Hourly Consulting Model for SEO Services – How Does It Work?
One of the most common questions a consulting client asks before hiring a SEO consultant: How much should I pay for hourly consulting? Here are some tips..
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is still a new industry, which is why most firms and individuals are still trying to figure out the most appropriate pricing model for their services – one that is fair to the interests of clients and service providers alike. The hourly consulting model seems to be a fairly common pricing strategy.
Charging hourly for SEO services is about as simple and as straightforward as it can get. An SEO provider presents a flat hourly rate for individual or a combination of services depending on client requirements. Hourly rates works especially well for consulting and site review work, although plenty of SEO firms use them for keyword research, tutorials, web design and other services.
One of the best things about this pricing model is the flexibility that it offers. Service providers can easily adjust the amount of hours depending on the needs and budget of a client. This is especially important if the client goes through the low end of an earnings cycle and wishes to downsize their SEO initiatives. Keeping track of work done and the costs they entail is also relatively easy for firms and their clients. For larger firms, charging hourly also allows them to optimize the distribution of manpower for each of their accounts. Independent contractors are also in a stronger position to attract small and medium businesses as clients because the figures do not appear as high as they could when dealing with other pricing models. Clients are also well served knowing that their SEO initiatives can easily evolve without dealing with the hassle of periodic contract reviews.
However, there are also several downsides to this type of pricing. Its flexible nature may also pose problems in matters such as the scope of work. Additional ad hoc requests from the client, and the SEO provider’s own client servicing standards can lead to higher work load and time requirements. This is because most hourly rates also operate on mere assumptions and estimates of how long a certain project may take. Often enough, things do not go according to plan and changes have to be made – including the scope of services required.
Given these potential drawbacks, it is important to draw up an agreement that specifies in detail the scope of work, maximum hours, and an approval process in case more hours are needed. Price stability is another important factor, and it is important for SEO providers to maintain a predictable pricing scheme and offer advance notice for rate increases. Progress reports and invoicing also need to be as detailed as possible, highlighting accomplished tasks and their corresponding hours. Experts generally advise weekly and bi-weekly reporting as being ideal for most cases.
For clients, choosing an SEO provide with an hourly consulting model should never be too focused on the cost alone. Keep in mind that the cost of one hour does not reflect the quality of the work done within that hour. For best results, be clear about objectives and requirements from the start. Evaluate the scope of services that are being offered, and inquire about customization options. Finally, while rate changes are unavoidable it is good practice to ask about price caps and invoicing schedules.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaushal Gandhi is SEO Expert and director of Mumbai based Aaris Internet Solutions. Aaris provides SEO consulting and specialises in promoting small business websites with its affordable seo packages.