Performance-based SEO makes a lot of sense to me. What that is is not paying for “services”, such as how many backlinks acquired or how many keywords targeted but rather paying for how well the SEO campaign performs. If you have been getting emails or phone calls from overseas SEO companies the first thing they tell you is how much work they will do for you, and it’s really hard to get them to provide case studies of how all this work they have done for others is doing them any good, and even harder still to get an honest answer. Why should you pay a single penny for 20 articles written and published every month or 50 backlinks to your website acquired each month if it doesn’t get your website ranked? That kind of SEO pricing makes about as much sense as paying a mechanic for how many times he turns a nut on your car rather than paying for having your car fixed. A lot of people have been burned who have bought SEO in that manner. Being charged according to how well your SEO performs correlates much more strongly to what you will be getting out of it in terms of paying customers compared to how many this and how much of that an SEO company is doing for you, especially when they provide low-quality services.
Getting Beyond Charging for The Number of Keywords Ranked
In the past I have charged according to how well a website ranks for a certain percentage of the target keywords, usually 50 percent. After a short initial period of two or three months if I couldn’t get a site ranked for half of the target keywords I just wouldn’t charge my monthly fee. It only seems fair to me that if you don’t rank, you don’t pay. It also seems fair to me that if you rank well for low-volume keywords you shouldn’t have to pay as much as you would if you ranked well for high-volume keywords. Higher-volume keywords typically bring in more business so you would naturally want to pay more for what benefits your business more. That is what Return On Investment (ROI) is all about.
How would that look in practice? To make things simple, lets say there are ten keywords in your niche that have enough search volume to go after, which we’ll label “A” through “J” and their monthly keyword search volumes are as such:
A=325, B=200, C=150, D=100, E=75, F=50, G=40, H=30, I =20, J=10
Total = 1000 searches per month
Notice how the best 5 have a total search volume of 850 or 85% of the total while the other 5 have a total search volume of 150 per month, or 15%.
With a performance-based pricing model we would charge more if we got a site ranked for higher volume keywords than if we got it ranked for lower volume keywords. We might start out at $100 per month for getting any less than Google page 1 for keywords with under 200 searches per month, $200 per month for page 1 with keywords with 200 to 400 searches, $300 per month for keywords with 400 to 600 searches, and $400 per month for searches totaling more than 600 per month. That 600 per month mark could be achieved with the best 3 which are A, B, and C since they total 675 searches or the 9 lowest volume keywords which are B through J which also total 675. Either way you are paying for search volume which correlates strongly with how much business your SEO campaign will be generating. This is an improvement over just charging for a site getting ranked for a certain number of keywords since not all keywords are created equal, which is an improvement over charging for services that may not get a site ranked at all.
Performance-based SEO pricing gets pretty close to charging according to what a business really wants, which is their phone to ring or a new customer to walk through the door. For too long the SEO industry has been dominated by web geeks who have never run a business other than their SEO business. They are all too impressed with their own snazzy ranking reports and laundry list of all the things they will do for their clients. It’s time to make SEO work for the business owner, not just the SEO.
Performance-based SEO Brings the Advantages of SEO to The Small Business Who Needs It Most
Lately I’ve been thinking about the new companies that don’t have an established clientele and thus don’t have the benefit of repeat business. They are quite often the ones who have the most need for marketing yet spend the least. Performance-based SEO makes marketing scale-able with a low cost of entry and increasing cost only if the business gets an increase of benefit from more exposure on the internet. It’s a pricing model that just makes sense from the consumer’s standpoint, and what makes sense for the consumer will ultimately benefit the SEO working on their behalf.
For the small business who understands the value of marketing and has appropriated a budget for it they don’t want to have to dedicate much of it to finding something that works. Invariably that is the way it is and end up spending a lot of that budget trying different marketing avenues only to find out what doesn’t work very well. Performance-based SEO doesn’t drain much-needed capital before it gains traction and brings in paying customers like many other marketing methods.
Performance-Based SEO Pricing Adds Complexity to the Sales Process
As a pricing model performance-based SEO has one disadvantage: it’s harder to grasp from the prospective client’s point of view. Selling SEO service according to the number of services performed is a standard pricing model in most every industry so most people can relate to it and it doesn’t need to be explained. Any time you ad a degree of complexity you make it harder for potential clients to not only understand what it’s all about but more importantly to understand the value of it. For those who have tried SEO services in the past and have been less than satisfied they are already farther up on the learning curve since they’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. The challenge for us SEO’s who want to do things in a way that actually makes good sense is to communicate it in a way that makes good sense.
Incorporating Performance-based SEO for Kirbyworks
I may be building websites and doing SEO for a national property management company with a couple hundred franchises around the country. This will be a good opportunity to implement and test performance-based pricing. What needs to be tested is finding that sweet spot that works well for both Kirbyworks and the client in terms of charging on a keyword volume basis. I like the idea of being able to charge a small set-up fee and then a low monthly fee while waiting for Google to get around to crawling and indexing the site and doing it’s ranking thing and then ramping up monthly fees as the website gets better ranked for more and better keywords. Some of the franchisees are in small markets with only a couple thousand total monthly searches while others are in large markets with over 50,000 monthly searches. Naturally the franchises in the larger markets will have more competition and require more work to SEO but will receive more benefit from the SEO and would want to pay more for that benefit.
I know I run the risk of making things too complicated for the average business owner to appreciate the benefits of SEO but I feel it’s the right thing to do.
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