583px-Accountability_and_LegitimacyHere at Big Oak we finished a long process that culminated in a very refined and sophisticated estimator for search engine optimization projects. It is split into two parts, exactly the same as our SEO process, with part one being the optimization phase and part two a monthly marketing phase.

I thought to myself this is something very good for the industry: A tangible guide for our plan and a perfect explanation of why we charge what we charge in one document.

We have always based our pricing on the level of effort we suspected would be needed to achieve high rankings for our clients. So our pricing has always been fairly accurate. We have never raised prices after the fact andΒ  our clients are happy with their results. We didn’t make this a more formal process because we thought we weren’t being fairly compensated and we didn’t do it because our results weren’t stellar. We did it so we can show the clients that we aren’t making up pricing numbers, we aren’t pricing it at “what we think they will pay” and we aren’t charging a flat fee for everything.

We put much thought into what we need to do such as articles, link building, press releases, blogging and so on. We also put thought into how many of these items we need to do. From our years of successful experience we know very well what to do and how many times to do it over the course of a contract so it has been an easy migration to documenting this and pricing it accurately. The beauty of this is the fact that we can show the client how the final price was determined. There can be no argument or debate as to the price. We show them exactly what needs to be done to get them ranked and how much each part in the process will cost.

After that is simply a matter of “affordability” and return on investment.

It is my hope the SEO industry can become a more honest and reputable industry. Far too often I have seen articles referring to SEO consultants as snake oil salesmen or even worse…lawyers. That should be enough to scare anyone in our industry.

How do we combat this? We hold to a code of ethics and we be honest and hide nothing. Tell your clients exactly what you are going to do and how much it will cost. Don’t hide behind a flat price and reveal none of your “secrets”. Anyone can do their own SEO; all you need is time and the desire to learn it. So for us to be afraid of giving away secrets that others will use is absurd. People will pay you for SEO because they don’t have the time and want it done correctly and quickly. Meeting with the client in a monthly call or in person is mandatory at Big Oak. We won’t take a client who can’t agree to this. It holds both parties accountable and keeps the communication, both good and bad, open.

Show your work and be accountable.

For Big Oak that means starting off with a clear plan that the client can understand and refer to at anytime, and more importantly, they never have to wonder where the money goes.