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Cheap SEO doesn't exist


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#1 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:32 PM

No one can pretend to do cheap SEO. SEO is not cheap, it it was cheap, that would mean it doesn't require much time to implement. That's not true.

So why do all these SEO companies pretend to do SEO campaigns and provide 500 bucks per month contract? Or even something like a one time fee of $1000? I'm not talking about companies in France who call themselves SEO and ask 2.5 euros a month (4 dollars) to submit your site to 15,000 search engines. Yeah, right.

Maybe there are companies out there who are very generous and who do provide low-cost SEO, but there are very few.

So, all of these charlatans are just about making money quick. They don't do SEO because they like it, they do it because they know there's a huge demand, but companies still think that it's a secret science and they hire the first guy who knocked at the door who has SEO written in his business card.

If you do SEO campaigns for $500, the company obviously doesn't wanna spend more than 2 work days on it, at most. So, you think that you can define the right SEO strategy in less than 18 hours of work? No, you just can't.

SEO is a full time job. You have to watch your rankings everyday, monitor your traffic, implement new strategies, see if there's new keyword you can try to optimize for, see what keywords aren't working, add new content, follow the trends in your industry, write a blog, write articles, submit Press releases, clear your code, maybe improve the look of your site, organize your landing pages, study your logs, the visit lengths... What else? A lot more!

So, can you do all of that for less than 1000 bucks a month? Even $500?

You don't even do any keyword research, you just ask your clients what his keywords are. Then he tells you "arizona home loans". Fine. You add 2, 3 title tags, submit to 100 free directories and send a bill to your client. Nothing happens on the site, the client calls you, you blame it on the sandbox and use jargon to sound clever and hope that he just going to believe you because you used technical words.

Don't you care about the client? How can you charge small local companies 2000 bucks a month if they don't see any result? They heard that SEO can improve their ROI dramatically, so they did some research and they found you on the search engines because you used spammy techniques and lots of reciprocal links.

Sometimes, I just wich there were an organization that regulates the SEO industry. But there's BBB already, I wish more companies used them.

#2 Wit

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:40 PM

Good call. However: if all you want to do is share some of your SEO knowledge, you can do so for very little money (say: $19 for instance). Quick tip, bit of info, a link to a nice tool, an SEO myth helped out of its misery - anything really.

But yeah: a full-blown SEO service can't be cheap nowadays... Maybe cheapISH if the link building is done by low-wage people (in low-cost countries???)




edit=confusing typo

Edited by Wit_, 09 February 2006 - 03:41 PM.


#3 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:51 PM

Yeah, but give the 19 bucks document to someone who does not know anything about web development at all, no html, nothing. For him a title tag doesn't mean anything, he doesn't know where it is, or what it is. The document might help but he would have to spend months to learn how to implement stuff on his site.

So companies who do not have time to read these kind of stuff, they have no other choice than hiring someone. That's the problem.

Edited by Nadir, 09 February 2006 - 03:54 PM.


#4 Wit

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:55 PM

True.

The problem is that the person hiring a SEO must realise that SEO is going to make him/her money in the end. That means he/she must at least know something about SEO - if only what it means.

#5 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:59 PM

Yeah, they should, the other problem that I didn't mention is that these SEOs do not educate their clients. All the clients that I deal with know exactly what I'm doing and why. Now, they are doing changes on their own, and it's just as good as if I were doing it.

Edited by Nadir, 09 February 2006 - 04:00 PM.


#6 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 05:37 PM

Dont know what services these companies provide for a 500 bucks per month contract, but look at it this way

500 bucks a month could be looked at as

500 bucks divided by 28 working days per month = 17.85 bucks a day


Lets say you get some cheap labour, or even free labour (government training schemes etc) and get them to do most of the donkey work involved, you could get them to spend say 15 minutes every other day on a site.

Lots of the work could be mostly automated, such as link checking, keyword research, most of link submission, traffic generation sometimes, what cant be automated can mostly be done by low cost labour.

Specialist stuff can be done by the people who know what they are doing, but should not take that long to do for most sites in general if the experts in charge actually know their field.

17.85 bucks for say 15 mins work is more than enough to cover the cost of cheap labour (or even in some cases free labour, or even better staff that you get paid to have!)

A lot can be done to a site, if you spend 15 mins SEO'ing it every other day, on a regular basis.

They may not provide the worlds best service, but maybe they do, I dont know, never used any of these services.......

Edited by kensplace, 09 February 2006 - 05:40 PM.


#7 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 05:44 PM

I've seen it happened in my own company, it wasn't a project that I managed myself, the boss had full control of it. He didn't do sh*t, really. The guy sent him an email asking for his money back and filled a claim with the BBB.

Edited by Nadir, 15 February 2006 - 10:58 PM.


#8 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:04 PM

I've seen it happened in my own company, it wasn't a project that I managed myself, the boss had full control of it. He didn't do sh*t, really. The guy sent him an email asking for his money back and filled a claim with the BBB. 

I'm about to leave from that company anyway, if anyone has a company in South california, let me know.

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Sadly, that sort of thing is VERY common in the computing field, worked in tiny companies that have been guilty of similar things, even worked in a multi national, billion dollar firm that was one of the worst offenders for producing crap :) in more ways than one.

Unlike say the field of electronics, where you cant make a TV or a monitor unless you really are a expert, anyone can stick up a webpage and say they can do anything, and sadly the people who are often the best at lying, are the ones that set up companies and rip people off. Then, unlike a TV or Monitor, where you can SEE instantly if it has been made correctly (ie a good picture, and no smoke) SEO services are not instant, they take time to come to fruition, and unlike a TV or monitor they dont come with a warrantee of any kind.

Most industries are established, software and its related industries is still very much in its infancy and "dell boy" stage (dell boy is a reference to a character from a classic BBC TV show only fools and horses).

This means that there is still room for new people to make a difference, to change the world so to speak (and that is still possible online) - but it also means there is plenty of room for cowboys. Also, as the industry matures, which it slowly is, the bigger boys get to play, and that makes it harder for everyone, as the bigger boys often bully the little ones, and use dirty tricks to stay on top.


There are genuine people out there, many of them, its just in general, the public remembers bad experiences over good ones. You dont hear people saying, hey I had a good experience with XYX firm online the other day. Nope, in general you are more likely to hear about their horror stories about firm ABC.

I know people that have been paid over 400 pounds an hour for consultancy, well over that, were they worth that money? Nope not in my opinion. But people do pay silly money for things, its the same with SEO, most of it is available for free, but is it worth the time spent to figure it out for yourself? Or is it cheaper to get someone else to do it? Then if you get someone else, how much are you willing to pay?

The amount a person charges is no guarentee of how they will work, I have seen someone who earned more in a day, than I did in say a month, who didnt even understand binary, and he was a programmer..........

I have worked in places that had their own R&D department, where NO R&D really went on, and god help anyone who had ideas, or who worked hard, and I know that they charge a fortune for support etc - but its rubbish support.

We are in the gold rush stage, every one is staking a claim, some will make it, most will be wasting their time. Many people with a business sense, see that this is the time to sell the shovels and picks needed to get that gold...... Its just a shame the tools are of varying quality...

#9 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:10 PM

ken, I know of course that there are plenty of people who do a good job and ask thousands of bucks for a day. These guys are very creative, some call them genius.

But the amount of charlatans has to be big, if my company is one, I don't really see why they should be the only one.

#10 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:15 PM

ken, I know of course that there are plenty of people who do a good job and ask thousands of bucks for a day. These guys are very creative, some call them genius.

But the amount of charlatans has to be big, if my company is one, I don't really see why they should be the only one.

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Yup, thats what I was trying to say :)

#11 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:19 PM

Yeah, I just reformulated for people who like it short. Just kidding, I just wanted to make sure I understood what you said.

#12 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:27 PM

Yeah, I just reformulated for people who like it short. Just kidding, I just wanted to make sure I understood what you said.

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lol, my g/f keeps telling me I do posts that are too long, but I keep telling her my posts are short compared to most on this forum!

One thing I have noticed about this industry, is its one of the few in the world where many of the 'experts' give away their knowledge/skills/time for free. Open source, forums like this, behind the scenes stuff, it happens a lot with software and the like.

Course, microsoft and the like is trying to stop it all with patents....

#13 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:30 PM

No problem Ken. Yeah, that's true about the knowledge shared for free, that's how I learned SEO anyway, I didn't learn SEO thanks to these charlatans.

#14 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 06:34 PM

No problem Ken. Yeah, that's true about the knowledge shared for free, that's how I learned SEO anyway, I didn't learn SEO thanks to these charlatans.

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But on the bright side, you did learn an important lesson from the charlatans, next time a future client asks why should I pay you XYZ instead of a cheaper firm (insert name of charlaten here) you can honestly reply with lots of good reasons why....

#15 randfish

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:08 PM

Those who are charging $500 per month are riding ignorance about the industry, but it's certainly not the first time. Folks in the finance, marketing, advertising, health, small business and plenty of other fields have been using practices like this for eons.

While it will never really go away, there's a lot we can all do to provide information and direct folks to the right places to get an honest deal in SEO. No reason to lay down - we can fight back with our forums, blogs, articles and presence in the public sphere.

More articles in the mainstream press will certainly be key to helping this industry take off and get more respect.

#16 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:13 PM

I'm afraid Rand, it's just going to he easier said than done. We can, of course, try to spread the word and warn everyone about these guys. But companies do not hang out on forums, nor on blogs etc. They just use Google (polluted by unqualified adsense addicts) or Sempo and pick the first web site that has the nicest colors on his site and a few rankings on the clients page.

Edited by Nadir, 09 February 2006 - 07:13 PM.


#17 travis

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:14 PM

Nadir,

We offer SEO free to our clients.

(i) Its not exactly rocket science. It does not take a university degree to be good at it.

(ii) If you design the site properly and gain appropriate back-links, you are half way there.

We try and put the knowledge in our clients head, so they can manage their own campaigns. They love it, and free advice means they never leave.

We invoice our clients for one thing and one thing only, work. If they are are good paying clients, then a little extra advice wont hurt the relationship.

In fact, when looking at our competition who have set up little spin off companies to deal with SEO, it gives us a distinct advantage.

Australia is not that competitive when in comes to SEO in reality, and the average view of an SEO industry representative would be a Snake Oil Salesman.

Our policy is that we dont guarantee search engine results, because we cant control Google.

You have to understand the main issue for many of our service industry clients is servicing their existing clients better through improved processes, rather than attracting new clients through search engines.

The product sales websites are where SEO is more critical.

Edited by travis, 09 February 2006 - 07:18 PM.


#18 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:15 PM

I think I might write an article about my experience with these kind of crooked people, should be a good link bait, right? It might serve as a guide on how to choose the right SEO company. I can write stuff that each company has to check when hiring a company and also during the process.

#19 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:20 PM

I think I might write an article about my experience with these kind of crooked people, should be a good link bait, right? It might serve as a guide on how to choose the right SEO company. I can write stuff that each company has to check when hiring a company and also during the process.

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Good link bait yes.

Potential Future suicide regarding future employment? Possibly.

If someone reads what you write, it may make them think, I dont want to hire this guy, he could write like this about me.....

I dont care what I write anymore (I care, but not about future employment), but anyone who is concerned about it, needs to bear that in mind.

#20 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:27 PM

Hmm, might be right indeed. It just gonna stay between me and folks here ;-) I see what you mean, Ken.

#21 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:34 PM

Note: I'm not a snitch, should I did that, that would be only to prevent companies to get ripped off, seriously, I have seen these people complaining, it's hard to get your money back and to admit that you have been ripped off. People don't like to throw money away and everyone should respect that.

Edited by Nadir, 09 February 2006 - 07:35 PM.


#22 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:38 PM

Hmm, might be right indeed. It just gonna stay between me and folks here  ;-) I see what you mean, Ken.

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You could write some thing "generic" that didnt name names, that could get the same point across, the only thing missing would be actual proof of who did it... And if it was written under another name, with hidden domain details, then who would know.....

Or just do it, I dont mind saying the SAGE GROUP are a bunch of bullies, liers, and there support staff take the p&&& and their code is a joke, and I could go on but thinking is hard seeing as they left me taking prozac and high blood pressure tablets...... Its a personal thing, how far you are prepared to go to let the world know. I do it, but there are risks involved sometimes.

Edited by kensplace, 09 February 2006 - 07:41 PM.


#23 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:41 PM

Yes, maybe, but then no link bait! :P How can I write something and remain totally anonymous but still be able to spread out the message??

#24 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:44 PM

Yes, maybe, but then no link bait!  :P How can I write something and remain totally anonymous but still be able to spread out the message??

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Are you wanting to do this for the right reasons or just for link bait?


It makes no difference really if you do it in your name, or in anon, it would make a difference if you were say mat cutts, but to most people it doesnt.

Good content will find a good home, submit it to dig, slashdot, directories, forums etc, if its good, people will link to it etc.
(edit - thats not always true, many times good content gets nowhere until someone famous says it)

Edited by kensplace, 09 February 2006 - 07:46 PM.


#25 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:49 PM

Just kidding! I was just saying, how can I submit something to digg or anything like but remain anonymous? I mean, the article has to be hosted somewhere, but where? I can do it on my blog but my clients started reading it, I could really screw up everything..

#26 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:51 PM

Just kidding! I was just saying, how can I submit something to digg or anything like but remain anonymous? I mean, the article has to be hosted somewhere, but where? I can do it on my blog but my clients started reading it, I could really screw up everything..

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Buy a domain, get privacy on it, so your registration details are not shown on a whois.

Host it yourself.

Or get a free blog account somewhere, but a domain is more "trustworthy"

You could even link to that domain on your blog, saying you agree with this site....

Edited by kensplace, 09 February 2006 - 07:53 PM.


#27 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 07:59 PM

Good idea, I will do that when I'll be less excited... Thanks.

#28 kensplace

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 08:03 PM

Good idea, I will do that when I'll be less excited... Thanks.

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Thats another bit of advice I forgot, see how you feel in a few months time, then look at the situation again.

I you still feel that way, then there is a strong reason for doing it. If not, its just human feelings getting in the way. For example, with sage, its been years now, and I feel stronger than ever that people should learn.

Edited by kensplace, 09 February 2006 - 08:04 PM.


#29 dgeary9

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 08:15 PM

Sounds like you are having a hard day Nadir, I'm sorry! It's hard when ethics tangle with employment realities...

I personally hope there are companies out there offering effective SEO for $500 a month. I know that I offer web analytics to several clients for $500 a month, and my industry generally assumes no one could do good work for that kind of money.

My clients seem to really value my efforts (and most of them are smart people who have clear expectations that I will produce results, and would get rid of me right quickly if I didn't). It's a different approach - I prioritize issues, I don't take on "fixing their website" all at once, but a well chosen piece at a time.

Could SEO not be handled the same way? $500 a month may seem like very little, but to a small-mid sized company, it's actually a decent chunk of change. Do at least some of you not think you could make some pretty impressive changes in a website's search engine performance with a year's time and $6,000 in compensation?

Debora

#30 Ruud

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 08:16 PM

No one can pretend to do cheap SEO. SEO is not cheap, it it was cheap, that would mean it doesn't require much time to implement. That's not true.


Not long ago a small home-based company came to me looking for a specific solution for their web site. Custom coding that solution would have cost them close to 10K - which in this couple's case was close to a third of what they were actually making in revenue of the site ... in a year.

Combining several out-of-the-box solutions, two open source scripts and spending time on customizing the hack out of it got these people a working solution for 4500. That they could pay.

I love working with small companies and loved working with them on their site. Threw in some free SEO tips, fixed some obviously wrong stuff - great fun in all.

Now if this couple comes back to ask me about SEO I cannot in the world forward them to a 5K/month company, right? Makes no sense. But I can work with them on a middle ground.

So, can you do all of that for less than 1000 bucks a month? Even $500?


Anything can be done at any price. I think that sometimes the question is; how much do we want to make?

I'm in the wonderful position where my daily life is more than covered. I can actually say "no" to a client simply because I don't have to take on yet another client. But it also means that I can take on another client, any client at any price. And that that is a working business model is illustrated by the very fact that I am in this wonderful position :P

But of course there is a big difference between what I can do for 500 vs 1000 vs 5000. I think that goes for coding as well as for SEO -- well, for anything really.

Then again - I guess what you're talking about is a "take the money and run" company. I don't think that has to do with the price that company sets though. Some companies do this big time, simply charging their client 7.5K/month for the "Complete Optimum Solution Package" or whatever -- and they do precisely what that 500/month company you describe does: nothing.

How can you charge small local companies 2000 bucks a month if they don't see any result?


Devil's advocate: I don't think you can pay an SEO for results. The fee is not a performance based one.

Don't you care about the client?


That's the keyword for me: care. I like the people I work with (I work with people and never for) and genuinely want them to get the best for their money. The payback is really good: people not only appreciate my work, they appreciate me. Often we have a great time together. I get to feel good about my work and myself, and feel happy for their success.

#31 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 09:35 PM

If you look back to my previous posts (from the beginning), you'll see that I really had some hard time with these guys recently. The thing is that I did tell them I wasn't happy...

Once I told to my boss: "Boss, I don't like the way you handle the content for X client" He told me "We have no choice, they don't wanna pay more"

He was/is hiring some off-shore guys who are in charge of rewriting (I call that steal) content found on other people's sites. Then he asked me to upload these articles on the site. I refused. I refused because I think it's not fair. Plus, the articles were very poor quality, it looked like these guys learned english in one day, really. But the boss said we had no choice, "it takes too much time to write content and the client don't pay enough".

I didn't say anything. I can't really take too much risks, he could fire me the next morning and I won't be prepared to take another path right away. Plus, I'm here in the US with a visa, and it's not as easy to do whatever I want regarding work. I understand what he wanna do, make money quick, but still try to do things that are supposed to work on search engines - in that case content. The clients are busy, so I'm sure they don't pay attention to the content uploaded on the site. But the content is really bad, if users see that, they will run away. That is really dangerous for the client. He thinks that the SEO company is taking care of good things, while they are just screwing everything.

This is not how I see SEO, or any other activity. If that was my company, I would never do that for the sake of making a few hundred bucks. I would rather say to the client that he needs good content and a good copywriter. But not cheap content.

These guys screwed me up just like they screwed up their clients. The boss manages some clients and I manage some others. But the clients that I did manage were happy, because I don't wanna disrespect them. I was here, with them, to learn SEO. I think I know enough SEO to do something else right now.

There are other things that I disagree with, but I just think I said enough.

Edited by Nadir, 15 February 2006 - 11:01 PM.


#32 dgeary9

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 09:55 PM

Combining several out-of-the-box solutions, two open source scripts and spending time on customizing the hack out of it got these people a working solution for 4500. That they could pay.


Now I know where to turn when clients want me to mess with php scripts (for which they should pay me no more than $500, LOL!) :blink:

Anything can be done at any price. I think that sometimes the question is; how much do we want to make?... And that that is a working business model is illustrated by the very fact that I am in this wonderful position :)


Amen, amen, amen. Ruud, I really like you!

Someone challenged me once to determine a price for a client based on how much I wanted to work with them. Oddly enough, saying "yes" to a small client with a great problem and lots of initiative, makes it a lot easier to say "no" to big clients with deep pockets and crappy products.

So let's turn Nadir's question around - hypothetically, if you were to decide to take on a "cut-rate" client for $500 a month for the next six months, and you really wanted to have fun, what kind of client do you want?

#33 Ruud

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 10:01 PM

This is not how I see SEO, or any other activity. If that was my company, I would never do that for the sake of making a few hundred bucks.


Nadir... I think I understood that you're about to leave this company? If not: prepare to leave.

You're looking for a future in SEO. You have a future in SEO. You don't want that future tarnished or put in the balance by having gained a bad name.

Depends of course on how strongly your own name is tied to all of this. I recently worked with a brilliant young woman who worked for one the crappiest companies you can ever begin to imagine (overcharged but couldn't be bothered to invoice on time - for example). Her name was prominently presented as The SEO in charge. Bad news... she started to get blamed for things the company refused to implement or implemented too late or... You get the picture.

She left, continuing to establish her good name in the community. Recently she was invited to write a series of articles on one of the SEO article sites we all know.

I wish you all the best. You are better, you deserve better.

#34 Nadir

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 10:08 PM

Yes, I am. But before going for another job, I need money. If I have to relocate, that will cost me a lot. And I still need to visit other places in the US, so far I only know California, maybe I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow and win, that would really help me. I would like to travel to get some rest and also clear my mind...

#35 seobook

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 01:42 AM

I did SEO for my first client for $100 and they made thousands like a month later.

My second client was in the adult market and I charged them $300 a few years ago. They sold their site since then, but it still ranks well.

But for people to sell SEO services that cheap they have to be ignorant to the value they create, and if they are good marketers their rates go up quickly.

#36 Nadir

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 01:50 AM

I appreciate your comments Aaron and all. But bear in mind that the title of my post was not an attack against people providing low cost SEO with me believing that it cannot be compatible with quality.

I just wanna react on the growing number of people who are ripping off people, and because they know they won't do anything good, they just ask "for less", as it's easier to make money fast without taking too much risks: if you are a charlatan charging 5000 bucks a month, you can really put you in big troubles. If you charge 500 bucks, clients will complain but they won't be as aggressive as if they paid 10 times that.

#37 FP_Guy

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 01:47 PM

I know Jill Whalens always comments on how 80%-85% of the seo's out there don't know anything and has written an article similiar to the one you want to write Nadir.

Being someone who is just starting out making SEO a business instead of a hobby it is really hard to nail down a price on SEO. I can't see charging $500 per month for a campaign that after the web site is complete and a good linking campaign in place only needs minor tweaks and changes along with monitoring.

I mean keyword research is the biggest thing to me, and with even that it's hard to put a number to it. I've done it as low as $100 to as high as $600-$700 depending upon what you are researching.

Copywriting, I learned early in the game, you should hire a professional for. I don't have that kind of talent so I'll give the copywriter the keywords and some modifiers and ask him/her to write great copy. I know of one copywriter that can no longer state a steady price either. She specializes in writing copy for SEO purposes and has to write a custom estimate every time depending upon what is being written.

The second biggest thing I believe is just research on the competitor's web sites. Backlinks, keyword use, deep linking ratio, pagerank, etc, etc, etc. To me that is very time consuming also.

So it is hard to nail down a price. All I can say to a client is that the more money you stick into the better off you will be and we can go as far as you want. I had one client that did not want to go to the expense of a linking campaign. Needless to say they don't rank in Google, but hit the top 10 in MSN and Yahoo. As soon as MSN and Yahoo search engines get more precise with handling data with links it will probably go down.

To do everything and do everything right (white hat seo) has the potential of running into thousands of dollars. But once its done it doesn't take much effort after and very little time to stay close to top.

I did everything right (white hat seo) one time and even after the so called 'big' algo changes my position never dropped lower than #5 and went back up to #1 again.

I didn't even have an official SEO site until I've had five clients already who found out that I was able to get to number one. Now that I have the official site I gear it more to teaching SEO and here are my services in different areas to help you out.

Most people don't realize that SEO is a never ending learning project, and that frustrates me the most. I spend about an hour a day weeding through the latest news and separating the good from the bad.

Nadir, if you want to write that article I'll post it on my web site for you. The site is still fresh, but is gaining in popularity every day. ;-) Just keep the profanity down to a minimum. :rofl:

Sorry to hear about your bad day and I hope things get better for you.

Michael

#38 Nadir

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 02:00 PM

Thanks Michael. I'll be going back to Europe by the end of the month. I still need to make a decision of whether I'll go on my own or work with a company (100% ethical is mandatory).

#39 Black_Knight

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 06:12 PM

Being someone who is just starting out making SEO a business instead of a hobby it is really hard to nail down a price on SEO. I can't see charging $500 per month for a campaign that after the web site is complete and a good linking campaign in place only needs minor tweaks and changes along with monitoring.

If you really can't see the benefit of ongoing support, you must be aiming at the absolute bottom-end of the spectrum. Companies who build a site then never need to update it with new products. Companies with no intention of growing. I guess you are specialising in the Mom-n-Pop businesses that so many keep going on about.

You're certainly not selling consultancy. You're not selling instant answers to any question they can throw at you. I guess you're not even billing to keep checking back with that client and helping them get the most out of what you built, and how to go further.

In fact, without that ongoing advice, I'm not quite sure what you are intending to sell them? A site make-over and a one-off link building campaign? But what about their competitors who are spending 5k per month on an ongoing link-building campaign, have affiliates constantly doing SEO activity, etc?

I mean keyword research is the biggest thing to me, and with even that it's hard to put a number to it. I've done it as low as $100 to as high as $600-$700 depending upon what you are researching.

How much are you doing? Are you estimating traffic volumes, conversion ratios and CPA, or just pulling a few words off of Overture and Google's PPC tools that are naturally skewed towards maximising bids and hiding the long tail? How many words? What kind of breakdown? What segmentation of those keywords and on what criteria? What scale of priorities?

Copywriting, I learned early in the game, you should hire a professional for. I don't have that kind of talent so I'll give the copywriter the keywords and some modifiers and ask him/her to write great copy. I know of one copywriter that can no longer state a steady price either. She specializes in writing copy for SEO purposes and has to write a custom estimate every time depending upon what is being written.

Its good to know your limits.

It is better to fix them.

You learned SEO, what is stopping the copywriter you refer clients to from learning it (especially if you sell well and they realise from the amount of referrals you send just how in demand SEO is)? What's to stop them working with another SEO company and that you provide lots of leads to the copywriter, but they provide lots of leads to your rivals (and maybe become your rivals)?

The second biggest thing I believe is just research on the competitor's web sites. Backlinks, keyword use, deep linking ratio, pagerank, etc, etc, etc. To me that is very time consuming also.

Aha, yes, sorting by man-hours is an important way to price your resources (the material needed to produce your product) and thus to estimate a cost onto which to add your margins.

How much will it cost you to hire someone to do this once the demand upon your time is over what you can deliver? Will they need a training period? Who is paying for that training time? Have ypou built the costs of scaling into your times so that as time gets used up, the money is there for the training to be done?

In short, what level of business plan and marketing plan have you got so far?

These are the questions to ask yourself and find good answers for. It matters absolutely nothing to be 'doing alright' right now, if you haven't planned for growth and scalability, and in the amount of time spent on selling contracts, managing your business, training and managing staff for growth, etc, then you haven't got a business, you are simply self-employed.

Hope those are some helpful things to think about to develop your business.

#40 egain

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 08:42 AM

Would love to add something to that, but as usual Mr Johns, you've hit the nail very much on the head



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