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The Ultimate SEO Contract Template: Establishing Trust, Protecting Yourself, and Setting Clear Expectations

If you’re looking to sign on SEO clients, we’ve got you covered with our free SEO contract. This template includes 13 essential sections that will not only protect you legally but also set clear expectations with your clients. It’s fully customizable, allowing you to personalize it according to your needs. So how did we create this template? We surveyed over 40 SEO agencies and freelancers, analyzed their contracts, and extracted the best parts. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Disclaimer: Before we dive in, please note that I, Gary, am not a lawyer. The information presented here should not be considered a substitute for legal advice. Both Ahrefs and I assume no responsibility for how you use this information. While you are free to use our sample SEO contract at your discretion, it’s always wise to consult with a qualified legal professional.

So, why is having a solid contract for your SEO services crucial?

  • It establishes trust with your clients.
  • It legally protects you.
  • It sets clear expectations for both parties.

You might be wondering, can’t you just rely on a verbal agreement? Well, according to our survey of over 40 professionals worldwide, 86% of them use a written contract for their SEO services. These professionals, who have an average of 9.5 years of experience in SEO, strongly believe that a written contract is the best way to conduct business. While a verbal agreement may work for a small minority, it’s always safer to have everything clearly defined in writing.

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Think of a solid contract for your business as having your boarding pass ready before flying. It makes onboarding new clients much smoother because it tells them where you’re headed and how you’ll get there.

Now, let’s hear from some of the experts we surveyed:

The Ultimate SEO Contract Template [100% Free]

The Ultimate SEO Contract Template [100% Free]

The Ultimate SEO Contract Template [100% Free]

The Dangers of Not Having a Proper SEO Contract

Without a written agreement, things said verbally or in emails can be misapplied or misinterpreted, leading to:

  • Painful arguments that destroy trust, even if you’re not at fault.
  • Being forced to do work that you didn’t want or have to do.
  • A disgruntled client spreading bad reviews.
  • In the worst-case scenario, legal battles.

Some people mistakenly believe that without a written contract, they cannot be held liable or be sued. This kind of thinking is risky, to say the least. While laws may vary from country to country, in the United States, for example, a written contract is not always necessary for legal disputes involving contracted work. However, having a written contract for SEO services significantly reduces the likelihood of disputes because the expectations and deliverables are clearly defined and agreed upon.

Remember, even if you decide to use our template, it’s important to consult with a legal professional before sending it to your clients.

The Dangers of Not Having a Proper SEO Contract?

Customizing the SEO Contract Template

Our SEO contract template includes 13 key components that we’ve gathered from surveying over 40 SEO professionals and reviewing real SEO contracts. However, a template is just a starting point, and you’ll need to customize it to fit your specific needs. Let’s go through each of the 13 components and how you can tailor them:

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1. Contract Definitions

This section defines key terms used in your contract to eliminate any ambiguity. It may seem unnecessary, but it’s crucial for clarity and avoiding misunderstandings.

2. Your Responsibilities

Here, you’ll specify what you’ll do as the SEO contractor, when you’ll do it, and how. Avoid being too specific about processes that may change over time due to algorithm updates. Instead, focus on delivering tangible results for the client’s SEO.

3. The Client’s Responsibilities

In this section, outline what you expect from your client in terms of cooperation and providing necessary assets for your work. Be clear about how they should communicate with you for requests and queries.

4. Duration

Define the duration of the agreement, considering factors like mandatory commitment periods or month-to-month arrangements.

5. Payment

Aside from stating your fees, include sections that cover late payment penalties and how defaults or disputes will be handled. Customize this section to reflect your specific payment terms.

6. Termination

Specify what constitutes a breach of contract and how termination will be handled. Define conditions for voluntary termination by either party.

7. Warranties

Include promises from both parties to fulfill their obligations and follow ethical practices. Customize this section to align with your region’s legal requirements.

8. Liability

Address liability concerns by clarifying that you have no control over search engine rankings and other factors beyond your control. Specify what you are accountable for in terms of deliverables.

9. Indemnification

Agree to protect each other from legal liability and define compensation in case of a dispute. Consult with a legal professional to ensure you’re fully protected.

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10. Force Majeure

Define unforeseeable events that could make it impossible to fulfill the agreement, such as natural disasters or global crises.

11. Jurisdiction and Interpretation

Specify the local court that will hold jurisdiction over any disputes and ensure that the terms used in your contract are interpreted consistently.

12. Confidentiality

Include clauses to protect confidential information that may be shared during the course of the project. Outline the types of information that should be kept confidential.

13. Signature

Have a section where both parties can sign and date the document. Consider using digital signature solutions for convenience and efficiency.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t been using a contract for your SEO services, our template can give you a competitive edge and inspire more trust with your clients. Remember to set clear expectations and consult with a lawyer to ensure legal compliance. If you have any questions while customizing our template, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Special thanks to Jonathan Gorham, Markelle Harden, and Gareth Hoyle for their contribution to our research.

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