As you explore growing your freelance or agency business by offering SEO services, let’s pause to talk about packaging and pricing. Our goal is to help you create and consistently follow a model that benefits both you and your customers.
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What Does Offering Monthly SEO Services Entail?
Monthly SEO services can be broken into three parts:
- Communication. This is the most important factor for a successful SEO effort. To be successful in SEO today, collaboration and feedback are required. A monthly phone call is a great way to ensure you’re on the same page.
- Reporting. Each month, we want to deliver a synopsis of results and observations. Typically, this takes the form of emailing the client a report that integrates commentary with data from tools like Google Analytics.
- Action Items. These are the steps we’ll take each month to drive results. This is the part of the process that will be incremental. Each month’s progress will build upon previous months’ tasks and strengthen the overall SEO platform for the months (and years!) that follow. An example of an action item may be updating and expanding your customer’s Google Maps local listing.
Tiers of Service
As we package SEO services for delivery on a monthly basis, consider offering three tiers of service. The three tiers we like to offer include:
- Awareness — This is for prospects just getting started with SEO.
- Action — This is for prospects ready to drive results.
- Accelerative — This is for prospects who want next year’s results today.
We have found that most prospects self-select into the Action plan, but the initial choice of tier is critical and should be carefully considered.
A prospect may be motivated (or limited) by their budget. Maybe a new website, service, or product needs to hit the ground running with an aggressive SEO strategy. Perhaps there’s a critical problem to fix, like a significant decline in traffic and sales.
While the initial choice of tier is crucial, allowing a customer to easily change tiers in the future can be helpful. They may decide to begin with a more actionable plan for the first 4-6 months.. Once up and running, they might scale back to a maintenance-level agreement. The terms you offer are entirely up to you; however, we’ve found that being flexible and allowing migration between tiers is a great way to demonstrate partnership and our investment in clients’ success.
From Packaging to Pricing
As you move from packaging to pricing your monthly services, it’s most natural to begin pricing based on a number of hours. It’s easy to estimate (and justify) effort and price on a per-hour basis.
For example, you may divide your tiers of service into buckets of hours along the lines of:
- Awareness — 5 hours/month
- Action — 10 hours/month
- Accelerative — 20 hours/month
In time, you’ll find that it’s more effective to price based on the value you provide, and not just the hours. Your value comes from:
- Your professional experience with SEO and/or another specific industry.
- Your familiarity with an SEO prospect’s business, audience, and website setup (in the case that you’re offering SEO services to an existing web design or copywriting client, for example).
- Your ability to accurately determine what will have the most impact, strategize, and then follow through with appropriate action. This is the signature process you bring to the project.
- A portfolio of successful case studies.
Besides considering the number of hours and your own value-adds, the right pricing structure also needs to account for your client’s specific industry.
Here’s an example of a pricing matrix. You’ll notice it starts with a low competition, low-spend industry — local business. It then progresses to a high competition, high-spend industry like insurance. You’ll see that both value and the effort it'll take to drive results increase as you move across the matrix.
|Local competition & low spend.||Some large players & medium spend.||Highly competitive & high spend.|
If you develop a pricing matrix similar to this for the types of websites and businesses you serve, you’ll have accomplished your primary goal of creating an SEO services packaging and pricing model that can be followed consistently
Value > Price
Ultimately, your prospect needs to feel like your value exceeds your price.
Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching business owners and freelancers how to get found in Google, Yahoo, and Bing via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.