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Old 12-11-2006   #1
art4x
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Red face SEO work: do not accept list?

Hi,
I've been into SEO for a few small companies and have thankfully had good success this year. I was recently approached by a pharmacy in order to get them ranking for medications and various pharmacy searches.

My initial reaction was pharmacy websites would be too difficult to get ranking competitively, for a number of reasons. (duplicated "drug" text, negative stigma, too many links needed by authoritative .gov and .edu sites). But I was wondering what others' experiences have been like, or what you've heard.

Are there any genres of sites that you would not touch with a 10 foot SEO pole?

I noticed Network Solutions, for example, steers clear of SEO for gambling, adult, and pharmacy sites.

Thanks for any input and advice!

=========================
Mod note:

Part of thread title moved into post to enable broadening the scope of the topic:

(gambling,adult,pharmacy,etc)

Last edited by Marcia : 05-24-2007 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 12-12-2006   #2
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In general, unless you have developed significant internal resources and external contacts, you should be careful about these types of sites, simply due to the highly competitive nature of them. They are not for SEO newbies.

As an analogy, if you were a normal home contractor and have the standard hammer, saw, etc toolkit, you could be very comfortable taking on a home reno, or even building a house. Pushing yourself, you could probably try to take on a small office.

But without a bunch of project managers, engineers, architects, and so forth, there is no way that you could take on a skyscraper or fortified diplomatic compound. It's not that there is a problem with them, it's that they require special resources and skills.

Sure, in theory it's all just banging materials together, but in practice, there are a lot of gotchas involved. The same goes with some SEO topics.

I would have no hesitation to take on a big drug manufacturer, but a pharmacy site that just sells that manufacturers products is a different story.

Some of the more common areas that require special skills include:

Online Pharmacy
Gambling
Mortgages and Loans
Legal Sites
Porn/Adult
Dating/Personals
Modeling
Website Hosting
SEO
Gifts and Gift Baskets
Real Estate
Affiliates
Cheat codes/Warez
Travel

Now, some of these are not competitive at the local level (and can be deceptively easy), but become hugely competitive at the national or international level.

This doesn't mean you should avoid them, it means you should be ready for them if you decide to go into them. NEVER take one of these on at the national or international level unless you have already SEO'd them at the local level first, else you may end up making promises to a client that you can't keep.

From a different angle, there are sites that you may simply not wish to take on for business reasons. For example, many Realtors don't pay their bills and think that SEO prices are way too high, now matter what they are.

When you get a good Realtor, keep them happy and work hard for them. But many are fly-by-night, as the turn over in that industry is very high. Same applies for many affiliates, porn site owners, etc. Often people who market for a living think that SEO is a commodity they could do but don't have time for, and shop by price.

Finally, there is another viewpoint, where you may simply not wish to deal with certain topics. I won't take on hate sites, for example. I can respect someones right to say something I disagree with, but that doesn't mean I'll hand them a megaphone on my own time. Same with some types of adult and all warez sites. This is a personal position, not a business one.

Hopefully that's helpful. I've probably missed a few topics.

Ian
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Last edited by mcanerin : 12-12-2006 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 12-12-2006   #3
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@Ian:

By saying, you should take them on at the local level first (ill take the example of travel), do you mean a) sell travel stuff to clients from the same region, where the company is or b) sell travel stuff for somebody who offers travel packages to a certain place (as in a niche)? Just curious
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Old 12-13-2006   #4
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What I meant was for localized terms like "calgary travel agency", "calgary realtor", "calgary web hosting", etc. But it could also apply to other long tail-style terms like "rocky mountain railway tour", "lavender lava lamp" or a niche like that.

As a qualifier, some cities are so large/competitive that they might as well be a country (Tokyo, New York), and some countries are so small or uncompetitive that they might as well be a town (Turks and Caicos Islands, where I lived for a bit, being an example).

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Last edited by mcanerin : 12-13-2006 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 12-13-2006   #5
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alright, I understood you right then..I thought you might mean it in the otherway as I read something about the internet being a world-wide-thing, but still lots of phenomena on it taking place locally (which i sort of have to agree to b/c of having seen a site about photos from clubs in my local area go through the roof for example).

Why are travel/gambling/etc. such competitives market for SEO, btw...Is that more of an accidental thing or is it mostly, because those markets offer some of the biggest profit margins?
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Old 12-13-2006   #6
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There are two common reasons, and in cases where the two reasons both happen on the same keyword, then the competitiveness tends to go through the roof.

The first reason is ease of entry. When anyone can sign up, pretty much anyone does. This creates an issue where you have a lot of people competing for the same customer, and often some people get really desperate to do anything to get that customer. This increases the likelihood of spam, since the thinking is that if you are not ranking anyway, then there is little harm in trying more aggressive tactics. Although I disagree with this approach, it's common enough, especially with the "make money fast" crowd that tends to sign up for these easy entry topics. Examples here include affiliates, porn, etc

The second reason is high margins. When you just need to get a few customers, you tend to be more willing to pay more and work harder to get them. This is common in the mortgage, gift and legal areas.

Now, when you mix a relatively low barrier to entry with high margins (an affiliate in a high margin area, for example), you get the equivalent of a gold rush, and the competitiveness goes way up.

In many cases, the best way to deal with these type of situations is to look at who actually made money during the real gold rushes. It wasn't the miners (though a few struck it rich, of course), it was the guys selling the picks and shovels to the miners. For example, my best real estate client isn't a realtor, he trains Realtors for their tests. He's much more successful on the web and personally as a result.

My best law client isn't a lawyer, they develop websites, content and services for lawyers. They are a billion dollar company. My best travel client is one that promotes the travel industry in general.

Just a thought

Ian
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Last edited by mcanerin : 12-13-2006 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 12-14-2006   #7
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Glad I am not the only one who wont work with realtors

What is it with this group of people. I have three excellent realtors currently but from past experience and horrible bad debts would never touch one again. Anyways, I digress. The biggest issue you face is resources to take on such a major project and in most cases to get into one of these industries now with a new site the budget is rarely there.
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Old 12-15-2006   #8
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affiliate profit percentages in the travel/hotel industry

@Ian: good point. The guys selling shovels and picks sort of leveraged the really high demand (which was caused by the gold rush) to sell their products...

I didnt really think about ease of entry..i guess ease of entry sums up why you put the term SEO in the avoid-category, too. Theres no general ease of entry, but a specific ease of entry for SEOs, as well they know everything about SEO .

@Everyone who knows an answer :-)

I have another question, though: How high are the profit margins in the travel industry for example? I know my bank has this program for students, where they give students 5% off of each vacation package/airplane/hotel they book through them (if they offer it....lol). I think thats one of the reasons, that pushes a lot of students to use their program ('oh hey if I just travel once a year for xyz bucks, Ill have the money I pay for it back anyways if not more!')

But chances are they are not only using this as a competitive advantage, but it even earns them money, too, right?lol

or is 5% as high as affiliate profits get in the travel industry?

What percentages of the actual hotel prices for example can a travel affiliate on the internet attain? Up to how many percent (with large hotel-sites)?

You see, Im a little bit interested in that ;-)..dont plan on SEOing in the hypercompetitive travel industry any time soon, but i think one of the sites I want to do would allow for some cross selling for hotels, etc. (Im not thinking conversion rates over 1% but if only one in 1000 visitors to my site booked a vacation for 1000 Euros (and the traffic is definitely somewhat targeted) that would mean (at 5%) 50 Euros. Or 5 cent per visitor...probably better than adsense would be. However I might be totally wrong and the give away only 2-3%? or 0,1% might still be an overestimation...
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Old 12-15-2006   #9
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reply to new kid

New Kid,
We have 10 years of experience in SEO and enjoy top rankings for SEO terms we have ranked sites for words with a billion pages competing, because of this and a previous travel background we decided to set up a hotel affiliates site thinking with our experience we will be rich in no time. We worked at it for 3 years and gave up. We got 1000 visitors a day to the site and no bookings. The providers inventory was lousy which did not help. The effort to get it ranked was tremednous but what you have to remember is how saturated the market is. When people visit hotel and travel sites they are mostly doing research and there are some heavy hitters dominating the space. The ROI on our time and effort was abyssmal so we quit just a word of caution.
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Old 12-15-2006   #10
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Oops

thanks for this word of caution ;-(. I think I'll try it anyways as I plan to create a site about learning languages and very useful tips (and links) on how to do it. I know this isnt a very niche area, either but id like to do this one just for the fun of it and hopefully creating a community of ppl who are into learning languages :-)...knowing other ppl who have a passion for languages who again know people who have it too..and/or study to become interpreters/translators...should help me promote this site in other ways than SEO..

So, all I'd have to lose is the time of applying for an affiliate program and implementing it on my site. But anyways thx for opening my eyes and showing me it might end up a total waste of time (that way at least I wont be too disappointed).

When you set up those affiliate programs..how many % revenu share did you get (as in how many % of the total price)?

And what did you mean by their having a bad inventory?
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Old 05-24-2007   #11
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strange..I just received an e-mail saying, this thread has been continued, but the last post in it is from myself from a couple of months ago...anyways reading this Im glad I took the advice I was given and did not waste my time trying to start a travel site.
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Old 05-24-2007   #12
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NK, sometimes there are "phantom" posts that appear and disappear.

But it's just as well this thread was bumped, because I think there are sometimes other reasons to think carefully about taking on some sites, other than the types mentioned above.
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Old 05-24-2007   #13
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Quote:
So, all I'd have to lose is the time of applying for an affiliate program and implementing it on my site. But anyways thx for opening my eyes and showing me it might end up a total waste of time (that way at least I wont be too disappointed).
If there's a passion for a topic, then it'll be a good site from a user viewpoint, and usually there's more than one possible revenue model possible so it pays to do the homework and investigation while in the site planning stage.

Quote:
When you set up those affiliate programs..how many % revenu share did you get (as in how many % of the total price)?
While travel accommodations often pay per acquisition, leads based programs are mostly often paid per valid lead, or filling out an application or inquiry, rather than as a percentage per sale.

Quote:
And what did you mean by their having a bad inventory?
Lead based programs are quite often run through CPA networks, and there's an abundance of of bad actors in that sector, including a high percentage of less than optimical promotional means (to put it nicely) and or invalid bad leads or outright fraud.

Bad leads = bad inventory, if that's what the OP was referring to.
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Old 05-26-2007   #14
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Hi Marcia,

Quote:
NK, sometimes there are "phantom" posts that appear and disappear.
Do you mean SPAM and/or people posting, but then deleting their posts again?lol
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Old 05-26-2007   #15
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Originally Posted by NewKidOnTheBlock
Do you mean SPAM and/or people posting, but then deleting their posts again?lol
In this instance, someone wanted to sell you little blue pills for when your pecker isn't peaking.

Back to the topic...

I currently work in the online gaming vertical, starting some stuff in the finance space and have done pretty well in travel/tourism before. I suppose the only taboo/hurdle left is sex, drugs and probably not rock 'n roll. I've turned down adult before, mainly because I didn't find it an interesting enough project. My 'do not accept' list is anything I don't think I'd enjoy working on.



Rob
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Old 05-27-2007   #16
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Ticket related terms (IE "Super Bowl tickets", "World Series tickets"), can be pretty difficult as well! In terms of architecture, you also don't want clients with all flash sites not to mention flash sites embedded witin a single .swf at one URL.

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