I was talking with one of my SEO clients the other day about a secondary site their company owned. The site had been hit by Penguin and they needed some help pinpointing exactly where they went wrong and what actions they needed to take to address the issue. Even though this site wasn’t part of our SEO contract or normal monthly work I agreed to take a look at site and walk the site’s manager through the recovery process. It wasn’t a full SEO audit, but I tried to give them a good outline of where they had been caught by Penguin and what they needed to do to rebound.
After the meeting, my SEO client commented to me and my team how much she appreciated us taking the time to look at the secondary site and spend time with the site’s manager (who isn’t one of our clients). She mentioned that their previous SEO company would charge them outrageous fees (we’re talking thousands of dollars in extra fees each month) if they ever asked for any advice or help that was outside the scope of the original contract. Even fairly simple questions that wouldn’t require any real extra work (just “What do you think about this?” type issues) meant my client got slapped with extra charges.
This got me thinking about an experience I had with the lawyer I had hired to set up my company’s 401k. I asked him to come into the office one day to walk me through the paperwork he’d sent over. He had just sent over a stack of papers with no directions of what I was supposed to do with it and I didn’t want to risk doing something wrong. He charged a couple hundred dollars for the 15 minutes. When the payroll manager called him to make sure everything was in order, he charged me another couple hundred dollars. He even spent about a half hour in the office after a meeting talking about SEO to one of the company’s SEO managers and I got charged for that time! Needless to say I was more than a little peeved. Every phone conversation I had with this attorney was costing me an exorbitant amount of money, but because I didn’t double check how he charged for his services upfront it came back to haunt me.
When you’re working with an SEO company, obviously there is a limit to what they can (and should) do for your business. But I feel like anything SEO related that doesn’t require a huge amount of unexpected work is fair game (within reason). If you’ve hired an SEO company do manage one site’s SEO and expect them to happily do the same work for four other sites you own you’re in for a surprise, but asking how your PR team can better optimize your press releases is a completely reasonable request and you shouldn’t be charged extra for it!
I’d like to know what other SEO companies do. What kind of “extra” work are you willing do to for your clients? Where do you draw the line?