No contract SEO is rare in the world of search engine optimization. While more agencies are exploring the no contract model, the majority of the SEO industry still requires a long-term contract when purchasing SEO services. No contract SEO simply means SEO services without the obligation of a long term contract.
Contracts have been the industry standard for years, but in reality, the contract model can cause significant problems between clients and agencies and may not be the best way to handle SEO for either party. In this article, we will explore key benefits of no contract SEO and three reasons why a no contract model delivers better results for both clients and SEO agencies.
A Case Study
Let’s explore this idea through a case study of a typical agency/customer interaction.
A prospective client comes to an SEO agency needing their services. Upon talking with a representative, they are told that SEO takes time, and therefore to obtain services they would need to sign a two-year contract for $5,000 per month to get the desired results. The client has no guarantee that the SEO efforts will work or that the company will deliver on their expectations. Yet to obtain a much needed service they must commit in that moment to invest $120,000 for which they have no guarantee of return. The customer leaves feeling trapped. Would you want to pitch this investment to your CEO?
Now while the industry has shifted to much shorter contracts, the typical SEO contract is still generally between 6 months to a year. But no matter the length, pitching an investment that locks a client into a fixed contract with no way to ensure a return on investment can make a client feel like a hostage rather than a delighted customer with a partner in their success. This feeling of uncertainty causes long term problems for both the agency and the customer, but can be avoided using a no contract model for SEO services. Here are 3 reasons why we feel a no contract SEO model is more beneficial for both customers and SEO agencies.
1. No Contract SEO Builds Trust
Trust is one of the most important elements in building business relationships and in economic gain. As described by Stephen Covey, trust is the glue of life, the foundation of all relationships and the root of success or failure in business. Contracts were created as an economic tool to build this glue of trust while a relationship is being established. However, in the case of SEO, ironically the contract can actually get in the way of building a trusting client/agency relationship.
SEO results are not a guarantee. Therefore, SEO contracts impede trust because they force customers to pay for something without any assurance of return. The contract also keeps them from leaving should the agency not meet their expectations. This leads customers to feel out of control of their investment and to see their agency as an enemy the moment something goes wrong or expectations aren’t met. The insecurity that long contracts can cause customers in turn creates problems for agencies trying to sell their services. This causes agencies to overly focus on pushing sales rather than building trusting client relationships and a vicious cycle begins. Neither party is interested in the needs of the other and over time, trust disintegrates.
Customers shouldn’t feel like they are trapped when they are trying to buy a service, and agencies shouldn’t feel pressure to obligate someone to a contract to prove value. SEO has value in itself and that value can be demonstrated without a contract. Instead, through setting proper expectations, a no contract model, that produces measurable results in 2-3 months, gives an agency a much easier selling point up front and helps clients feel more secure in their investment. Clients are then more likely to invest in SEO and see results, which in turn, increases their trust. As results increase over time, the agency continues to build trust, leading to a long term client relationship that benefits both parties.
2. Creating a Sense of Urgency
No contract SEO services also tend to outperform the contract model because the lack of a contract creates a sense of urgency for the agency to prove its value. This often leads to more and better results in less time. Organizational behavior experts, such as John Kotter, have shown that creating a sense of urgency is one of the most important factors in accomplishing a project or creating an organizational change. The same principle can be true for providing SEO services.
Too many SEO agencies require lengthy contracts for the reason that “SEO takes time.” While it is true that SEO does take time, it often doesn’t take as long as people think, and with some basic steps, SEO can actually produce measurable results fairly quickly. Yet, too many customers miss out on these more immediate results because their agency procrastinates work on their site in favor of other more urgent projects. Or worse, the agency does work but delivers mediocre results or uses black hat techniques that get quick results but harm the client’s website. The agency isn’t concerned, because their revenue is guaranteed. But the customer feels frustrated and leaves with a deep distrust of SEO and SEO agencies in general. Just as one bad apple can spoil the bunch, one disreputable agency hiding behind a contract in turn hurts the reputation of other SEO agencies and damages the overall industry.
In contrast, the no contract SEO model requires an agency to prove their value from the start. Instead of a contract dictating the terms, the agency carries the burden of proof for explaining SEO services and setting expectations for the results and timeline. The agency also has the incentive to frontload their efforts and to make consistent efforts on the customer’s account over time to continuously provide value and retain clients. Thus, an agency without a contract will work to build trust with their client all throughout the relationship. The customer gets more and better results, and the agency has the opportunity and incentive to demonstrate value, allowing them to create long lasting partnerships and recurring revenue
3. Becoming a True Partner
Lastly, the no contract model allows agencies and customers to work together to become partners in the customer’s success. Instead of an adversarial relationship, where neither party is sure of their investment, eliminating the long term contract creates an environment where the agency and customer are required to collaborate toward the SEO effort. SEO requires engagement, and a long term contract can impede engagement simply because it requires less interaction between the client and agency, turning the SEO into a passive effort where neither party is truly engaged and the results are mediocre at best.
However, the no contract model inherently requires more communication between agencies and clients because services are performed and evaluated on a monthly basis. This may appear to be more work, but the increased communication actually offers an opportunity for agencies and clients to collaborate on the SEO effort, and to communicate regularly about the progress made, the work being done and the strategy going forward. This gives the agency the opportunity to showcase the value they have added over time and to provide recommendations for future adjustments. And the client, rather than a simple bystander, gets the opportunity to engage with the agency and the SEO work and to be a full and collaborative partner in the process.
Summary: Why We Love No Contract SEO
In short, no contract SEO can often outperform the contract model by building increased trust with clients, creating a sense of urgency and fostering regular communication and a long term partnership. SEO is not some mysterious black magic that cannot be shared with clients, nor is SEO a service that takes months and months before showing any results. Rather, SEO is a disciplined science of following principles that search engines have outlined for success. By following those principles consistently, you should see gradual, measurable improvements over time. That doesn’t mean you will get page 1 results and SEO should never be viewed as a quick fix to get more traffic to your site. Rather, SEO should be considered a long term strategy that you work on consistently over time, and you should see actual things change and improving every single month.
SEO is also not a passive investment, but rather an active process where clients should be engaged and understand what is going on, and agencies should be held accountable for their work and have the liberty to make recommendations. A no contract SEO model gives an agency like us the opportunity to showcase those monthly improvements to our clients and let them see the consistent value that SEO can provide. Then if they no longer need that value, or if they don’t see the results they want, they are free to leave without any obligation, and we can focus on partnering with those who need the value that we provide. We feel that SEO can speak for itself and that the no contract model offers the best opportunity for agencies to provide value to their clients and partner with them in their success.
Contact Sebo Marketing
If you are interested in learning more about how no contract SEO works or about our services at Sebo Marketing, feel free to visit our website, fill out the form, or call us today at 801-227-7326. We would love to answer your questions and see how we can help you meet your business goals through transparent and consistent SEO work.
Kotter, John P. “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” Harvard Business Review, 13 July 2015, hbr.org/1995/05/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail-2.
Kruse, K. (2012, December 04). Stephen Covey: 10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/07/16/the-7-habits/