In this episode, we talk about how to think about SEO services and pricing.
00:00:58 - Determine How Results Will Be Judged Before Starting
00:04:03 - Understand What You Will Do and What Your SEO Agency Will Do
00:06:54 - Understand How Long It Takes for SEO to Gain Traction
00:09:53 - Understand Who Will Be Your Point of Contact with Your Agency
00:11:50 - Understand the Short and Long Term Value of Content and SEO Work
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Dodgeball Marketing Podcast #73: How to Think About SEO Services Pricing
In this episode, we talk about how to think about SEO services and pricing.
Chris Raines: Hi there. Welcome to episode 73 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. I'm Chris, and this guy is Michael.
Michael Utley: This is Michael.
Chris Raines: How you doing, man?
Michael Utley: Good. Good to see you.
Chris Raines: Today we're going to talk about how to think about SEO services and pricing. So if you are a business and you're in the market to engage a third-party, like your company Michael to do SEO services, you've been doing this for a long time Michael, and this is kind of a good list to establish before you go in so that the project runs smoothly, and most importantly expectations are set and don't deviate. So I really like this, this is really kind of a business... how to do business kind of podcast. So this is really good, so we're going to offer up five things you can do to really iron this out in the beginning and make sure you go into an SEO services agreement with the best chance for success for everybody.
Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. So I love this topic, so part one is determine how results will be judged before starting. So often, an SEO company like mine is using tools that are independent tools. It's not just your Google Analytics data, but other SEO tools that are tools that we license and use that help us look at the world and understand who's showing up higher. When you're in your city doing a search in Google, you may see something different than what other people see because Google is using hundreds of factors when they decide what to show higher in a search result. So if you're local and you happen to live in a bedroom community, you're not necessarily seeing the same thing that everybody in all the other surrounding bedroom communities are seeing.
Michael Utley: One situation that's very common for us is that we often have companies that have lots of locations. And so, the way those behave in search engines is going to be different based on where you are because Google knows, "Oh, you're doing a search from this city, well this city right next to you might be a really different one." And when you do a search and you go click on your competitors, you're creating user behavior there that search engines can see, and they may treat you differently based on the types of searches you've done in the past. Google's a little bit of a black box, we don't don't know that they're not using that. And so you have to decide, how are you going to evaluate success? And you can trust that your SEO folks are not just going to use what you're seeing and what you're able to replicate as the primary source of information.
Michael Utley: In fact, it's very wrong headed and it creates a lot of headaches for SEO companies to be on the hook for whatever random stuff is coming up based on your specific selection of keywords for a test search. So third party tools that show rankings, seeing those go up over time, that's a really good single metric to focus on. Another good single metric that I really like, and I may give you three of these total, is number of impressions per month in Google. Google is kind of the biggest search engine so you can use them as a bellwether for all search engines and say, "How many times at bat are we getting? How many times do we appear in a search results page?"
Michael Utley: So overall rankings number one, using a third-party tool, option number two, search engine impressions, option number three, organic website traffic. And I would combine... we typically see direct traffic grow in the shadow of organic traffic, so I would take into consideration growing direct traffic and credit that, to growing organic traffic. Organic is not an ad, a search engine visit that's not from an ad. And so deciding how you're going to think, and you might have to kind of work with your SEO shop or us, to decide what's the one thing that you're going to use to live and die by and let them know. Let them know how you're judging them.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Number two, understand what you will do and what your SEO agency will do. So this is really basic kind of scoping out of a service, but it's really important so for instance,
Michael Utley: But it's overlooked, it's a misstep.
Chris Raines: Yeah. So one thing to consider in this is, who's actually going to produce the content? Who's going to write the words if you're doing a content program? I mean, it might be that if you don't articulate that in the beginning, then it might be that the SEO agency is like, "No, we're just going to post it and do SEO edits on it, and you're supposed to write the content." So now you got a big problem where, if you expected them to do it and they're telling you to it, so make sure you know for instance, who's doing the content. And I would even expand this to how they're going to report to you and how often, so are you going to do one monthly call that's 30 minutes and you're going to use the tools you describe to report in? Are you going to do a video update once a month? Are you going to do bi-week, every two-week strategy meeting? Are you going to have a bat phone where they can call you at any time they want to?
Michael Utley: Are you going to be on call 24/7?
Chris Raines: I mean, there are all kinds of arrangements and the important thing here is to set up an expectation. The worst on the client side is when you expect a certain amount of availability for your agency partner, and they really didn't expect that. So if they expect the bat phone, to call you at any time and throw a meeting on the calendar at any time. That might align with expectations for what they're expecting.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: So at the very beginning, it's really important to say, "This is how we're going to meet, if we're meeting at all, this is the nature of the meeting, this is how long it's going to be and these are the people that are going to attend the meeting."
Michael Utley: That's right. And yeah, that's right. And other things like who's responsible for things like your domain hosting? If your website address is paid for with some credit card that goes out of use because it expires and that's the client's fault, well, letting your website go down for some extended period of time because you didn't pay for your domain, that's going to hurt the performance of your search engine optimization. And it may be something that was never within scope of your SEO agency.
Michael Utley: So it's kind of putting them in the category of treating them as omnipotent when they're not, so scoping that kind of stuff out, thinking about it, even asking questions like, "Hey, what are the things that could break and get us sideways with each other that we can identify before at working together?" And a good SEO agency, a company like us has been doing this for 10 years. We're going to do what I call pre-ass kicking those kinds of problems. We have an intake process where we're going to shut all that down and neutralize those threats.
Chris Raines: Awesome.
Michael Utley: So, yeah. Check-in with us if you want services. Next up, understand how long it takes for SEO to gain traction.
Chris Raines: This is a huge one.
Michael Utley: Okay. So here's my take on this Chris. I think I would argue that every website is in a different situation and there's no universal statement for how many days it takes to see traffic go up with an SEO program. But there's a number of tools that we can use to evaluate and estimate when traction's going to happen.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Is it inappropriate for an SEO agency to say page one in 30 days?
Michael Utley: Page one in 30 days is not a-
Chris Raines: It could be.
Michael Utley: ... universal statement that can should be applied. It's a simple way for salespeople to get a deal. But if you're not careful, you can be setting yourself up for trouble. For example, you may have said, "Hey, I don't want the Cadillac version, or I don't want the Tesla plaid version, I need a lower budget." Well, then you may adjust timing. So there are a number of situations, its not necessarily bad for it to be a slow train to get where you want to go, but you need to make sure everybody's on the same page.
Chris Raines: It's the expectation-
Michael Utley: It's expectations.
Chris Raines: ... so much in business can be just blow down to expectations.
Michael Utley: So real quick, here's some things that can influence how long it's going to take your SEO program to show results. Number one, how much demand is there for what you do? How big of a topic is it? If it's a really cryptic, highly technical B2B category, buckle up buddy, it's going to be a while because there aren't that many people out there looking for what you do such that-
Chris Raines: Or if it's high demand and high competition, if it's divorce lawyer, New York City, or something like that.
Michael Utley: ... high demand, very high competition is going to be tougher because you're working your way through. You're passing one person in line at a time to work your way to the front, and there are only so many slots on page one, number three, budget, and how willing you are to be aggressive. So number one was, what type of industry you're in, and then I would go with the number four, I would go with geographic market.
Michael Utley: We have had campaigns that far exceeded our expectations and they were often in low competition markets, every market in the US, every major market has a level of where they are in the arms race with SEO based on how big the tech community is in that city, how populous the city is, how close they are, if they're in a part of the country where people are a little bit more active, a little more forward-thinking, rural versus major urban, and interestingly even in like Silicon Valley or San Francisco or something, sometimes there's kind of a backward view of things because they overthink stuff and don't just start publishing.
Michael Utley: And so, it depends on the market, depends on how much competition is doing and how far ahead they are. So yeah, those are all factors that you can talk about, understand before you start a program.
Chris Raines: Awesome. All right. Number four here. Understand who will be your main point of contact with your agency? This is important just in terms of like funneling all the information into one, what you don't want is different people on the client side, different people on the agency side, and they're putting in change requests to different people, it can get really messy really quick. And I would say for this point of context, kind of one neck to wring kind of thing. From the-
Michael Utley: Really on both sides, client and agency.
Chris Raines: ... our company used to do a video production primarily and a really, really common thing was to have all... because video, there's all the always change edit requests, right? So people want to see different things in different edits made to a video project that's in process, a really common thing would be like... maybe it's a nonprofit with a board or with other employees that want to weigh in. And so a really common thing would be, we would get change requests from three or four different email addresses, and then sometimes they would conflict with each other, so one person would want one thing and the other person would want the opposite.
Chris Raines: And this is the same thing with generating content, there's going to be changes in edits. So what you want is for both on the agency side and the client side, to have one point of content where they can take in all the feedback necessary in a creative project. And if there's anything conflicting, resolve the conflict-
Michael Utley: Which happens.
Chris Raines: ... resolve the conflicts, "Okay. We're going to do this instead of this, because these two feedbacks conflict with each other." Then transmit it to one point of contact. It's a really clean flow of information.
Michael Utley: Its huge. And if you think it's hard to work out a disagreement between a board member and an executive, guess how hard it's going to be for the agency, who's responsible for publishing content to the website to work that out, impossible. It's going to ruin the relationship with the vendor.
Chris Raines: So one point of contact on both sides, much, much smoother.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Next up. And we'll wrap up this episode with this, understand the short and long-term value of content and SEO work. So this is helpful for how to think about SEO pricing. We are often given the task in a new relationship, to recommend which channels to utilize in online marketing. And we may recommend, and often do, a combination of search engine optimization, and advertising, and content like video, and social and email and making sure the website's awesome. So we're deciding where's it best to put the dollars. Here's how to think about content marketing and SEO. They are a business asset that builds up each month with ongoing new content and optimization, in a way that is accretive to previous months, advertising is a spigot. That's the word that we use. You turn it on, when the ads are running, leads are coming. When you turn it off, there's no lingering value from that activity, it's turned off.
Michael Utley: The switch is in the O-F-F position, and it's off. But with content, when you begin a program with a company like us, we are building each month a foundation that makes us a little bit higher and adds one rung to our ladder every month and builds up over time. Now the competition may also be doing that, so you have to build your ladder faster than them or better than them, but it's not good to simply credit just the volume of leads that come through during a 30 day period at the beginning of a program if you're building a flywheel. The more time you can give SEO to work, the better the return on investment is going to be.
Michael Utley: I, now, when people ask me about it, I'm saying, 'Yes, we see results, we can see metrics start to change within 30, 60, 90 days, but in terms of the return on investment, the lead volume or the activity that we get in the first 30, 60 days of a program is nowhere near the volume of activity we're going to get when some of our best keywords have made it to page one." And so you have to take a different view of understanding the value of an SEO program compared to an advertising program.
Chris Raines: It's farming and hunting.
Michael Utley: It's farming versus hunting, and I should have opened with that because that's a perfect way to think about it.
Chris Raines: Yeah. That's good stuff.
Michael Utley: Awesome. Yeah. Take us out.
Chris Raines: All right. Cool. This has been episode 73 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast, How to Think About SEO Services and Pricing. You can find us on YouTube if you're watching on YouTube right now, all the podcast players, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, all the places where you can consume video and audio content. And yeah,
Michael Utley: We appreciate you guys, reach out.
Chris Raines: Thanks so much.
Michael Utley: Yep.
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