Should you purchase a one-time SEO package?
Or invest in a monthly retainer?
Well, I had an interesting discussion recently, with a business owner who recognized the immense potential that SEO had for his brand.
One point that came up is that while I offered a monthly SEO retainer, he had spoken to another SEO agency who offered a one-time package.
I found myself thinking this over afterwards.
What’s the Difference Between a One-time SEO Package and a Monthly Retainer?
Why should I invest month after month, when I can just pay one fee and be done with it?
Let me first discuss two different types of websites:
The Simple Website
If you have a small, ‘business card’ website and rarely make any changes to it, then a one-time SEO makeover (as I like to call them) could make sense.
Bear in mind that if you plan on leveraging SEO to be a significant source of leads, it may not be enough to position yourself competitively.
However, if your goal is for people who are looking for your business (by name) to find you online, then this will almost always be enough.
The Complex Website
If your website is large and has many moving parts, particularly if there are frequent changes being made, then a one-off SEO project can be like giving a house full of kids a very thorough clean.
You’ll fix up issues, and get it going well – but over time, people will make changes, links and other elements will break, and more content will be added that isn’t optimized.
If no one is on top of all of this, you’ll end up with a dirty house again (although the area behind the washing machine might still be clean).
What’s Included in an SEO Package?
Now that I’ve set the stage, let’s take a dive into several different elements that are usually included in SEO packages. This is not a comprehensive list, but it serves to give you an idea of the difference between how a one-off package and a monthly retainer can grow your website’s online presence.
Overall Website Strategy
Full research, deciding which pages and sections will target which keywords, creating the strategy – this is often sold as a standalone SEO package. The deliverable may be detailed instructions to the client as to how to create some pages, or it may include the pages themselves.
Some clients will do well with a specific number of main pages, one for each service they offer. If the package is large enough, it may include researching, writing, designing, and publishing all of these pages on the website.
This will have a strong positive impact on their SEO, and could work well as a one-off package. Most ongoing packages (mine included) will incorporate the strategy into the first month, and spread implementation over the next few months, along with the other elements of the SEO campaign.
The impact will be faster if everything is implemented at once, and this is a strong argument for a large, one-off SEO package versus a monthly retainer.
Technical SEO Audit
If there are many technical issues preventing a site from ranking, a one-off package to address all of this may be a good idea. Do make sure that your package includes implementation too, or that your developers will actually implement all the suggestions.
Far too many expensive audits result in a long list of ‘recommendations’ that never get implemented. (This is why I have developers and technical SEO experts on my team – we can carry out all the implementation ourselves).
However, as I mentioned above, if it’s a site that often changes (such as an eCommerce site with new products and categories frequently being added), it will very often make sense to conduct monthly (or even weekly, in some cases) technical audits to catch new issues as they arise.
Ongoing Content Marketing
Google loves fresh meat. I mean content, sorry. Google loves fresh content.
An ongoing strategy will typically include creating and publishing fully optimized content on the client’s website on a steady basis. Over time, more and more keywords and topics will be covered, and the website’s authority in the niche will be firmly established. A solid internal linking strategy will help boost the main sales pages too.
A one-off package may include a content calendar for a certain period of time, usually 3-12 months. This then relies on the client sticking to it, and having a writing team that will follow this calendar. However, the question remains: Who is optimizing this content?
Simply having keywords isn’t enough, there is far more that goes into optimizing a blog post for it to rank well. Some one-off packages include training for the writing team, but with no ongoing support it’s almost certain that these blog posts won’t maximise their potential.
Not to mention the rigidity that comes with having a fixed content calendar in place. We all know how fast the world can change, and having the flexiblity to create different – and optimized – content as the need arises is often essential.
Changing With your Business
So your business offers these services or products, and will never expand to offer more? A one-off SEO package assumes just that. It may optimize every product and category page on your site, but what happens when you add a new line of items? It may create highly optimized landing pages for each service you offer, but what happens when you decide to combine two, eliminate the third, and introduce two more?
An ongoing SEO package will grow with you. Adding a new location? Let’s get that set up for you. Bringing in a new service? Perfect, we’ll get that strategy sorted and create the page for it. Want to focus on winter products now? No problem, we’ll change things around to match.
Google’s Algorithm Loves to Change
Did you know that Google just announced yet ANOTHER algorithm update? An ongoing SEO package should mean that you have an expert SEO analyst watching your figures going up or down, figuring out what has changed, and adjusting the SEO strategy to ensure it continues driving results. At Imperial Rank SEO, we check our clients rankings every week, and are proactive about getting the results we want.
A one-off package can’t do that. Your website will be helplessly stuck in the past, while your competitors adjust their strategy and take over your top spots.
No Ongoing Support
A business is a live, growing, ever-changing entity. You will have to make many decisions which affect your website – and a lot of those will affect SEO.
I’ve been asked so many times by my clients about various activities they want to do – will this impact the SEO? What’s the best way to approach this? How can I implement this on my site to maximise the chance of success?
If you have an SEO partner on board, who is familiar with your website and strategy, you’ll have that guidance to ensure you make the best decisions for your business.
With a one-off package, once it is complete you are left on your own. And it’s so, so easy to unwittingly ruin every scrap of SEO success that your website has achieved.
Let Imperial Rank SEO Help You
There are many more elements in an SEO package, like link building and digital PR campaigns, but i’ve chosen to mention just a few of them here. Feel free to contact us to hear more about our SEO services.