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Old 30th January 2007, 02:00 PM   #1
thejenn
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Default New Article - Billable Rights Of SEOs And Their Clients

Authored by: Stoney deGeyter

Full Text: http://www.searchengineguide.com/degeyter/009331.html

A Snippet:

Ever wonder just what you as a client and your SEO firm as a service provider have the right to expect from each other? You're not the only one. As such, Stoney deGeyter has put together a comprehensive list of "billable rights" for both SEM providers and SEM clients.

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Old 1st February 2007, 02:17 PM   #2
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From a legal perspective, at least based on U.S. common law, a few of the "rights" are not legal rights at all. For example,

"The client has a right to maintain ownership of all work performed by the SEO. I'm not paying per click, so anything you do with my money is mine to keep."

In the U.S., unless the SEO is an employee or the contract is on a "work for hire" basis, all intellectual property remains with the SEO. This is also true of web developers, etc.

Also, "The SEO has a right to charge the client for services that fall outside the scope of the contract. If additional work is requested, expect to pay for it" is true but only provided the client did request it. You cannot just do extra work and expect to be paid for it.

Regarding "The SEO has a right to charge the client a late payment fee." This may be true but it should be specified in the contract. What's more, any such fee must be reasonable such that it wouldn't be considered a "penalty."

As far as "The SEO has a right to undo all work performed for the client due to non-payment. If the SEO fulfills the contract but you're not paying, you're stealing time and money from the SEO you hired." That's not legally true unless specified in the contract. There are other legal remedies available, such as damages and, in fact, undoing the work could also possibly be considered a remedy but it's not much of one as you would have to spend even more of your own time undoing the work!

Regarding "The client has a right to know the SEO tactics to be implemented externally. I'm paying you so tell me what you're doing for me." I totally disagree. Why should I be forced to give away my methodologies so that the client could then go copy them. Yes, I think they have a right to know what changes are being made to their own site, but externally, I don't think so!

Finally, regarding "The client has a right to expect SEO work performed to increase traffic and sales/conversions. If I'm not seeing more sales then I'm not getting my money's worth." I think a client only has a right to higher search engine rankings. Yes, in theory that should increase traffic but even if you get a higher ranking it doesn't mean people are necessarily gonna click on your site's links in the search results. Furthermore, even if you get more traffic, SEO doesn't guarantee higher sales, that's a different process all together - optimization for sales.

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Old 2nd February 2007, 08:42 AM   #3
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Well, I guess I'll post my rebuttals here...

Quote:
From a legal perspective, at least based on U.S. common law, a few of the "rights" are not legal rights at all. For example,
First off I'll say that I was not necessarily coming at this from a legal standpoint but one of expectations. What's legal is largely determined by the contract. Most SEOs have contracts but some don't. Contract or not, there are expectations. As in all cases, these expectations need to be clearly laid out by both parties ahead of time, which is why people enter into contractual agreements in the first place.

Quote:
"The client has a right to maintain ownership of all work performed by the SEO. I'm not paying per click, so anything you do with my money is mine to keep."

In the U.S., unless the SEO is an employee or the contract is on a "work for hire" basis, all intellectual property remains with the SEO. This is also true of web developers, etc.
I was not referring to intellectual properly here but actual changes made to a website in the process of SEO. If the SEO changes the title tag, the client owns that title tag. If the SEO changes body copy, the client owns that body copy. I other words, if the SEO gets fired (after having been fully paid) the SEO cannot claim that the work they performed is theirs and the site must remove it all.

Quote:
Also, "The SEO has a right to charge the client for services that fall outside the scope of the contract. If additional work is requested, expect to pay for it" is true but only provided the client did request it. You cannot just do extra work and expect to be paid for it.
I believe the words "requested" were in my original statement.

Quote:
Regarding "The SEO has a right to charge the client a late payment fee." This may be true but it should be specified in the contract. What's more, any such fee must be reasonable such that it wouldn't be considered a "penalty."
Of course, late payment fees should be stated in a contract. But I don't understand the "penalty" thing. Perhaps you can expand on that a bit?

Quote:
As far as "The SEO has a right to undo all work performed for the client due to non-payment. If the SEO fulfills the contract but you're not paying, you're stealing time and money from the SEO you hired." That's not legally true unless specified in the contract. There are other legal remedies available, such as damages and, in fact, undoing the work could also possibly be considered a remedy but it's not much of one as you would have to spend even more of your own time undoing the work!
Actually, if original site backups are made and kept, undoing any work is not that difficult at all. Again, this does depend on the contract but the SEO has a right to expect to get paid for work performed. If they are not paid for work performed then they should be free to remove work performed.

Quote:
Regarding "The client has a right to know the SEO tactics to be implemented externally. I'm paying you so tell me what you're doing for me." I totally disagree. Why should I be forced to give away my methodologies so that the client could then go copy them. Yes, I think they have a right to know what changes are being made to their own site, but externally, I don't think so!
I agree that SEOs should not give away specific methodologies, etc. but I also don't believe SEOs should rely on "All our methodologies are a secret so I can't tell you what, if anything, we are really doing." I think the client has a right to know, in general, what kind of things are being done.

Quote:
Finally, regarding "The client has a right to expect SEO work performed to increase traffic and sales/conversions. If I'm not seeing more sales then I'm not getting my money's worth." I think a client only has a right to higher search engine rankings. Yes, in theory that should increase traffic but even if you get a higher ranking it doesn't mean people are necessarily gonna click on your site's links in the search results. Furthermore, even if you get more traffic, SEO doesn't guarantee higher sales, that's a different process all together - optimization for sales.
This ultimately depends on the SEO and what the client hired the SEO to do. If they just hired someone to get top rankings then they are going after the wrong thing anyway. I think most quality SEOs focus not just on rankings but also on usability and conversion analysis as well. But if the client only rants rankings and that's the only expectations, then sure, rankings are the only thing they have a right to expect.

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