Most of you that come across this post would have spent considerable amount of time reading and learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As a matter of fact, it is very likely that SEO to you is means to an end, not the end itself. That is, you use your optimization skills to fine-tune your blog posts, create back links and get some love-in from Google. If you already do that, this post is for you.
Have you ever considered selling these skills? Chances are that you are part of the top 1% of internet population that actively engages in internet marketing. How much do you think your SEO skills are worth?
This may sound like a simple question, but has no easy answers. Sometimes clients are hazy about what a SEO expert will *actually* do, which makes hiring one really complicated. This uncertainty leads to doubts about the pricing. The myth that SEO is ambiguous is borne out of this difficulty in understanding the value proposition of effective optimization services.
What clients expect from SEO
Any entrepreneur is familiar with the concept of return on investment (ROI). Clients are happy to pay higher rates for SEO only if it meets their ROI expectations. These expectations depend on the client’s business model. For some, it could mean increased sales, while for others an increase in site membership is enough. The best SEO experts are very upfront about understanding their client’s ROI needs, and often help them designing a better optimization strategy.
How SEO experts charge
The most common pricing strategy is by the hour. This makes sense for a service where you spend a lot of time during the research and analysis phase. Most SEO experts begin with a lower hourly rate, building it up with time. At the very top, rates can go up to a $1000 per hour, based on a solid reputation for optimization excellence.
This growth will happen if you manage to keep helping clients meet and go beyond their ROI targets. In the early stages, experimenting with strategy is an important part of your role. This will allows you to fine-tune your solutions in a safe, sheltered environment before offering a final SEO strategy.
Many clients prefer to have a consultant for jobs like keyword research or building cross-links. The actual SEO implementation is handled in-house. In other cases, an expert may only be asked to supervise implementation by a third-party content provider or web designer. If you can flexibly charge for these services (increase and decrease prices according to work involved), the hiring company would prefer you over others.
Other (hidden) costs
You can use the best SEO strategies and tools, improving your client’s search rankings and getting more traffic to their website. What comes next? If the website itself fails to deliver increased business, are you to be blamed? Not really. Your hourly rate will cover only search engine rankings. There are always additional costs that will affect the ROI calculations. After all, most projects require some content and coding work, while a few require complete site re-design.
In the online market, there is a healthy range of hourly rates for hiring SEO experts. However, this is only part of the cost of any complete optimization implementation. Clients who include all these costs in calculating ROI have a more realistic picture of their overall search engine optimization (SEO) costs.