SEO contracts can make or break your next deal with your client. If you want tips on how you can draft your contract, SEOReseller gives you the 10 essential elements your SEO contract should have.

We all know that a contract can make or break any deal. Traditionally, a contract is a delicate document overseen by legal professionals to ensure both parties arrive at a mutual understanding on their agreement. Think of it as a promise between two people, except there are no pinkies involved.

With SEO, however, contracts are less about the legalities and more about defining roles, goals, and expectations. In fact, when creating SEO contracts for your clients, you should be as realistic as possible about your services and specializations. With your contract, you establish your relationship with your client, taking you one step closer to building a partnership that lasts.

Each component of your contract plays a major part in landing the deal and bringing in more SEO business for your agency. These are the 10 essential elements in drafting a good SEO contract:

  1. Your Agency’s Strengths
  2. Established Roles and Processes
  3. A Broad Description of Tasks
  4. Timing of Deliverables
  5. Late Payment Penalties and Advance Payments
  6. Schedule for Invoicing
  7. Relevant Case Studies or Work Samples
  8. The Length of the SEO Contract
  9. Regulations on Contract Pauses
  10. Termination Requirements

Let’s dive into each component to provide you with a deeper understanding of how you can better package your SEO services.

1. Your Agency’s Strengths

Every digital marketing agency has strengths that set them apart from their competitors. Play your strengths to your advantage by reiterating them in your contract. This includes your niche, your years of experience in the industry, and even the credentials of your chief officers.

Plus, take your contract as your final pitch. Your SEO clients could be reviewing two or three proposals at a time – make sure they know you have what it takes to get the job done right.

2. Established Roles and Processes

Be transparent about who on your team will take charge of your client’s projects. From the account managers to the content producers, it is important that your client knows the key people behind the campaigns for when they require alignment meetings.

Provide a detailed account of your SEO methodology, such as your link building strategy and the SEO tools you’re using. This is a great way to set expectations regarding the onboarding and operations processes without receiving calls from clients asking for rushed work.

3. A Broad Description of Tasks

SEO is an ever-evolving industry. Google implements around 500 to 600 small changes to its algorithm each year, which means that the strategies you propose today may not be as effective tomorrow.

When drafting an SEO contract, avoid being too specific about certain tasks. Instead, take the categorical approach and address larger issues, such as on-page elements and web development strategies. Doing so keeps your contract clear of discrepancies and loopholes.

4. Timing of Deliverables

Clients will always expect promptness for the services they pay for, so be clear about the timing of delivery from the get-go.

As you go about creating your SEO contract templates, state the time and dates of when you’ll start the work, when specific phases will be carried out and when you can complete the entire package. When you can, hand over the work earlier than your agreed time to leave a good impression with your clients.

5. Late Payment Penalties and Advance Payments

Since you’re determined to deliver the work on time, make sure your clients pay on time, too. Late payments can greatly hurt your operations, affecting the overall efficiency of your agency.

Enforce penalties for clients who miss the deadline for their payments. Another option is to ask for advance payments to avoid any delays. This way, your clients pay for a month’s worth of SEO before you deploy the tasks. If you don’t receive any payment the next month, then no work is done.

Note: Don’t forget to include information on additional fees for specific services outside of your client’s current SEO plan.

6. Schedule for Invoicing

Many clients pester agencies about the go-signal to send in their payments. To avoid confusion regarding the beginning of billing, your contract should state when you will issue your client’s invoice. Add information on how the payment should be made to prevent repetitive calls from clients regarding billing issues.

7. Relevant Case Studies or Work Samples

Adding links or files to relevant case studies onto your contract serves as reassurance to your clients that you’re a digital marketing agency they can trust. A case study with a previous client – especially if it’s a brand many people are familiar with – can increase your chances of sealing the deal.

8. The Length of the SEO Contract

There are many ways you can establish the term length of your contract or project timeline. One is sticking to a finite term that starts and ends on a specific date. Another is setting up an auto-renewal option that allows them to extend their contract every month, quarter, year, or however long the agreed initial term is. Discuss with your client their preferred setup and adjust the rates accordingly when drafting the SEO agreement.

9. Regulations on Contract Pauses

SEO is an ongoing effort, so it’s understandable why many digital marketing agencies don’t offer contract pauses. However, if you think it’s an option you’d want to offer to your clients, clarify in your SEO service contract what exactly a “pause” means. Have answers to questions that are meant to address concerns that arise during contract pauses. For instance:

  • What is the longest time a client can pause their contract?
  • What happens to a client’s contract once they have exceeded the maximum time limit for pausing?
  • Should clients provide a notice before pausing their contract?
  • How should the assigned account manager adjust to the client should the team reshuffle during the contract pause?

While many digital marketing agencies suggest ending a contract instead of pausing it, giving them the option to temporarily suspend their contract allows you to keep a client instead of losing them for good.

10. Termination Requirements

Both the agency and the client should have the option to terminate the contract. Regardless of the reason, you should create clear requirements that enable both parties to arrive at a civil termination. Some questions you can ask are:

  • How much notice does the client need to give before terminating the contract?
  • How will the notice be accepted? Through email? Written? Verbal?
  • What constitutes a written notice?

The policy for termination prevents misunderstanding and allows you to plan team assignments accordingly. This also reduces overall cash flow disruption, making sure your agency is prepared for a loss of a client.

More than just a legal document, an excellent SEO contract is the only thing standing between your agency and a foundation for a strong relationship with a new client.

For tools, SEO services, and best practices in improving search ranking of your clients, talk to SEOReseller today.

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Itamar has been on the net since the days it was still in black and white. Born and raised in Israel and now living in the Philippines, founder of SEOReseller.com and recently launched Siteoscope.com.