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Why It's Imperative To Use An SEO Contract
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Why It's Imperative To Use An SEO Contract

Freelance SEO Consultant, Web Designer and Internet Marketer.

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Because of the massive popularity of the internet as a venue for commerce, the SEO industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Search engine optimizers perform the same function as public relations firms and ad agencies, except that their expertise is the wide world of the web. Website owners have come to learn that if they want their site to appear above their competitors, then search engine optimization is crucial. To many however, it's obvious that SEO is a skill best left to experts. The technical issues involved in getting one’s website to rank high within search engines are numerable and certainly not a skill for the inexperienced.

In many instances, website owners and SEO consultants hired to boost website rankings are able to come to an agreement verbally or via an exchange of emails. This is well and good if everything proceeds without a hitch. But what happens if there is a hitch, as there most likely always is, given the general nature and complexities of the job. 

This is where an SEO contract comes into play. In most industries, the client is familiar with the product he is buying or the service he is contracting for. Not so much in the case of SEO. Here the service is almost seen as intangible, and the process by which it is attained, quite mysterious to those not experienced. How then does a client ensure that he is getting what he paid for?

Not all SEO firms and consultants are equal.

Like any other industry, the search engine optimization industry has its share of hacks as well as honest, proficient techies. For every skilled SEO who will apply white hat strategies and use creative tactics to improve a site’s search engine ranking, one can often find a less than desirable counterpart who keyword-stuffs deplorable articles and uses deceptive tricks, such as spamming and paid links in order to position a site higher in search engines. 

These tricks may work in the short-term, fooling the client into believing their goals have been achieved; in the long-run however, its likely that the client may find that no value has been added to the so called opttimized site, the rankings plummet, and the website is in danger of being penalized or, worse, completely deindexed altogether. Without a well drawn out SEO contract that explicitly states, in a language that can be understood, the criteria by which success can be measured and in what time frame this may be expected, the client may find themselves at the mercy of a dodgy SEO consultant who knows how to manipulate search engines for a brief period.

This is why, for the client, it is imperative to use an SEO contract.

From the consultant's perspective, a contract or written agreement is an absolute must. Since most clients don't understand the convoluted workings of search engines, and complicated search engine algorithms, they may have expectations from the consultant that are actually impossible to fulfil. A good SEO contract delineates the responsibilities of the consultant, specifying exactly what services he will provide and what is not within the scope of the contract. Scope creep is a common cause of much frustrations and delays to many search engine optimizers. A contract that spells out what exactly the client is paying for and what results they can expect does much to prevent any potential disputes or misunderstandings.

A solid seo contract should prevent customer disputes from arising.

An SEO contract should state, in clear and precise terms, what the client has to provide so that the SEO consultant can perform the services required of him, how and when payments are to be made, criteria by which to determine whether compliance has been achieved, when the agreement comes to an end, and other key matters.

The best contract is the one that never has to be invoked. However, if a dispute arises between client and consultant, this is when the contract really shows its merit over more informal forms of agreement. A well-written contract will equip a judge or arbiter to objectively determine the right thing to do in the circumstance and to plainly present the justification for his decision.

In summary, in order for both client and SEO consultant to avoid being placed in a vulnerable position, it is imperative to use an SEO contract when embarking on a project.  

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Gary Ruplinger
Freelance SEO Consultant, Web Designer and Internet Marketer.

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