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Pay-For-Performance Pricing: Redux

I’ve talked about pay-for-performance pricing models for SEO before. I just got an email from a inquisitor looking for a company that will perform SEO on just this sort of model. Here is what they were asking:

…we are looking to Pay-for-performance plans only.
Which means if you optimize our site and we get to #1SERP – we pay you for each keywords archived either #1 SERP or Top 10 or Top3 ( the higher the keyword position, the more we pay )
That is the only way we want to engage SEO company, as we already got quotes with this payment scheme and right now we are comparing vendors who can provide such solution for us,
If this works for you, I would like to get cost breakdown per keyword to something like that – I understand that all keywords have different level of competitiveness – but you can refer to my list of keywords in previous email – it will be either those keywords or keywords with same competitiveness

Google positions Top 3:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month
Google positions Top 10:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month
Google positions #1 SERP:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month

Yahoo positions Top 3:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month
Yahoo positions Top 10:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month

Yahoo positions #1 SERP:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month

MSN positions Top 3:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month
MSN positions Top 10:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month
MSN positions #1 SERP:
$_ when position achieved + $_ to maintain this position / month

Even though I’m opposed to such models for reasons already stated in previous posts, I bantered the idea around the office again. Ultimately we came to the same conclusions. Here was my response.

We don’t do pay-for-performance pricing models for a number of reasons. The first, and most important, is that we’ve seen our optimization efforts undone by clients many times. Sometimes accidentally, and sometimes just by routine website maintenance, but the effect is the same, a considerable loss or significant set-back in performance. The pay-for-performance model, while seemingly attractive, basically puts our paycheck at the mercy of the site owner and any whims of changes they wish to make that ultimately may effect the work we are doing. There are just too many ways to screw up an optimization campaign, and when that happens, it means we end up working for free due to no fault of our own.

Other reasons? Rankings fluctuate all the time, if a keyword is #1 today and #3 tomorrow, back to #2 the day after and then #5 the following week, how does one determine the value of that keyword ranking? Do you take the highest one, an average? Either way, that means daily ranking checking just to make sure you get the correct value assigned at the end of each month. The tracking involved of different price points for different keywords on different search engines quite easily turns into an accounting nightmare. That extra time would require significantly raised pricing for each keyword ranking. We’d be spending half our time tracking and assigning values for each ranking, you’d end up paying more for the billing process than for SEO alone. I can’t see how that is valuable to you as a client.

We’ve got an existing pricing model that is both attractive and affordable and the results to back that up. We’ll have to pass on your pricing model. I thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

I could have gone on, but I don’t think I would be changing any minds anyway.


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Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is an author, husband, father, business leader and tweeter. He is currently working on 2014 update of his famous Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He leads an exceptional crew of web marketers who work overtime to make him look good. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries, enjoys his bride and loves on his kids. Read Stoney's full bio.

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