Many SEO practitioners have an ongoing debate in their minds which goes something like this: Which is better…to charge per hour or per month? The reason the question is not a simple one to answer is that there are merits to both methods.
Let’s look at the hourly and the monthly SEO rate models.
Hourly SEO rates means that a client pays per hour of work spent on the project. A majority of consultants, especially independent contractors, charge by the hour because it is the simplest way to price a project. Often, in a project, the SEO consultant meets with unexpected problems that need to be handled. Aside from these unforeseen factors, testing and additional tweaking are other time-consuming aspects of a project he needs to contend with.
With the hourly pricing model, SEOs are assured compensation for the time they spend on these knotty issues and are relieved of the necessity to put a halt to the work in order to turn in a new estimate or proposal whenever something unexpected arises. . Although this may sound risky for the client, it actually isn’t because certain specifics such as estimated number of hours required and maximum hours allotted for project completion are determined at the outset.
Many clients prefer an hourly rate because it’s straightforward, accountable, and easy to understand. Small or middle-sized companies, in particular, appreciate rates per hour because the figures they are faced with are not too large. Depending on his budget, the client can determine the amount of work he can afford. Additionally, should he decide to amend or expand the scope of the project, the necessity for the tedious process of asking and waiting for a new proposal is eliminated. All that needs to be done is to figure out the extra hours required for the amendment or expansion. Thus, for both consultant and client, hourly rates offer a good amount of flexibility.
Hourly billing is suitable for new projects, minimal SEO consultations, and short-term projects.
Monthly SEO billing is normally used when there is a standard workload that is fairly constant, such as website maintenance work. The tasks to be performed monthly are defined. However, when it comes to addressing upkeep of larger projects, definition of tasks is not even a requisite so long as the overall goal is accomplished. Clients who recognize the importance of protecting their initial SEO investment appreciate monthly SEO rates as it removes the need for constant renegotiating of projects and price. In addition, they have a known, fixed figure they can budget for.
The monthly rate model allows SEOs not just to do maintenance work but also to explore new optimization methods for the client and to improve the website in novel ways. It takes SEOs time to learn all they need to know about a client’s industry in order to get a broader view of all the SEO efforts that can be undertaken. Many times, they get their best ideas when they’re off the clock. Because there’s no piling up of hourly fees, this works out to the client’s advantage.
For SEO consultants, monthly retainers are advantageous because this model builds long-term relationships with clients. Moreover, monthly retainers work towards a relatively steady cash flow from month to month, and invoices are simple to prepare and send out.
However, monthly billing is not a suitable model for new projects as time requirements are rather unsteady at the onset of new SEO projects, with many unforeseen issues apt to arise; the SEO would very likely end up underpaid. Aside from SEO that supplies continued service (such as website maintenance), monthly billing is suitable to longer-term SEO work that aims for sustained growth, such as content development.
So, to the question, “hourly or monthly SEO rates…which are better?”, the answer is, “It depends.” Both models have their advantages. Each model must be weighed according to the type, scope, and goals of the work involved.
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