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Old 02-24-2005   #1
dannysullivan
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How To Start & When You Can Charge For SEO

We had a thread recently where someone apparently new to SEO was seeking advice on getting a site to rank better. The issue came up on whether anyone should be sellign SEO services at all if they don't seem to fully understand the process involved.

So, in this thread, I'd encourage you all to contribute. How can someone new in SEO get started? Can they get started without charging? When do they make that jump to consider themselves ready to charge? And does the industry suffer if you have new people coming in and picking up clients before they are ready?
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Old 02-24-2005   #2
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IMO, the LARGEST issue facing our industry is credibility. So many companies out there sell "search engine submission" for $39 or "one-time" SEO for $200 and when the consumer isn't educated with regard to our service (which 9 times out of 10 they are not) it makes it really difficult to contrast one's legimitate, reliable and effective services with the thousands of firms that are just trying to rip people off or which simply are not qualified to provide services and charge for them.

What troubles me about the post about the individual "asking for help" in Google (see thread Danny referenced), is that by asking the question he's not only admitting that he has not been able to get clients into the most important search engine, but that he/she has no idea why he/she can't, and thus doesn't seem to know the fundamental differences between Google and MSN and Yahoo - which again IMO is probably something I teach on Day 1, Lesson 1 of a Year-Long SEO Course - all search engines are not the same!

To be clear, I'm not saying that since he doesn't "fully" understand SEO or is not some sort of "expert" that he can't sell his services. I would say that very few if anyone really "fully" understands SEO. Rather, my beef is that to sell these services I believe you should at least have a strong fundamental understanding - i.e.

- how do the 3 major SE's differ
- what are the basic on page elements to keep in track
- what are some of the major pitfalls in design and layout (frames, overuse of text in images, too much JS, excessive coding, etc.)
- what is the purpose of link building and how do links help rankings
- that the whole process takes some time - weeks, months, in some cases much longer depending on competition, etc.
- how does one do effective keyword research and targeting, etc.

Additionally, I think that before selling you should at least have 1 if not a significantly larger number of sites that you've researched KWs for, optimized for and acheived rankings for that have lead to traffic in each of the 3 major SEs. There can be much debate about this still not being enough, but please at a minimum have at least had some small amount of success before you call yourself a professional and take other people's money.

Now that said, its fine to ask that question if you are optimizing your own small business site or just learning, but when you say you have clients and thus you are charging people for your services - and you are not knowledgeable about even the basics of acheiving rankings and generating traffic from the 3 largest search engines, well, that just makes the rest of us who spend so much time and energy and effort learning and working at our craft look bad.

This type of thing is why I spend so much time on proposals and pre-sale discussion with clients - A legitimate SEO who provides a good value really does have to spend alot of time proving themselves and how they are not one of these types of "new SEOs" who don't know the basics.

Add On: With respect to "how to start" I've long since supported the idea that of all people and SEO should at least attract his own clients via search engines.

If nothing more this establishes some credibility for you, as you can show how you attracted your new lead to your site, and relate that to what you hope to do for them. Personally I do get 90% + of my web design and SEO leads from via search engines, but I do recognize how and when other forms are also appropriate and useful. Referrals, offline marketing, establishing oneself as an "expert" in the field etc. can be great - especially for larger clients who are less likely to select a firm by searching online (they are used to being pitched to rather than proactively looking for services). Still though, I have a hard time believing in the services of any SEO who's own website doesn't attract a good bit of targeted traffic and produce leads...

Add On 2: (Re-read original thread which spurred this thread) If you have not at least heard about "sandboxing" and such you should not sell your services (not saying you have to agree with the theory or not, but sheesh you should have at least heard all the discussion).

Last edited by ephricon : 02-24-2005 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 02-24-2005   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
So, in this thread, I'd encourage you all to contribute. How can someone new in SEO get started? Can they get started without charging? When do they make that jump to consider themselves ready to charge? And does the industry suffer if you have new people coming in and picking up clients before they are ready?
I don't think anyone is ever fully done learning SEO. You really can learn so much each day. Even after a few years.

At the same time I think most businesses do not pay SEOs nearly what their services are worth. on this front I have conceded that many businesses deserve to get ripped off.

Then you have lots of hassles like Google just deciding that if people link to you with your site name as anchor text your site is rubbish.

I think an SEO can still provide good ROI for many if only landing high rankings in a few of the major engines.

I also think many people see a time delay to Google rankings when the only difference between a good ranking and a bad one is that they let the links age for a few months. so the question of what is wrong is valid for a new person to ask. especially after seeing quick results elsewhere and when you have few little experience to judge your results against.

a large part of what people pay for when they buy SEO is for the experience. if you can't afford a large budget then you take your chances, just like most other ad spends. hopefully you judge character and compitency correctly and the outcome comes out well.

if you can't afford any risks you shouldn't do SEO. if your site was unbranded and getting no traffic at all then you may not be risking much by doing it.

if you are debating hiring someone else and may want to do it yourself you may even want to set up a hobby site to learn on first.

I don't think there should be any defined starting point really. I ranked my first client for a $100 one off fee and ranked my second one #1 in G (adult related) for a one off $300 fee.
  • did I "spam" to rank those sites? of course I did.
  • was I lucky that search was easier to game back then? yes.
  • did I sell services while other SEOs told me my site was complete crap? yes.
  • could others start today and rank sites for low prices? yes.
  • could people who were new sell ok services after a little bit of time? yes.
  • do people who cry foul get a refund from Google if they don't make money off AdWords right out the gate? nope.

why should SEO be held to a higher standard than paid search when companies like overture knowingly partner up with companies like claria / gator?
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Old 02-24-2005   #4
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A year ago I was working as a web designer at a small marketing company, when my supervisor (who did seo and sem for the company) was fired. The boss (seeing an opportunity to cut overhead costs) decided that I should take over for him. I had only done seo as a hobby up to that point, and I explained this to the boss. Such was his mania, he "promoted" me anyway.

At first I just followed the strategy that my former supervisor had laid out. I began frequenting the forums and reading up on search engines, algorithms, optimization and marketing. As the months past and I felt more confident, I began conducting tests and making modifications to the sites. After the first 6 months I had more than doubled the traffic/leads while also trimming the budget by about a third.

I won't go into detail, but the keyword niches our clients target are definitely low competition, so I'm not claiming any great accomplishments. Using only basic link building and on page optimization, I have been able to consistently and sucessfully rank pages on G, MSN and Yahoo. Despite the fact that these are not competitive phrases and would fail to impress most of the folks on this forum, my clients are seeing increased traffic, leads and revenue.

I, an amateur and a hack, have provided a valuable service. I won't be going to work for Sony or Reebok, but for most businesses (especially local ones) I can provide cheap, effective seo/sem.
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Old 02-24-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
I also think many people see a time delay to Google rankings when the only difference between a good ranking and a bad one is that they let the links age for a few months. so the question of what is wrong is valid for a new person to ask. especially after seeing quick results elsewhere and when you have few little experience to judge your results against.

a large part of what people pay for when they buy SEO is for the experience. if you can't afford a large budget then you take your chances, just like most other ad spends. hopefully you judge character and compitency correctly and the outcome comes out well.
Agreed. Your payment essentially covers 1) a knowledge and experience of the skills needed to do the job and 2) some sort of deliverable - typically either a report of things to be changed or the actual on-page and off-page optimization efforts.

The same is true with most any professional consulting service. When I wrote the check to my accountant yesterday it was to cover both her superior knowledge of tax and accounting laws (as compared to mine) and her time in actually preparing my tax returns. That's it.

And yes Google's time delay may explain how many "new" SEO's are quick to get rankings in MSN and Yahoo and may have done well enough to get good rankings in Google too, but just have to wait to see them. My beef is that if they don't know this general concept, that it takes a while in Google, than they have not yet reached the point where they should be "selling" services. How would they do this anyway? Say "um I have no idea if I can get sites ranked in the most popular search engine.. I think I can b/c I got ranked in the other two, but I'm not sure if it will take a few days or 6 months or what, I've never done it before..." A basic knowledge of timelines along with the principles of optimization is rather essential in successfully dealing with clients and allowing them to know what you are selling and what is a fair timeline, IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
if you are debating hiring someone else and may want to do it yourself you may even want to set up a hobby site to learn on first.
Again, agreed. That's how most of us started - either hobby site or in optimizing a site we managed perhaps for our business or other venture. I used to sell web design services, and I learned about SEO as a means to optimize my web design site to get new clients.

Eventually I learned enough that I had my site ranking well and contributing, and then I began to "sell" the services much the same way as Aaron - first site was like $100 or something and I probably made less than $2/hour on it, and then worked my way up as I built up experience and knowledge... Now a couple of years later I have decided to sell-out and go corporate (as an SEO) and keep my business running on the side (PM me for more info about this if you are interested).
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Old 02-24-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkMatter
I won't go into detail, but the keyword niches our clients target are definitely low competition, so I'm not claiming any great accomplishments. Using only basic link building and on page optimization, I have been able to consistently and sucessfully rank pages on G, MSN and Yahoo. Despite the fact that these are not competitive phrases and would fail to impress most of the folks on this forum, my clients are seeing increased traffic, leads and revenue.

I, an amateur and a hack, have provided a valuable service. I won't be going to work for Sony or Reebok, but for most businesses (especially local ones) I can provide cheap, effective seo/sem.
I think you are to be commended, and in fact now I would not call you an amateur at all. You have successfully optimized sites and significantly improved their rankings in each of the 3 major SEs. You did this in exchange for some form of payment, and the client seems to be getting a good value. Sounds like a professional to me.

Just because the KWs you optimized for are low-competition or maybe even "easy" by many SEOs standards, this does not make your services any less valueable or effective, so long as you are clear when selling any services so as not to mislead about your skills. Different SEOs do different things.

Up until now I've done mostly alot of small clients with low and medium competition terms we targeted. Being small businesses the success we've had has really done great things for them, and both parties are quite happy with our relationship. However, next week I take a job with a large company optimizing one site. Its high-competition and will not be nearly as "easy" as what I do now. However, its only one site. I can focus all my efforts on that site and that industry, rather than worrying about a large number of clients.

I think you'll find this is common - as an SEO you typically either do alot of small projects or a few larger projects. In most cases, the smaller ones are easier and less competition, but you usually have less time and less funds to work with. Whereas now I maybe spend 1 - 2 hours a week on many clients sites, with my new gig I'll spend all my time on one site. Sure its harder, but I have a larger budget to work with and more time as well.

I don't think you necessarily need to be skilled in obtaining a certain level of "difficulty" or "high competition" KWs to be a "professional SEO" - just that you need to have some sort of past success and basic understanding of the principles. If we all were skilled to the exact same degree I'd be able to charge the $300 and $400 per hour that some of the more well known names in the industry charge. I'm not as good as some of them and so I have lower fees and such, but I still am able to produce a great ROI for all of my clients, and I can advise them reasonably accurately as to what they should expect from my services - rather than just offering a service that I have no idea how effective it will be or how long it will take.
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Old 02-24-2005   #7
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I think anyone should be able to sell anything. its a free market

if business owners buy a $300 seo job , then its their risk. They may get someone like awall just starting out or they may get ripped off.

What should they expect for $300 worth of advertising?

The first seo I did was for next to nothing $ wise. I told a web design client "sure I'll get your site ranked" .

His site was fishing charter business, I mean how hard could it be, so I thought. It turn out its like 3.00 ppc and like millions of dollars of business on this one little island. What a pain, but it was good learning.

So then I made my own site rank for "website design", "website optimization", "website marketing" etc. Oh yeah awall , it looks like you are going to be the default winner on that race we started like last year, last update google took a dump on my homepage. No "search engine optimization" for me, I made it 18 but no higher. Doing SEO for other people is ok, but for the most people are just a pain.

Anyways now I am only interested in affiliate sites, in fact I don't really understand why anyone does seo for anyone else's sites for the most part. I guess when you first start out you need money upfront to fund the project, but once it gets rolling... I guess If I was getting clients that pay 3-5 thousand a month I could see it.

You know what seems a lot worse then some unskilled person screwing up and losing <$1000 of someone's money, is when established SEO companies take thousands of dollars a month and then do nothing. I have had several people contact me complaining of this. I don't know 100% if they were real people , but they seemed pretty genuine
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Old 02-24-2005   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ephricon
Add On: With respect to "how to start" I've long since supported the idea that of all people and SEO should at least attract his own clients via search engines.

If nothing more this establishes some credibility for you, as you can show how you attracted your new lead to your site, and relate that to what you hope to do for them. Personally I do get 90% + of my web design and SEO leads from via search engines, but I do recognize how and when other forms are also appropriate and useful.
The problem with relying on the search engines for referrals is that you can only fit at most 10 sites into the top 10 slots for any search expression. And I know a number of SEOs who rely almost exclusively on referrals to generate business.

In fact, personal referrals are better than search engine listings, because then you come already recommended without having to toot your own horn.
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Old 02-24-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
In fact, personal referrals are better than search engine listings, because then you come already recommended without having to toot your own horn.
Hmmm, "better" is debatable, but certainly both have unique advantages. SE referrals come to me with first hand knowledge of my skills - they found me themselves, and they aren't relying on the judgement or experience of a friend that referred them... That said, personal referrals are also great. Neither is better IMO, just different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
The problem with relying on the search engines for referrals is that you can only fit at most 10 sites into the top 10 slots for any search expression. And I know a number of SEOs who rely almost exclusively on referrals to generate business..
Isn't that the whole point - not just to be ranked but to be ranked highly enough for good enough terms that it brings you enough traffic to run your business????

Now my sarcasm aside, I suppose you were referring to a term like "search engine optimization" - of which 10 firms probably get a lot of traffic, and maybe another 20 or so get some traffic. Last I checked I was no where to be found in Google's top 50 for that term...

In fact, I don't even bother trying to rank for it. To spend my time doing so would neglect one of an SEO's key tools - effective keyword research. Depending on my type of business, I can target SEO clients with a ton of other terms. I can target locally-related search phrases (add maryland or baltimore on the end of search engine optimization in Google and you'll find me in the top 2 or 3 spots) or I can also target by industry (i.e. for law firms, etc.) or I can target other related terms like website promotion and such. Spending all my time optimizing for just the # 1 term would not be the best use of my time, especially as I'm not willing to travel to meet in person with anyone more than an hour's drive from me, and in-person meetings are crucial for me in my sales process (not just to get the contract, but to make sure I want it - i.e. do I like the client as well).

Last edited by ephricon : 02-24-2005 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 02-24-2005   #10
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Originally Posted by ephricon
Isn't that the whole point - not just to be ranked but to be ranked highly enough for good enough terms that it brings you enough traffic to run your business????
Considering that the top ten for certain highly competive phrases (in addition to "search engine optimization") shakes out pretty frequently, I would say it serves as a poor guide to who is qualified to do SEO for anyone.

Your focus on secondary terms, since it sends you convertable traffic, is obviously a successful strategy.
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Old 02-24-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
We had a thread recently where someone apparently new to SEO was seeking advice on getting a site to rank better. The issue came up on whether anyone should be selling SEO services at all if they don't seem to fully understand the process involved.

So, in this thread, I'd encourage you all to contribute.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
How can someone new in SEO get started?
# ask to be taken under the wing of another until suitably experienced
# ask for work experience
# take up a marketing degree
# gain experience for atleast a good year or two

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Can they get started without charging?
Most definately. Just about everyone knows someone with a website. Ask them if they can practice their learning on the site. You can make sites with a variable of keyword competitiveness. Start at the beginning and begin testing and adjusting to find the correct combinations, then confirm with a different set of terms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
When do they make that jump to consider themselves ready to charge?
That's the easy bit. When they are 100% they can achieve what they say they can, and not anytime before. People just think the net is all fun and games, when they are actually venturing into the commerical sector with SEO, not the fun and game entertainment sector of the web.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
And does the industry suffer if you have new people coming in and picking up clients before they are ready?
Damn straight, it already has. How many people do we all here that are sceptical about SEO, as they have already been taken for a ride with the "Guaranteed #1 for just $19.95 per month" and the "$200 website package" and so forth. We've all seen it time and time again. Again, web confusion kicks in. People think its just a game, when they don't realize or comprehend they have stepped from the games to the commercial sector and enterprise the Internet offers. People need to wake up to this fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret77
I think anyone should be able to sell anything. its a free market
No its not. Who ever said it was? Who said you could setup a business, charge money and not deliver. Geez, Australian law says, nope. Who cares if its online or off? At a guess, I would say no American law says you can do it either. The problem is more that people have assumed the Internet is something its not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret77
if business owners buy a $300 seo job , then its their risk.
Your right, it is a risk, but only because of the way the person behind the business has made it. It's only because of the dishonest individuals that make it that way. For example, the one's that sell SEO without even knowing full well what their doing. The list is long, and by no means related only to SEO...

It shouldn't be that risky. You don't have those sort of risks when you go down to your local store and buy a TV. Why should you have a higher risk buying a TV online? I've seen people pay out thousands for a TV that never existed online. People make it that way. That stupid thought about freedom to do whatever you want is rubbish. Freedom is not about ripping people off, freedom has nothing to do with providing less than adequate services, freedom has nothing to do with selling something your not even partially experienced / qualified to sell.

Is it ok for a builder in training, to build a house? What if it falls down? Not his fault, yours, because you paid less for an unqualified builder or a builder with no real experience.

Is it ok to practise law when your still only a law student? No. Is it their fault you got sent to jail because you took their advice as it was cheaper than a qualified lawyer? By what you said above it is the clients fault, so it must be Ok for unqualified people to just charge less and take no responsibility.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last time I looked, running a business meant something. The problem with all these people that run an online only business, is that they simply think they just open a site, charge a price and away they go. They think they have no responsibility at all. I read something the other day about someone who now helps people who have hired shotty SEO's or those that are less than experienced, and place them in court and testify as an expert witness. Good on that person I say.
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Old 02-24-2005   #12
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Quote:
Is it ok for a builder in training, to build a house? What if it falls down? Not his fault, yours, because you paid less for an unqualified builder or a builder with no real experience.
I think comparing a bad seo job, to something that can cause death or injury is a bit out of perspective.

If someone does a bad seo job , then they are probably liable for whatever they where paid, there is no death of physical injury, its a website

Quote:
Your right, it is a risk, but only because of the way the person behind the business has made it. It's only because of the dishonest individuals that make it that way. For example, the one's that sell SEO without even knowing full well what their doing. The list is long, and by no means related only to SEO...
That is just how the internet is, its global and perfect for scamming people, that not going to change.

Plus people are dumb they are so greedy that they take the cheapest thing they can get ... which usually a scam. Its like social darwinism

[quote]Damn straight, it already has. How many people do we all here that are sceptical about SEO, as they have already been taken for a ride with the "Guaranteed #1 for just $19.95 per month" and the "$200 website package" and so forth.[/qoute]

I think the people who have been ripped off once tend to be better customers. They appreicate the work more.
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Old 02-24-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret77
I think comparing a bad seo job, to something that can cause death or injury is a bit out of perspective. If someone does a bad seo job , then they are probably liable for whatever they where paid, there is no death of physical injury, its a website.
Quite contraire! It's not just a website, it's someone's business, someone's livelihood, someone's investment behind that website. I've seen people go broke purely from online activity and bad online judgements or services. It happens more than you think. Because a person runs a successful offline business, then suddenly wants an online site, it doesn't mean they are going to know anything about it. When someone like me says, yer sure - $12,000 and you will have the correct online exposure, and some ripoff says, yer sure, I can do the same job for just $2000, they simply think their getting a deal. Even worse, what happens when a ripoff comes in and says, we'll do it 20% lower than the best cost you gather? We all shop around and get the best deals. How often do you go from one shop to another and find the exact same product $100 cheaper and so forth? Move that saving exponentially to the overall cost, and it is exactly the same.

Who says someone wouldn't kill themselves for losing everything online because of one ripoff who broke their business, the same business in which their house was mortgaged for, and so forth. Yer sure, there are a lot of $5 domains and they will be nothing more, nor are they anything to anyone if they are lost, but there are a hell of lot that aren't. I would say that my anthonyparsons.com domain has over $15,000+ currently invested in it. That's chicken scratch compared to others again, but more than probably 60% of the throw away domains. Think about how much revenue and worth is invested within this SEW site? Hundreds of thousands, a million or more!

When we all think ripoff, how many automatically just think the cheapest? The cheapest is not always the ripoff in many cases. Think broader IMO... as the reach is quite vast, and quite devastating. For someone just to popup with a half arsed service and sell it, considering most of us never know the full story behind the business we service, financially speaking. How do you as an SEO know that this person hasn't got their entire livelihood invested into the website? You say its just a website! I say you may want to reconsider that attitude, especially if your playing with another's possible livelihood.

Last edited by Anthony Parsons : 02-24-2005 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 02-24-2005   #14
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- $12,000 and you will have the correct online exposure, and some ripoff says, yer sure, I can do the same job for just $2000, they simply think their getting a deal. Even worse, what happens when a ripoff comes in and says, we'll do it 20% lower than the best cost you gather?
If a $2000 loss means the end of someones livelyhood then they need to go get a job.

Besides the possible "brand" damage to some non-existant brand what are they really losing other then fees and some wasted time. If a site ranks nowhere at the start and at the end is in the same place what is they really lose.

Unless it gets totally blacklisted probably just whatever fees

Quote:
may want to reconsider that attitude, especially if your playing with another's possible livelihood.
I have no desire to optimize anyones sites other then my own. Anyone I know whose livelyhood is their website usually isn't just relying on seo.

I Think most of the times people get ripped off on seo its out of sheer greed, trying to get that lowest price. I want a site to make a million dollars and I want to pay $500 for it.

I still think its wrong, but I don't have a lot of pity for greedy webmasters.

If someone says they 40 inch flat screen for $299 free shipping ....

Its got to raise some warning flags
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Old 02-24-2005   #15
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True, true. Some people are just silly and looking to be ripped off. When it is just too good to be true, then maybe they should be questioning, then requestioning, ringing and further questioning until they've beaten the horse to death. Some are not though.

I will give you a real life example. A previous client of mine makes all their money online within the accommodation rentals business. The business is worth over 600K total, all from online expenditure. They advertise the business online and off, as you would for the type of market. A good conman who had all the answers, had his SEO business online for over 12 months, sold his under priced services to this client. Their business model went from 600k down to 350k in a matter of months. Why? All because this person said they could do something they couldn't. The business lost nearly all of their search engine traffic in one foul swoop. All this was done for the mere price of around $10k. The price suited the services they where supplying, it just wasn't the right services this person applied to the job.

Now in my book, that's a lot of money to lose in two months all from a person who thought they had it sorted, but were really nothing more than an online conman selling something they had a little success with, but by no means experienced to cater a larger type business model. All online, lets not forget this. Luckily for the owner, they took a backup off the entire site before any SEO was performed by the person. After I was approached by this business, it cost them a mere few hundred dollars for my time to evaluate the problems, provide them the solutions and have them implement a few key aspects to get things going in the right direction. The business already had a lot of money invested in online marketing, affiliate programs, offline marketing, etc etc, they just wanted to capture a little more and find a few untapped resources to improve overall rankings and strategy.

10k to go backwards vs. a few hundred to go forward. This is very much real life and peoples lives and financial situations we hold within our hands when contracted. IMO, to many people see it as nothing more than a joke and a means to maybe a few bucks. I can't wait for the day when someone takes someone to court for the few dollar cost, and bankrupts an SEO for loss of sales, income, etc etc. The day will come...

As you say though Ferret, your not optimizing others sites, but some people are, and with no real experience or understanding of the overall complications that may become reality. People just try and shunt the blame to the client, when in fact it is their fault to begin with. Whilst we may not be able to guarantee rankings, people themselves need to provide some sort of guarantee about themselves and their ability, especially if it ever makes it to a court of law... that will be interesting when it occurs.
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Old 02-25-2005   #16
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Originally Posted by ferret77
I Think most of the times people get ripped off on seo its out of sheer greed, trying to get that lowest price. I want a site to make a million dollars and I want to pay $500 for it.
from what I have seen that is completely true.

people knowingly spending 5 or 6 figures a month on adwords not even interested in spending a few grand on SEO.

I know guys that make $5K per site on AdSense who want to make that recurring income and watch it triple. they want an SEO to make it happen but when you throw out words like profit share they get cynical and want to protect money they don't even have yet.

something about the mutually beneficial partnership idea that passes by most the people who have contacted me.

often they forget that they have a commodity product and bring no value to the table. most SEOs could market just about anything in the world and good money without needing to deal with clients.

I have had a page I do not even actively promote generate over a grand of affiliate income one month. how can a business that is not interested in profit share even attempt to compete with that?
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Old 02-25-2005   #17
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If a $2000 loss means the end of someones livelyhood then they need to go get a job.

Besides the possible "brand" damage to some non-existant brand what are they really losing other then fees and some wasted time. If a site ranks nowhere at the start and at the end is in the same place what is they really lose.
Alot of people turn to organic SEO to take over for a few thousand dollars a month they spend on PPC. Further, alot of sites aren't "nowhere to be found" to start with, especially not if they are serious enough to understand the value of SEO and be willing to pay someone a few thousand bucks to handle it for them. I have lots of clients that have some rankings to begin with, but want to improve further. Especially when we are talking about large lead generation or e-commerce sites, if my tactics were to risk their so-so current rankings they have tens of thousands of dollars they would lose in sales!

In fact, shoot on Monday I'm starting a job as a full-time SEO with a large firm that does many many millions in sales via its website. They already have alot of pretty good rankings, which get them a lot of traffic and alot of sales. This is why they realize that SEO is worth something, and how they decided to hire me full-time to handle it. My role is to improve upon what is already a "decent" search engine presence. Thank God for them that I have a reasonable idea about what I'm doing, b/c if I didn't or if I screw up it could easily mean $1-2 Million per month they lose. That would likely cause a few people to get laid off, myself included.

So many people within the SEO industry just don't take it seriously enough. Sure its all fun and games and harmless if you are doing a site for some company that doesn't really care too much about their site/SEO and doesn't sell anything or generate leads online...And you are charging a couple hundred bucks... Then hey no big risk. But when I charge someone several thousand dollars, I take that as an obligation to deliver at least 2x if not 10x and 100x the value to my client - at LEAST enough in sales/leads that the increase in their profit (not just revenue) covers my fees - otherwise they'd be better off not doing any SEO at all...

I think the real issue though is not how many people in the industry take SEO lightly, but rather how many people take running a business lightly. It so happens that due to the nature of the industry most SEO's are self-employed. Since there is so little cost and financial risk in starting your own SEO business, people jump right in alot of the time without truly investing themselves - their commitment, their pride, their sense of fairness, etc. IMO this is why you see such a high ratio of poorly-run SEO firms that end up ripping people off - its so easy to start one that often they don't really commit themselves in the same way they would if they were opening up a restaurant or brick and mortar store where they had more financially invested.
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Old 02-25-2005   #18
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I think for he most part we talking about different situations

For one, companies with real money online should be doing a lot of research before the hand seo to anyone..

I think the thread was more about inexperienced incompetent people then of con-men, I was speaking more of the cheap because they don't have clue, and cheap cause they don't plan on doing anything type people.

The there is the more established or better package people who steal the big money.

Quote:
As you say though Ferret, your not optimizing others sites,
Well I have some clients but I am certainly not signing up anymore, I should sell my inquires to someone. In fact I feel like getting rid of some of the clients I have.

Quote:
people knowingly spending 5 or 6 figures a month on adwords not even interested in spending a few grand on SEO.
Sort of funny, I was contacted by a guy, in the loan business who wanted a web design, but he didn't want to pay what I charge, (I am pretty cheap for web design) Anyways he buys some cheap templates or whatever. But in talking to him he was bragging about how they spend 10,000 a month on adwords, and how they just hired this big shot seo company.

So I check out his terms, they are 250,000 searches a month $10.00 ppc terms

So I said well if I make a site that ranks for these terms will you buy it, so he says basically hell yeah.

So six months go by and I start ranking for the terms , so I give him a call. Now he is pissed the seo company he hired has been charging him $5000 a month and its been 6 months and his site still doesn't rank for anything. Except like one obscure 4 word term. This company is advertised on this very forum by the way.

To me one case of this sort of fraud is a million times worse then 19.95 submit to thousands of engines scams

Quote:
I have had a page I do not even actively promote generate over a grand of affiliate income one month. how can a business that is not interested in profit share even attempt to compete with that?
They can't, affiliate sites rule, you can do anything you want no matter how risky and the only person who you are responsible to is your self. It took me a minute to learn this, but now I'll never go back to working for clients. Maybe on commission, if their rates are better then any affiliate program I find. But that's about it. But to be fair I am not a marketer I could never pitch ideas to suits , I can't up sell etc. If I could do these things maybe It would be more profitable for me to work with clients.
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Old 02-25-2005   #19
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To me one case of this sort of fraud is a million times worse then 19.95 submit to thousands of engines scams.
Yes I'll agree with you here. Generally speaking, those charging $5,000 per month typically have a better idea of what *should* be done than those charging $19.95 one-time fee.

Further, for $20 its common sense that the service I'm getting is not likely to make me $100,000 return by next month. If you buy that type of service expecting that than you deserve to lose your money.

Now this is not to say that the guy charging $5,000 a month is any good - he/they/she may be, they may not be. They also may be worth every penny of the difference of barely worth a cent extra... Same thing goes for cars, houses, accounting services and everything else in the world. Price is not necessarily accurate of quality, although if I were to be given my choice of a free car and only knew the price tag, I'd take the pricier one every time...

With regard to selling SEO inquiries, let me know if you figure out a good way to do that. I've got too much to handle right now and I'd love to monetize my extra leads since I can't follow up on them anyways...

Perhaps I should look a bit more into affiliate marketing and such No clients sounds good!
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Old 02-25-2005   #20
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Originally Posted by ferret77
So six months go by and I start ranking for the terms , so I give him a call. Now he is pissed the seo company he hired has been charging him $5000 a month and its been 6 months and his site still doesn't rank for anything. Except like one obscure 4 word term. This company is advertised on this very forum by the way.

To me one case of this sort of fraud is a million times worse then 19.95 submit to thousands of engines scams
I think it is all too common too. big $$$ firms know what they need to do but many only do it for themselves. they have no problem throwing down $3,000 a month for an ad placement for their site and then some of them view everything they do for a client as an expense that cuts into their profit margins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quote from Patrick Gavin.com
Many of the top SEO firms are using the latest search engine marketing techniques to rank at the top of the search engine rankings for their own website and then offer you a watered down SEO program that will leave you in the middle of the pack.

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Originally Posted by ephricon
Perhaps I should look a bit more into affiliate marketing and such No clients sounds good!
by the end of the year I too want to really dive in.
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