When a client needs SEO, how much should you charge in USD?
Then how do you begin? By purchasing a tool or?
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I'll take those questions in a more appropriate order, and start with how you can offer the service, before moving on to how much to charge for a service you can't yet perform.
To start becoming an SEO who can charge clients, you learn SEO skills, build up a few years of experience and a proven track record. To be more specific, whenever I have worked agency side, we consider anyone with less than 3 years of experience to be a trainee or junior. Only with 5 years experience do we trust an SEO to work on a client without supervision. To be a senior SEO though, one expected to handle the actual strategy and outperform other agencies in a SEP we generally look for a minimum of 7 years of proven experience in doing successful SEO across a wide range of markets and clients.
Begin with your own websites, any topics of your choosing, and get them to rank for moderately competitive stuff. You want those sites to each be drawing at least a few hundred visits per day and for those visits not to be bouncing (must have a visit length more than one page view).
Once you've put in the years to learn at least the basics of PROFESSIONAL standards of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) how much to charge is a simple matter of how much clients will be willing to pay for what you show them you can do. There's no fixed number on this, but rather a computation – how much do you charge that will have the client recommending you to their friends and business contacts?
Because getting referrals and getting referred are the cornerstone of any business.
Remember, your reputation is everything in this business. Because you are swimming in the same pool with real sharks. Some of them are every bit as ruthless as someone who'd charge a client for something they couldn't even do and then try to work out how to do it after taking the money.
Think about it this way, there are 35,000 members of this group here on Facebook alone, and technically the one thing they are all good at is search. So it would be nothing for any one of these people, should they be ruthless enough, to come up with a cunning idea of finding your other profiles and websites online, looking at any profitable connections you might have, and then stealing them from you by 'helpfully' showing them a post like the above and saying "That person you work with isn't being very honest in their business. I would advise you to find someone more trustworthy"
They could probably find dozens of people to approach just from Linkedin alone
Always, always, think long term, and place your reputation as your highest value asset. Never, ever, trade your reputation for any short term goal.
Njue – Nairobi, Kenya | Professional Profile | LinkedIn
Njue ✍️ » Ammon Johns
This is the best thing have heard this morning.
Thanks 👍😊. Please reach out. I need mentors like you
Kristine » Njue
and the part about experience is because should you just get a tool and run an audit when you actually don't know what you're doing and when you make a mistake you will cost people their jobs — because the person that stands between people getting hired and fired is the SEO.
Njue ✍️ » Kristine
I really do appreciate the advice
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Njue
I'm around, here and elsewhere, pretty much every day, precisely to help people learn, share my experiences, and guide anyone who wants to get better results in this wonderful industry. I've been doing so since the '90s and have no intention of quitting now. 🙂
Njue ✍️ » Ammon Johns
thanks. Give me a jumpstart. Where should I begin
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Njue
groups like this are a great place to start, since not only can you ask direct questions when you have them, you can also read the questions of thousands of others, and so tap into situations and issues you haven't encountered yet, to be better prepared for when you do encounter them.
Read. Read widely and from many sources. Learn how to sift information, to verify any source, and above all, have your own personal sites to test things on, just to be sure you understand it fully AND that it fits your own 'style' of working. There's no shortcuts, other than putting more hours in each week so it takes less months and years.
Check out the SEO users who you know beyond doubt have great reputations, such as those who win awards. To widen your circle, look for Top SEO lists that include several of these known and trusted ones, so you can find others via co-citation.
Above all, practice. Have a variety of personal sites that you can experiment with and learn by doing. Try to pick diverse topics and 'niches'. Not only does the diversity help you see that the same tactics don't work on all sites, all user intentions, or all markets, but it will also help you identify where you are strongest and most effective so that you may focus and specialise to have one area where you reach a professional standard sooner. (And also show you where you need to work to become more of an all-rounder).
I often say that you should start at the money end of any funnel – analytics and conversions. Because being able to properly measure your results will help you test and learn better, and being able to make people take action will help you learn to be effective and results driven, rather than someone who can get rankings but no clicks, or get visits but they bounce.
Njue ✍️ » Ammon Johns
this is well noted. Thanks 👍
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Njue
it seems to me that you already have some strength and experience in creating content, and thus learning even more about content marketing would probably be your best starting point to mastery of a particular area.
If you use those skills in just one area to manage to get a job with a reputable agency, you can learn an incredible amount from the experience in that agency about how the other parts of the business run – including how they win clients, manage them, etc. It also keeps the bills paid while you spend your evenings truly mastering the craft.
Njue ✍️ » Ammon Johns
currently I'm working with a company that depends on the agency for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), that means all we do mainly is create content, forward it to them for SEO, then go back and analyze the output. That's why I feel a little locked out in the exposure.
Ammon Johns 🎓
Take some time to really research an article about content marketing. Work on it in your own time and try to make a masterpiece, something to truly show off your talents in researching, analysis, critical thinking, and of course, presenting compelling content. Then see if you can get it published on one of the biggest and best SEO sites. If the article is truly good, really well researched, there's a very high chance they'll publish it.
In your bio, don't be afraid to mention that you'd love to work within a top tier SEO agency to further broaden and deepen your skills. Then see what offers come.
Even if it doesn't get you a contract, it will absolutely be great exposure and something you can add to your CV or resumé.
Njue ✍️ » Ammon Johns
I appreciate. Putting this into practice.
Efem » Ammon Johns
thank you Ammon
Nikolay Stoyanov 👑
Listen to everything Ammon says. Then start practicing it. Read, read, read and test x 10! Don't be lazy, all the info is out there for FREE! You just need to make the effort. But at the end of the day it can be very rewarding!
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Nikolay Stoyanov
100% and then some. I've been in Internet Marketing for 25 years now, and I still absolutely adore this industry and the incredible creative opportunities to be different it presents every single day.
It is one of very, very, very few careers where anyone can rise to the top purely on merit, regardless of race, sex, nationality, or anything else than talent and ability.
Nikolay Stoyanov 👑 » Ammon Johns
amen to this, my friend!
Marryatt » Ammon Johns
who were you marketing to, and what were you selling online in 1995?
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Marryatt
that's an awesome question, because it really was a whole different world back then. There were already a few million people online back then, but the use patterns, the familiarity, and the structure of the web were all very different.
In '95 I was just starting out with a web design business. I'd been building websites for myself, then for some friends who asked, then for friends of friends who needed to offer me a nice bottle of something in return, and finally we'd gotten to where it was the kind of friends of friends of friends who need to pay you. So I set up a website builder business in '95.
There was no CSS back then, and in fact I think we'd only just gotten the use of Tables (in HTML 2) that allowed us to position anything at all. That meant websites were much simpler, and my lack of the eye of a really good designer didn't really show, not even to me.
Word of mouth and networking were my main drivers of business, though I was listed in just about every web directory and did a lot of social networking via various IRC servers. I had banner ads for banner swaps too, of course.
In late '95 and all through '96 I was getting good feedback from my few brave clients, but a lot of them said stuff like "We love the site, and our customers that see it love it, but where are all these millions of people we heard were online? How do we get more visits?". I didn't know, told them so straight, but added "I'll try and find out for you". So, for some of those clients I started doing a lot of research, doing analysis of other sites to see what seemed to be working for them, and devised things to try. I charged clients not for the research time, but for setting up the 'experiments' or implementing changes. Not everything worked great, but enough worked, and each added to my toolkit and knowledge.
By midway through '96 I was getting new clients saying "I heard of you from [other client] and how you'd really helped him get visits and business. We already have a website, do we need to have you build a new one or can you just 'do that traffic thing' on what we have?" 😃
It wasn't just search engines back then, of course. I did what we called 'Web Promotion', and that included everything we could think of to build up business. Banner swaps, web rings, web directories, email newsletter ads and articles, even occasionally IRC chat bots on the busier IRC networks in specific channels that could react to certain words by posting a link to a channel or user. (Funny how 'chat bots' have come back into use).
By 1997 I had closed the website design part of the business and I only did web promotion and web marketing.
You are spot-on that it was a whole different world. There wasn't the familiarity, or the big success stories back then. Even the giants of the day were mostly loss-leaders, building for the future or driving offline business. People had never heard of 'web promotion' and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) wasn't a term even we used yet (that started to take hold around 1998).
Ecommerce was rare, as there simply were not the merchant accounts or shopping carts of today back then, and so processing online payments was very difficult for most. A lot of business was like a catalog business done via websites as a virtual catalog, and email as the virtual ordering process.
My clients fell into two distinct groups – a lot of small startups and 'mom-n-pop' businesses who couldn't afford traditional offline advertising, and too small to worry about how this internet malarkey might impact their brand; and the kinds of businesses who take risks and opportunities because the ordinary offline channels of advertising are restrictive to them (p0rn, Pills, Casinos). I worked a LOT in the adult industry.
Cemper 🎓 » Ammon Johns
thanks for your patience and insights in this thread. I believe you should put all this content in an FAQ for newbies new to SEO.
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Cemper
good point, but there may be another approach… Nikolay Stoyanov, one thing we used at Cre8asite back on the day was we had a sticky post that we used as a primer, in which we linked to some of the best discussions with lots of tips for newcomers. It seems to me you could make a sticky announcement that worked the same way, or just a regular announcement that you added a link to in an existing sticky and the group info. That way, whenever an awesome thread has a lot of info meriting inclusion, you just edit the announcement to include it with a brief description of the topic it covers. Kind of like a group bookmarks list.
(For admins and group owners, this also adds a gamification element to producing great posts, as whenever there is a list of 'top [anything]' people always want to get on it. It incentivises more great discussions.)
Marryatt » Ammon Johns
so interesting, thanks for the response. I think of myself as an early adopter for the most part but guess I was late, got my first home internet connection in 97, I think the year before we got one at work? I had a 28k modem. Do you still optimize for Lycos and Excite and the other one … Altavista!
You can't charge for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you have no experience, this is what makes the industry rather tainted. So many people that don't have an absolute clue "provide" SEO services and the clients are just throwing their money down the drain. Would you offer electrician services if you weren't an electrician? Of course not.
I agree up top rank a few sites so you can prove you have done it.
But only after your site retains its rankings, meaning, you rank it the right way.
So when you present to a client, hey here are some examples of websites I have done. Send the performance graph from search console, the numbers don’t lie right?
Also, showing a site you ranked survived Google algo updates, is another MAJOR brownie point with a client.
If you can get an SEO client while not knowing how much to charge, or SEO for that matter, the sky is the limit on your rate because you, my friend, are some sort of master salesman! I mean, I’ve been doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for literally as long as there’s been web search engines and have performed my services for giant, well-known companies all over the world, yet still have to prove my credentials and convince a prospect they need SEO services at all. Yet, somehow, you’re talking price list before knowing the job.
Sir, I salute you!
obviously you just aren't as good as you thought you were yet. 😂
Jeff » Ammon Johns
I know. I’m really questioning my life choices right now… maybe the priesthood?
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Jeff
I think you could pick up the habit 😃
Trevor » Jeff
f*cking brilliant, Jeff! 🤣🤣🤣
Dave » Njue
– I'm not sure why this group is full of bullies trying to bash every person who questions anything related SEO 🙂 – Well, I find your question totally legit & I can relate with this. Because, when you start, you may know it technically but you don't know how to sell it with a winning pitch or competitive price. Here are some helpful tips:
– Try to make various packages. First package should be basic that includes only consulting & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analysis. Second should include Standard SEO services like On-Page SEO, Link fixes, Indexing… etc. Third package should include advanced SEO practices with a combination of On & Off page. Plus, offer some content development services
– Always start with small price. Don't charge too much when you're kicking off. I can't name the price as it depends on which kind of customer you're targeting. You can try to extract prices of other companies active in your area. Use Fiverr or UpWork like platforms to understand pricing models. Don't study small sellers. Try to study the plans & packages of Pro level sellers & see their strategies
– Always offer initial consultation of 30 mins for free. If you don't interact with your potential customers without charging them, you're a failure in marketing your skills even when you're a Tech Guru.
Hope these strategies will help. Cheers! 🙂
a couple of points. First, this is a discussion group. You can tell this by the fact there's a big fat link to this part of the group labelled 'Discussion'. For discussion to work and be valuable, we need to hear from a variety of viewpoints, so that we have access to perspectives other than our own, and get a more rounded, 360 degree view from which to make our analysis and decisions.
In this light, opinions and views that differ from your own have great value. Often greater than those who agree, since they are more likely to be based on a different perspective. That does not equate to attack or bullying.
Accusing people of bullying is NOT conducive to discussion. If someone is wrong or wrongful in your view, make a reasonable and respectful argument with the points, not the person. That makes whoever is being unreasonable or disrespectful pretty obvious to all, without anyone throwing accusations around.
Second, since you say you don't know why a post like this gets a very guarded and suspicious reaction, allow me to explain. There is a strong tendency in some people to promise anything, in order to get the sale, and only after taking the money work out if they can actually deliver what is promised. There is a word for taking money for a product or service you don't know if you can provide – the word is 'Fraud'.
Now, of course, I fully understand and appreciate that the vast majority of people getting into the web are not well versed in business, business law, etc. For many, webdesign and web marketing seems like an easy career with no barriers to entry, and anyone can jump in. And to a very real extent that is true. But that does not mean all the centuries of laws and regulations around business don't apply because you are working from your bedroom or whatever.
There's so much of this amateurish lack of perspective around that we even have the phrase 'Fake it til you make it' circling around like it is good advice. It isn't. It is fraud. If you get caught, you can not only be ruined but you can even be jailed.
Obviously, in a group named 'White Hat SEO', we are not keen on advocating fraud or illegal activity. Not even in the grey areas, or where one's defence is "Well, it's okay if I don't get caught'. It is not okay.
Fraud and misrepresentation are NOT victimless crimes.
Njue ✍️ » Dave
I grabbed a few points that will greatly help. I'm humbled
Dave » Ammon Johns
– Calling someone a bully is my opinion which is based on facts. Many comments are not opinions they are just the comment with the intention to bash the person who is questioning. Anyways, in perspective to your parameters for the group, every opinion must matter including mine. So, I rest my case. 🙂
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Dave
saying that someone is a bully in your opinion is unpleasant, but allowed. Saying it is a fact means it is not an opinion – facts are not opinions – so it is NOT protected. There are ways that are acceptable to express dissent, and even disapproval, and there are ways that are not. The above is one of the 'not' ones. Consider this a final warning, unless you understand the difference and choose to remove the 'based on facts' claim by yourself.
Some people never quite understand what the word 'final' in 'final warning' means.
(For those wondering, he made another comment that was completely offensive and unacceptable, about 'snowflake moderators' among other things, which got the comment, and Chintan himself, removed from the group. It is fine to argue the points, but attack the points made, not the character of the person making them. Simple)
I worked for a large domain provider that also did web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We would charge $250/month min and that was no much work. $800-$1000 normally and upwards of $2000-$3000/month on a higher scale. That’s just answering your question without providing guidance.
The real answer is, you should do a case by case basis for each client. Each one has unique goals. You will also have to decide on how much work is needed depending on the difficulty of keywords for their industry or location etc.
this requires key word research for each client individually.
Begin by learning SEO. Like anything else, this is best if you have a project you can work on simultaneously while learning so you can apply the knowledge, helping you retain it.
This will help with confidence communication and sales if you are just whitelisting a service. You won’t be able to convince anyone that you can do the job, let alone to give you $8,000 for their SEO project if you don’t at least have a good understanding of the fundamentals and can show a history of doing so.