Whenever you are offering a professional service it is essential to provide a written contract to the client. A written contract ensures that both the service provider and client have a clear understanding of the services offered for the agreed payment. However, unlike any other business, SEO is a bit different because it is a dynamic field and tasks which are important today for website optimization may become completely irrelevant 6 months later. So, the contract needs to be composed very carefully to protect your brand image. If you have just started an SEO agency, then here are some suggestions for you to craft a professional contract.
Use broad terms wherever necessary: SEO rules change practically every week and if you mention something specific, which becomes obsolete 1 month later, then it will be difficult to explain the client why you are not providing the service mentioned in the contract. For example, Google Authorship was once very popular, but now it is dead. So, it is better to mention “on page optimizations” than specific services. However, don’t make your contract too vague. The client should clearly understand what types of optimizations strategies you will adapt for on page optimization.
Go for auto renewal contract: A web design project may end in a month, but SEO is a continuous process. So, it is better to set a contract term length, for example 3 months, and make it auto renewal to ensure the consistency of a project. After 3 months the contract will be renewed automatically. However, if your client does not agree, then you may offer him a contract with a fixed termination date.
Minimum contract length is essential: If your client thinks that you can bring his site on number 1 position in Google search results page within 2-3 months, then tell him it is practically impossible. Search engine optimization is no magic trick and it takes at least 3 months to show any positive result in ranking reports. Most of the SEO agencies mention minimum 6-12 months contract period to show positive results to the clients.
Subcontracting must be clearly mentioned: The tasks of an SEO firm are many and they may hire a third party to assist them. For example, you may hire a content writing company to take care of guest posting and article submission. Subcontracting is not a bad strategy, but it should be mentioned in the contract clearly. If the client finds out that you are hiding something from him, he will stop trusting you.
Be clear about advance payment: Not all clients are fraud, but when you are running a business, it is essential to ensure profitability. Hence, ask for advance payment from your clients. Mention the total amount, advance amount, payment method and date of payment.
Include “penalty for late payment” clause: Some clients always say, “I will pay tomorrow”, but it takes weeks to convince them to pay. You have to pay your employees every month and they won’t accept delay in salary date. So, there should be a penalty for clients who always pay late. For example, “additional 10% over the agreed amount if payment is made 3 days after the date mentioned in contract.”
Termination terms and conditions: Give clients the flexibility to terminate a contract if they are not satisfied with your service. You need to mention the contract termination rules in the contract. For example, how much time is required? 30 days notice period? How the termination request will be accepted? Written or verbally? In case of written, is an email good enough?
A written contract makes sure that there is no confusion between the client and the service provider. Besides, if any of them breaks the terms and conditions mentioned in the contract, lawsuit can be filed against the guilty party.