SEO Pricing, Retainers, Incentives & Terms
One of Hamilton Buchanan’s core principles is the provision of value for both parties involved. Unlike many other SEO vendors, we are not interested in having 50 clients paying us a nominal retainer per month and providing a revolving door for clients. We are also not interested in representing more than one client within one sector. Its algorithmic warfare remember?
We prefer win-win relationships and enjoy being linked to success that increased online visibility can deliver. If we are working day and night to get you to position 1 on Google.com for a rich conversion keyword which generates significant revenues for your business, then we believe in being rewarded fairly for that success. If you think that paying an SEO consultancy R7k a month will secure you page 1 visibility then you are mistaken. Page 1 visibility requires sustained intellectual effort, advanced linguistic and mathematical ability, experience, resources and assets.
Retainer structure & Incentive scheme
We tend to opt for a nominal base retainer structure. Our standard monthly retainer is set at R7,500 per month with an incentive system in place for hitting page 1 positions for your major keywords or for delivering agreed goal conversions. Our standard retainer package includes 25-30 keywords. Additional keywords can be added on a pro-rata basis. This package includes 2 SEO optimized articles per month. Additional content writing is charged pro-rata.
We are in the business of significantly increasing our client’s online revenues. For illustrative purposes, it’s worth noting that we have increased organic traffic volume 385% in 12 months for a major inbound tour operator client. In April 2012, we delivered via organic search a total of 91 high-quality leads. Bear in mind that their average value per sale is R110k. A 2% conversion rate would see them generating R220k from these leads. Before we started, their monthly PPC ‘habit’ was costing $6,500 per month. We have now replaced a large portion of their PPC traffic with organic non-paid traffic, and we are working towards achieving an 80/20 split in favour of non-paid, organic traffic. Our retainer and associated incentive are still significantly cheaper than their original PPC budget.
We like to partner with clients who are prepared to incentive us for hyper-performance. If you’re winning in the online conversion game, then we believe that we should be rewarded and incentivised fairly for that success. Our retainer is what we like to call ‘tickets to the game’ rather than the game itself. Our retainer covers general administration, client management and straight-forward day-to-day time and effort. Once we’re working on the incentive system the sky is the limit. We work around the clock, often 7 days per week (we kid you not!) to put your site in front of prospective online customers.
An incentive is paid for maintaining the identified keyword or keyword phrase in a top 1-10 position for a 30-day period. The reason being that a KW in a top 1-10 position will, without fail, attract a decent chunk of traffic for that keyword on page 1. A tracking report is produced at month-end which indicates how many positions were held, for how long and the traffic derived. From the list of agreed KW’s we assign platinum (high search volume/rich conversion), gold, silver and bronze status (low search volume/low conversion) to each KW. The logic is based on the fact that organic traffic that is derived from a top 1-10 position for your identified keywords.
As an example, the keyword ‘lion safaris’ has 2,400 local exact monthly searches on Google.co.za. It is generally estimated that position 1 on a SERP will secure 35% of the page traffic in terms of click-thru. Therefore, 35% of 2,400 searches equates to 840 site visits if you’re ranking in position 1 for ‘curtains’. Let’s assume that your site sells lion safaris and has a conversion rate of 2% (that is 2% of traffic to the site results in a sale. You’d be making 17 sales per month specifically derived from the ‘lion safaris’ keyword alone and in one particular month…
We usually don’t know the value of your average sale or your average margin per sale but let’s hypothetically use R4K as your mean margin. 17 sales per month x R4k margin x 12 months = R816K in revenue merely from one keyword. (Bear in mind that our usual retainer includes keyword tracking for 25-30 keywords. Once we are up and running on the incentive system, we will be open to tracking more than 25-30 keywords.)
We conduct research to determine what the same online visibility would cost purely via PPC, and as a rule of thumb we will always aim to be a minimum of 30% cheaper than PPC.
Rather than adopt a positional approach we could also adopt an incentive model that’s based on leads generated via our organic SEO efforts. We will set up ‘goals’ within Google Analytics, which will allow us to track goals. (A ‘goal’ is defined by a genuine enquiry or lead) The incentive payment per lead is yet to be determined. We expect that the incentive system will be the driver of the on-going relationship as the retainer is viewed as table stakes rather than the motivating remuneration.
Most services are delivered on a project-by-project basis and subject to our Terms & Conditions for client business. Monthly on-going SEO is charged monthly in advance and is subject to a 12-month contract. Hamilton Buchanan invoices 50% upfront for each phase with the remaining 50% invoiced upon completion of any particular phase. Incentives are in arrears each month.