be cutting corners or doing things that in the long run will cause a lot more harm than they will do good.
This again comes back to the way you have positioned yourself.
Respond to the prospective client that yes, plenty of low cost service is available who are happy selling their old and tired strategies that produce short-term, mediocre results.
However, they will be on the cutting edge with you, and will gain momentum and expand their web presence on a continuous basis, and at the same time will benefit directly from your expertise.
Would they like to work with an industry insider or a paper pusher?
Explain how your offer is designed to build, maintain and promote a full arsenal of marketing assets on a continuous basis to drive an endless amount of new revenue, customers and leads, which is something not many agencies are able to pull off.
It is then a question of whether they’d like to completely transform their business or get the best price.
Be very clear about everything, and you will discover that the good clients will have a tendency to stick with you, and the Pain In The Ass (PITA) clients will go chasing after price and leave. (A few months later some of them will be back groveling, as they discover the hard way that it can be quite expensive to be “cheap.”)
Stand your ground. Work on building up a client base of sophisticated individuals who understand how valuable their customers are and view spending money with you as the catalyst for growth and profits.
That’s the “secret” when it comes to pricing your services based on the customer’s relative value.
How much is the optimum budget for a single monthly campaign for SEO?
Have you ever experienced this scenario:
Client: So how much do you charge for your SEO services?
Me: I charge X amount.
Client: That is too high for me; I only have X as a budget. Your price is too high I can get it cheaper from other SEO’s in your country and my country too.
I think a lot of fellow SEO consultants experienced this and much worse.
Let me be frank with you, if you want cheap SEO and I am talking like the dirt cheap kind of SEO where you buy crappy links by the bulk and expect that it would give your website a sudden boost in the shortest amount of time then get ready to have your website penalized.
But before anything else, before you think that I sound too self-important and before you say that SEO is anything else but a service let me illustrate in a more simplistic manner why SEO should be priced the way it should be.
5 Major Reasons Why You Should Never Get Cheap With Your SEO
- Content – The bulk of the money you invest in the content of your website and the content we share to guest posting sites. Not included here is the content mindmap along with the keywords being targeted and how to use them.
You see we are not just SEO’s we are also in charge of determining the other keywords, your potential market is going to type in their search browsers.
In a nutshell, we are as a news reporter searching for news, we are like investigators searching for respondents, we are like psychologists looking for the right questions and chief of it all we are as marketers who are trying to make a sale through the copy we want to use.
In considering everything above, we should also consider Google’s Quality Guidelines in making your website rank accordingly.
And if it is that easy to do everything above, then wouldn’t you think any website can be on the first page of Google?
So dwell on that and see for yourself how important content is and why you should not skimp on your budget when it comes to content.
- Site Audit – second in line of where your entire budget gets burned is the site audit; this is usually where it takes time especially for bigger sites.
In layman’s terms, your website is like your house, you live in it along with your family if the foundations of your house are not stable then chances are you will die when a small earthquake shakes the ground.
In this case, smaller quakes are the continuous Google updates along with the attacks of potential hackers and other security issues.
Think about this, building a website is not just as simple as getting a domain name and then getting a hosting provider and then putting it up and expecting it to rank just because you posted something “you think” is relevant for people.
The reality is there are more than a million websites being created every single day, and most of those websites have the same ideas as you have.
They also even have the same content as you have, so ask yourself this, what makes your website better than theirs? And why should Google give you the first page in the SERPs?
What is the VALUE of your website over others?
If you don’t know how to answer this, then you can just imagine that SEO’s are the ones cracking their heads and asking this question day in and day out. Before they get out of bed and before they go to sleep.
Think of us as industrial designers, we are always on the lookout for a better design, for better usability, for better click through rates, for longer stays on your website, for better conversions.
- Link-Building – Link-building is perhaps the most time consuming and nerve wracking job an SEO has. It involves creating a list of webmasters to contact, and when it comes down to it, often SEO’s have to haggle for the chance to be featured on their website. But lo and behold some industries are as vague as “calibration sensors” So how in the world are we going to place your content in guest posting sites?
Link-building with all its mystery and drama is the lifeblood of an SEO, he/she has to update himself, study everyday and keep in tune with the complexities of Google’s algorithm just so it would bring more money to a client’s pocket.
So permit me to say that this part of SEO is one of the most unforgiving jobs an SEO has to undergo.
- Social Media Optimization – Every website needs social media signals to make their website rank. And often it eats up almost 1/4th of the budget just so their website could be socially relevant. So yes development of clients social platforms are a must, and again this will eat up a lot of the client's budget as well.
- SEO Service – I chose to make this the last part of the pricing equation because this might be questionable to other clients. But look at it this way SEO people get paid because of the years and time they dedicate learning the craft. So I think it is just right that you pay them accordingly for their service and their time spent making clients rich (and often richer than themselves).
Think about this we may not be as famous as Rand Fishkin but what we deliver are still considered to be of world class standards.
As a matter of fact, all SEO standards are meant to be world class standards because falling short of this will mean bad for your business and us.
How Much Money Should I Start With My SEO Campaign?
With everything considered above you should at least start with One Thousand Dollars (1,000 USD) per month, now this price might seem questionable to some outsourcers rationalizing that it should be much cheaper to pay an SEO outside of their country.
But think about this, if you go below that number either one of the five I mentioned above will be affected in your campaign.
You will get:
- Crappy content
- Trash site audit
- Spammy Links
- Poor Social Media Signals
- Unhappy SEO
And as with every other investment, starting with 1,000 USD is by far the cheapest that you can get from your SEO.
I remember a friend of mine in the U.S. who was just starting out in the SEO industry asked me the same question, and I answered him the same.
He said, “But they are just a small website and their budget is only 500 USD or lower can we make it work with that budget?”
The conversations thus follow:
Me: Did they have another SEO to handle their site before?
Me: How much was the budget?
Friend: 300 USD
Me: And how long did they handle the website?
Friend: About a year or so.
Me: Was there any effect on their website given that 300 USD budget?
Friend: None, that is why they are looking for another option.
Me: So they want to get another cheap option to replace the earlier one they had?
Me: Let us assume that they had this SEO handle their website for 12 months, and that is about 300 USD x 12 = 3,600 USD without any results. You mean to say that they will skimp on the 1,000 budget despite guaranteed results just because they want to settle for a cheaper monthly payment for SEO?
Friend: Uh, yes.
Me: Look, we can make the budget as low as 500 USD per month but our timeline will be long for this, can they handle that?
Friend: Uh, can we make it lower?
I am not being a snob, but given that kind of budget I can probably work less than 2 hours per day on his website, and that is just one facet of the optimization process.
I am not saying that other SEO’s handling this kind of budget per month are despicable or not worth your time to work with. I am just realistic with the work to be delivered and the quality that one has to conform with when it comes to SEO.
How much is the optimum budget for a single monthly campaign for SEO?
Whether you plan to outsource it or if you plan to get an SEO agency in your area, or if you want to do it yourself, One Thousand Dollars (1,000 USD) are the optimum price to start a monthly SEO campaign.
Take my word for it.