Should SEOs price their services à la carte like freelancers do?

In my travels around the Interweb, I’ve seen some agencies and service providers post SEO price sheets.

So for this post, I tried to find some good examples. But I quickly became bored with the idea of comparing prices and services and became interested in the more philosophical question of should SEOs provide a price sheet?

I Googled SEO price sheet and found this Moz.com discussion around prices http://moz.com/community/q/seo-price-list-to-have-a-price-list-or-not-that-is-the-question where many of the commenters don’t believe in posting set prices.

The second result for the query above is Bruce Clay (who charges between $20 and $50k for a site audit), roughly five times what I would charge for a similar 60 page document.

The biggest problem with advertising SEO prices is that it has and always will be a buyers market.

As a client in need of SEO services, you can name your price anywhere and you’ll have dozens clamoring for your business. So, you won’t find me or anyone else advertising SEO for $125/hr (and making money) as a freelancer. If we did, no one would ever call. But you will find people advertising for far less.

So, how do I (as an SEO professional) compete with them (freelancers)?

I think the best strategy is to stress the drawbacks of a lower price point. Here are some ideas of how:

  • It is rare that you find “the right” freelancer at first. It is typical that you hire many before finding “the right” match. This increases the cost to perform the assigned duty and delays production.
  • Freelancers often don’t have the benefit of immediate peer review. SEO professionals tend to be connected and make themselves available to review each others’ documents and add stuff like “Did you think about this?” or “They might not know what [X] is, better explain [X] here”.
  • Freelancers require external management vs. internal management. SEO professionals are used to managing themselves.
  • Freelancers (or new hires) sometimes can’t afford access to the $350/mo in subscribed tools I use to perfom audits and monitor for linking opportunities.
  • Freelancers manage portfolios of income, not clients (I learn the businesses of my clients and put that into everything I do vs. dumb hands and feet).

Pricing your SEO services à la carte isn’t a bright move since deliverables, services, experience and talent do vary. However, that’s not going to stop clients from asking for one.

My best advice here is to make client-specific price lists and keep those private.

I think you’ll quickly discover that clients actually appreciate your consideration of their internal resources (or lack thereof) and adjust your pricing to fit. Be transparent with them about your pricing decisions and be clear what they are paying for in most cases – your expertise.

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