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Old 07-13-2004   #1
Chris Sherman
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Search Marketing: What Keeps You Up at Night?

If you're stressed out over running a business in our super heated search engine marketing industry, you are not alone, according to three who have successfully nurtured their firms into comparatively substantial size and prominence -- in an industry category that did not exist 10 years ago.

Please join the discussion about today's SearchDay article: Growing a Successful Search Marketing Business. This article covers a panel at New York's Search Engine Strategies conference, and talks about the growing pains, unexpected challenges and other issues faced by search marketing entrepreneurs.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members offers additional tips and strategies for search marketing professionals, including how to deal with undesirable clients, dealing with ad agencies, and crucial staff positions to consider.

Last edited by Chris Sherman : 07-13-2004 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 07-13-2004   #2
Daria_Goetsch
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This is a very interesting topic. Guess since we are a very small company, the delegation part doesn't apply as much, only between ourselves. However, the handling it all on your own part I relate to. My husband is the technical guru and I pretty much do everything else. We want to keep the business with the two of us, and it can be difficult to do this while providing customer service, researching, the actual hands-on work and all sorts of other areas you discover when you go into business for yourself. The stress definitely can keep you up at nights at times.
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Old 07-13-2004   #3
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Owning my own SEO/SEM firm for the last 7 years, What keeps me up at night?
Couldnt tell you i'm usually to busy working through the night

Watching the changes over the last few years has been incredible. I remeber when I first started out, META-TAGS actually worked!!

Running an SEO/SEM company or working in the industry, is a fanatastic job if you like, continuing education, constant research, technical developments updates and winning new clients and thats just to start......

Clients: Over the years we have been successful enough to obtain some of the best clients to work with in the business, we have dealt in small business to start and moved through to corporate clients as well as some of the best tier 1 casinos on the internet. With that type of client base our variation of SEO and SEM has changed so many times in directions the client is looking to achieve. With all clients there is never one full solution if you are looking to get renewals from clients, you better be ready to stay as current as you can, thus ongoing research.

Many times we still get emails from potential clients: "how long till my 10 keyphrases are number #1 on Google"
"we have 200.00 can you optimize and set up an overture acct for us "
"Hello, we visited your website, how come you charge XXXX when your competition charges 49.95"

This will continue to happen all the time, thus continuing education for yourself and the potential clients.

Technical developments:

Many new programming lanuages, as well server update operating systems have been built to take advantge of the automation in scripting for total e-comm solutions. It's not just HTML anymore and meta-tags really do nothing on indexing on Google, but some people believe thats still all you need.
Fantastic development with XML feeds,niche directories and search engine reach across the globe has now opened up to market yourself or your clients worldwide

Being an independent consultant or a small business owner your still going to work 100 hours a week anyway, if you want to get off the ground running and have a lifespan online. Many people say, that if you can make it through the first 3 rough years in business start up you will be fine, but bare in mind thats offline...every year you spend online working is like 4 in the real world. So that 3 year period now becomes 12 when you think of it ..... updating your own education, continuing your research,being involved in your business community,new biz dev,CRM and overseeing clients,sub-contractors and employees.

All in All, its a great business to be in, wouldnt change a thing....maybe the 100 hours a week ...*) would be great!!!

Cheers and thanks for letting me post in this very interesting thread.

WC
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Old 07-14-2004   #4
NTR
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Question Targeted Search Engine Marketing

Every industry is different, yet most SEMs apply the same rules to each client. While there are general rules to follow (which change almost weekly) I can't believe the same tactics that helps one website get higher rankings will help another get the same high rankings.

I used to work for a company that believed this. I recently started working for a new company that expanded its SEM companies to include a SEM specifically geared to optimizing real estate web sites-Realty-SEO.com.

Having been in this field for the past two years I beleive more companies should start to focus on one specific industry. I think most of us in this industry would agree that it's hard enough convincing people outside of this industry that SEM matters. I've definetly found that its easiear to explain to clients why they need SEM when you are an expert in their particular industry.

What do you all think? Is target SEM the future?
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Old 07-14-2004   #5
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NTR, welcome to the SEW Forums with your first post!

I think that target SEM is one of the paths that will be important in some industries and with some clients. In my experience, real estate and wedding professionals have responded exceptionally well to those companies who "know their business" as well as the SEM business.

There are some challenges, however, which brings me back to things that keep me up at night; how to keep expanding the business. I don't take on more than one realtor in a particular area because I don't think it's appropriate for me to be competing with myself for my clients. So, it is not possible to "mine" all the realtors in one area, I have to keep expanding to new market areas.
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Old 07-14-2004   #6
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Continuing Education

Thanks Chris for posting this item about the session that I moderated in NYC in March. It was a real treat to be able to quiz John, Cheryl and Fredrick for a while about their businesses. They were all great.

One thing that I plan to ask about at the San Jose session next month is "How do your firms assure quality as you add employees?" This seems to me to be a universal issue for any company that grows beyond the "you da man" stage.

Just curious if anyone on the list has developed a process for QA (other than not hiring anyone else) that they've had good results with.

Chris Elwell
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Old 07-14-2004   #7
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SEO is the reason of....

Hello guys;

I had been working with SEO marketing 3 years ago specializing in the tourism business of the area. Is hard to convince those people at the beginning, but when they start to receive emails and people making reservations online, everything changes!
I think that sometimes people don’t believe in the SEO or SEM because they do not know exactly how it works, but if you know about the business and explain it, the site owner’s point of view changes dramatically.
SEO is one of the reasons of why someone builds a site…. don’t you think?
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Old 07-15-2004   #8
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Targeted Marketing Lessens Compettion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Plank
I don't take on more than one realtor in a particular area because I don't think it's appropriate for me to be competing with myself for my clients. So, it is not possible to "mine" all the realtors in one area, I have to keep expanding to new market areas.
Thanks for tithe kind welcome Terry. I appreciate your comments.
Did you mean optimizing various realtors in the same area as competition?
SEM is extremely competitive and as more searchers become SE savvy. Already we see that searchers are becoming more targeted in their searches. They no longer be search for 1 or 2 word terms such as "Real Estate". Today people search for 3 word terms such as "Atlanta Real Estate" . I believe we'll soon see that searchers are refining their searches more to multiple word and targeted searches such as 'Virginia-Highlands Real Estate Atlanta" . This is just one the reasons why I think that we'll be seeing more targeted SEM firms in the future such as Carlos' tourism SEM company. I think I even saw an advert for oveture adding a real estate site listing service.

My company Vexcom, Inc. has built over 20,000 real estate web sites, when our clients expressed that they wished to be optimized for more than just the city and state - we started Realty-SEO.com . When our clients sign up - we ask for the schools, subdivisions, smaller neighborhood, etc., that they wish to target. This way we make sure that we optimize for that client in particular. Thereby minimizing the competition among our clients.

You know I've been reading this site (and the newsletters) for some time (about a year and a half and never thought to post. I'm so glad that I did. Thanks again.

Whew that was a screenful -
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Old 07-15-2004   #9
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It's pretty obvious from the article and many of the comments that finding quality people (and keeping them) is one thing that keeps you business owners awake at night.

So ... how come there isn't some SEO/SEM-specific job site for helping companies find quality people ... and helping quality people find quality companies?

I know SEMPO has a Jobs page, but it's surely just a drop in the bucket at this point. Where do you sleepless folks go to find good people?
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Old 07-15-2004   #10
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>Already we see that searchers are becoming more targeted in their searches.

Link?

>So ... how come there isn't some SEO/SEM-specific job site for helping companies find quality people

I find it very difficult to imagine that a half competent SEO couldn't earn far more money working for themselves than for a company. In effect there is no job market for good people.
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Old 07-15-2004   #11
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>>>>>>>half competent SEO couldn't earn far more money working for themselves than for a company.

Bold statement, that. I don't think I'd put a wager on that one.

In the past, I've owned & sold businesses, as well as worked at SEO / SEM / Affiliate marketing firms.

It's tough being on either side of the fence. Bottom line is when it comes to SEO, imho, and organizations is that either you build your own by recruiting good people...

...or joing a firm with the kind of people you can't hire.

Last edited by Jeremy_Goodrich : 07-15-2004 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 07-15-2004   #12
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>Bold statement, that. I don't think I'd put a wager on that one.

I wasn't thinking of you when I posted, there are always exceptions to the rule and you are a rare one.

I stand corrected.

[but only in your case ]
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Old 07-15-2004   #13
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Not so bold. I can easily think of a dozen or more individuals who net >$10k/month --that's net, not gross. Of those, only 1 does adult and 3 or 4 are pharm.
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Old 07-15-2004   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
I find it very difficult to imagine that a half competent SEO couldn't earn far more money working for themselves than for a company.
Interesting thought... So the only competent SEOers in the world are the self-employed ones? Or am I reading too much into your statement?

I dunno ... I'm sure there are some pretty skilled and intelligent people that are employees at well-respected SEO/SEM shops. Not everyone on earth is inclined to open up his/her own business, y'know?
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Old 07-15-2004   #15
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>So the only competent SEOers in the world are the self-employed ones? Or am I reading too much into your statement?

You might be, it may be my imagination that is at fault.

What you earn?
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Old 07-15-2004   #16
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>>>You might be, it may be my imagination that is at fault.

>>>What you earn?

This would be fun. Let's all post what our income is.

>10K per month

Nice figure, that. Even if it's net, and not gross, still impressive. How many (or what %) of the full time (and or self employeed) SEO folks manage to make more than that?

Would be interesting to find out how many people there are earning that much....so, anybody going to start collecting the data? And, can I get a list of the people with the salaries, so I can figure out who was bull*****ing and not?
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Old 07-15-2004   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
What you earn?
Not as much as I'd like.
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Old 07-15-2004   #18
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> I can figure out who was bull*****ing and not?

Tell you what, Jeremy. Meet me at the Citte of York on September 18th and I'll put 1'll show you a whole pub full of them --it's sort of a private party. Paid for by SEO (individual SEO, I might add).
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Old 07-15-2004   #19
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>Not as much as I'd like.

Me and you both.

My view is real simple, I think a good SEO is worth as much as an also ran lawyer. My defining moment, from a charging viewpoint, was taking a lawyer as a client.

Much to my shame and in the deep distant past I had an almost unerring ability to get in trouble with the law. I had just started in the game, not long out of MS Publisher and 27 animated gifs per page [as a minimum requirement] when through "no fault of my own" I once again ended up in the courts. At least this time it was the High Court in London, I felt in some way I was moving forward

I was charged £175 an hour by my also ran lawyer which in the end added up to about £8,500 for the "job". The day after I got the bill I got a call from a law firm, I was still angry about the bill so I told them straight, I charge £175 an hour too. They almost snapped my hand off and to be honest I have never looked back since.

But to get to the point, this shouldn't be a pissing contest about salary BUT it should point out the fact that a good SEO is worth way more than they are paid now. The value they can bring, be it freelance or in-house far outweighs the rewards they recieve.

>Search Marketing: What Keeps You Up at Night?

That SEO's do not value their knowledge as highly as they should.
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Old 07-16-2004   #20
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>That SEO's do not value their knowledge as highly as they should.<

I would think knowledge has value while spam does not. No three people in this room can seem to agree on which is which. Is one man's spam another man's knowledge? If so, doesn't that color the entire question a different shade of gray?

My point is simply that questions like this are always going to be difficult, (if not impossible), to answer until we all accept that we do one thing in a lot of different ways. As long as it is legal and honest and there is a market for each specific type of service, then each service is a viable business with numbers that can be hit, results that can be tracked and evaluated and standards that can be gauged.

Dream on Massa!
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