A contract is a legally binding agreement. As such, you need to ensure that all your bases are covered before you submit an SEO contract to a client.
Here are 5 things to consider when submitting an SEO contract to your client.
1. Specific deliverables and right expectations
Make sure that your client is aware of what you are promising to do for him and what he is paying for. A major cause for misunderstanding arises when a client erroneously expects you to deliver something that you never promised to provide. One way to avoid this situation is to be very specific in the contract as to what services you will perform. Define your deliverables in as clear a language as possible so that it is understandable to the client.
Since SEO contains a lot of jargon, define any technical terms in the body of the contract; alternatively, you may wish to attach a list of technical terms that your client can refer to, if needed. In this way, you ensure that there is a mutual understanding of the goals and components of the SEO campaign; Incidentally, the SEO business kit contains an SEO process client reference sheet, which is designed specifically for this purpose. It helps the client better understand what's actually involved. Being as clear and specific as possible will be a major advantage if the contract comes into dispute in the future. A word of caution: do not promise what cannot be delivered.
It’s a good idea to make a provision in the contract in case your client has a new idea or a change of direction during the SEO project. In such a case, you need to have a documented and signed change request form submitted. Specify that this is an additional service, outside the scope of the initial agreement, and that it will incur an additional charge.
2. Pricing and payment
Spell out your pricing structure. Are your charges based on hourly rates, monthly retainers, or on performance? If you are charging on an hourly basis, then you need to give an estimate of the number of hours needed to complete each task. Since the estimate is coming from you, consider that if you go beyond the agreed estimated hours, you may have to forego charging anything extra – unless the delay is caused by the client or a third party. If you decide to charge based on performance, define precisely the criteria by which performance can be measured. This is important as different people have different ways for evaluating performance.
Be very explicit when it comes to payment terms such as total project fee, advanced fees, timeline for progressive payments, refunds and discounts and conditions when these apply, currency to be used, and mode of payment. Make it clear in the contract that your client agrees to reimburse you for any incidental costs, such as paid directory submissions, content development, shipping, and postage, etc.
It’s a good idea, if you plan to accept periodical payments that you charge some fees upfront and to then move towards progressional payments. Obtaining a deposit is always encouraged.
3. Disclaimers and exclusions
Since there are a myriad of things beyond your control – such as server outages, changing policies and algorithms of search engines – it’s advisable to list down the circumstances where you cannot be held liable. Also include the list of permissions and rights – e.g. backend access to the website, logos, trademarks - your client needs to assign to you so that you can complete your SEO tasks.
To protect you from copyright infringement, the client needs to state that he is legally authorized to do assign these rights. Then, too, be sure to include a clause that excludes you from liability if any of the changes you’ve made are overwritten or altered in any way by the client or a third party, or if the client fails to implement your suggestions or to respond in a timely manner.
4. End of Contract
The contract normally comes to an end when the goal of the SEO campaign has been achieved or the specified tasks have been completed. But circumstances may arise that cause one or both parties to deem it advisable to prematurely end the contract. Consider what these circumstances would be from your perspective and write them into the contract. Put down details as to the notice period required and what indemnification, if any, should be made to either party.
5. Breach of Contract
At the onset of an endeavor, you naturally have high hopes that all will go well; unfortunately, this is not always the case. In spite of your best efforts, things can go wrong, contracts are sometimes breached.
You need to address such an eventuality. Consider how much compensation you are willing to pay, if you are the offending party, or how much you want to be paid, if you are the aggrieved. A straightforward way out of the contract is preferable to resorting to litigation. However, if there is a dispute and litigation is the only recourse, then you want to ascertain that governing law and jurisdiction are in your favor. It’s a good idea to consult with a legal specialist on this matter before submitting your SEO contract to your client.
If you're in need of an SEO Contract, then the SEO Business Startup Kit is a perfect solution. It contains a ready made contract, contract cover letter, website authorization form, change requests forms, invoice templates and more. Simply fill in these ready made templates with your client and business information, and you're done. You can literally have a comprehensive SEO contract done in less than 2 minutes.
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