In an effort to provide clarity between SEOs and their clients, I created a bill of rights for SEO clients. This post covers the bill of rights for the SEOs.


The SEO has a right to...

Receive payment from the client for entire amount contracted.

A contract is a contract. If you change your business model, rethink SEO or decide to invest in other marketing avenues, you still have an obligation to fulfill your end of the SEO agreement. If you really want out, talk to your SEO about a proper buyout of your SEO contract.

Collect payment from the client on-time.

Nobody likes to get paid late for work performed. The SEO is building profits for you, and the least you can do is not put that in jeopardy by delaying payment for work performed. If payments are delayed, even for a couple days, the SEO has a right to charge a late payment fee.

Not to allow the client to place a "hold" on their account.

The SEO has the same obligations to its employees and other clients as the SEO client does to it's employees and customers. SEOs often hire based on the expected income of all accounts, including yours. If you request a hold due to finances or other restructuring, you may be impacting the employment and performance of your SEO firm, which may impact your performance down the road.

Charge the client for services that fall outside the scope of the contract.

If the SEO client requests work that is above and beyond the strategy outlined in the contract, the client should expect to pay for any additional hours needed to complete that work. SEOs can only do so much with the time and investment they are given. If more is work is requested, more funds are required.

Expect their recommendations get implemented in a timely manner.

SEOs never expect that every recommendation they make will get implemented or implemented perfectly. However, they have a reasonable expectation that any and all recommendations will be be discussed with them by the client and implemented sooner rather than later. The client cannot hold the SEO accountable for success if there are a number of unfulfilled recommendations on the table.

Not justify every minute spent. (Unless client pays hourly.)

SEO has its highs and lows. Some months require a lot of work and a lot of hours, and other months a lot less. Give the SEO freedom to track hours but not be bound to a certain expectation x hours every month. Let them rest some months and ramp up in others as needed.

Not spend too much time "reporting" to the client.

Providing the client status updates and information critical to the success of their campaign is expected. However, the client cannot demand so much of the SEO's time providing reports and updates that it eats up a significant chunk of the time need to make the account a success.

Revoke deliverable work performed due to client's non-payment.

If SEOs fulfill their end of the contract but the client doesn't pay for work performed, that is theft. The SEO then has a right to undo all work implemented, retract all recommendations and change destinations of links achieved, if necessary, until the client pays in full.

Suspend client's account if needed.

If the SEO client is not keeping payments up to date, an SEO has the right to suspend work being performed on the client's account. The SEO cannot donate their time or effort into a delinquent client when there are other clients making their payments and in need of work to be done.

Cancel client services.

If the client is a problem and eats up too much time and resources, the SEO has the right to cancel services if warranted. This should only be done if the SEO has delivered on everything the client has paid for to date, and there is no expectation without further payment; otherwise, a refund should be provided.

If clients and SEOs agree on these expectations, there should never be a dissatisfied client! You can also read the historical documents from which this post originated.

Follow at @StoneyD, and @PolePositionMkg.

August 31, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


The differentiation you've made between SEOs' and clients' bills of rights is admirable. And so are the parallels. I especially like the voluntary termination of contract clause (#10) empowering both sides seeking other options.

You hit the nail on the head with number 5. I know that some clients are reluctant to implement changes, but isn't that why you hired my firm? If you are going to fight me on every point, then you're just wasting your money and my time!

Awesome post Stoney. I'm thinking I need to print this off and give to each one of my

It definitely makes sense to make sure each one of these points is integrated into your contracts, if you offer SEO services.

Some excellent points Stoney! I have most of these covered in the my contract though, very clearly spelled out along with early termination fees.

This is some great information though, thanks for sharing.

Contract are very important but sadly allot of people either ignore them just to get the work or have something thats as 30 pages long and put the client off.

This is a really great list. I've personally encountered 90% of these issues. If all SEO's would abide by this "Bill of Rights" we could maintain our margins for some time to come.

Great list Stoney! How about 99% Ryan?:-)

Great post Soney. So true. Hard to find a real good company or team. David yes i will agree with you 99% :)

Didnt know an SEO company has so many rights.
Many times when the customer delay our payment, it is really tough on SEO company. I think the late payment charge imposed can have a great impact on how we got our money back.

Great article as usual!

I find the most difficult part is managing the expectations of a client. They think their rankings and traffic should automatically improve every month otherwise you are doing something wron. No matter how much we try to educate clients, they somehow expect us to control the search engines? How do others manage client expectations, anyone have any tips?

Sure just provide them estimates you know you can beat. If it will take 1 month say it will take 3. Then you amaze them when it's done in 1. Over deliver by setting the right expectations from the start. Don't promise unrealistic stuff just to win jobs.

You can avoid almost all these issues by charging SEO clients upfront. Because it is an intangible service that many business owners don't understand many people get reluctant when it comes time to whip out the check book. Charge upfront and avoid these issues.

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