After helping out a few friends and acquaintances with website optimisation, I've been approached by a web designer about doing SEO work for them on an ongoing basis. They would like me to propose a service or set of services I could offer together with a set of prices.
The easiest and cheapest service I could offer is sets of directory submissions. To do these I could use my development version of professional directory submitter, SliQ Submitter Pro. This should allow me to do a hundred or so submissions an hour.
Of course there are a lot of other techniques I could use to do link-building. The more I think about it though, the more I feel a fixed price service won't do the job. SEO is a long-haul activity and needs to be spread over a number of months. Ideally I would spend 6 or so hours a month doing offsite optimisation for a website using directory submissions, articles where appropriate plus other link-building techniques I've become familiar with.
Spreading the SEO work over a few months should give better value and satisfaction to the customer. With a one-off hit at link-building, there won't be time to see any results before the work is completed. It's also likely to be unsuccessful. To do optimisation, you have to be able to monitor the results and make changes over a period of weeks. with newer sites this is especially important as the sites tend to perform well for a period before dropping back.
The other aspect I've got to price up is the on-page optimisation. Do I charge per page? Do I have a minimum charge that makes it worthwhile doing the job in the first place? If I think back to when I was looking for SEO help, I would often get quoted £350 a site or £100 per page. I never felt entirely comfortable with quotes like that since they didn't quantify what work was being done. Now, I've got more experience I can also see that it's pretty hard - or at least less optimal - to optimise a single page on a website.
I'll also have to think through whether I offer any PPC, e.g. Google Adwords advice. My feeling right now is that I shouldn't since I don't think it's a good medium to long term way of getting traffic/ sales, or rather I think that organic SEO will be the most cost-effective after a 6 month to 1 year period.